Episode 164– Chris Cooper’s New Book: Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief
On this episode, we sit down with Chris Cooper, to talk about his new book: Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief. This will be Chris’s fourth book behind Two Brain Business, Two Brain Business 2.0, and Help Firstand it dives into the heart of entrepreneurship by discussing its four distinct phases. As a business grows, the entrepreneur must also grow and the passion that spurs a founder to quit his job and risk it all will eventually fade and other mechanisms will need to be in place to carry the business forward. Today we talk about this new book and how it came about, how to determine which phase of business and entrepreneurship you are in, and also how to take your business to the next level!
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The Four Phases of Entrepreneurship:
Founder: The entrepreneur has bought themselves a job. They work 60 – 70 hours per week delivering their service. Eventually, they will want to either make more money or just take the weekend off.
Farmer Phase: The entrepreneur takes steps from “self-employed” to “business owner”. They build systems and processes, target ideal clients, start marketing to larger audiences, and make careers for others.
Tinker Phase: The entrepreneur’s primary business largely runs itself, and his focus turns inward to reach the next level. He develops leadership skills; makes high level hires; and plans his next project.
Thief Phase: The entrepreneur builds a legacy, plans for retirement, develop cash flow assets, takes passion to new markets, or develops new partnerships to grow their portfolio.
1:35 – Introduction to Founder, Farmer, Tinker Thief
3:16 – How to determine which phase of entrepreneurship you are in?
10:05 – How many people are truly in the Thief phase of entrepreneurship?
11:06 – Robin Hood and the relation to the Thief Phase
12:56 – Is it okay to stay in the Farmer Phase?
20:12 – Growing your gym while away from your gym
22:56 – How to determine the next step for your business or gym
23:48 – Taking the Two Brain Business Entrepreneurship Test
27:02 – The Archie Brown Story, Moving to Farmer Phase
29:54 – Falling backward to previous phases
Greg: 00:02 Welcome everyone to Two-Brain Radio. It is our mission at Two-Brain to provide 1 million entrepreneurs the freedom to live the life that they choose. Join us every week as we discover the very best practices to achieve perfect day and move you closer to wealth.
Announcer: 00:26 This episode is brought to you by Incite Tax. Incite tax is founded by John Briggs, a crossfitter, great big tall guy with a fantastic sense of humor and John is like a coach for your books. These guys are not just pencil pushing number crunchers. These guys will actually help you get towards your perfect day if you’re a member of our gross stage part of the mentoring program, you’re familiar with John’s videos on 10 99 versus w two contractors. See John used to work for the IRS. He’s seeing the other side of labor law and he knows exactly where the line is drawn. Don’t believe everything you read, but on the tax side, John can actually help you plan to take home more money every year and save more money on taxes because John is a certified profit first accountant. If you’ve listened to this podcast before, you know that I’m a big fan of Mike Michaoliwz’ profit first system and John at InciteTax and his staff can help you plan backward from profit to get to where you need to go. It’s helped members of the Two-Brain family buy houses in the first year that they’ve implemented profit first. It’s helped people save more money, take home more money and make the business do what it’s supposed to do, which is pay you.
Greg: 01:35 All right. Hey, everybody listening to Two-Brain radio. I want to welcome back a used to be host, still hosting Chris Cooper. We’re going to talk about the book that will be open for preorders on Amazon as of right now. So welcome back Chris.
Chris: 01:49 Yeah, thanks man. It’s the Chris and Greg show.
Greg: 01:52 Exactly. Exactly. So, uh, I want to get into this. The book title is Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief. It is something that I know I’ve been hearing a lot about. What I kind of want to give a little bit of backstory to everybody so that they understand the amount of content that you can produce on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis. So when I, when I came up there in March, this wasn’t even a concept. This wasn’t an an idea. This was, this was never even, I don’t even think it was on any of the whiteboards that you had in your office. It was, it was nothing. And all of a sudden now we have a book, not even 10 months later that is out for preorder. Talk to me about what, what was the need? Why did you see that? That we had to have a system like this built and kind of, let’s get into it right now.
Chris: 02:43 How like there, there’s no shortage of information, right? Entrepreneurship is cool, thanks to guys like Gary Vaynerchuk. People want to do entrepreneurship because they have this romantic vision of what the entrepreneurial life is like. And there’s a lot of good knowledge out there that supports the entrepreneur and it’s very, very easy to start a company now. Like you don’t even have to quit your job. You can start a side Gig, you can drive Uber’s, whatever you want. The problem is that not all of this information is good. There’s just as much bad as good frankly, and some of it is only good at the right time. So what happened, the problem now is paralysis by analysis. You know, we’ll talk to a lot of gym owners and other entrepreneurs who have a pretty good idea of what they need to do, but they’re not sure what they need to do first.
Chris: 03:28 And they’re not sure, like which steps to take that precede other steps or, well, if I do this thing right now, am I going to have to undo it three months from now when I fix this other thing? You know? And so over the years and after having spoken to over 2000 entrepreneurs on phone calls, I started to realize that you can, you can break the entrepreneurial life cycle down into about four distinct phases and those phases I call the Founder Phase, Farmer Phase, Tinker phase and Thief Phase. Most entrepreneurs get stuck in farmer phase forever. Most media romances founder phase and then conveniently doesn’t talk about the hard part, but what most of us are trying to actually get to is that third phase, the tinker phase and some remarkable entrepreneurs, you know, the Kobe Bryants of business ownership, will actually make it to the fourth phase: Thief phase.
Greg: 04:16 Going into each one of these phases. What is necessary for a business owner to know, hey, I’m in farmer phase or I’m in founder phase. What exactly is the metrics that we’re measuring to kind of know where we’re at or how the next phase, if if we transfer over, what’s, what’s that next phase look like?
Chris: 04:36 Well there are about 30 different categories, but there are some, you know, some big kind of rocks that really determine where you’re at. So, you know, the first phase is Founder phase and you have a big idea and you make some kind of commitment to that idea. You know, maybe you quit your job and that’s it. You go all in and you open up a gym in a garage and this is all you’re doing. Or maybe you know, you start selling your macrame owls at the craft shop, you know, whatever. You’ve got this secondary stream of revenue. It’s, it’s working for other people. Like there is like an actual model for success in your industry or you’ve got this great idea and you’re hoping that one day it’s salable. You’ve uh, you know, created a new Nano Bot that fights cancer. So you know, you leap off and you start charging money for it.
Chris: 05:19 And at that point, the second you receive a dollar in trade for your service or good. You are an entrepreneur and you’re in the founder phase. Now how do we determine like the hallmarks, the characteristics of the founder? Well, these are the romantic things that you see on like Instagram. It’s the hustle and Grind and Oh yeah, I’m up at 3:00 AM and I don’t take a paycheck. And you know, it’s people with their head down, they’re grinding, they’re doing it just for the love of the freedom of entrepreneurship. And that’s awesome. But that’s usually what kills most businesses is people, they can stay in that phase for a couple of years and they’re just so burnt out and exhausted and broke that they can’t afford to do it any longer. To get to the farmer phase, you need to start paying yourself a little something. You need to have a clear understanding of what every role is in your business.
Chris: 06:08 You need to systemize every single thing, make yourself replaceable. In other words, in every single thing that happens in your business and you need to hire one person, and as soon as you’ve reached that phase, then your business is solid enough that you can start growing and start making careers for other people. You’re really kind of cultivating your idea. So you know, you’ve, you’ve got this seed and you know, it’s proven that it can make you some money but maybe not enough money. Maybe we need to replicate what you’ve already done it over and over and over again. Or maybe we need to do it times a thousand or we need to do it a slightly different way or we need to do it two ways at once maybe. And the farmer has a lot of options, but the farmer really can’t do it alone. So in the farmer phase, usually the entrepreneur is trying to add staff and they’re really trying to focus their time on high value roles.
Chris: 06:58 This is also where most entrepreneurs get stuck–sometimes for 30 years. I was in the farmer phase for at least 10 maybe 12 where, you know, I’d have some staff doing some things, but it was never done exactly the way that I would do it. And I would micromanage them. And we had some diverse revenue streams, but they weren’t consistent. You know, I was always fighting fires. I was always checking my phone to get out of the farmer phase. What we want you to do is to be able to take like at least a month off from your business. We want you to hit 33% profitability. We want you to have a managerial layer. So somebody at the business other than you who will accept responsibility for operations. So if you decided to go to Hawaii for two weeks and there’s a flood at the gym, this person will answer the phone in the middle of the night and show up to meet the plumber, whoever.
Greg: 07:47 And, and just to go on that note, I and people will hear this on the food for thought Friday, I had, this actually happened. I was up in Colorado. I was ready to go to the mountains for some snowboarding to learn how to snowboard. And instead at five, it was about four 50 I get a call from my GM that somebody broke into our facility and stole our computers and our iPads and decided to help themselves to some of our supplements. So I definitely had a GM that was there. She handled everything I needed her to do a, it’ll let us know that there is some steps in our procedure that we didn’t have in place that needed to be in place, but she did a phenomenal job at covering all of that. So that’s a perfect scenario for having somebody in that material, a state that that could handle and take accountability for everything.
Chris: 08:33 Yeah. Well I’m sorry that happened, right? But I’m glad you had somebody there. We deal all the time, you and me with entrepreneurs who might kid themselves about how well their business is doing, and one of the ways that they do that is they’ll say, well, I can take a weekend off. I could get somebody to cover for me. But the reality is that that takes an extraordinary amount of work and people are doing you favors that they’re going to call in later and you’re really kind of digging deep into you owing them something. The real entrepreneur has choice. And really that’s what we’re trying to get to in the tinker phase is now you have this choice of how you spend your day. I guess a better way to say that is actually invest your time so you can choose to go work ion your business.
Chris: 09:13 You can choose to go bake the donuts, coach the crossfit classes, aligned the spines, whiten the teeth if you want to. That’s the point is you have the choice. You could also duplicate your business. You could, you know, turn your gym into a franchise. You could also start a brand new business. You know, I think you and I agree that like every entrepreneur has at least two other good ideas. You could retire, you could do nothing, you could go buy your building. And really we want every entrepreneur to get to the Tinker phase because that means that their business is sustainable enough that they can’t really mess it up. So at this point, what you’re doing is you’re hiring a couple of other people in managerial roles. We call it like the meta roles. So in the farmer phase, to get out of the farmer phase, you hired a director of operations or like a GM that oversaw the daily delivery of your service.
Chris: 10:01 And that meant that you weren’t tied to the delivery of that service anymore. On the Tinker phase, we want to have somebody that’s in charge of sales and marketing because that’s usually the founder of the company. And we also want a CFO because we don’t just want bookkeeping anymore. We want projection and we want like detailed analysis of what is actually making you money. So you can picture this hierarchy. Now you know in the founder phase it’s you doing everything. You are selling the muffins and making the muffins and you know, cleaning up afterward in the farmer phase you’re, you have staff who bakes them, often staff who does the cleaning and maybe you’re running the till until you can hire a manager to run the till. And then you’re working on marketing. And in the tinker phase there’s a manager running the till. You’re looking at opening up your second shop.
Chris: 10:47 Your CFO is telling you what you can afford to do. And then in the tinker phase or the thief phase, where you’re actually doing is trying to build your legacy. So you’re, you’re leveraging your wealth, which is your time. And your money to affect the people in your local community best or your niche the best.
Greg: 11:03 Excellent. How many people do you know that are in that? The thief phase?
Chris: 11:09 I mean, so when you see famous entrepreneurs on social media really like these are, these are the guys who try to project that they’re in the thief phase and some of them are, you know, they’re, they’re really not part of the day to day operations of their company anymore. They’re worried about legacy. They are giving to charities, they’re creating funds or theyre mentoring other people within their niche.
Greg: 11:32 Gotcha. Who would be, who would you say that you know of, not that you know them personally, but who would you say would actually be in the thief phase globally if you had a, if you had to choose?
Chris: 11:42 BIll Gates for sure. I mean, he’s his own personal brand.
Greg: 11:45 Okay, perfect. I just want to get that clarified because I think too many people, especially when you think of the, if you think of a negative connotation, and I want people to understand that that’s not what this is for. But more of thinking of Robin Hood I believe is the term you’ve used in the past. Have more of giving back and not taking.
Chris: 12:04 Yeah, so you know Robin Hood is a great example of the thief that we talk about at Two-Brain because Robin Hood is, is moving resources from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. You know Robin Hood in the, in the stories he stole from Evil King John and he gave to the poor and we’re not necessarily talking about that. I mean we’re not talking about literally stealing anything we are talking about is like leveraging high concentration of resources to low concentration of resources. This could mean a couple of things and I do actually know some thieves in real life. My first mentor was a thief. Denis had led three big corporations out of bankruptcy. You know, he’d led an employee buyout in one and another one, you know, he came to our city, there’s a huge corporation that employed about 2,700 people and their stocks were trading at like 70 cents.
Chris: 12:54 He pulled the Lee Iaccoca and said, I’ll just take shares of stock instead of like a wage, pay me $1 my first year plus all these shares of stock. And in three years the shares of stock were selling an over $50 up from 70 cents. So he cashed out and he said that his legacy was going to be to mentor five local entrepreneurs. So when you’re in that, theif phase, um, there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can move horizontally. You can, you can take your service or your product into a different niche and just duplicate it that way. Like create a mirror image of your product but in a different niche. Or you can move vertically. And that is to mentor other people in your niche who are coming up behind you. And that’s what Denis did. He went vertical and he picked five of us. I don’t know who the other four are. I’d love to find them. And he helped us build like these, these great businesses locally.
Greg: 13:44 Awesome. Awesome to hear. And I’m glad, uh, that was a possible luck of the draw. It sounds like that out of five, five businesses that he would mentor, you were one.
Chris: 13:53 Yeah.
Greg: 13:54 So my next question would be, okay, if, I mean I’m in the founder phase, I hire my first employee, I get to the farmer phase, and even if it was the founder phase that I was comfortable with, or the farmer, is it okay to stay there?
Chris: 14:09 Should you stay in the farmer phase?
Greg: 14:11 Correct. If, if I’m a business owner, um, I hired my first employee. I really love what I do. I want to continue doing it. Let’s say automotive. I love being a mechanic. I love working on cars. It’s just something that I would do for free and I did for free or something in this scenario would, would you say if I don’t, if I don’t want to get out of my business, I don’t want to hire a GM. I want to continue keeping it small. And the perfect example I say automotive is, is my stepfather. And then even my father who owns a garage door business, they are each a one man team and they love doing that. They love doing each, each, each business that they own and they don’t want to get out of it. They want to grow old. They eventually want to just stop doing what they’re doing and maybe sell off their client lists if they can or whatever. But the business won’t be around anymore. And they’re both okay with that. Uh, so my question really is, is, is it okay to be okay with that or should we always be looking for that next step?
Chris: 15:03 Well, I mean, we are going to have a great conversation about this because I don’t think it is. Okay. And I’ll give you a couple of examples in my neighborhood and I’ll try to use like the automotive industry. So, you know, two doors down from a couple of buildings that I own. There’s this very niche satellite radio company and you know, we’re in northern Ontario. People who are working up in the forest, they need to have satellite radios. And for 25, 30 years, this technology was crazy expensive. It required like some, some real expertise. And so this guy had ran a business for 25 30 years, pretty successfully. Uh, he went up and he serviced the towers himself. And if somebody’s cell phone broke down in the middle of the bush, he would go find them and he would fix it. And he was happy having that job.
Chris: 15:49 And then one day he decided he was going to retire. He was already 70 years old. He had one staff guy who was also like 70 years old and that guy was retiring. So this guy, whose name is really Bob, says I’m going to hang it up too. And then he realizes, what do I have to sell here? You know, there’s kind of a business, but there’s nothing written down. I don’t really have a client list. I have a list of people who have purchased from me in the past and I have all these guys that I kind of remember and I called him up and I don’t really have like an invoicing process. I, I don’t, I can’t forecast anything, you know, I make what I make. And his daughter said, Daddy, I want to take your business over. She left her job, started running his business, and within a year it had impoverished her, she was out of money and he was trying to start again from scratch.
Chris: 16:37 Now your grandfather and your dad are smarter than that. What they should be concerned with is what kind of legacy am I leaving? And I think that the parachute for the entrepreneur is a company that’s a cash flow asset, meaning it can run itself no matter what. So this guy, Bob is, he’s back in business. I Dunno, I think he’s probably making some money, but what would have happened 20 years ago, if he would have fallen from a tower, his family would have been impoverished. Nobody would’ve been able to step up and take over this business because there’s what is there to take over. And so like your security, your parachute, your stability, the foundation that you’re going to build a meaningful life with, it should be stable enough that you can walk away from it, that you can get hit by a bus and your family is still gonna be okay.
Chris: 17:19 You know, one of my first unofficial mentors when I started a business was named Nick. Nick was a mechanic. He worked on cars and he bought his garage from a guy who had owned it for about 25 years. And the other guy was named Harold. And Harold had run this garage called Harold’s garage in a little town near where I grew up. And when Nick bought it from him, he bought it pretty cheap. And it wasn’t enough for Harold to retire on, but Harold couldn’t work anymore, you know, years of working in an automotive shop. You know what that does to you. Right. Especially then, his health was in decline. He never really made enough money to do more than support his family. You know, I don’t think he had much in savings, but I can’t speak to that. And when Nick bought it for $80,000, he was paying about four times what it was actually worth.
Chris: 18:03 Cause he liked Harold. And what he found was that Harold had a ton of friends and all these friends said, I’ll come back and pay you on Friday. Or, Hey, can I give you 100 bucks this week and come back? Or Hey, thanks for ordering those tires for me. I don’t really need them. You know, he wasn’t running it like a business. And what that did was it almost drug Nick down and Nick’s family, his wife Linda, you know his daughters, and Nick had to fix it. Nick had to take the business, become a farmer himself right away and reach tinker phase before that business would be worth anything. And eventually Nick, who was a close friend, did have a sudden heart attack. That’s a crazy story in itself. And he passed away. And if he hadn’t systemized that business, his daughters would have been left with nothing.
Greg: 18:47 Okay. And that’s a, that’s a great counter to my, my stories there. That was a, I wasn’t ready for that. I’m glad. I’m glad that we were able to share that because I did get asked that question recently. If, if somebody is comfortable in, in the founder phaser farmer face, do, do they have to go to tinker? And my always, I mean from previous experiences with my stepfather and my father having their own businesses that I said, no, they’re happy in their founder phase. They don’t, they don’t want to go to farmer phase. But if, if somebody is looking to leave a legacy and be able to support their family when something happens, they kind of need to push themselves to get to that tinker phase. And if they, from my understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, but in this instance, if they want to still work on cars or work on radios, they can still do it. But, uh, they need to have a business that runs itself.
Chris: 19:34 And that’s it, man, is they’ve got to have that choice. You know, your dad and your grandfather are very lucky that they still enjoy their work. 30 years in, you really don’t see that much. But I know a lot of listeners to this podcast own gyms, they jumped into entrepreneurship through owning a gym. They’re young, they’re passionate. They just want to be a coach. They’ve kind of bought themselves a job. And I get that because I was there for a decade. But the bottom line is that if you don’t start putting those systems in place first and start like right now and think about, I’m going to get to tinker phase someday, then by the time you hit that 10 year mark and you’re tired and you’re not making any more money than you were 10 years ago, where your kids are getting bigger and they’re eating more and they got to go to prom, you know, it’s, it’s almost too late.
Chris: 20:20 Like you have to start with the end in mind and the end is choice. So in the tinker phase, what we want to do is have you virtually retire from running the business. If you want to go to work every day and show up and mop the floors, that’s fine, but you’re retired. They don’t need you there, right? You’re think of yourself as like a ghost in your own business. If you want to go coach people, that’s cool. I don’t. I go to crossfit. You know, I experience my business as a consumer now and that’s it. Um, I recently ran a test to see could I stay out of my gym for six months. Like literally not set a foot in it and, three months in it’s happening. I’m still doing crossfit. I’m still following my gym’s programming and riding my bike. Still love Crossfit, still love my gym, still have lunch with the members, but I want to see if I can go six months without being there.
Greg: 21:08 Excellent. Excellent. And I’m in a, I’m in the same instance. I mean, I’m, I’m completely in a different state. Uh, I’m in Colorado right now and my gym’s down in New Mexico and I have not stepped foot in there in a, at least a month and a half because I’ve been up here. I plan on going back here in a week, but it’s one of those same scenarios, so I can definitely see where you’re coming from to see, just to keep pushing the envelope. Let’s, let’s not, not do I get hit by a bus test today for a week, but once a week, what’s two weeks? What’s five weeks? What?
Chris: 21:38 Yeah. I’ll tell you something else that I’ve just learned from you and from Josh Price in the last couple of weeks. And Jay Williams even brought this up too. So I went out to San Fran to visit with Jay and all of you, and Jay said, you know what, I’ve been out of my gym for a week. And it’s better when I’m not here. People make decisions on their own, they take action and they want my gym to grow. So they do the right things. When I am here, they don’t take action. They wait to talk to Jay. They ask Jay’s permission, they wait for Jay to tell them what to do. And you know, Josh price told me the exact same thing. He, he moved from Virginia down to Mississippi. And guess what? His gym is better than it was. It’s more profitable, you know, their retention is better, all these things.
Chris: 22:18 So my point is that like, a lot of the times when we get to the tinker phase, we start to get in our own way. Like, we stick our fingers in the machine because we feel like, oh, we’re not needed anymore. You know, nobody can make the donuts like I can. And that’s just not the truth. And sometimes for the, for the better of our clients and our staff and our spouse, we need to get the hell out of there, get out of their way, you know, start working on the next big project. And that’s really what the tinker phase is all about.
Greg: 22:45 And I, uh, I can attest to that 100% that my business has better retention, we have better profit margins and my staff takes better action. I mean, I, they’ve, well they’ve created over the past two months, two new programs in, within the business. Uh, and I’ve had zero effect on that except for jumping on to Fiverr, get a logo made.
Chris: 23:06 That is so the funny part here, Greg, is you know, people who aren’t in the tinker phase who are maybe still in the founder phase, they’ll hear that and they’ll be like, ah, man, why can’t my staff be motivated like that? Right. And that’s not it. The problem is that they haven’t brought their business up to the point of farmer phase and then taking themselves into tinker phase. Okay, I’m the leader that my staff deserve.
Greg: 23:28 All right. I couldn’t, I couldn’t agree more on that. And I think anybody out there that is listening, that is in that farmer phase and they’re trying to achieve getting into that tinker phase. The biggest tactical cue I could give to somebody is get out of your own way. Let your staff make decisions and empower them knowing that the decisions they’re going to make will influence the business. Of course positive and negative, but you are going to stand behind them and back that decision that they do make. Yeah.
Chris: 23:54 And so we say that in the founder phase and the farmer phase, like we’re mentoring you on the business. In the tinker phase, we’re mentoring you as an entrepreneur, if that makes sense. You know what we get from a lot of people who take the test and they immediately say, oh that’s me, is they’ll also say, oh, here are the steps that I need to take to get there. So having this framework of like four different levels, it’s stickier than I thought, number one, but number two, it tells you here’s what the next step in my business is and as a mentor it made my job a lot easier because you know, if I’m looking at my client, I’m like, okay, he’s got 33% profit margin. He’s working less than 40 hours a week, but every client only wants to come to his class. All he has to do to get free of that gym and reach wealth and get to tinker phase is to establish his staff as experts that I know what we’re going to do this month. You know it, it really clarifies the picture.
Greg: 24:46 Agreed. Now I want to hit on a point you just made you, you said you created a test to basically tell where somebody is in this, in this spectrum of founder, farmer, tinker, thief, what took to actually create that test and where can people go if they want?
Chris: 25:02 If you’re a gym owner, go to www.twobrainbusiness.com/test . If you’re not a gym owner, but you’re listening to this podcast and you own another company, go to www.twobrain.com/test . Two different websites. One is specifically tailored for the fitness industry, which is, you know, our passion. One is tailored for the service industry. So if you don’t own a gym, go to www.twobrain.com/test .
Greg: 25:26 So what did it take to build the test?
Chris: 25:28 Well, when I was starting to think about categorizing the, the entrepreneurial life cycle, I started to ask myself like, what are the hallmarks of, you know, when somebody transitions? So for example, going from farmer to tinker means that you, you’re done kind of working on the business. It’s self sustaining. You’ve got an ops manager, but you’re not done working on yourself yet. You still have to become a better entrepreneur and a better leader.
Chris: 25:55 And I spent the last two years traveling with entrepreneurs who are just reaching this tinker phase and they’re struggling with a lot of things, like they’re going through what my CFO would call the valley of death. You know Greg Crabtree, he wrote Simple Numbers. He’s my CFO and he writes about this valley where your company is grossing between two and 5 million a year. And like you’re hiring people who are specialists now and they’re better at one particular thing that you are. Maybe they’re getting paid more than you were ever paid in the past. So you’re dealing with big sums of money and you’ve kind of like got this imposter syndrome. And at that point you’re not talking about fixing your business anymore. You’re, you’re talking about growing as a leader. And that’s really what the tinker phase is about. It’s about growing as a leader. It’s using the tools that you have to enter your most creative and focused state.
Chris: 26:47 It’s about focusing on like one project maybe at a time, et cetera. So when you’ve got all these criteria, then I can work backwards from that and say like, okay, well what has to be in place for the business to be self sufficient enough for me to move into tinker and develop myself as a leader? Well I have to be at a 33% profit margin. Somebody else has to bear the burden of responsibility for success. I have to have all my roles done. I have to have, you know, like a retention strategy. I have to have good sales training for my team, et Cetera. And then moving backward even further, like before somebody can have a roles and tasks and advanced roles and a manager, well the first step is they have to pay themselves and they have to hire one person, you know, and so founder phase, it all kind of trickled backward from tinker.
Greg: 27:32 Okay. And I want to, I want to go on this specific story cause I definitely want to share this because you shared it with me right when it happened and I thought it was, it was hilarious to hear, but so happy that somebody, somebody got this result. I want to get, get to the Archie story and the results that that Archie had.
Chris: 27:51 So when I started thinking about founder farmer, tinker thief, like they didn’t, nothing had a name yet. You know I was thinking about farmer because I grew up a farmer and I was thinking about founder because like a lot of entrepreneurial media is like Hashtag founder Hashtag Grind Hashtag Hustle. And so I was kinda thinking like, okay well you know the founder is planting the seeds and the farmers cultivating the crop and all this stuff. And I came up with the test right before our summit in June. I had no idea how sticky these terms would be. No idea. And so I thought like okay, I’m going to talk about this at the summit for about 35 minutes and then I’m going to leave it alone. And what happened was Archie Brown, you know, the V-Fit takes the test the night before the summit, comes in the next day and says, Oh man, I’m stuck in founder phase, but I know what I gotta do to get to farmer. And for me that was the tipping point. That’s when I said, this is important and, uh, we’re going to pursue it because not only is it helpful to the mentor to know, like, what to focus on, but it’s also inspirational to the client because they know what they have to do.
Greg: 28:55 And I love that story. I love that. I remember when you told me that he came in and he kind of threw his arms up in the air and was like, I thought I was in farmer. I’m only in founder. He was, but he had the steps already built out to know exactly what he needed to do, which I thought was just so amazing. And I was so happy to hear that. Uh, he was able to do that, to have those steps in and kind of go forward.
Chris: 29:19 Like our goal as mentor is to take incredibly bright people and help them get to action. Right. And at that moment, the founder farmer tinker thief framework proved itself as a valuable tool to do that. Uh, Archie is extremely smart. He’s extremely hardworking. What he and every entrepreneur needs to know is like, this is the next step to do right now to the exclusion of all others. Taking the test showed him the next three steps and he started hammering, you know, and now every week now people are retaking the test and like they’re screen shotting it and they’re putting it up in our Facebook group. Man, I hit tinker, boom. You know, a guy sent me a picture of the, the tinker logo on his fridge last night because he made it, he did it, you know, and now he’s starting to feel like, damn, I’m a real entrepreneur.
Chris: 30:08 But the funniest story really to date is when I, I still do free calls with entrepreneurs. You know, I’m just just past 2000 I still do probably seven or eight a week. The funniest story is when I get on a call and somebody will say, I’m in farmer phase. You ever heard of that? You know, I’ll say, yeah, I’ve heard of that. He’s like, well, like can your, can your firm get me out of the farmer phase? And I’m like, we invented the farmer phase. Yes. You know? Um, absolutely we can. And so I think it’s, it’s just amazing like how sticky this whole concept has become and, and thereby helpful to our clients. It’s not just sticky because it’s helping us sell mentorship. It’s sticky because it’s a tool that’s actually helping people make like huge positive steps as entrepreneurs,
Greg: 30:53 Let’s say I make it to, to, to tinker phase, but what I notice is I keep falling back into farmer stage in that transition. What, what is the reasoning for that? Why, why would I keep falling back in?
Chris: 31:05 That could be a couple of things. And, and we do see this like, you know, in the fitness industry, the perfect analogy is the guy that opens up four gyms before his first one is self sufficient. You know, like completely automated, hands off. And so what happens is he just grinds himself into the dirt. The reason that people fall back into farmer is one of two things. Number one, the harder one is ego. We need to feel like we’re important in our business. We started it. Nobody can do it as good as me. I make the best donuts. We keep sticking our fingers in the machine and breaking things so that we feel needed. And that’s what it comes down to. You know, hey, business is going great. Never made this much money in my life. Let’s switch to wodify and, and we create this drama because our brains are like trained to react to drama.
Chris: 31:56 We’re attracted to it. You know, we create it. We stepped back in and we saved the day. We’re the hero in the business again, we’ve proved to ourselves that like the business really needs us and uh, we stay in farmer forever. The other one is that you haven’t completely resolved the farmer problems. So you know, you get to tinker phase, you’re starting to look around like, damn the world is great. I get to buy a building, I’m going to start thinking about my retirement. Now I’ve got this other idea for a tee shirt company. I’m going to start, can’t wait. And then one of your coaches doesn’t show up or you get a call from a client saying, hey, since you stopped coming to the gym, it’s a pigsty or the food doesn’t taste as good when you don’t cook it. And so you’re drug back down into farmer until you completely resolve those issues. And I learned that from John Maxwell’s five levels of leadership. Like do you want to get to level three leader in the Maxwell hierarchy? You have to completely replace yourself at level two with somebody else. And, and we use an analogy to explain that in founder, farmer, tinker thief. And that is you have to leave a farmer behind. So when you graduate into the tinker phase, you have to have a staff person who will act as a farmer and run your business and probably be happy like that even if you never will. Be
Greg: 33:08 Awesome to hear. Awesome to hear. Cause I know a lot of people out there that are listening have that tendency to jump in, think they’re, they’re moved into the next next phase, but they kind of fall back each time. So this book is now on and we’re going to link the, the test in the show notes. We’re also going to link the preorder, uh, on this book so that everyone can get their hands on it asap. I know I can’t wait for it to come out. I will definitely have a copy. Hopefully there’s an audible copy eventually because I am very big into that compared to reading. This is just something that is not a skill of mine that I know and I’m aware of, but I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on.
Chris: 33:49 Oh Man. Lots of, uh, thieves get to that level without reading. They don’t like reading. It’s fine. Yeah. So it’s on Amazon on May 7. It’s will be on Barnesandnoble.com. The audio book will be out on Audible.com on the same day. This book took, I mean I, I wrote it with a fervor, I felt compelled to write it and you know, I produce about 6,000 words a day because I just can’t not do it. I wake up in the morning, at literally 2:00 AM today facing a big problem that one of our mentoring clients was trying to solve. I work through It through writing and out of that came the book, while I didn’t want this thing to be a textbook. So there’s, you know, a lot of stories in there and examples and you know, scenarios. I think it’s a lot of fun to read. But if you take the test first and you find out, okay, I’m in the farmer phase and you read the first half of the book, I mean you can, you can fold it up and go to work. You know, you can call your mentor and say, here’s my next step. Or you can let them tell you their next step. You might not have to read the whole thing, but I hope you do.
Greg: 34:47 Excellent. And again, thank you Chris for jumping on and being able to explain the book, founder farmer, tinker thief, which again is available for preorder on Amazon, so please go jump on the show notes, click that link and get that book ordered on May 7. Thank you for jumping on and we greatly appreciate it. It’s always a pleasure and we wish you the best. Thank you Chris.
Chris: 35:06 Hey everyone. Chris Cooper here on really thrilled to see you this year in June in Chicago at the 2019 Two-Brain summit. Every year we have two separate speaking tracks is one for you, the business owner, and there’s one for coaches that will help them make better, longer, more meaningful careers under the umbrella of your business. This year we’ve got some pretty amazing topics like the client success manager, how to change your life, organizational culture or the business owner’s life cycle, how to have breaks, how to have vacations, how to help your marriage survive, owning a business motivation and leadership, how to convert more clients, how to create a GM position that runs your gym for you and leaves you free to grow your business. How to start a business owner’s group in your community and more. The point here is to do the right thing that will help gym owners create better businesses that will last them for the long term, get them to tinker phase, help them be more successful, create meaningful careers that their coaches and give their clients a meaningful path to longterm health. We only do one big seminar every year and that’s the Two-Brain summit and the reason that we do that is because a big part of the benefit is getting the Two-Brain community together and and welcoming strangers into our midst and showing them how amazing gym ownership really can be. We’ll have a link to the Two-Brain summit including a full list of all speakers and topics on both the owners and the coaches side in the show notes. I really hope to see you there.
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