No matter what kind of business you run, finding your purpose – and bringing your company into alignment with it – is key to long-term, sustainable success.
Adam Goodman knows this better than almost anyone else. As the 3rd-generation leader of Goodmans Interior Structures, he initially had no desire to become part of the family business – but then realized that he could do more than just sell cubicles. In fact, he discovered how to use the business to make a meaningful impact on his community.
Today, Adam and I talk about creating environments to achieve objectives, the power of focusing on a higher purpose, and what happens when you think of everyone – not just shareholders – as stakeholders in your business.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
[00:00:35] Andrew: Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. And today we have a fantastic show lined up. I am very excited to introduce you all to Adam Goodman. Not only is he a respected business person, a leader in the community, and an innovator in his industry but he is the third generation to lead his family business, Goodmans Interior Structures, or for those in the know we simply call it Goodmans. Adam goes through the dynamics of taking over a company that was originally started in 1931. He’s got some wonderful insight in how to make that a smooth transition.
Also, as taking over as leader of Goodmans, Adam helped to reshape how they looked at their industry. Rather than just selling furniture, it became more of a purpose and not only the purpose of what that furniture meant to their business clients but also how they gave back to the community. And then lastly, and for those of you that want to skip to the end, around the 40-minute mark, Adam like myself is an avid Grateful Dead fan. We dig into some of the things that have made the Grateful Dead a successful business, a lasting legacy and how they were able to bring together a community. So, there’s really good insight there towards the end of the show that I think a lot of you may find beneficial and interesting. So, without further ado, my episode with Adam Goodman on the Your Wealth & Beyond podcast.
[00:02:09] Andrew: Adam, welcome to the show.
[00:02:10] Adam: Thanks, Andrew. It’s a pleasure to be here. I love what you’re doing with your hair now by the way. It looks terrific.
[00:02:16] Andrew: Well, you know, a lot of it has – remember the Flowbee? Remember that from years ago? Well, I found that the other day and it’s been unbelievable. So, as we dig into a lot of things today, walk the listener through who’s a family business, who’s built their company and some of the tips and the strategies of how you’ve been successful from your grandfather to your father to now you leading this company since 1993 and some of the things that you’ve brought to the table.
[00:02:43] Adam: Well, my grandfather, the first-generation Goodman and the business, it was looking just to make a living, just to get by. He was bringing in surplus military furniture from back east hauling it across country into Phoenix, selling whatever he could and getting enough money to buy a second truck. And that marked the first 20 or so years of the business. When my father got involved, he really had more ambitious plans and looked to expand it and right about the time that he was coming into leadership, Herman Miller invented the cubicle. That’s 1960. This is the 50th birthday of the cubicle by the way. Andrew, do you have plans on what you’re going to do to celebrate the 50th birthday of the cubicle? Have you thought about that?
[00:03:29] Andrew: It’s been a year. Yeah. I’ve been planning this for about a year and I really can’t go into it. It’s a little bit too detailed for today’s show.
[00:03:35] Adam: It’s a surprise probably for the cubicle. That’s nice of you. So, as the cubicle, my father established relationship with Herman Miller in 1968 and that’s as the State of Arizona and New Mexico are about to explode with growth and we got on the state contract and started providing every municipality, state agency, county agency, university hospital, all of it with modular furniture, this brand-new idea, and that fueled the growth all the way, well, we’re still growing. I came into leadership as you point out in the mid-90s. Now, I grew up in the business in a sense that I would work in during spring break and summer break working the warehouse and helping out where I could and if there was one thing I was certain of, Andrew, growing up is this is the business I did not want to be in. It was boring. I had bigger dreams than file cabinets and conference tables and I actually didn’t go into the business right out of college. I went into the newspaper business. My ambition in life was to be a newspaper publisher. I love and – did you just snicker when I said newspaper publisher? I feel like you just snickered.
[00:04:52] Andrew: Well, I thought it was on mute. I do apologize on that. I’ll make sure next time it is muted. Well so, before you jump into with the great Murray running the company and taking it over from your grandfather, I mean, do you think that he had always thought his mind that Adam is going to take this thing over? Do you think he felt, not upset, but do you think he felt hurt that you said this not the business and this is boring and in a sense what he’s built there? Or do you think he liked the fact that you’re kind of flying out there and want to do your own thing and if it made sense, you would come back?
[00:05:28] Adam: Well, I’d like some credit for being a little bit more tactful than I’m being today here on the air with you. I don’t think I ever actually said the words boring to him.
[00:05:39] Andrew: Well, it’s just you and I. Nobody’s listening to this thing so we’ll keep him… Yeah. Murray, if you’re listening, just make sure that you just tune on I think from the 6-minute point onwards. Thank you.
[00:05:52] Adam: So, the answer is no. If he was disappointed, he never showed it at all and, to his credit, was always supportive of whatever I was interested in and really this was never an issue. And so, when I declared that’s what I want to do, I want to go work at newspapers and become a newspaper publisher, he was totally supportive of it. I had been there three years and I was climbing the corporate ladder at Gannett. At Gannett what that means is I had my sight set on a plum job in Chillicothe, Ohio. Is that near Cleveland, your hometown?
[00:06:30] Andrew: Well, I mean, here’s the thing is I grew up in Cleveland and I’ve heard of the term Chillicothe. I could not place it on the map. It could be as far as out as – no clue. But so, you’re like a TV anchor, right? They’re sending you all over to the most exciting and sexy parts of the country.
[00:06:46] Adam: Exactly. It was at Columbus, Georgia like all these kinds of places and it was about this time that my father sat me down and strategically took me to lunch at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix at the famous revolving restaurant and as we slowly turned to 1 degree every minute looking out over the vast expanse of the city so you can clearly see where the growth is happening, he talked about what it’s like to own your own business and to be your own boss. And he closed me with a line, “If you ever want to know what it’s like to own your own business, now is the time to do it. Just going to be soon, you’re going to be too late. You’re not going to be able to jump off that corporate ladder and come back, take the step back into a new industry. So, if you want to do it, you should do it now.” And that was a compelling argument for me and so I left Gannett and came back into the family business to sell cubicles.
And I spent about 10 years learning the business and just understanding the nuance. Does that sound like a long time to learn a business? That seems relatively simple from the outside. Well, it’s a little bit more complicated than it looks and it was around that point that I started to remember that this wasn’t fulfilling. I started to realize, I guess, this wasn’t fulfilling. I had an ambition. I really got reflective on what it was I liked about newspapers and concluded that it wasn’t the product itself that inspired me but instead it was the ability for a newspaper to make an impact and make a difference. And we joked earlier about newspapers and where they’re at now but they’re still absolutely setting the agenda for what a community talks about to this day, the local newspapers as well as national newspapers.
[00:08:41] Adam: And they have the luxury of time to be able to write about with a more journalistic rigor than say television for example. And television picks up where newspapers have gone. And so, that ability to make an impact is exactly what I was looking for. So, the question then became, well how do I reframe the office furniture business into something that can make an impact on the larger community? And I started doing that somewhere in the mid-90s, late 90s and now when you ask me the question, what is the purpose of Goodmans? The answer is we are here to change the community. The way I was able to do that, I’ll give you a couple of examples. It’s still the first question. Is it okay that I’m still talking? All right.
[00:09:29] Andrew: Yeah. No, this is great. Yeah. Awesome.
[00:09:30] Adam: Are you still there? What are you doing? Are you reading something?
[00:09:34] Andrew: No. Well, I was going to make sure that for the millennials that they knew in the show notes, they can google what a newspaper is. In the show notes it will be in there. So, anyway, I digress but now continue on, please.
[00:09:46] Adam: Helpful links would be nice, yeah. So, there’s a couple of ways we do it. So, we serve four main sectors of customers, healthcare, government, education and corporate. And what I talk to our customers about why they do business with Goodmans, the healthcare customers talk about the work that we do inside medical offices, inside hospitals, inside the patient rooms of hospitals, the work we are doing is helping the patient to heal, helping the family to be more comfortable, helping the caregiver to be safer. Those are all really, really important things that I would argue or making a difference on the community. Helping patients to heal is a pretty significant thing. So, there’s one way we deal with higher education with universities and colleges. When we talk to those customers, they tell us that the work we’re doing is actually improving student learning outcomes. In fact, we have empirical data to prove the work we do is improving student learning outcomes. It doesn’t get any better than that in terms of making an impact to the community.
Our corporate customers say we’re making them more competitive that whatever their strategic objective is whether it’s to improve teamwork or to attract or retain the best talent or improve quality, whatever it is that we’re helping them to create environments that help them achieve those objectives. And government customers, and this one I’m incredibly proud of, government customers talk about how we are helping to lower the cost of government. Yeah, you heard me right, lower the cost of government, because the furniture that we sold them honestly 30 years ago, 35 years ago, those cubicles, they’re ugly colors that is but they’re still working. They’re still perfectly functional. And so, what we’ve shown them how to do is to reuse that furniture over time, not have to buy new furniture and we’re saving government, city state and county governments millions of dollars per year by reusing their existing furniture than to buy new. You bundle all that up, that’s making an impact on the community and then, of course, there’s the philanthropic stuff we do which I can go on and on about as well.
[00:11:43] Adam: You bundle all that together, I’m almost ready to rest my case, you bundle all that together and you think about that in terms of what do we do every day? We are making an impact. We’re changing the community. The nuts and bolts, the what mentality we want to do is we are selling office furniture. That is for sure. But when you keep people focused on that higher purpose, it lifts people up and makes people feel like a part of something larger themselves and it’s downright inspiring.
[00:12:10] Andrew: Well, and I think that is truly fantastic when you think in terms of for you being able to reframe a business that maybe wasn’t sexy and didn’t give you as big of a purpose originally as the newspaper business and being able to get that messaging out and the nuts and bolts that’s in that industry. So, from your standpoint there of taking and finding something that was passionate, what I assume this did for your employees and the culture that you started building is it started bringing in those like-minded people, those employees that wanted to be more, to do more than just sell furniture. Did you see that as you started taking over and instilling this into the company culture which I’m sure didn’t happen overnight? But did you see that as you started bringing on those type of people and the employees that you may still have all these years later? Was it easier to bring on that type of talent that believed in your message and your mission?
[00:13:08] Adam: Right on, brother, for sure. There was an important event that helped accelerate this whole process and that was the recession. When the recession hit, and we were early in this process, the timing is very difficult. There’s no one date in which we point to and say, “Well that’s the date we started things.” So, I really struggle with giving you time ranges. But we were still in the early stages and the recession hit and we had to shrink the company by 50%. And as a leadership team, now I had a leadership team that believed what I believed, and they were on board and they understood. We made the very easy decision to say we are going to make our decisions on who stays and who does not, not based on seniority, not based on performance even or talent. We’re going to do it based on who believes what we believe and if we have that kind of engagement, we can make sure the skills are there and get them to do what we need to do. And that literally overnight made an impact on widespread engagement of the company.
From that point forward, now that we’ve got this core belief that you’re right, attracting talent, retaining talent has been far easier and we get people very excited about wanting to come and be a part of this. Now, day-to-day the blocking and tackling like I said it’s paperwork, it’s boxes, it’s all of those things that are fundamental to having office furniture distributor. But my number one job is to constantly be reminding and reinforcing and showing that bigger picture and connecting people on their individual job whether you are at the front desk answering the phones, whether you’re receiving a truck in the morning, whether you’re out delivering the furniture, whether you’re collecting the money to draw a straight line from the work you do every day to the higher purpose of the company and make sure you feel like you’re making a difference.
[00:15:05] Andrew: So, for you listeners out there that are running the business, as you are the CEO, you’re carrying out that vision, how ingrained are you in the day-to-day of getting those employees onboard? Are you really taking an active role in that and the employees themselves, they can see how passionate that you are? Or do you have a leadership team that is trying to carry out that vision and you kind of stand more in the back?
[00:15:28] Adam: No. I’d say I stand in more of the front of that particular function and the leadership team is supportive of it. But I’m the cheerleader who is, look, I get emails and phone calls and notes from customers all the time about what a great job our team did, which is a nice position to be in. I take those notes and draw a line to show people about what the higher purpose is, how they accomplish higher purpose inside that particular customer. So, I mean, I’ll go to like extravagant ridiculous lengths to celebrate these achievements and next week we’re having a lunch for one of our teams that got a, I mean, look it was like a three-line, four-line note from a customer about how grateful they were and what a nice job we did.
And I turned that whole thing into how we’re changing the community or making an impact and we’re going to buy lunch for everybody in the company and point to this particular team on what a great job they did and that’s what I mean by going to ridiculous lengths. I write notes home to employees frequently and my notes home to employees are handwritten notes home and I do that because, A, to acknowledge the work the employees did and again, draw that line for a higher purpose but I want their families to know that when that person comes to work at Goodmans that they are making a difference in the world and it’s important that someone notices and someone cares. Now, there’s this feeling of pride when you come home in the afternoon that your family knows you are doing something meaningful.
[00:17:02] Andrew: Right. And there’s a handwritten note which is so rare in today’s world. I think that even takes it to the next level and shows that Adam wrote this. I’m doing something that matters.
[00:17:14] Adam: You want to know a secret?
[00:17:15] Andrew: Talk to me.
[00:17:16] Adam: About three years ago I investigated these companies that will if you just send them online, you go online and you send them the note that you want to write like, “Dear Andrew, thank you for the great job you did,” and they will write the handwritten note for me and then postmark it Phoenix even and send it to the person’s home. They’ve got like a team …
[00:17:42] Andrew: What’s the name of the company? Because we’ll put it in the show notes.
[00:17:44] Adam: There’s like three or four of them. I don’t remember the name. I don’t use them. I mean, I tested them, so I got samples from each one of these guys and it felt like it violated the spirit of what I was trying to accomplish but it sure would’ve made my life easier.
[00:18:01] Andrew: Yeah. I’ve looked at that in the past too and I thought, “Yeah. It’d be so easy to do it but then you’re kind of defeating that,” even though my handwriting is like a doctor which isn’t always the best. So, when you think about in 2014 where Goodmans was named by Fortune one of the top 20 workplaces in retail, that had for you to be so exciting kind of the vision that you had over the last 15 years of building this culture and then to be awarded a top 20. That had to make you and your whole team I assume extremely proud.
[00:18:34] Adam: Honestly, we didn’t make a huge, we don’t tend to make a huge deal out of the accolades. Their validations, they go on the website. They’re really all about attracting talent honestly but there’s not a whole lot of patting ourselves on the back about it. It’s kind of weird I think like, “Hey, we’re such an engaged workforce. Look, everybody. Woohoo.” That doesn’t feel right to me, so I think we let everybody know like, “Oh hey, this is cool.”
[00:19:05] Andrew: That kind of leads into what I thought was so unique. A lot of companies as they get anniversaries, 20 years, 30 years, for Goodmans backing of, what was it, 15 maybe that you celebrated the 60th anniversary. Instead of throwing a big lavish party, walk the listener through what Goodmans did to celebrate being in the community and a viable successful business for 60 years. But rather than throwing a big party, what did you guys do to inspire the work you do within your employees and the community?
[00:19:40] Adam: There’s a fundamental concept that we live by here and that is if we have any surplus assets, resources or talent that we will leverage them for the benefit of the community. Surplus assets, resources or talent, and when you start looking around your company, your surplus assets, resources and talent you find a lot of things. So, a surplus resource, for example, would be the money we would plan to spend that anyone would be planning to spend on a 60th-anniversary party and we have ice sculptures and probably bring in the Rolling Stones and whatever. You know the type of party. And so, okay, there’s a pot of money that we would otherwise spend on that. And, okay, how can we leverage that to benefit the greater community? And what we decided to do is something we call Chair Reaction. We took 60 of our employees and we asked each one of those 60 employees to identify one person in the community that inspires them.
It could be anybody, somebody who’s making a difference. It could be a policeman. It could be a hospice worker. It could be a receptionist at the YMCA, truly anybody, a teacher. Find somebody that inspires with doing good work and we are going to surprise that person and award with a Herman Miller chair, a new Herman Miller chair. So, we got 60 of these chairs all over the city that for our employees of course to be able to give the gift of giving was very special obviously. And then, of course, the people who these unsung heroes who every day are showing up who have chosen to do this sort of this important work for someone to acknowledge them, to stop, take a moment of the day and acknowledge them and reward them with a gift, it didn’t matter what the gift was. We just happen to have access to chair. That was powerful. And the show notes that you keep talking about, I hope you’ll put GoodmansChairReaction.com in your show notes.
[00:21:38] Andrew: We’ll see how the rest of the show goes to see if that will actually happen. But we’re actually going to link to some of the videos because when it came out in 2015, I just thought it was such an awesome unique concept that really helped to instill to people that didn’t know Goodmans, all the good stuff that you guys were doing so I thought that was just unique and special there to take advantage of all the good work that you’ve done. So, a lot of the listeners don’t have hundreds of employees so it’s harder to do a lot of the giveback which we’ll talk a little bit about but what would your quick tip be if you’re running a 10-person company, you’re wearing a lot of different hats? If you put yourself in their position and you said, “I still want to show some purpose,” what would be one or two things that you would instill to a CEO or a president or a founder of a smaller business to be able to do some of these things that your firm can do because more of demand power?
[00:22:36] Adam: Well, very first thing and you kind of jumped over it but identifying what your purpose is, is first and foremost. Ours happens to be make an impact in the community but that’s not for everybody and that’s cool. We don’t discourage anybody else for having a different purpose but that’s some heavy lifting that has to happen from the leadership to understand what intrinsically motivates us, what inspires us, what’s the reasoning to get out of bed in the morning. And here’s a hint, if it’s more money, that’s not – think harder. It’s not just your wealth. It’s beyond as in Your Wealth & Beyond podcast. So, there are dozens of books out there. A good friend of mine does a lot of speaking on the subject, guy named Brian Mohr, local guy. Y Scouts is his company. I recommend him as a guest on Your Wealth & Beyond as well if you’re interested in the topic. There’s a lot to this idea of discovering your purpose. Now, once you’ve discovered your purpose, then the idea is how do you align the activities of the company? How do you take the surplus, resources, assets, and talent and leverage them against whatever it is your purpose is? So, the tip is it isn’t easy but that first one is figure out what your purpose is.
[00:23:57] Andrew: And what we’ve done here at Bayntree with a much smaller staff than Goodman of course but every quarter I let one of the employees pick a charity, something we can give back to that’s passionate for them. So, I make them own it and then put together the plan whether we’ve done Feed My Starving Children. We’ve collected and done a whole campaign of collecting water bottles and giving them to goodwill. So, if you’re smaller like our firm, just find your purpose, provide that and let your staff know why this is important but I think it’s also important to let them kind of run with it so that they can feel passionate about something as well. So, that’s been effective.
[00:24:37] Adam: Right on. And your surplus resource that you had there with the skill of your employees and the time and the energy they had to go and find the water bottles and do whatever it is they’re doing like you are indeed, that’s it. You’re doing it.
[00:24:52] Andrew: So, you’ve talked a little bit before about business is more about making money and profit. Now, to some, they would disagree with you but to the majority of people running businesses that have that higher vision, higher hope of doing good, this term conscious capitalism is kind of thrown around a little bit out there. Can you walk us through what conscious capitalism is and how you utilize that mantra within your day-to-day business and how it ties into everything you just talked about?
[00:25:25] Adam: Sure. I’m a passionate, ardent, fervent believer, defender, practitioner of capitalism. So, there is this notion that capitalism is a dirty word and capitalism is icky, but I don’t buy into any of that at all. Capitalism does not only solve so many of society’s problems. That’s what we need to solve the big 40, hairy, gnarly problems that are in front of us. More capitalism is better. So, the people who practice conscious capitalism, that is fundamental to the belief. Now, that’s the capitalism part. The conscious part is there’s more to it than just accumulating wealth for the owners, for the shareholders that sort of blind ambition to just pursue the profit above all else is misguided and there are lots of stakeholders in a company. Shareholders are one of them and they have to be rewarded but a conscious company sees other stakeholders in the company.
The employees for sure are a stakeholder in the company. The supply chain, that’s a stakeholder in the company. Customers, of course, are a stakeholder. The larger community is a stakeholder. The environment is a stakeholder. When you start to think about all of the different stakeholders and how your company in the practice of capitalism can aid and support and benefit all those others, that’s when you start to be looking the conscious capitalism. Just that narrowly focus on one stakeholder, the shareholder is not only short-term thinking, but it’s also trouble inspiring employees that way. No one wants to get out of bed just to create wealth for you and that’s not a good reason. Not to say that that can’t be successful. Good lord. A lot of people have made a lot of money with that kind of myopic short-term thinking and then sold the company and gone off and do their thing.
[00:27:25] Adam: That’s fine. I’m not discouraging them. It’s just not conscious capitalism. That’s just flat out in making selfish capitalism. That sounds like I was judging them there I suppose but conscious capitalism, a subset of the practice conscious capitalism is something called B Corp as in Benefit Corp. Would you like me to describe what that is, Andrew?
[00:27:48] Andrew: If you would, that would be great.
[00:27:50] Adam: Okay. I’d like to just check in with you to make sure you’re still there and still listening.
[00:27:54] Andrew: You have not put me to sleep yet. Maybe I’ve got this double espresso so I’m not sure which one is wavering there but no. So, B Corp, yeah, because that’s a term that I think a lot of the listeners including myself have not heard of so kind of give us a quick dirty on that.
[00:28:12] Adam: So, B Corp is a designation or corporation like an S Corp or C Corp or LLC. There’s a new designation called B Corp. It stands for Benefit Corporation. Benefit Corporation, to be a Benefit Corporation you have to declare that you exist not just for the shareholders but also for the community, the environment, and your people. It’s not enough just to declare that. You actually have to write it down and file it with the state as a legal document. That’s part of your charter. It’s not enough to even do that. You have to get audited in every two years to prove that you do what you say you do. And this is no bullshit audit. This is like a very intense painful, pain-in-the-ass audit that digs deep into the company and to find out that all knew that your practices are indeed what you say they are. And so, there are about 2,000 or so B Corps in the country. Goodmans was the first one in Arizona.
There’s about 10 or 11 in Arizona now and there’s a bunch of reasons that people do B Corps. Oftentimes they do it for protection that as a company if you are doing things that benefit the environment let’s say, you don’t want a shareholder lawsuit against you saying you are not acting in our best fiduciary interest. You are off taking money that otherwise be distributed to the investors and spending it on the community or the environment or people or something. And the B Corp is protected. You have protection to say, “No, no, look, we declared upfront this is who we are.” So, that’s one reason. That’s not why we do it. Another reason is if you plan to sell the company and you want the purpose of the company to live on and you want the new owners of the company to be committed to the same purpose then that’s another reason to do it. That’s not why we do it. We do it because it’s a signal to prospective employees that we are who we say we are.
[00:30:13] Adam: It’s a good housekeeping seal of approval if you will about that we’re honest in this and we’re not just bullshitting with what we say we’re going to do. And so, that’s it. That’s the only reason that we go through with this ardor to become a B Corp. This is a signal to employees, prospective employees.
[00:30:35] Andrew: That’s very, very interesting and I think it’s a very unknown type of corporation and it really kind of puts to what you say you’re all about but when you go down that scope and you’re getting audited every two years, it really puts you as the leader and saying, “That we’re taking these extra steps and we mean business and we mean this purpose-based that we’re building here.” So, I think that’s fantastic. Guys, that’ll be in the show notes as well. So, when we talked earlier about Goodmans and you being the third-generation leader and I think when we think of family businesses, the old adage, short sleeves to short sleeves in three generations I think holds true in most cases.
So, Goodmans is the I think the rare bird that you’ve actually been able to significantly grow along these stages. And testament to from your grandfather to Murray to you, when you think in terms of stepping in and I know you indicated ten years before you took over as the CEO, walk us through kind of briefly what you did or how you instilled yourself to the employees so that there was no hint of nepotism. They didn’t feel like, “Hey, here comes Adam. He doesn’t know anything about the business. He’s out there in the paper world and now we’ve got to deal with him.” So, I know that’s easier said than done for you to just come right in but is there anything that you can provide us that helps you through that initial stage of taking the reins and running with it?
[00:32:10] Adam: Well, all those things existed. People had watched me grow up. People and employees at Goodmans have watched me grow up so I was the little pitcher from high school one day and the next day I’m strutting around like I own the place. And that I was incredibly conscious of that and how I was perceived. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to join the family business is I didn’t want to be just the boss’s son and the old adage of what Ann Richards used to say about George Bush that he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. I did not want to be that. And so, the first way I mitigated that was I didn’t come straight into the main business. I actually started a sub business, a division that focused on the different customer folks on the midmarket whereas Goodmans is focused on large complex organizations like hospitals and universities and governments.
I started on a more retail version that just focused on small medium-sized businesses. It had a different brand, the whole thing, and that enabled me to get some credibility to earn some credibility within the company and also get a taste of leadership, get a taste of the business without just being inserted right at the top of the primary business. At our best, our revenues were maybe 15%, 20% of what the – well, maybe 10%, 15% of what the parent company were. So, it wasn’t a huge impact that we had but I was getting that full round and, of course, we were scrambling like a startup, so it was essentially a startup inside the company. And when people saw that I could be successful doing that and that I had the energy and the tenacity, hard work to pull that off and knew how to attract good talent and develop talent, that everything else kind of fell away, the nepotism idea, and I had established myself.
[00:34:20] Adam: I then made the transition over to the big store, the big shop, the parent company, whatever we call it, and was really careful about asserting myself. I was just sort of learning at the foot of my father and watching. He describes the transition between the two of us as a relay race where he passed the baton to me and his stride started getting shorter and my stride started getting longer and you can’t really tell exactly that point where the baton passed which is why I have trouble giving you dates about anything. There really were no dates. It was just sort of happened really kind of gradually and never looked back from that.
[00:35:04] Andrew: Yeah. I think for listeners to take away from that is to not put too much pressure on yourself and to really be able to spend the ability to prove yourself day in and day out and organically take over that leadership. So, very, very important stuff there and as you look to the evolution of Goodmans and I know you’re having fun doing what you’re doing, I mean is in your mind, do you envision that you want this to continue on to the next generation yourself? I assume you probably don’t put pressure on your family to take over but is that kind of been your thought process would be the most ideal to go to a fourth-generation?
[00:35:41] Adam: Sure. Yes, but I’m reluctant to say that only because if this isn’t what they want to do then I support whatever it is they want to do. And so, we’re a long way from understanding what that is. The kids are young as you know and so but, yeah, that would be great. Sure. I would love that. I would cite something else, Andrew. Actually, I want to go back to my dad for a second and for those of your listeners who are of my father’s generation, the thing he deserves an immense amount of credit for is letting go at the right time, sensing when the right time was, letting go of that time and never looking back. And by that, I mean, tactically what that looks like is one day I started holding, running meetings with his leadership team and he doesn’t – he’s not sitting in the room auditing or listening in or correcting. He’s not there.
One day I’m standing in front of the entire company giving presentations and talks or whatever, town halls, and he’s in the audience and not expecting to be on stage, not expecting to take the microphone. Our offices are next door to each other so there, I will have a small group in here having a pretty intense discussion and he never once will wander over to the door to say, “Hey, what are you guys talking about here?” That gave me a ton of confidence first of all but also, it’s a signal to the employees that, “No, no, the transition has happened, and Adam is the guy we go to now.” He deserves an immense amount of credit. I don’t know that I could suppress my ego enough frankly for my kids to be able to just let go like that after working for – I just celebrated my 25th-anniversary last week actually for working 25, 35 years. I don’t think I could just sort of let go like that. So, credit to him and I encourage other leaders to do the same thing.
[00:37:42] Andrew: Well, I think the failure rate of going from first, second or second to third is probably you just hit it right on the head. There’s that ego involved, the not giving the reins away or not being able to let the next generation run with it is got to be the biggest issue that we see why companies do fail as they head into that next generation. And a lot of it is psychological. I mean, you could sit down, and you could have a therapist come in and that whole Freudian type complex type situation. So, that is probably one of the main catalysts on how you were able to have that confidence and be able to excel and grow it and be able to put your stamp on things.
[00:38:23] Adam: Correct.
[00:38:24] Andrew: Which is important. So, it’s great stuff. So, as we come to a close, one of the areas that I know like myself, you’re an avid diehard Grateful Dead fan and so I think we talked about today culture and growing a business and focusing on a purpose. So, let’s maybe selfishly we’re going to talk about this but let’s spend the next few minutes before we end. Let’s talk about what the Grateful Dead over the last 50 years can teach us about business, about community, about creating a legacy. I think, Adam, we could probably do a whole show on this, so I think we’re just going to touch on the surface here. So, I apologize, listeners, and maybe if we get enough feedback, we’ll do another show on the business of the Grateful Dead. In fact, it could be a whole podcast. We’ll start a whole new channel. So, beyond the music which is powerful in itself, what do you think are some of the things that have led to the success of the Grateful Dead from its infancy to maybe, I don’t know, some would say maybe selling out in the 90s to now what they’ve gotten back to? What’s your thought there?
[00:39:40] Adam: I would say first of all there’s this sheer tenacity of establishing yourself and just keep doing it and keep doing it, something you believe in. So, you got a band that has a common purpose together that has a common vision and that’s goal number one, getting everybody to share that common purpose and vision, and then just sticking with it and doubling down year-after-year, doubling down. And that authenticity of that core belief in what you are, who you are and what you’re about attracts legions of people of course including you and I. Then it evolves into a sense of community among this group. And community is so important in the Grateful Dead world and the band respects the community and the community respects each other and if you haven’t been to a show, it’s hard to describe what I’m talking about. It’s not just when someone overdoses on acid and that they get treated quickly, it’s not what I’m referring to. And there’s this fervent loyalty to the band and to the community itself and a desire to be part of it. That all starts from that tracing all the way back, that’s a group of people who have a shared belief system, shared value system, shared purpose and in the most purest expression of it that just keeps attracting people.
[00:41:10] Andrew: Yeah. I think if you overlay that on a business and really the Grateful Dead is a business, you could see why they’ve been so successful and why businesses that have the same belief system, that same mantra why businesses like that are successful. Rewarding your employees, rewarding your customers, that’s what they’ve done, and you can’t I think the one thing is you can’t fake it like no matter all this good that you guys do at Goodmans, pun on words there, I should’ve been in the newspaper business, but you can’t fake it. And just like in my business when you’re working with clients to help grow and build a financial plan and help them protect their retirement, you can’t fake caring. And I think with the Grateful Dead there’s no faking it and that’s what led and continues to bring that community together and I think part of what we’re seeing is with technology, that isolation, the isolation of, well, technology is supposed to bring us together but it’s really isolating us.
So, building that community, you go to Goodmans website and you just see the team, the focus on the employees, that’s the kind of thing that helps people feel part of something and the same thing on why you and I will go to a show, travel to all parts of the country and maybe not see as many shows as we’ve liked but you can’t I think replicate that and that feeling that you have and that community sense and that’s really what we are as humans is wanting to feel part of something. So, I think real high level that is what’s left a lasting mark there for them and will continue into the future.
[00:42:45] Adam: That was profound. I concurred it. You know, the Dead famously let people record their shows for free and whereas every other band ever strictly prohibits people from recording and reselling but the Dead such a focus on a larger, bigger picture that to pass up this short-term opportunity and gain a little bit of profit and in exchange get wider and wider listeners and followers and community. And that, in the long run, is going to pay off. Well, that’s not different from what we’re talking about with a B Corp. That by focusing on building community that it will reward the shareholders as well.
[00:43:30] Andrew: Everything falls into place and when you think about that, it’s the why. And as you said earlier, whether you’re a large company or a small company, it’s first identifying that purpose, hammering that home and not just saying, “Hey, we’re going to do this because it’s going to make us look good.” You want to do it because you really care.
[00:43:52] Adam: Right. Well, because it aligns with our purpose. I would put it that way. I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again, your purpose doesn’t have to be about serving the community like that’s just one. It really takes some deep thought to understand what it is your purpose is and then pursuing it.
[00:44:12] Andrew: Well said. Well, I know we’ve gone through a lot. We talked culture and purpose and leadership, family business, Grateful Dead. I was looking at the setlist the other and I had setlist envy. You ever get that? That’s a term. It’s a thing. It’s maybe a disease. I’m not sure but…
[00:44:35] Adam: You know what will be nice? Actually, in the show notes that you keep talking about, if you put, this will be nice for me if you put some mp3s of Help Is On The Way, Slipknot and then into Franklin’s Tower, that would be a really nice tribute.
[00:44:48] Andrew: Okay. All right. Good thing I got editors, so we will get that. That will be great. Well, Adam, thanks for joining us today on Your Wealth & Beyond. I hope you listeners had as much fun as I did and took away as much as I did. Continue doing good work, continue driving that vision and helping in giving back to the community. It’s awesome stuff, Adam. Thanks for joining us.
[00:45:14] Adam: Thank you, my friend. See you at the Dead show.
[00:45:17] Andrew: See you on the flip side. Bye.
[00:45:19] Adam: Bye.
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