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IAM1610 – Strategist Helps Start-Up Techs Develop Future-Based Strategy

Podcast Interview with Amié Devero

Why it was selected: Amié has spent a lot of experience in the startup world and as a strategy consultant, she understands how important it is to do deep work. She isn't just a startup advisor but is rooted in strategy and the misconceptions around strategy. It's also powerful how she empowers leaders to be able to understand their “superpowers” and understand the impact of strategy in business.

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Previous Episode:



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Amié Devero Teaser  0:00

Don't get pulled by seeming opportunities if they're not already within the scope of your strategy. Don't allow your strategy to get killed by opportunism and I think every business falls into that trap. I've never met a CEO yet who doesn’t.

Intro  0:20

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long long long interview? If so you've come to the right place Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of, this is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless  0:48

Hello, hello, hello this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast I have a very special guest on the show today I have Amié Devero a Beyond better strategy and coaching. Amié it's great to have you on the show. Thanks for having me Gresh I'm delighted to be here. Yeah super excited to have you on and talk about all the awesome things that you're doing and before we jump into the interview I want to read a little bit more about Amié so you can hear about all those awesome things. Amié is the founder and managing partner of Beyond better strategy and coaching. Beyond better works with Founders and leaders of high growth technology startups to develop future based strategy and to cultivate the leaders to fulfill those strategies. Amié has been a strategy consultant and executive coach for about 25 years, she was the managing director of I control Mobile payment which was acquired by British mobile parking Pioneer Ringo under her leadership and Amié led Ringo's expansion into North America, grew the company into over 50 major markets. Her best-selling book powered by principals using core values to build world-class organizations is a research-based approach to strategy and organizational change and is available worldwide in several different editions. Amié, great to have you on the show again are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Amié Devero 2:01

I'm ready when you are.

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Gresham Harkless  2:03

Let's get it started then. So to kind of kick everything off, I know I touched it a little bit when I read your bio but I wanted to hear a little bit more on what led you get started with all the awesome things you're working on, what I like to call your CEO story.

Amié Devero 2:13

When I when I left Ringo, well I didn't leave Ringo, Ringo pulled out of the United States, it was it was an amazing organization. It still exists but it got acquired but only in the UK and Europe so the American Enterprise was rolled up and we sold it off to some competitors. After that, having been in the startup world at that point for about six years, I really found that there's an energy and a passion and a speed within that kind of setting that appeals to me, I suppose I have a little bit of a commitment issue in business, and like people who are serial monogamous I am some kind of a serial entrepreneur in the sense that in so far as I've had jobs in my career and they've been scattered throughout my Consulting career, I've never stayed at those jobs forever obviously. The startup mode of operation is a very specific mode of operation and having as much experience as I did as a strategy expert and as a people coach because I've never worked in HR but I have this very long history of having developed and cultivated leaders through coaching as part and parcel of change management. When I was back on my own again I thought how can I narrow down who I'm going to work with because in your strategy consultant conceivably you can work with any business right, I could work with a dry cleaner as easily as I could work with tech platform but you can't Market yourself that way. It also doesn't give you any sort of way to become a deeper expert in any aspect of any kind of either kind of business or kind of function or kind of phenomenon, so the phenomenon of being a startup is really what I'm an expert in specifically in technology not hard to put those two together because most startups are technological, most funded startups I should say. That's how I oriented my sort of next iteration of a coaching and Consulting business. That's what I do and I am very committed to strategy which differentiates me from a lot of other people who are startup advisors. Because I firmly believe that once you've figured out your business model and you know what your product is or you know what your service is so even whether you're again a restaurant, a dry cleaner, or a tech platform, at that point you need to develop an actual strategy. Strategy is the most misunderstood, mis-defined, ill-described poorly executed thing we do in business and so that's a really huge focus of mine.

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Gresham Harkless  5:23

Nice, I truly appreciate you sharing your journey and having the passion come out through the organizations that you work with. I really love that people coach aspect because I say so often we forget about the human aspect of business. I even feel as if you a lot of people come in a little bit more to that realization that when you start to recognize the people you start to understand that and you start to be that people coach for lack of a better term. You start to really see tremendous growth not just on a superficial level but on a deep level within organizations

Amié Devero 5:58

Yeah I mean coaching people is, first of all again I think it's another thing that is often done badly because advice is not the same as coaching. Coaching is not giving advice, coaching is not telling what to do coaching is actually having the capacity to listen and direct a conversation in such a way that the person you're talking to recognizes something, they see something, they notice something, they become able to try on some new way of thinking some new way of communicating, some new kind of behavior, or design a new practice ritual habit behavior that they can test so they can wear it around for a few weeks and see does this amplify my message, does this enhance my leadership, does this get better results from my team. I think you can't really develop a startup organization if you don't have a lot of attention on developing your people. There's a very specific sort of way in which we set up our leaders ( incoming leaders) to fail by not giving them coaching. Which is that, most times people end up in management roles because they were really good at doing something, they were really good at sales, they were really good at marketing, they were really good at email or really great at writing code or whatever it is and we take that success and then we extrapolate from that this idea that by virtue of being an excellent functional executor the same person is going to be an excellent leader of others to do the same thing. That's a completely flawed assumption there is no connection between being a great salesperson and being a great sales manager ,none and yet we do that.

Gresham Harkless 7:52

Yeah and that's so powerful. I know you touched a little bit on how you work with your clients but I wanted to make sure that you covered everything that you do there and also what you feel is your secret sauce and the thing you feel sets your apart and makes you unique.

Amié Devero 8:07

As a coach given that I have this background in strategy I am always coaching from a perspective of strategy but I'm really coaching from the perspective of how can we leverage this person's innate capabilities to build them into the most optimized version of themselves and as a result accelerate this organization's strategy. I'm working with the person to internalize this strategy to begin to understand the direct and indirect relationships between their team, their area, and the organization's strategy so that they think like a strategist and they think like a Founder. No founder or CEO has any higher goal than to have a team full of people that think as well as them about the future of the organization. You want your people to be in the mindset of fulfilling on a vision and not just working in their little piece and their little silo on their little goal because that is the way that you end up with mediocre results and I'm always out to produce breakthrough results. I think that's kind of distinct about the way that I approach my work.

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Gresham Harkless  9:22

Yeah and I appreciate you so much in sharing that because I know you mentioned a little before that there's such a misconception around strategy, so do you think that being able to kind of have that approach to strategy.

Amié Devero  9:32

I work with organizations to develop their strategy, I never advise a strategy so what I really have is I have a methodology and I have an uncanny ability along with my former partner who also still drives and does strategy work with me, his name is Francis Wade and I used to be a partner in his firm, and we continue to work together. We have an approach and a particular skill, we have an approach to facilitating strategy and a methodology to doing it that starts with a future-based vision and drives back to goals that are connected to that vision and derived from that vision.

Gresham Harkless  10:17

Absolutely, appreciate that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack, so this could be like an app, book or a habit that you have or something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Amié Devero  10:30

So this is really tactics,  pure tactics and I tell all my clients to do this and particularly my small business clients, I don't even let them vote on it. Everybody should be married to their calendar.  Now what do I mean by that? I mean you shouldn't be used to to-do lists and you should not let your day get determined by what shows up. You should have every single thing you mean to do on one list and they're only on that list long enough to go from there to your calendar. Every single thing you intend to do should be in your calendar with an allotted time and a specific duration of time and if something happens and it displaces that you shouldn't get rid of that you should move it somewhere else. There's a whole bunch of other skills that go along with that, but if you do that, if you put everything you mean to do in your calendar with a time and a duration and leave enough gaps and enough error for all the other reactive stuff you have to do, you will accelerate your productivity to a point beyond recognition. It means you have to like be married to your calendar. When it says do X you say how hard and for how long and you do it, that's my that's my single best productivity hack.

Gresham Harkless  11:50

Nice, I absolutely love that hack. What would you consider to be what I like to call more of a CEO nugget. This could be a little bit more word of wisdom or piece of advice you might have already touched on this but it's something you might tell your favorite client, something from your book or potentially you might tell your younger business self if you hopped to a time machine.

Amié Devero 12:07

Be clear about what your focus is and be equally clear about what it isn't. I mean that's really the underlying Axiom that gives you don't get pulled by seeming opportunities if they're not already within the scope of your strategy don't allow your strategy to get killed by opportunism and I think every business falls into that trap. I've never met a CEO yet who doesn’t.

Gresham Harkless  12:38

Absolutely it's so important to do that. I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We are hoping to have different quote and quotes CEOs on the show, so what does being a CEO mean to you?

Amié Devero 12:51

Well, this is a tough one, I feel like I have to come up with something pithy and memorable. I don't know that I have that in me. I think I think what makes somebody a CEO apart from this you know the title is that they feel a visceral connection to the value that the organization produces. That value is not just for revenue, it's also the value of the brand, it's also the value to the shareholder, it's also the value to the employees, the customers the community. Only the CEO really has that visceral relationship to all of those stakeholder communities and the degree to which the organization provides them with value.

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Gresham Harkless  13:35

Nice, that is a phenomenal definition. I know you had it in you so I I truly appreciate that.

Amié Devero 13:42

Yeah and by virtue of having all of the stakeholder communities connected in your mind anyway or in your spirit or wherever one thinks they're connected, you can also see the trade-offs that you're making and that's sometimes difficult to see from any one silo of the organization. Employees may see a sacrifice being made to satisfy a certain client and think it's a mistake not understanding that the trade-off has a greater payoff to the investor community and that's going to mean the next round is going to be easier to raise.

Gresham Harkless 14:17

Well, truly appreciate that definition and of course I appreciate your time even more so what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic so to speak just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know and of course how best people can get a hold of you, find about all the awesome things you're working on.

Amié Devero 14:32

Well thanks. I have a couple things to say, one is if anybody listening is a technology leader not necessarily a CEO but a CTO head of engineering and is interested in joining a mastermind group of others that are technology leaders, I have one starting in January so that's something that you might want to just have in your back pocket if you're interested in participating. It will be limited, can only take up to 12 people each group so whether I have one group or three groups that's the max. There will be information about that on my website, not yet but it will be there and the way to find out that information would probably be to subscribe to my newsletter. Go to my website which is beyondbetter.io, subscribe to the newsletter. It is not a sales letter you will only find out about this because it will be a banner on a newsletter that contains a single article on a single subject. It's about a 1500 word article so it's a deep well-researched piece, comes out every couple weeks. I hope you'll subscribe and talk about all the things we talked about today no fluff no nonsense.

Gresham Harkless 15:42

Truly appreciate that to make it even easier we'll have the links and information in the show notes as well so that everybody can subscribe to the newsletter, get a copy of your book, find out about the Mastermind and any other awesome things that you're working. I truly appreciate all the awesome work that you do and of course the time that you took today. I think there's so much for looking at things in a different way and sometimes getting those aha moments so I appreciate you providing that and being able to look at strategy in a way that I think provides more opportunity to succeed. Thank you so much for doing that and sharing that today and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Amié Devero  16:14

I appreciate it thank you so much for having me Gresh. It was a terrific conversation, you're pretty good at this.

Outro 16:19

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast powered by CB nation in blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I am CEO is not just a phrase It's a community get your driven CEO gear at ceogear.co don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at blue16media.com this has been the iamceo podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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