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Sticking to your Plan: How a single good deed created a nightmare

No matter how many times you do it, it’s never easy to fire someone. Especially when you actually like the person you’re about to send packing. But sometimes, extraordinary circumstances arise that change your decision mid-stream.


That’s precisely the position that turnaround specialist Zach Selch of Global Sales Mentor found himself back in 2009.


Zach had been mentoring a likable young salesperson in Greece who, even after a lot of coaching, just wasn’t meeting his performance targets. Zach didn’t want to fire him, but it was clear that he had to. So, he boarded his flight to Greece and prepared to deliver the news face-to-face.


That’s when everything went sideways.


By the time Zach’s plane landed, the entire Greek economy was in a freefall. It was day 1 of the government debt crisis. There were mass riots. Banks were being set ablaze. And millions were instantly unemployed and facing severe uncertainty. In...

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Before abandoning your strategy, consider these 3 things

When turnaround specialist Zach Selch of Global Sales Mentor flew to Athens, Greece, to let go of an underperforming employee, he had his whole strategy clearly mapped out. But when he arrived in Greece, everything went sideways.


That day turned out to be day 1 of the country’s economic crisis. And before he could open his mouth to deliver the news, the employee told him that his wife just lost her job and that the two were expecting their first child.


Feeling the weight of so many extraordinary circumstances colliding all at once, Zach had a moment of compassion and decided to change course.


Rather than fire the employee, he decided to let him stay on as long as he needed to while he looked for another job.


It turned out to be a costly mistake and one that negatively impacted his entire team.


Here are a few tips we’ve gleaned from Zach’s experience to help you better roll out a strategy of your own:


  • Don’t let...
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Toughest Call Ep. 104 - Making the Hollywood Blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (with John Watson) - TRANSCRIPT

John Watson  00:04

The big thing was, they wanted us to produce the movie, at least they were willing to let us produce the movie ourselves, which was what we really wanted to hear.


Chaz Thorne  00:15

Welcome back, or Welcome to toughest call, a podcast for organizational leaders, where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues about career defining decisions. I'm your host, Chaz. In this episode, I'm talking with john Watson about a tough call he faced in the making of his movie Robin, starring Kevin Costner. JOHN is a Hollywood producer with credits including backdraft blown away mall Flanders, the outer limits, Harriet, and the last full measure. JOHN talks about a particularly tough call with a tight timeline he and his partners had to make in the early days of their movie Robin Hood, this decision had significant ripple effects, both good and bad, that would be felt for decades to come. Join, let's start at the point where you decided to write this...

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Is Your Business Facing a Tough Choice?

3 Tips from the man who turned Robin Hood into the 2nd Highest Grossing Film of 1991

Back in the early 90s, a struggling writer/producer by the name of John Watson had a screenplay that completely reimagined the legend of Robin Hood. In John’s version, Robin was a warrior of noble blood who returns from the Crusades to find that the home he knew is now rampant with corruption.

It was a bold reinvention that caught the eye of Hollywood and landed John two very different offers.

One of the largest studios offered him a “mind-blowing” amount of money for the screenplay but would shut John out of producing and all further involvement. The other offer was from a smaller studio for far less money, but in this deal, John could stay on as producer. The second option came with greater risk, but John ultimately left the money on the table and went with the second option anyway.

The bold choice turned out to be the right one. The film became the second highest-grossing film...

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The Bold Decision that turned Robin Hood into a Hollywood Blockbuster

Check yourself to ensure that you aren’t seduced too easily by the ‘quick win’.

When many of us think of Robin Hood, we often conjure up cheeky images of characters parading around in tights and occasionally bursting into songs of merriment. And to be fair, that’s exactly the image Hollywood had about the legend of Robin Hood until a relatively new writer/producer by the name of John Watson and his writing partner, Pen Densham, wrote an entirely new take on the classic.

In their screenplay, Robin was a warrior of noble blood who comes back to a now highly corrupt England after being imprisoned during the Crusades.

Within weeks after shopping around their reimagined version, the reception was nothing short of remarkable. In fact, John found himself with not one, but two solid offers on the table, each with the power to forever alter his career.

“We really had two very different choices,” said John “Give up the script to a major studio for a...

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Toughest Call Ep. 102 - To go forward or retreat while 2,000 meters above certain death (with John Bourke) - TRANSCRIPT


John Bourke  00:04

I may end up dead. So low probability. I don't know if I was mentally survive, dangling off the rope with a tooth longer dropped below me.


Chaz Thorne  00:15

Welcome back and welcome to toughest call a podcast for organizational leaders where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues about career defining decisions. I'm your host, Chaz Thorne. In this episode, I'm talking with john Burke about a tough call he faced when climbing a literal mountain, and what he learned from it as a leader. JOHN is the president of the Business Excellence Institute, a worldwide membership body for Business Excellence professionals, john talks about a difficult choice he had to make while standing on a narrow ledge above a deadly two kilometer drop. Though it was not a call he had to make for his business, the repercussions of that defining moment continue to inform how he approaches his professional decision making. JOHN, let's start at the point of why did...

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Strategyā€™s Secret Sauce: How Data Can Help Your Strategic Plan Succeed

When we think of strategy, we often think of some masterful thinker using their experience and insights to keep one step ahead of the competition.

Although stories of visionary thinking and listening to your gut instincts makes for good entertainment, there is another essential part of strategy that doesn’t always get the credit it deserves: data.

InvestorCOM CEO Dave Reeve made one of the toughest calls of his career when he took the company through a major pivot, shifting from a service business to a technology platform. It wound up being a shining example of how data can help your team move forward in the face of immense challenges.

Here are three ways that data can make or break your strategic plan: 

  • Data mitigates risk. There are times when leaders must be bold, creative, and take risks. But even the risks should be calculated. And that means using data to shore up your rationale. While many of us think of data as a spreadsheet of computations, data can be...
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Toughest Call Ep. 103 - Reinvigorating a 30-year-old business model (with Dave Reeve) - TRANSCRIPT

Dave Reeve  00:05

COVID caused the model for remote work to change, and these new regulations hit at the same. So, we were dealing with a bit of a double or triple whammy there. You know, one was an opportunity, of course, one was a challenge.


Chaz Thorne  00:20

Welcome back, or welcome to Toughest Call a podcast for organizational leaders where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues about career defining decisions. I'm your host, Chaz Thorne. In this episode, I'm talking with Dave Reeve about a tough call, he made transitioning his 28-year-old business from a service model to software. Dave is the CEO of InvestorCOM, a leading compliance technology provider to the wealth management industry. Like many other leaders I've talked to recently COVID helped hasten a change that was in the works for some time. Interestingly, it wasn't making the call that was tough, but the implementation of it, what was particularly challenging was managing the difficult...

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Looking for buy-in on your new strategy? Donā€™t just start with words. Start with data.

Sooner or later, every business finds itself at a crossroads. Adapt or die, as they say. For many companies, that push for change has been dramatically accelerated by COVID.

Over 28 years ago, Dave Reeve founded a tech company called InvestorCOM that provides compliance technology for the wealth management industry. 

Even in an industry where change is relatively slow, it was apparent to Dave that he’d need to dramatically change his business if he was to adapt to the changing times. More specifically, Dave would have to let go of the business model he’d honed for nearly three decades and switch from a service model to a software model. And this move would mean lost jobs for some long-standing employees.

Armed with a deep understanding of where the business was headed, he chose to pivot. But the most challenging part wasn’t making the actual choice. It was stick-handling the fallout with employees and carving out a plan to get them behind the new direction.


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The Importance of Communication in Strategic Planning: Four Tips for Doing it Right

When you’re standing on a six-inch ledge with a 2,000-meter drop straight down, it’s not exactly the ideal time to make critical decisions. But that’s what John Bourke, President of the Business Excellence Institute, had to face as he stood just shy of the peak of one of North America’s tallest mountains. 

Between him and the peak was an overhang that required near spider-like abilities to climb. It was an obstacle he just wasn’t prepared for – mentally or physically. After some heart-wrenching deliberation and one final look at the impossible overhang, John decided the only course was to abandon the climb, something he’d prepped for more than a year.

What John didn’t realize at the time was that the biggest obstacle wasn’t, in fact, the overhang. It was his and his teammate’s lack of clear communication during this state of crisis. 

Here are a few key lessons we can take from John’s decision-making during...

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