Welcome to episode #131 of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
I am your host, Simone Vincenzi, The Experts Strategist, and this is the podcast for experts who want to become the ultimate authority in their niche while making an impact in the world.
Today I have the pleasure to Interview our GTeX Lifetime Member: Riana Avis
Riana makes processes palatable for people who know they need them, but would rather get on with something else. She brings focus, patience and a wealth of knowledge and experience so you can get the results you want in your business and your life, with ease and grace.
In this episode, we talk about
- The 3 Pillars of Leadership
- Timeless lessons from Nelson Mandela
- How to lead your business to success
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– Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show I’m here today with the one and only Rianna Avis, how are you doing, Rianna?
– I’m doing great thank you Simone.
– Fantastic, I’m really excited about this interview. Today we’re going to talk about leadership and we’re going to dive deep into this topic, which is so important as us as business owners. Because we are leading ourself all the time, we are leading other people all the time, so I’m really excited to hear your thoughts, your advice, your input on this. Before we get started, how come did you get so passionate about leadership?
– Well, I am, yes sometimes it’s quite a long story, but the short version of that is, somewhere in my life, I realised that if I wanted to live life according to my rules, according to what I wanted, and not just according to what someone else was saying, it ought to be like this, that or the other. I’m gonna have to take control, I’m gonna have to step up, I’m gonna have to lead myself. And I guess that’s where my interest started and then you start looking at well, what the other people, who else do you look up to, who else can you learn from, that has that sort of attitude? And then you start growing, and digging deeper and learning things, which you can then which helps you later on in your life and that you can pass onto your clients.
– And so, at what point did you realise, okay leadership is going to be my field. Is there a story or something that happened, that caused you to chose that field, instead of another one.
– I think it was when I got involved with Nelson Mandela story. About how he let himself, if you like, and later on his party and the South African government, but really it started with him in prison. And how he survived prison. And that story made a huge impact on me. It was about him taking ownership of where he was, and not letting everything else impact him. You know he was the captain of his soul, he was taking control there. And that’s what we kind of have to do, and when I look at his story, at the influence he had. In the field of forgiveness in the field of leadership, in the field of politics, we can just learn so much from him So I guess I use him as a model, and that was it really really started. And to even, pinpoint the story, even better is, we were taken on a trip in South Africa, we were taken.
– ’cause you’re originally from South Africa?
– I am originally from South Africa, yes. So we were taken to a trip to the prison from which he was released which at the time was called the Victor Verster prison and is now called the Drakenstein Correctional Facility, or something like that. And there was a monument outside of Nelson Mandela. And the way it was put together every piece was, there was meaning to every piece. You know, the stones around the monument represented all the people in South Africa. The white and the black pavement stones. The white and black population of South Africa. The, everything, they were like window frames, window bars actually that were sort of bent open and that was, that represented the prison bars in the front of the windows, for when he was released. Everything had a meaning, and it was really there that my interest was deepened, I want to say sparked but certainly deepened, and I started talking about Nelson Mandela, and brought some of those lessons in for myself, and for my clients, and I still talk about him and the five business lessons we can learn from Nelson, and so on. So yeah, it’s a topic I’m quite passionate about.
– I can see, we had many conversations around it and I remember every time we were talking about it you get really excited, you get really passionate. How come did you move from South Africa to the UK?
– Yes, well at the time I was in IT, and it was some years ago, and I don’t know if you remember Y2K, the dreaded Y2K bug. When the year 1999 was going to change to 2000. And a lot of computer systems were not set up to process a four digit year. And so there was a lot of remedial work that had to be done. And in that time, there wasn’t as much social media, or even email, so I got a lot of job offers from the states, from Canada, from Europe, from Germany, you name it. And my son said to me, he said, can you do any of these jobs? And I said, yes I can do that one that one, that one this one poorly, that one, that one. and I don’t know and the ball kind of started rolling. And when I asked myself, where would I go, if I made such a decision, it was well I’ll come to the UK because I had right of abode here. I was married to an Englishman, and so I could apply to be a British citizen, and so I had right of abode. And so, and then you know you start down a road and it just sort of gathers momentum. And I’m still here almost 20 years later.
– Do you go back to South Africa every now and then?
– We do, in fact we were there about a month ago, exactly a month ago, we were still in South Africa, we were there for a month, and that was on a personal mission to sort things out for my dad, it wasn’t a holiday, but yeah it was very intense actually. But yeah, about every second year or so, especially as my dad’s getting older now, I go back more frequently. In fact I think I see him more now that I live in the UK than when I lived in Johannesburg.
– Yeah, I was asking because I’m from Italy, and definitely is much closer than taking a flight to South Africa, but there are sometimes when, I may see particularly my family there, well there is the sun, and the good weather, and all these kind of things, that’s why I was curious if you’re going back, you’re missing it. So now, let’s talk about leadership, let’s go dive deep into leadership. Because there are some real important lessons, some fundamentals, in this topic. And one of the things were were discussing before. You mentioned, was clarity. One of the things that are really important for a leader, whether you’re leading yourself personally or whether you’re leading your business your organisation your team. In the work as well, you do for many businesses. And one key fundamental is clarity, can you expound a bit more on that?
– Well, yes, if you don’t know where you want to go. What it is that you want to achieve. If you’re not clear about that, how are you going to lead yourself? How are you going to lead a team, how are you going to take your business forward? And I work a lot with businesses who they’re ready to make the next leap in their business, but they’re not sure about exactly what that might look like They just know that they’re ready to grow. And they want to grow, but they don’t have the clarity about what’s it’s going to look like, how much do you want to earn, exactly how much you’re going to work now. How many clients, what kind of systems might you need. All those kind of things, and to some of us it may sound like basics, but it’s not. It’s actually not basics. And especially when you start employing people, and you’re not clear about things like what’s important to you, what values do you represent? What values do you want your business to represent? And now you need somebody to work for you and you’re just going to employ anybody off the street. It’s a body who can do the work and then maybe that person can do the work, but actually they’re not on to use a hackney phrase the same page as you. They don’t care about the things that you care about. They don’t, and you’ll have to, you can educate them. But at the end of the day, if their values don’t gel at least two thirds of the way with yours, it’s not gonna work, and you’re gonna have a lot of problems. You’re going to spend a lot of time working with that person. So values for instance is one thing, to just get clarity on. I mean, the other thing is, where are you taking these people, these people are going to work with you, for you. Where are you taking them, what’s the journey for them? And what’s the journey for your client, you even have to care about the journey for your client, otherwise why would the client work with you, if they’re not clear about that journey. So clarity’s very important, because, things fall into place once you start having clarity.
– Is it great power, because when you are, I’m thinking about leading a team an organisation, and even getting people to enrol and to believe in your vision, you need to have clarity about your vision and where you’re going, otherwise you can’t explain or share the path that the people are going to follow you are going to take. And so, if you’re looking at the great leaders of history taking an example of Nelson Mandela as well. He was a person that knew what he wanted, he knew where he was going. And therefore people started following him, because we said, I wanna go in that same direction, thank you for showing me the path, because you gave me the clarity that I don’t have.
– Yeah, exactly.
– It’s very crucial for any organisation, and I think that a lot of people don’t spend enough time, talking or thinking about it right?
– Yeah, absolutely. And of course it’s simple, the thing that comes out most often in my world is a client wants a new website, or I hear about clients who want a new website, I’m starting a business or my business is changing and I need a new website. And they engage somebody to build the website for them, and then this person, the builder the website designer builder is waiting for the content. And they wait and they wait for the content because the content’s not forthcoming. And the content is, yes it’s the copy that needs to be written, but it needs to be written also in a way that will engage people, and get their buy in to actually follow you. But they haven’t done the deeper work. They don’t know what their values are, they don’t know what their core marketing strategy is, who the people are that they really want to work with. They don’t know the three or more things that could really make them stand out. They don’t have a theme they can take through their marketing. And so, it’s very difficult to actually write copy for a website, when you’ve not had that kind of deeper digging to get to clarity. And it’s something that evolves all the time. But the general direction stays the same, Nelson Mandela said, we want freedom for all, you know. Everyone in South Africa, and when you can summarise your vision, like that in a few words. It’s easy for people to come on board, and follow and say, yes I want that too. But a lot of deeper digging needs to happen first, so that clarity can come out of it. And it’s not a done deal, you don’t do it done once. And it’s done.
– You keep working on it, and keep working on it.
– And yeah, absolutely.
– Now I know that another big principle that you follow, which is part of your teaching is focus. And you wrote something here that said, what you focus on expands. Can you please explain and expand on this second principle which is focus.
– Right, so I’m gonna tell you a little story here, because I think it fits perfectly. So I was talking to a client this morning, who had quite a bad fall last week. And she’s an elderly lady, she’s in her 60s, and this morning she said to me, Rianna, I can’t believe how quickly I got over this fall. I fell back, she actually cracked her glasses, she knocked a tooth out. And it was, it really knocks your confidence, the older you get, you have a fall, it actually knocks your confidence. And she said, a couple of years ago I had a fall, it took me weeks to get over it. But her focus now is very different. She’s in a tremendously satisfied and happy relationship right now. Her work is going in exactly the direction she wants. She’s focusing on all of those things. So the fact that she had a fall was like a little stumble, get up dust myself off, get new glasses, feel the pains, no not really, it’s fine. I’m going to enjoy going out with my partner, going for a walk whatever it is, and she’s focusing on the joyous things in her life. So the shock of the fall is minimised. The previous time she had a fall it was, oh my gosh, I have this bad back pain, now it’s so much worse, oh I hurt my arm. And it’s just focus on where is it sore, and how much is it hurting, and I must go and see a doctor, I can’t see the doctor soon enough. And so, what you focus on literally expands, you focus on the bad things, more bad stuff happens, you focus on the good things and more good things happen.
– So how can we apply this, now as a leader?
– As a leader, focus on what your people do right. Focus on what you do right, focus on what’s going right in your business. Focus on, if something doesn’t work, how can we make it better? How can, what caused it, dig deeper, when I was in IT we would dig for, what did they used to call it, Who Cause Analysis, why did this thing happen in the first place. It’s not a blame game, once you go into a blame game mode then you’re focusing on the negative. So don’t blame the person when something goes wrong, what went right, in all of those things, so Simone, you do a lot of public speaking. And things can go wrong, maybe you forgot to say the most important quote or thing you wanted to say. But the rest of the talk went well, you go, and you’re focusing on, oh my talk was la la, because I forgot to say X Y Z. And so focus on the positive, focus on what really goes well Address the negative, by all means, you can’t skip over it.
– Yeah exactly I wanted to ask you so what are we going to do with the negative now?
– Find the learning, where’s the opportunity for learning? And maybe when you’re a leader and you’re in that position now you have a difficult conversation. And those conversations are not easy to have that’s why they’re called difficult conversations. So, maybe there’s a learning opportunity for you then, to go and okay how can I have this conversation with this person, how can I coach this person, to perform better next time, not to make the same mistake. What processes can we put in place, and work with that person. The other thing about leadership, and to me this is not leadership and it’s not even management. It’s not, you don’t have to have all the answers. You work with the people to work out, how can we stop this from happening again. Because then you grow that person as well. And being a leader is about allowing other people to grow. Giving them opportunities to grow. And then you grow, that person grows, your business grows. When you just tell people, do this, do that the other. They, where’s the joy in the work that they can do. Where’s the meaning in the work that they do? They don’t bring their best selves to work. So being a leader in your business also means making it meaningful for the people that work for you.
– It’s very powerful what you said, in particular when you were talking about this focus, because if you think about Gtex, we have expanded rapidly. We went from a little, there were just Ben and I and Wang, when we started, and literally now we are a team of considering contractors, 11 people. So it’s been a huge learning process for me, in particular around leadership and around management. And I have the kind of personality where I struggle to let go of things, because I think I’m the best, and no one can do things as good as I can do them. And I found myself in particular at the beginning focusing on what my team was doing wrong. What were the things that weren’t working right, because of course they needed to learn. And they had no process or systems whatsoever to help them in that process. So it was literally 90% my fault, that the fact they were making these mistakes because they had no procedure to follow. And I found myself going to this negative, and I could see more and more the things that they were doing wrong. And I became for a period, I became very bitter. And I literally I caught myself and I said, that’s not Simone, that’s not the version of Simone I want to be. And so I decided literally to switch the focus and say, what are the things that needs to be put in place. There are no systems, no processes, great let me slow down, focus on creating processes and system, and put more hours into training, rather than keep the growth of the company in terms of sales and marketing. And suddenly things turned around. Literally things turned around in a few months, and I found myself not being bitter anymore, which wasn’t who I wanted to be and who I wanted to show up for my team.
– Yeah, well done Simone, I take my hat off to you. You cannot grow a business without growing the leader of that business. And the business is only going to grow as much as the leader can grow. There’s gonna, I don’t know if you’ve heard this expression of hitting the ceiling, or the plateau. And the reason that happens, is you grow and then the owner of the business, the manager, whoever runs the business, they can’t expand. There’s something stopping them from expanding. They need to be able to step up on. Whether that is about letting go, whether that is about the next level of learning to manage managers. At some point, something’s going to happen, in a growing business that’s gonna stop the business growing. And it normally comes down to either the leader can’t expand. Somebody in your leadership team can’t expand. Somebody on your team elsewhere, is this is as far as they can grow. This is as much growth as they can handle and cope with. And sometimes it gets very difficult, because especially if you’re a starter a business, and you have a small team, and you get to say 25 or so people, and now people who’ve come with you, they’re comfortable with where they are, they’ve been terrific, but you need them to step up, and they don’t have the capacity, the capability, or the willingness, they don’t want to, and now you have to let them go, because holding onto them in your business, is choking your business, is holding your business back. And that is a tough thing to do, that is really tough, but if you want your business to grow, part of being a leader is making tough decisions, and I’m not saying it’s easy.
– Absolutely, particularly because you end up building, these are the people that helped you from the very first moment to grow the company, so they’ve put the sweat, they’ve put the tears, they’ve put the long hours in for you, and then sadly you’ve got to let them go, to go to the next stage if they’re not able to adapt, to the new phase of business. And there is a business owner which I respect which I massively respect, and it was a friend of mine, and we used to work together, he was my employer when I was managing a restaurant. And he always said something that I was, got ingrained in me because of the amount of times that he used to say it. And he used to start every meeting in this way. And I get the reason why, and I thought, at the beginning it was a bit harsh and I couldn’t understand why he was saying those things. But now I get it, and the thing that he said was, everyone is important, no one is indispensable. Everyone here is important, no one here is indispensable, not even me.
– Yes, you just reminded me.
– No please keep going.
– Yeah, so when I was still working in South Africa I worked for a company, First National Bank. They used to be Barclays before Barclays disinvested here, many many years ago. I had a mentor there, became a good friend and so on. And we were talking about this very thing, and he said, just get a bucket of water, and stick your hand in there. Now pull your hand out and see what happens. He says, you’re indispensable just like that, everybody we are all indispensable, just like that. Because you think how is this department going to function when I’m not here, how is my business going to function when I’m not here. It’s a little bit different when you’re your own business, when you own your business. Because if you’re not there, actually that’s something business owners need to take leadership on as well, and take ownership of the fact that they can’t be, how do I want to say this? When you have to be there to run your business, when you are the kingpin in your business, then actually you don’t have a valuable business. And again, it starts with vision, where do you want to go? And often business owners would be encouraged to start with how you want to exit. What’s going to happen with this business. Are you going to sell it, at what point might you sell it. And then you start putting things in place, to make yourself so that you’re not the kingpin, so that everything doesn’t revolve around you. We’re talking maybe bigger businesses now. Some businesses like mine, I am the business. It’s not a business that I can sell on, but certainly, well I think Gtex, you and Ben, you’re the faces of Gtex, I’m not sure that Gtex could be sold as a business as it is.
– It’s really interesting, because we were thinking, we actually spent the beginning of the year, to the last quarter of last financial year, in the beginning of January. And we were, we spent an afternoon talking about our exit strategy. Because it’s true this industry, when you are a speaker, a coach or a trainer, it’s very dependent on your personal brand. And we have no plan at all to sell Gtex. But the way we are growing Gtex, is in a way that can be sold. And the reason why is this, is because one day, Ben and I are going to leave. And we have a limited life span. I don’t know, immortality has not been invented yet, so I hope it’s going to be invented within my lifetime, but if not, then one day I’m gonna die, and the question is, do I want the business to die with me? And the answer was no. So there is a big emphasis on our personal brand, because that’s how people in our industry buy. Like your clients will buy Rianna. My clients, buy Simone and buy Ben. However there are intellectual properties, structures, model, patents that can be put in place. To then make this business a more valuable, and in fact, to look at this, we have Ben’s father, Jeff which is now our non executive director, which is mainly looking at. How then can we expand and make it more about the team, rather than us. Because I know that if I keep working in the business, I’m going to be the biggest bottleneck, and it took me a while to realise it, but now I got it. And it’s a bit of a catch 22 in our industry, because it’s such an industry that’s based on your face. If you think about also other organisations, a large organisation like Millionaire Mind for example like T Harv Ecker. T Harv Ecker managed to sell the company but they are still using his face, even if it’s not his company anymore, they are still using his face to draw people in. But he’s never there, and he will never be there.
– Yeah but it’s still his intellectual property and the things that he put in place that’s being taught at the end of the day.
– Exactly, absolutely. It’s all his material, all his scripts, all his material, all his product, all his services. Everything as he designed it.
– And I think that was the agreement. What a great conversation, I really enjoyed this conversation Rianna. Before we wrap up, what I would love to ask you, is for about Gtex, how did Gtex help you grow your business. And help you out in your journey?
– Well, I think the great thing about Gtex, is it’s full of great people. Like yourself, like Ben, like all the other members. And as a leader, I think, in fact, I don’t think so, I know so. It’s important you hang out with great people. People who inspire you, people who you can learn from. People who and just be in a learning environment, because we talked about you need to learn and expand as a leader all the time. The journey doesn’t end. And the other thing I love about Gtex is when you’re a lifetime member. You can dip in and out as much as you like, when you like, when you need it and there are times, like the first three months of this year, and probably for the next two as well, you’re not gonna see me at Gtex because I just don’t have the bandwidth, but I know that I’m still welcome in the community I know that I can still look up, these loads of courses, membership courses, they’re awesome. And when you did a seven week challenge earlier this year about your business, planning for your business.
– Yeah the expert business canvas.
– That’s right, so there are other ways I can participate without showing up all the time. And every time you learn something. Every time I listen to a podcast, every time I got to anything, it either confirms something I already know, it shows me a different way to express something, and it just, I just love that and you learn something new, and it helps with clarity for myself. You know they say that you teach best, how’s the story go?
– What you need to learn, is that?
– Yes, you teach best what you need to learn most. And the clarity that I, where I am now to my business to where I was. Is phenomenal, it’s a journey that I struggled with that clarity, and it’s also we talked about expand, what you focus on, and there’s lots of little snippets like that, like trusting the process, and sometimes you just have to let go and trust the process as well. And so I trust the process of Gtex.
– Thank you.
– I trust the process of Gtex, being a member. Thank you.
– Thank you for sharing, and thank you for being a lifetime member, Rianna. Now for everyone who wants to know more about the lifetime membership or our courses, there is a link here in the show notes, so make sure that you click the link so you can get more information. And then schedule a call with one of our business coaches and we’ll take it over from there. So we can help and support your business. But now, it’s time to wrap up. And I want to ask Rianna, it’s been an incredible interview, what we shared today was incredibly powerful, in particular because if you apply those principles, the principle of focus, the principle of clarity, the principle of direction which we told in this interview. Then your business is going to grow, fact. And you’ll find that people are going to follow you you’ll find that you’ll be the leader that you really want to be. So if someone wants to work with you Rianna if someone wants to start following you and see your work and experience your work, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
– Well, they can go to my website, www.riannaavis.com and explore, explore and there is a way that they can contact me either through the contact form, or they can make an appointment directly into my online booking system. There’s a 15 minute health check, that we can do, or we can have a longer conversation, and I love conversations, I love powerful conversations. So yes, do that, and I look forward to whoever checks in there, to speak to them.
– Fantastic. So make sure that you go on the website which is riannaavis.com and click the link that is in the show notes. You will find the link is going to be in the show notes, on the blog post, that you’re writing, if you’re watching this on YouTube the link will be in the description of the episode. So make sure that you get in touch with Rianna. As well you’re running a podcast, you want her as a guest for your show, or maybe Facebook live show. Make sure that you get in touch with her, because you’ve already seen the great quality of her content, I definitely love this conversation, so get in touch with Rianna. At riannaavis.com Rianna thank you very much for being here on this interview, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you as a guest.
– Thank you, Simone, it was lovely to be here. And yes, what a great host you make, thank you.
– Thanks. So ladies and gentlemen thank you for listening, or watching whatever you are, make sure that you subscribe right now, hit that juicy subscribe button, I know it’s calling you. So subscribe so you don’t miss any other episode. Also leave us a review, let us know what did you enjoy the most from this episode. We are going to read the best reviews that we receive on our show at the very beginning, in the interaction, so then I can give you a shout out. Make sure you give us a review. Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to seeing you next time. And always remember that together we grow exponentially, Ciao.