[00:00:01.450] - Announcer
Do you wonder if others are dealing with the same project management challenges as you? Not sure where to turn for guidance and leadership? Office Hours are in session as we discuss Project Management and PMOs with global leaders hearing their story and learning their secrets to success. Our goal is to empower you and help you elevate your PMO and project management career to new heights. Welcome back to Project Management Office Hours with your host, PMO Joe.
[00:00:29.930] - PMO Joe
Welcome everyone to Project Management Office Hours. We're the number one live project management radio show in the US, broadcasting to you from the Phoenix Business RadioX Studios in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe. And for the next hour, we'll be talking project management and playbooks today. Before we jump into the show, I just want to do a thank you to the organizers of the PMI Bulgaria chapter. They currently are ongoing with their Project Explorer Global conference. And I had good fortune to speak yesterday at the event, presenting on the PMO Squad Project Management Journey Map.
[00:01:10.070] - PMO Joe
Great session. We had about 400 people in attendance, received really good feedback on that. And we had asked a poll question to everybody who was in attendance for the session was, "Have you ever had an independent assessment of your PMO maturity?" And 75 percent of the respondents had said no. We found out curious that people really aren't understanding where they are in their journey.
[00:01:38.030] - PMO Joe
So we encourage everybody to go up to the PMO Squad website, look at our Project Management Journey Map, and see how it might fit in for you because knowing where you are is really important to be able to determine where you're going and how to get there. So if you're starting blind, you're going to finish blind. And we certainly don't recommend that.
[00:01:59.260] - PMO Joe
Of course, also, thank you to our sponsors, the PMO Squad, of course, but also the PMO Leader, the global community site for Project Management leaders to be able to connect network and share. A reminder also to everyone to visit projectmanagementofficehours.com to see our upcoming episodes, listen to all of our previous episodes, and of course, learn more about our amazing guests that have joined us over the years. I think we're now over 40 million plays and downloads, which I don't know if I believe the numbers, but they're numbers.
[00:02:29.590] - PMO Joe
They're not wrong, I guess, right?
[00:02:31.320] - PMO Joe
Today, we're super excited. We're in studio with the guest, oh, and the second time that's happened since COVID's happened. So we have Chris Ronzio, the CEO of Trainual here with us. Welcome, Chris.
[00:02:43.310] - Chris Ronzio
Hey, Joe, PMO Joe, the Mecca of Project Management. Thank you for having me.
[00:02:48.060] - PMO Joe
Absolutely. If you take a moment just to share a little bit about yourself with our listeners, get them to know you a little bit better.
[00:02:54.970] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah, sure. So I'm Chris Ronzio, CEO and founder of a company called Trainual. Trainual is just training and manual smashed together. So if you think about building the manual for your business, the instruction set, I'm sure that's something every project manager would love to have as an instruction set for the business, it's creating that. And then it's the experience of delivering that to your people so that they can get up to speed on your business through your orientation and stay up to speed on all of your best practices, so that you're operating consistently and that you can grow like you want to.
[00:03:25.980] - PMO Joe
Yeah. It's awesome to be able to see the growth you and I met random meeting four or so years ago at an Arizona Tech Council event. And just in the distance, you follow people as they're evolving in their career. Phoenix is a small town in the sense of business community, and it's been great to see this progression you've had from organized chaos and design pickle, and now Trainual and the growth that you've had and really the explosion that Trainual has had over the past couple of years.
[00:03:56.520] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah, it's been a fun ride. So Trainual started as just this little prototype software in my consulting business because I wanted something proprietary and I thought I'm doing all this consulting. I'm helping people build playbooks. I should have a place for them to put it all.
[00:04:09.940] - Chris Ronzio
So it's this little product that we had and we offered just to our clients. And then little by little, it was picking up steam. It was getting referrals. And so it was the very beginning of 2018, we spun it into its own company, and since then, it's been crazy. We have thousands and thousands of businesses in 183 countries using the product. So worldwide.
[00:04:31.130] - PMO Joe
That's amazing. In the book, you just came out in the last few months, I believe, right?
[00:04:36.550] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. October 5th I think it was.
[00:04:38.910] - PMO Joe
In there, I think there is a goal to have 25,000 customers by the end of next year.
[00:04:44.640] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah, 25,000 businesses. So for anyone that's listening, at least here in the US or North America, there were about 2.5 million target businesses when we did our original business plan. Small businesses, 5-500 employees, that's what we are focused on. And so one percent of that was $25,000. And so that was the original goal. It's how do we make a dent, how do we actually have some market share. And that's where the number came from.
[00:05:09.700] - PMO Joe
How is it looking? Are you going to hit your target or you're going to blow by it? What do you think?
[00:05:13.350] - Chris Ronzio
We're on track, proud to say. So you have to have me back here in a year and a half or so.
[00:05:18.490] - PMO Joe
[00:05:19.050] - Chris Ronzio
I'll let you know where we're at.
[00:05:20.880] - PMO Joe
Let's learn a little bit more about this. I posted out on LinkedIn yesterday. I'm a playbook guy. I was an athlete growing up, and it was my freshman year of high school. I'm a 9th grader, and I got called up to play on the varsity baseball team for the playoffs.
[00:05:37.550] - Chris Ronzio
You're a catcher, right? I saw your post.
[00:05:39.300] - PMO Joe
Yeah. I was a catcher, right? It's just this little scrawny, 120-pound Catcher Reno bag in 9th grade. And the head coach gave me a playbook. And I had never in baseball who has a playbook, right? I've never seen a playbook in baseball. It's only football, I thought. And he showed it to me. And he said, you need to know this before the next game. It says where every player is expected to be when the ball is hit into a certain spot in the field. And you, as the catcher, are responsible to make sure that they're doing what they need to do.
[00:06:07.340] - PMO Joe
You're probably never going to play, right? We've got our starting catcher. But if a freak accident happens and you ever play, the team is going to rely on you that know this playbook. So I went and studied the playbook, and within a couple of hours, I recognized I knew what everybody was going to be doing. I didn't know just my job. I actually had something that I could go to, and that changed my life forever. It helped me understand that once the team knows what everyone is doing, trust is built a whole lot more quickly and a lot easy.
[00:06:35.600] - PMO Joe
From a business perspective, it's a little bit different than athletics, but it's the same concept, right?
[00:06:40.110] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah, absolutely. So I played sports growing up to basketball, baseball, a little bit of football. I was a terrible at football. I got stepped all over. But when I played sports, they would drop these plays. And the plays weren't things that you'd run once. There were things you have to know how to do anytime it popped up. And so I think that concept resonates with a lot of business leaders and anyone working in a company that you feel more secure about your job and how to do it.
[00:07:06.000] - Chris Ronzio
If you know how it's supposed to be done, people get hired to do a certain job to carry out a set of responsibilities. And if you don't give them good instructions, then that's where you have misalignment. And that's where you have conflict between employers and employees. And so it's our job to give people great instructions. And to say, here is what I expect of you. And that's what a playbook is.
[00:07:27.670] - PMO Joe
Yeah, I love it. You're a sports fan and we'll touch on this a little bit later. But you had your conference this year, the Playbook conference, and you were able to interview Shaq, right? As I'm watching the interview, I'm putting myself in your chair saying, "Man, as a sports nut, what a great feeling that must have been to be interviewing Shaq."
[00:07:48.900] - Chris Ronzio
Oh, it was amazing. I was so looking forward to that. Funny little story behind the scenes if anybody else is in the event. We have this annual event called Playbook. It was the second time we did it. We had over 5,000 people attend, which was really cool. And so I'm interviewing Shaq and behind the scenes, I see everyone start scrambling, and they had lost the WiFi connection. Everything was down. And so I'm reading the questions off this ipad that was on WiFi. And we had this shared doc between me and our marketing team, and they're feeding in questions from the audience.
[00:08:20.130] - Chris Ronzio
And at some point, the questions just stop. And so I'm interviewing Shaq. I've got all this time left, and my document is totally blank. And so I'm just top of mind trying to come up with things to ask him about his past, but freaking out a little bit. And so my brother, who's our CMO, he came from behind the scenes. He could see that I didn't have the connection. And he came with his own list of questions, sat down next to me and saved the day. So if anybody was watching, that's what was happening behind the scenes.
[00:08:47.290] - PMO Joe
Well, as one of those 5,000 people watching, we couldn't tell. There was no way to know. And Shaq was great. He had mentioned during that session that he had some other engagements later in the day. And I said, I'm going to see if I can catch one of those to see if he's wearing the same thing, to see if both are actually live, or if this was taped or whatever. And he was wearing the same stuff he was wearing for yours. So I'm like, "Yeah, they're both live.
[00:09:08.480] - PMO Joe
This is great."
[00:09:09.270] - Chris Ronzio
Totally live. He joined the Zoom meeting, and his name was like, Big Hoffa or something like that. And he just types in the chat, "It's Shaq, I'm here". And so we promote him as a panelist, and it was funny.
[00:09:25.200] - PMO Joe
That's great. So let's take some time and go back to this because we're a project management show, but we have listeners who have their own consulting firms, their project management. You're running a project so it's almost like you're an entrepreneur for that project you're leading, right?
[00:09:41.870] - Chris Ronzio
[00:09:42.170] - PMO Joe
So you're an entrepreneur started a long time ago, and you hit on the pot of gold, but Trainual what it looks like, right? But it wasn't easy from the beginning, right? A lot of lessons learned. What's that journey been like for you?
[00:09:57.720] - Chris Ronzio
So it's been 22 years since I started my first business. I was 14 years old, and it was a video production company. We filmed youth sporting events all around the US. And so project management is near and dear to my heart, because it's how we manage every single production that we did as a video company. And we didn't do necessarily all the creative video, but we did live event production, which has a ton of components to it.
[00:10:21.360] - Chris Ronzio
So before the event, you're planning for staffing the crew and booking all the equipment and prepping the location and delivering items and selling the videos as pre-orders and setting up the live stream. And so you can imagine the stage by stage approach, project management, pre-event, during the event, after the event, follow-ups with the organization.
[00:10:42.410] - Chris Ronzio
And so that life cycle of an event production is how my business was growing. I was fine tuning how we did all of those things. And so as I built the business, I first was the camera operator and the editor and the sales rep and the fulfillment guy. And then I started hiring people for those positions. And as we got more and more events around the country, I had to show all the people that we were hiring.
[00:11:05.180] - Chris Ronzio
Here is how to do it, not just assign them the tasks in the project template, but here is how to do each of those tasks. And so we started little by little putting together standard operating procedures and word docs. And then we would screenrecording videos and live videos and put them on YouTube. And we were sending out all these instructions for here's how to set up an event. Here's how to set up a sales table. Here's the talk track for dealing with customers. Here are some commonly asked questions.
[00:11:33.740] - Chris Ronzio
And as we were assembling these things, I just kept thinking, I wish there was a place for all of this to exist. That was the nugget that eventually led to Trainual. But it wouldn't be for another decade that I would create Trainual. So after that, my video company was growing. We had over 300 camera operators. We were doing events across the country, three offices, and that business was building. But I was falling out of love with it. I had done it through high school, through College, after College.
[00:12:02.940] - Chris Ronzio
I moved out here to Arizona with my wife, and I was ready for a new challenge.
[00:12:07.650] - Chris Ronzio
So I was meeting other entrepreneurs, people building businesses. And I saw that the idea of standardizing what you do and creating an efficient way to do what you do and having the structure of great project management and great instructions, was not something that was unique to the video company. It was something everyone is trying to do. And so I fell in love with working with different types of businesses, different industries, retail stores and doctors' offices and law firms and marketing firms and plumbers and electricians and just learning, immersing myself in all these different businesses.
[00:12:45.470] - Chris Ronzio
And the one constant was that everyone wants to document how their business works. And so that's where the concept really surfaced. Again, for the playbook, I had sold my video company. I was doing all this consulting, and I thought instead of using a Google site or a Dropbox folder, what would be the optimum thing for a company to package together who they are, what they do, and how you do it? And that's where Trainual came from.
[00:13:10.860] - PMO Joe
Yeah. As you're speaking there, I was thinking back to a blog article I read yesterday about friction in business. And in the graphic they used was the space shuttle entering back into orbit has all this friction. So there's sound, there's flames, there's all this. So it's a hard friction. But the other would be the counter. That would be something like a manual, a playbook, which actually is friction because it's creating you a new process for you to do. You're documenting stuff that you may not have documented before, but it's a smooth friction.
[00:13:47.650] - PMO Joe
It's actually leading to a peaceful transition, easier for people to account to. So that friction of the change of mindset of a small business to say, "Man, we should document this" to now saying, "There's a tool to actually use to do that." You've tried to make the friction be so much smoother for them.
[00:14:07.470] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. It's a great analogy. So thinking about that space shuttle coming back into orbit, I think the idea of documenting something for the first time and trying to delegate it to someone for the first time, and it being a messy process, that's where all that fire comes from and the friction comes from. And so a lot of people are just scared to do it. And they say, "Oh, it's going to be too hot or too hard, and I can't do it. So I'm not going to it at all."
[00:14:32.220] - Chris Ronzio
And you get stuck doing the thing yourself over and over. And so there is a bit of a Catch-22 where you say in order for this to be smooth, in order to open up the organization so we can grow so more people can do this thing, we have to invest the time to map out the process, to do it right. And it's something that I'm sure a lot of your listeners dedicate time to as an organized bunch of people. If you can get the instructions written down, it becomes smoother and smoother and smoother for every subsequent person that does it.
[00:15:03.180] - Chris Ronzio
So you're reducing the friction. And yeah, that's what we try to do with Trainual. It's that the software is aimed at making this as painless as possible. Our product vision, if you saw that session, we want to make the playbook right itself. That's the end goal. And if you ask anyone that's listening, any business person, any business owner, do you want instructions for your company? Would it be nice to have everything written down, documented, everything backed up so anyone could step in and do the job?
[00:15:30.520] - Chris Ronzio
A hundred out of a hundred people would say, "Yes, that sounds great." The hard part is they don't have the expertise or the time or the bandwidth to know what to do and where to start. And so if we can design a tool that's collecting the knowledge of your business in the background and suggesting, how about this, how about this, based on your company size and location and industry, then the friction gets less and less and less. And that's what we're after.
[00:15:57.590] - PMO Joe
And I think you guys have done a great job of finding a gap for small businesses and giving them a really good solution to be able to go fill that, right? And I think within the PMO Squad, one of our main product offering, service offerings that we offer companies is called the purpose driven PMO. It's a seven-step process of how to build or improve your PMO. Step number one is to find your purpose, because if you don't know why you're doing something, then how do you build what, right?
[00:16:27.840] - PMO Joe
But our second step is build your playbook. So we are like kindred spirits on this one, I think, to be able to say, if we can't consistently do what we're supposed to do, then how are we going to be able to build any reliability within our company to be predictable and to be successful? It may be after the show. It's one of those opportunities where you sit back and say, "Hey, we have to find a playbook in our process. How do we utilize Trainual to make that be repeatable for clients around the world that are trying to deliver PMOs, but don't have a playbook, and they don't know how to use a playbook or they've never built one before."
[00:17:06.740] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. Well, we are excited to announce we have over a million processes and policies documented in the system at this point. And it's been this amazing experience to see businesses around the world start to fill in their playbooks. And what we see on the back end is not everyone's secret sauce, but it's the commonalities of the roles and the policies and the processes and the industries and what people want to document in their business, which then helps us suggest so that companies can get a faster start.
[00:17:35.490] - Chris Ronzio
So yeah, we should totally talk about that.
[00:17:38.000] - PMO Joe
So how does a book come out of all this? So you've got a great company. It's filling the gap in the economy that businesses need. But why document all that? Why rate it? And I read the book so I know it took you about three years to write it. So it wasn't an overnight book. It took you a while to put everything together.
[00:17:56.670] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. So the book, like our process suggests, when you're building a company, you have to do something consistently and repeatedly before you invest in documenting it and creating the playbook. And so at the beginning, there's a little bit of experimentation. And so as I started to write the book, it was in the early days of Trainual. And I had put together this presentation called The Manual Manifesto, which I bought. I thought it was cool. It was like the Jerry Maguire kind of manifesto. Here's what a playbook needs in it.
[00:18:26.710] - Chris Ronzio
And I was teaching this to some of our certified consultants, which are just independent people that use Trainual and promote Trainual. So I was doing this class and teaching this thing, and I thought I should make this a book. And so I started writing the book and really quickly I realized, no, you know what? I'm still doing it. I'm still figuring all this out. Trainual is new as a company. And rather than launch a book at the same time as the business, I should focus on everything on the business.
[00:18:52.090] - Chris Ronzio
And for the next few years, get some real validation that there's thousands and thousands of companies that this process is working for.
[00:18:59.610] - Chris Ronzio
And so I decided to just put it on the shelf and wait. And a couple of years went by and I picked it up again and started writing again. And I said, "Nope, not ready." And then another year went by, and I picked it up again. And at that time, our product was at this pivotal moment where we were restructuring it to operate the software in the same way a business operates with information about your purpose, like you said, your company's profile.
[00:19:25.090] - Chris Ronzio
We call it with your mission and vision and values and your history and all that rich knowledge about your business.
[00:19:31.920] - Chris Ronzio
And then a section about your people and who's who of your business and your policies and processes. And I thought, there it is. There's the framework for the philosophy that needs to go in this book. And so it was like everything converged. And finally, it was the right time to share what we've been doing and to compile a bunch of stories and best practices.
[00:19:51.430] - Chris Ronzio
So the idea with the book is that there's millions of businesses out there that need some form of this. And even if they all aren't going to sign up for our software, they can all benefit from the ideas. And they can DIY approach, make this with documents. So that's what we jammed into the book, was if you want to start building a playbook at any stage, from the hugest company to a one person start up, here's a book that gives you that guide.
[00:20:17.210] - PMO Joe
And I know we're not on video now, but I have the book here in my hands, and it's an easy read. I want everybody to go get a copy of this, whether or not you're an entrepreneur, project manager, or even a leader in a large company. But about 175 pages that is... I read it yesterday in the day. No, I didn't go through in complete detail, but it has step by step instructions on how to go about this process.
[00:20:47.810] - PMO Joe
And there's more than just a typical business book layout to it. One item in here I love is where you're thanking everybody and you thank your wife. She says, "I won't be your second priority." A lot of entrepreneurs, we invest so much into our business to try to be successful, but our families are on that ride with us, and same for a project manager or a leader in a business that's not entrepreneurial. Your families are along for that ride. How important was it for your wife to be able to set priorities for you to make sure that you knew she was your still number one priority?
[00:21:34.610] - Chris Ronzio
That was such an important moment in my story and caused me to balance my life out, I think, in a way that has been the foundation for how I've grown this business and the one before it. So I'll go back even a step further. When I was growing up, my dad was in business, but he was in sales in the corporate world. And my mom was home with us when we were little, and she started working her career later on when we were in high school.
[00:22:02.760] - Chris Ronzio
And so when my mom was home with us, my dad was on the road five or six days a week. And so he wasn't at any of my practices, and he wasn't at any of the birthday parties and the things like that. And it stood out to me that he was a great business person, and he was the smartest guy. He coached me on how to be a... He was a mentor to me from a business standpoint. But I always remembered the fact that he wasn't there so much when I was little.
[00:22:29.480] - Chris Ronzio
So I knew in starting my own business, that's something I want to do differently when I grew up.
[00:22:33.960] - Chris Ronzio
And so my wife called me out on it. She was my girlfriend at the time. My video company was really growing, and she was over one night, and I was up late 1:30 AM, plugging away on the computer. And she walked into the office mad at me. So I'm like, "All right, I'm going to finish this email", whatever that I go deal with this. And so we have this, I'd say, conversation; she'd say argument. I guess we have this conversation. And she said, "I know that what you're building is important.
[00:23:07.530] - Chris Ronzio
And I know you've worked really hard at this, and I want you to keep doing that. But I can't be your second priority."
[00:23:15.230] - Chris Ronzio
And to me, it was like an ultimatum. It was like a slap in the head that reminded me about my dad pursuing his business stuff and not being home so much. That, unknowingly, I was going down the same path. So it just really made me step back. And so as the conversation went on until the next day, she said, "You know what else? I think I want to live somewhere warm." And we're from Boston. And she said, "I want to move somewhere warm.
[00:23:43.970] - Chris Ronzio
You can come or not come." I was like, "Wow. Okay, she's serious."
[00:23:48.250] - Chris Ronzio
I had an office at the time, employees working in the office. I said, "All right, let's do this." And for me, it was a challenge. It was how do I figure out how to move across the country and how to take care of my personal life and my relationships without the business failing. And I think it was the best thing that ever happened, because when I moved 2,300 miles away, I didn't know a single person in Arizona. I didn't know any business people, no connections, no friends, nothing.
[00:24:15.610] - Chris Ronzio
We found an apartment and we made it work. We built a life out here. And I kept my business. And by not being able to commute into my company and go to the office every day, I literally couldn't do any of the work. So all I was doing was playing with project management software and CRMs and trying to plug together the systems that would tie the business together. That became my focus. And if I hadn't done that, the video business just wouldn't have grown like it had.
[00:24:46.460] - Chris Ronzio
So maybe that's a tip to everybody is just move away from the business.
[00:24:52.130] - PMO Joe
It's a similar story with us at the PMO Squad. We were in Atlanta at the time. I was Corporate America PMO leader and just frustrated. My wife said, "Well, I don't just stop complaining about it and start a business to solve the problems." And I said, "Well, that's easier said than done." She said, "Just make sure you don't fail."
[00:25:15.110] - Chris Ronzio
Oh, that's all.
[00:25:16.180] - PMO Joe
Right? Just make sure you don't feel. And then about four years into the business, we had always moved, for me, for work and everything. I said, "Now, I own my own business. I can do this wherever." So I said to her, "Where do you want to live?" And she picked Phoenix, Arizona. I was hoping Hawaii, Caribbean, Australia, and somewhere like that.
[00:25:40.190] - PMO Joe
Same thing had to come out here. I'm doing this radio show because I didn't know anybody in Phoenix. And Karen, who's [inaudible 00:25:48] right here, the owner of the station, producer of the show. She said, "Listen, come on the show, invite [inaudible 00:25:55], and you get to network and meet people." And here we are, 40 million plays and downloads later. I guess I'm meeting people and making an impact.
[00:26:02.940] - Chris Ronzio
[00:26:03.690] - PMO Joe
But I wouldn't have been able to do any of that if we didn't pick up and almost start over because it forces you to think a different way. And as entrepreneurs, we find a way and we learn priorities on how to do things that way.
[00:26:16.360] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah, absolutely. I think that piece about starting over is interesting. I was scrolling Instagram. That's like my downfall, I guess, is scrolling Instagram. And I see this post with Jesse Itzler and Sara Blakely, if you know them. She just sold Spanx, and he was interviewing her. They're married. And he was interviewing her about how obsessed she was with the product and how she would get something to the 99th yard line, the very end, and then shut it down and start over if it wasn't right.
[00:26:49.340] - Chris Ronzio
And I think a lot of us can be paralyzed by the progress we've made and not wanting to give that up or the life that we've made or the career that we've had or the industry we're in. And so it sounds like we both did that a little bit — hit the reset button and it's worked out well.
[00:27:05.380] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Absolutely. So I want to go back to the conference again. What I felt was great about this conference was it was a virtual conference, but it felt as if you were in the room because of the conversations you were having with the different guests you had on, an amazing set of leaders, Gary Vee and David Heath from Bombas, other entrepreneurs who've done it. As I was watching, I said, "I got to start taking just some bullet points." What are the takeaways from these different conversations?
[00:27:37.070] - PMO Joe
And Gary Vee had said, "There's nothing else other than brand and culture. Everything else is bullshit."
[00:27:44.400] - Chris Ronzio
Sounds like him.
[00:27:48.320] - PMO Joe
Sounds like him, right? So I started thinking about that of my own company, what's our brand and what's our culture? And if I can understand that, does my employees understand that and do my customers understand that? So for Trainual in the book, you talk about your values, and they're not traditional values. There's a creative spin on that. What's the brand, Trainual? What is that brand in that culture that you guys are promoting or not promoting? It's just who you are to help people understand what type of company you are.
[00:28:22.230] - Chris Ronzio
Great question. Man, how do I sum up our brand in a couple of words? I think the biggest thing about brand is it has to be authentic. And so Trainual's brand started really with our five first people. It was me, my brother, three employees in my consulting business. And we decided early on that we wanted to just not polish it up and seem overly corporate and use stock photos and language that made us sound like a big company. We told the story and opened the window and just said, "We're a tiny little start up.
[00:28:55.720] - Chris Ronzio
And here's what we're going through."
[00:28:57.130] - Chris Ronzio
We recorded videos and those became our ads. And I think that we've been really transparent since the beginning. That transparency has flowed through the business, whether it's our metrics that we're talking about, our sales or headcount or all of our KPIs with our employees. It's all about transparency, communication, alignment, just trying to be a great place to work. I had the luxury of consulting for 150 businesses before starting Trainual.
[00:29:25.910] - Chris Ronzio
And being inside 150 other companies and seeing all the problems, gave me the playbook for how to run Trainual like a great business. Our culture, in a big way, is the antithesis of all of my clients' problems. A lot of it comes down to transparency, communication. I could dig into our values if you want. Those are a huge part of it in our story. But our culture is a multifaceted onion.
[00:30:00.010] - PMO Joe
One of the values is collect experiences. When I was reading the book, something that stood out to me was you chose your words carefully. I could read in there that the way you said some things, you were picking words like there was something about write and right. It was like, write it when it's right.
[00:30:19.910] - Chris Ronzio
And don't write the way until there's a right way.
[00:30:23.210] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Which is a great way to think of things. So with that in thinking, you guys talk about work-life balance and that's your collect experiences. In this COVID world, we've now all started to live. And I think that's become more important for all of us.
[00:30:39.340] - PMO Joe
Within the PMO Squad, we flip that. We added a second dimension of, what's the priority? The priority is life. So we've switched it to life-work balance and be able to say, "Let's not figure out how to put life into work and prioritize it." Life is our priority. And how do we fit work into that? How does that collect experiences, work-life, life-work balance value, come to a manifestation for Trainual?
[00:31:07.490] - Chris Ronzio
Well, the first thing I'll say is I agree. Life-work. I think that's the way to do it. Every year, my wife and I get together and we plan out the life and put it on the calendar in advance. And so this is vacations. It's just random days off. I don't know how many people do this. But at the beginning of the year, I pick random days off every month, some Wednesdays, some Fridays, and Mondays. And I just block them out as out of office days. And that way the work gets scheduled around life.
[00:31:34.370] - PMO Joe
I love that.
[00:31:34.980] - Chris Ronzio
I've already got the time off scheduled. So that's a great takeaway. And if you're working at a company that you have PTO, this is something that we do recommend with our employees at the beginning of the year. We say take half your allocated PTO days and just block them out through the year. That way they're on the schedule. You don't want to get to the end of the year and not have used your PTO, right? Or all of a sudden, you're dealing with burnout, and you can't figure out when you're going to fit in some time because there's a project due.
[00:32:03.490] - Chris Ronzio
If you know, coming into the month, what days off you have, and you make it happen. So that's just a little tip. For Trainual collect experiences initially was a nod to the fact that we are so much more than what we do at work. Everybody has these different backgrounds. And outside of work, we're at the office, we're making salaries in order to fuel our lives. And so it's really all about what we're doing in our lives.
[00:32:34.850] - Chris Ronzio
We wanted our people to know that Trainual supported what they were doing in their lives. And so at the beginning, it was just about the flexibility, the freedom to work from wherever, to take a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day, to go to a kid's early baseball game. And you didn't have to ask for time off to do that. And then as the business grew and we've got more and more people, we started wanting to enrich people's lives outside of work, with personal development things and said, how can we do that?
[00:33:03.740] - Chris Ronzio
And so one of our values, collect experiences. We tied to a benefit called the Experience Fund. And so every employee that works for us get $500 a year that they can use for anything that's collecting experiences. It doesn't have to do with work. It can be dance classes, it can be guitar lessons, it can be sign up for a race, it can be a museum or RV trip that they go on, whatever they're doing to have fun outside of work. And it's just a way to show that we're real and serious in that commitment.
[00:33:32.260] - PMO Joe
I love that. I think that shows the type of company you are and the commitment to your team members and your employees. So I salute that one. I would took a note myself, write that one down. I think that's fantastic. Another thing that strikes me about your company is, and I think it ties into your brand as well, is you're trying to help small businesses be successful.
[00:33:55.270] - PMO Joe
So I get your newsletter all the time. They come out on a couple of times a month, three times a month, whatever it is. There's rarely anything in them about. It's always information to help small businesses be successful. What was the mindset, if there was one? Was that intentional or not, to be able to say, how can we help them and let's not promote ourselves, but let's put content out there that can help people be successful?
[00:34:20.900] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah, we don't really have sales in our DNA. We have marketing and value and just content in the DNA. Before Trainual, when I was consulting, I sent this weekly newsletter out every week, and it was three sentences. It was, "Have you had this pesky problem? Well, I stumbled across this cool tool. Here's how to check it out." That was the format. And I would recommend these little tools and services and things, SAaS platforms, and things that I found. And I sent it out for a little over two years.
[00:34:51.810] - Chris Ronzio
And that little three-sentence email got me thousands of thousands of newsletter subscribers. And I was never trying to sell anything, but people would call me up and say, Hey, I'm looking for a tool for this", or "I'm looking for solving this kind of problem in my business. Do you do consulting?" So I would get consulting work and get the revenue just by providing value and never had to ask for the sale. And so I think that carried forward into Trainual. When we started Trainual, we thought there's no good resource for small businesses that are trying to put together policies and processes and all those sort of things.
[00:35:28.280] - Chris Ronzio
I had a friend starting a business that told me, "I wish when I was starting this company, someone just gave me a huge list of all the things I needed to do and the things I needed to know. And where's that list?" That really inspired us to be what our blog became and what our newsletter became. So we're in the process of rebranding the blog right now to the manual. And it's really just sharing tips and pages from our own playbook and interviews with small business owners and news in the small business community that affects people.
[00:35:59.230] - PMO Joe
It's interesting you mentioned. I think another thing Gary Vee mentioned during the conference was sales is necessary when you have bad branding. So when you say you're not like a sales company, but if you've put your brand out there the right way... Nike doesn't go sell sneakers.
[00:36:15.490] - Chris Ronzio
[00:36:16.160] - PMO Joe
People go find Nike because they've got that brand identity now. And that's a great lesson for, again, project managers or entrepreneurs out there, is personal branding and company branding, the importance of that. So people understand who you are and therefore, you don't have to sell them on who you are. They already know who you are. And I think you guys have done an amazing job doing that with your company.
[00:36:39.260] - Chris Ronzio
I spent a day with Gary in 2019 at his office in New York. And the first question I asked him was, how should I think about my brand versus Trainual's brand? And he just looked at me like I'm an idiot, and he's like, "They're the same. What do you mean? They're the same thing. Just do both." Because I was trying to ask, where do I put the resources? And he's like, If people are into what you're saying and what you're doing, then they know you're part of Trainual.
[00:37:08.210] - Chris Ronzio
You don't have to sell them on Trainual. They're one and the same. They're interchangeable.
[00:37:13.480] - Chris Ronzio
And that was his advice. It fit really well with the authenticity that we were trying to work on and to display in the company. And so that's how we've handled it, is just tell our own stories. When we figure something out internally, it becomes a webinar or a blog post. And we look at ourselves as kind of the prototype business that can set the example for all of our customers.
[00:37:39.190] - Chris Ronzio
One of our guiding principles is we're trying to build the perfect company. And it's an easy filter that you think through when you got employee issues or you're working on meetings or communication. It's like, what would the perfect company do? And it just makes me think, "Oh, all right. Well, that's the right decision." And I think as we aspire to that, so to do all of our customers and the community that we have. And so that's what we're trying to do, is set a good example.
[00:38:09.210] - PMO Joe
As you were speaking, I turned to Karen, the producer over here. Because literally, two minutes before you walked into the studio today, we were talking about in January and start live streaming the show. In addition to live broadcasting the show, we're going to live stream it. And she said, "Are you going to do it under PMO Joe's brand or under the PMO Squad brand?" And we're talking about that. We ended up thinking under my brand because they're really the same, right? It's one brand that we're trying to work, too.
[00:38:37.680] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. Companies can do the same thing but can have very different brands. And I think it's the brand that attracts the customer more so than the product or the service. Again, in building this, there are a ton of enterprise tools, really polished HR operations tools. And we wanted to commit to being a brand that people could connect with the personality and could know the people. So all the photos on our website or our employees, they're not stock photos. This is who we are.
[00:39:10.190] - Chris Ronzio
All the people in the chat bots are real people. You can actually look up our phone number on the website and someone picks up that's employed by us. I think it's an important thing.
[00:39:23.370] - PMO Joe
Delegation, for a lot of entrepreneurs, it's our baby. We start the business, it's our idea, it's our business, and it's hard to let go. How does the playbook and Trainual help people do that? Because you can't scale if you're just you, so you have to be able to delegate. But why is that so hard for leaders to be able to do?
[00:39:48.680] - Chris Ronzio
Well, I think it's hard, first, because if you hire the wrong people, you may expect things from them that they can't produce. That's the first mistake. The next would be, if you don't write down the right instructions, the right explanation, if you don't know the result you're trying to achieve, how could someone possibly achieve it for you? And then the third, I would say is, if you just have a tendency to want to micromanage and you want to control everything, then it becomes hard to distance yourself from a lot of the tasks and the work that needs to be done in the business.
[00:40:21.530] - Chris Ronzio
And so being able to effectively delegate helps you specialize and take on higher level work. And so at any level in a business, one of the things I talk about in the book is, if you want to grow, you have to be able to let go. You have to be able to show someone how to do the things at the bottom of your to-do list that you don't want to do to free up capacity for the things at the top of your to do list, so you can do more and more of that.
[00:40:50.200] - Chris Ronzio
And so it's constantly about revisiting your roles and responsibilities and being able to provide the most value to the company that you can. And that involves taking those little things off your plate and showing someone else how to do those things.
[00:41:05.850] - PMO Joe
Yeah. I love that answer. Thinking again back to the conference, Shaq had said... You guys had asked him, what's the key to success? And he said the power of delegation. Through athletics, he learned to be able to trust your teammates, because if you can't trust your teammates, then you're not a leader.
[00:41:25.450] - Chris Ronzio
And he has so many businesses. It's so surprising. The 50 different companies and the 400 stores and the things that he's invested in, he couldn't possibly manage all that himself.
[00:41:39.630] - PMO Joe
[00:41:40.380] - Chris Ronzio
And so he's got a trusted team that evaluates opportunities and that checks in with the leaders and manages his brand and that sort of thing. And I think that's what we all need.
[00:41:49.860] - PMO Joe
We all have this picture of this goofy, happy-go-lucky seven-foot giant. But the reality is the guy is smart and he's probably more successful outside of athletics now with his businesses than he was as a Hall of Fame basketball player.
[00:42:08.060] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. I think he's number three in terms of past NBA player net worth. I think it's like Michael Jordan. And then it's some guy that owned a bunch of franchises that wasn't really a great player. No one knows.
[00:42:22.690] - PMO Joe
He mentioned during the [inaudible 00:42:24]. No, I can't remember. But it's in the book. It's in the conference [inaudible 00:42:29]. Let's go back to the book a little bit. I know we've jumped around a lot. We've covered a lot of topics, but I think some of the most important things about your business that are in the book is the blueprint, right? There's a process to this. It's not just you alluded to it earlier. It's not just go build a playbook. You guys have outlined specific steps to do that, to make it be frictionless, to make it be as easy as possible.
[00:42:54.970] - PMO Joe
What are those steps? How do you do this?
[00:42:57.440] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. So if you check out the book, it's just the businessplaybook.com. Everyone can look at it. There's a checklist at the end of every chapter that has an outline of the tangible things that you want to do that are included in that section. But the basic building blocks, I call the 4Ps. So this is the DNA of your playbook. So the first P is your company's profile. That's what we talked about a little earlier on where it's your culture, your brand, your mission, your vision, your history, your story, any fun lessons from the background of the company, and then a quick look at your products and services, your menu of what you offer.
[00:43:37.160] - Chris Ronzio
That's your profile. It's like if your business had a dating profile or something, that's what would be on it. It's just what is this business do? What is this company all about? That's the first piece. And the reason you do that first is because if you walked into any new business or got a job in any new business, that's naturally the first stuff you learn, is what does this company do? What are they all about? So that's the first thing you should document, because it also applies to everyone in the company.
[00:44:04.260] - Chris Ronzio
So you get the most ROI out of that piece.
[00:44:07.040] - Chris Ronzio
The next section is people. The next P is people. And this one is all about identifying roles and responsibilities. It's who does what in the business. And as we talked about earlier, your roles are always shifting. And when you go into a company, trying to understand, who do I go to for X, is where you waste a lot of time. And so trying to formalize that, it's a precursor to anything you're actually going to document create training for. What is the people structure of this business? So roles, responsibilities, contact info, your org chart, all that goes in the people section.
[00:44:43.010] - Chris Ronzio
The next P is policies. So your policies are like your rules of the workplace. It's the guiding bounds that we operate within. It's not necessarily red tape and bureaucracy. It's just the stuff that we're legally obligated to do. And it's the stuff that's culturally normal in our business. What is the dress code? When did we show up here? When do we get paid? How do I take time off? Those things are policy-oriented. And so that's your policy section.
[00:45:14.650] - Chris Ronzio
And then the last one is processes. And that's what I think gets the most attention because when you think of the sports playbook analogy, how do I run a play? That's really what you're getting at. It's a sequence. It's a procedure. It's a process. That's where a lot of people are tempted to start when they think they're building out their playbook.
[00:45:33.210] - Chris Ronzio
But if you don't provide all that context in advance, the policies we operate within the team that does what they do and the profile of the company, then it's hard to make decisions without referencing the SOPs. And so the process part is last. And it's really just how you get at the consistency of what's the best practice for doing this thing.
[00:45:57.770] - PMO Joe
And the reason I love that kind of blueprint of the 4Ps is as small business owners, we don't necessarily know what's coming up. So for someone to help us there, you tell a story in the book about someone who got sick and there were short-term disability. And you're like scrambling saying, "Short-term disability. What is that?" Yes. We have a policy on that. If you already have the blueprint of what you should be thinking of, as small business owners who haven't yet reached that, you're helping guide them towards information they need to be considering.
[00:46:29.710] - PMO Joe
So I think that's that low friction point. You're guiding them in the direction they need to head.
[00:46:35.990] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. And that's how the community element is helpful of having so many businesses that are using this and templates that are created. It's not that you need to write down everything that's ever going to happen in your business, but it's that you should try to see around the next corner.
[00:46:52.570] - PMO Joe
Yeah, that makes sense. So if you haven't done this... This is a big undertaking for a company. This is a project. Here we are in a project management show. So it's a project to write this thing out. How do you recommend companies go about doing this if they don't have a playbook in place already?
[00:47:11.860] - Chris Ronzio
So the first thing is, this project needs a manager. This project needs a champion. It needs somebody that's going to own it. And that doesn't mean they're going to do everything. That means they're going to keep it on track. And so I think a lot of businesses get this wrong, and they say, "Oh, Joe is going to do the playbook." No, Joe can't do the whole playbook. Joe doesn't know everything about every role and task in the business. And so really, it needs someone to guide it, to keep it on track.
[00:47:39.940] - Chris Ronzio
And then you plan out, what are the highest critical things that we need to document in the business? What are the things that we're planning for an orientation because we're hiring a bunch of people. Let's get everyone aligned around our culture. Why don't we start there? And that becomes the first phase of your project, is interviewing people about that, having them contribute little videos, putting them in a system like ours. And that's one step in the project.
[00:48:04.720] - Chris Ronzio
Now, when it gets to actually documenting what you do and writing procedures and processes, then I think it's a team effort. This is something that is crowdsourced because everyone in the company can chip in and say, "Well, here's what I do. And here's how I do it." And the managers can oversee that and say, "I didn't even know you did that", or "What about this? I thought you still did this." And it's a great opportunity to flush out some of the gray area. It is a project that needs management, for sure.
[00:48:36.010] - PMO Joe
We're both entrepreneurs, and a lot of early business mindset is just get it done. Operations and project management and things along those lines are pushed to the back burner. We'll muscle our way. We'll work hard enough to get it done. What's your mindset on that and advice to entrepreneurs out there? Because, listen, I've been the startup week here in Phoenix, and I talk to people about project management, and they look at me like, "You're nuts, man. I don't have bandwidth to go run a project.
[00:49:04.660] - PMO Joe
I just need to get it done. " I'm like you're missing the boat. You don't understand how bad you need project management.
[00:49:11.170] - PMO Joe
So what is this taught you through this whole process of getting Trainual going and writing the book for entrepreneurs to help them know maybe where some priorities lie to help them be successful as they continue to scale their business?
[00:49:24.850] - Chris Ronzio
So project management is crucial. And I think if you want to have an efficient organized business, project management is something that all efficient, organized businesses do.
[00:49:38.950] - PMO Joe
They all do it. They do it.
[00:49:40.620] - Chris Ronzio
And so if you're scrambling and you have this, "Just get it done, muscle your way through it" mindset, that can get you some drafts, but it won't get you to the finish line. And a lot of the people that have that kind of mindset are forced to be reactive and put out fires, because the next thing that pops up midway through your project that you're not managing is some other thing that you're like, "I'll just muscle my way through this and get it done." And now you've got all these competing priorities.
[00:50:11.890] - Chris Ronzio
And so if this is something you really want to do, you have to commit, to here's the deliverable, here's the timeline, here's who's going to be involved, here are the sequences of the steps for us to chip away and get this done. But then what I would say is that your playbook is not a project that's ever done. You'd get it done to a certain point. You'd get it rolled out to everyone, you get everyone in the system.
[00:50:35.240] - Chris Ronzio
But then it's always evolving because your business is always evolving. And if you want a playbook that's functional and that works long term, you have to commit to keeping it updated. And it's not a one and done. So if your business is not changing, if you're not coming up with new best practices and new innovations, then you're probably going to get passed by some competitor. And so as long as your business is changing, so is your playbook. So I'd say think about the launch as a project to manage, and think about keeping it updated as an infinite project to keep on track.
[00:51:11.860] - PMO Joe
Now that makes sense. And I think it goes back to the delegation. If you're an entrepreneur and you have this great idea and you've found a way to make it be successful where people want to buy it, it's how does it become sustainable. And as entrepreneurs, that's the hardest challenge, I think. It's "Yeah, I can go sell it to one." But how do I go sell it to a hundred? And how do I keep innovating and improving it. And having all of that documented takes all of that out of it.
[00:51:40.010] - PMO Joe
So now you're just focused on the innovation side because your daily operations component is there.
[00:51:46.090] - PMO Joe
Another thing I love about the book is you speak to something that may not be so obvious to entrepreneurs is that, if you have plans to exit and sell your business, having a documented playbook is going to bring value to your business.
[00:52:00.860] - Chris Ronzio
[00:52:02.470] - PMO Joe
Help me understand that better.
[00:52:04.120] - Chris Ronzio
Yeah. So for a lot of entrepreneurs, they are the linchpin in the business. And they've struggled to remove themselves, but the business wouldn't operate well without them. So when I was running my video company and I was living in Boston and going to all the events and project managing or production managing, everything, I was that linchpin. Like the business, you suck me out of there, and the business just fails. There's no more jobs. And I think a lot of people have been in that situation.
[00:52:32.270] - Chris Ronzio
So when I moved to Arizona, I ended up promoting my director of operations to be president of the company. I took myself off payroll. I started acting like just an owner of this business so that I could start working on the consulting on the side. And once I did that, it opened up the opportunity to sell my video business. But I was able to do that because I was not actively in the company and the company was functional without me. I think the lesson there for anyone is, if you're not replaceable, then there's a limit to the value of the asset.
[00:53:08.590] - Chris Ronzio
And creating this playbook is a way to replace yourself.
[00:53:12.880] - Chris Ronzio
And it's not to say that you're replacing yourself and you're out of the business, replace yourself in whatever role you're in and take the next promotion. Replace yourself as an individual contributor, become the team leader, the manager. Replace yourself in one set of duties and take on a different set of duties that's more exciting, brings more value to the business, pays you a higher salary. That idea of being replaceable is such an important thing, I think, in any business at any level. And that's what documenting and delegating empowers you to do.
[00:53:46.000] - PMO Joe
I love it. I think that's fantastic. One last reference back to the conference, Bombas is this amazing, incredible success story. I think they were brothers, maybe three brothers who started that, and socks. They're not sock guys. And now they're underwear and T-shirts as well. But David Heath is the CEO of that had a great line where he said, "Anyone can rip off your product. They make socks." But it's hard to steal your brand. And everybody in the world knows Bombas now. And they're willing to pay more for a pair of socks because they support the brand they've created.
[00:54:24.620] - PMO Joe
Everybody knows Nike, and they're willing to pay more for those sneakers because it's Nike. So once you've created that brand identity, you don't have to sell anymore. That's the power of this. And what Trainual was done, at least from an outside observer from afar, is you've created this brand that is so easy to understand what you do and the value that you provide to small businesses that now you don't have to sell anymore. People are now coming to you. You have approaching 25,000 customers next year because you're not selling.
[00:54:58.550] - PMO Joe
You're just filling a need that they have. And that's just an amazing testament to the work that you and your team have done over there. So congratulations on all of your success.
[00:55:07.300] - Chris Ronzio
Well, thank you so much. We got to have Bombas as part of the event because Damon John joined as an investor and he invested in Bombas on Shark Tank. And so I was talking to him after the event, and he said next time he had FUBU with the big logos on everything. And he's like, think of Bombas. You can't even see their logos. They're inside your shoes. Building a brand doesn't mean what it meant 20 years ago of just loud logos on things. Building a brand is really the experience of working with a company.
[00:55:39.770] - Chris Ronzio
And when people buy socks from Bombas, they get this little card in the mail that says, if your dog eats one, if an alien steals one, if you lose one in the washer machine, just call us. We'll give you a new one free. And it's that sort of thing that has become part of their brand, which has built these raving fans around the world. And to an extent, that's what we're trying to do. And I think what everyone that brand building is trying to do.
[00:56:06.290] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Awesome. Well, Chris, thank you so much for joining us today in studio. It's great to see people in person again. How can people get in touch with you? Is there anything we didn't cover today that you want to touch on? What's final parting words for all the listeners? This was so fun.
[00:56:20.780] - Chris Ronzio
I would say you can check out the businessplaybook. Com. We've got tons of templates and resources on there that you can download for free. You mentioned Trainular. We try to put out tons of great content. That's not sales at all, so you can follow along if you want to connect with me. It's just Chris Ronzio on Instagram or LinkedIn is where I hang out.
[00:56:40.830] - PMO Joe
Awesome. Thank you so much. And of course, thank you to all of our listeners. If we don't have listeners, we don't have a show. So it's fantastic to have you keep coming back show after show. Be sure to visit projectmanagementofficehours. Com. You'll be able to see we're going to finish out the year with Louis Cordardo from one link in El Salvador. The small, tiny country in Central America was the winner of PMO of the Americas this year. So we're going to have him on and tell the story that they've done an amazing job over the past couple of years.
[00:57:13.510] - PMO Joe
And then I mentioned it earlier next year we're going to start doing live streaming of our shows in addition to live broadcasting. So that will bring an interactive feel to the show. So if you have questions for guests and you've always wanted to ask and you never have the chance in January, you'll start having that chance. So that's going to be super exciting for us. A Reminder. Even though we are live, we record these and release them out there on your favorite podcast platform. So be sure to subscribe on Apple podcast.
[00:57:41.720] - PMO Joe
I Heart Radio Spotify Spreaker, etc. Or whatever your platform of choices. And of course, thanks to our sponsors, the PMO Squad and the PMO Leader, that's it for now. Office hours are closed until next time. Pmo Joe and you've been listening to Project Management Office Hours.
[00:58:01.150] - Announcer
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