Leadership is more than a role. Those that have risen the ranks of companies may believe that leadership is about finally making it. But the reality, it takes more than most leaders are willing to give to becoming a leader worth following. Today’s guest is David Bezar, Senior Managing Director at Thrive Financial Services. Inc Magazine ranked his company #1503 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Thrive Financial is a client-first, independent, wealth management firm. David talks about what it takes to become a leader worth following. We look at various parts of leadership. David also shares what often gets in his way. Discover what it takes to become a leader worth following.
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David Bezar: The Transcript
About: Being a serial entrepreneur, David’s forte has been his ability to recognize opportunities for innovation and improvement within the financial services space. Most recently, David identified a real need that does help baby boomers navigate retirement successfully. Retirees and Pre-retirees are looking for a trusted fiduciary, a central resource to answer their questions and guide them with the attitude of a steward during the retirement income stage of life. Issues related to Social Security, Medicare, taxes, LTC, longevity, investment risk management, etc. David decided to focus on that by being first an educator and advocate for the baby boomer community. Additionally, by building a firm around that idea, to support that goal; the trusted authority to those looking for peace of mind in retirement.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
David Bezar: And what I’ve come to the conclusion is the speed of the team is determined by the speed of the leader, right? So if you want to build a company where you get really great results, you’ve got to be a good example, right? You got to set that example of the type of person. , I tell people if you want to attract tens, you know, people who quote-unquote are tens, then you gotta be a ten. You can’t go out and recruit amazing talent. , if you’re not there, right? Because you need to be able to garner respect. You’ve got to have some degree of a value gap that you bring a benefit to the people that you’re leading. , so they got to see that, you know, integrity, character work ethic. , those are all the things that I think are worthy of a leader that you know, creates a follower.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Becoming a leader worth following is something that you should aspire to because when you have people that are willing to follow you and really engage and inspire by what’s going on around you, then you have the chance to create more leaders, not just more followers. And that’s what we talked about today. Being a leader worth following means you want to lead by example, you want to truly become someone that can connect and engage the culture of the business. And that’s what leadership is all about. We hear focus on fast growth leaders from the Inc 5,000. Today, we have the co-founder of Thrive Capital Management, and we have David Bezar and David really does go into the heart of what does it mean to be a leader worth following? He actually tells a story about how he came to this point, the turning point and inflection that he had to go through when he was told you’re really not that good of a leader. In fact, I think they said you’re a bad leader and that you should leave the company. That story and much, much more inside this episode of Growth Think Tank. Now if you’re curious about where to go next as a leader, make sure you check out some of the free content we have at GeneHammett.com. But most of all, if you know exactly what you want, you want to be an extraordinary leader because you know, that will pay off for your business.
Then let’s have a chat. I’d love to get to know you, to serve you, to help you get more clear about what that next step is, what the blind spot is. That’s holding you back and really help you understand the bottlenecks in your business so that you can remove them. My name is Gene Hammett. Just go to GeneHammett.com. Go to start your journey. We can have a chat. I can help you with your business. We could get to know each other and I look forward to it. Now here’s the interview with David.
Hey David, how are you?
David Bezar: I’m doing fantastic. How about yourself?
Gene Hammett: I am fantastic as well. This is going to be a great interview. , I’ve already let our audience know a little bit about you and the intro, but I’d love for you to tell us about the company. So what is, and who is Thrive Capital Management?
David Bezar: Yeah. So, we’re an independent registered investment advisory firm. We’re an SEC registered investment advisory firm. We’re based here in the suburbs, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. We’ve got five offices throughout the suburbs. , soon the hope, looking at an office down in south Florida, which would be the one that I’m most interested in being at most frequently. But, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re kind of a unique boutique firm that specializes in retirement income planning. , we deal with a very multi-disciplined integrated approach to helping retirees navigate. All the complexities of retirement. We’re not just into investment management, but we’re looking at every aspect, social security, Medicare, taxes, taxes are a big issue today for a lot of retirees. So that’s, that’s kind of a quick synopsis of who we are.
Gene Hammett: Well, we’re not going to talk too much about the products and the services you offer, because we want to talk about this leadership style. We’ve done some research on the company and you. And not only have you gotten great results by being on the Inc 5,000, but you’ve also, really demonstrated leadership that’s worthy of following. And I’ve heard this before in different contexts. Maybe people throw this out there, but what does that mean to you? That they’re worthy of following?
David Bezar: So, you know, I feel, and I’ve been doing this type of business for over 30 years, and it’s been a very interesting journey and, you know, kind of analyzing that leadership role. And what I’ve come to the conclusion is the speed of the team is determined by the speed of the leader. Right? So if you want to build a company. Where you get really great results. You’ve got to be a good example, right? You got to set that example of the type of person. , I tell people if you want to attract tens, you know, people who quote-unquote are tens, then you gotta be a ten. You can’t go out and recruit amazing talent. , if you’re not there, right? Because you need to be able to garner respect. You’ve got to have some degree of a value gap that you bring. , benefit to the people that you’re leading. , so they got to see that, you know, integrity, character work ethic. , those are all the things that I think are worthy of a leader, , that, you know, creates a follower.
Gene Hammett: We’re gonna, kind of dive into some of the elements you just talked about in that because that’s a good opening, but we’re not here to go shallow. So we’re going to go deep into this. I worked with a lot of. I say leadership is important to lead by example, but many times, you know, when I’m just talking to people, they say that, but they don’t mean it in everything. They mean it in something because that’s the way they demonstrate this. , do you mean it? How do you mean to lead by example?
David Bezar: So, you know, again, it’s just not. , I would tell you if you’re a parent, you have to be a leader as well. Right? So I believe I’m onstage 24/7 365 because people are looking right. You’re under a microscope every minute of the day. And you know, human nature typically is people are looking, you know, for you, you know, your feet of clay versus all the reasons and virtues that you may have for, you know, being the type of person people want to aspire to become or follow or whatever. So for me, You know, and it’s been a learning process. It didn’t start out that way by any stretch, but it really is something that I’m consumed with. I, I have a, you know, a high degree of awareness about my presence, with words that come out of my mouth, my actions, because I really do believe people are watching. They’re looking for reasons. That there’s maybe, you know, a crack in the armor, gives them an excuse, not to do that level of work that you have an expectation for. , so I think, again, it’s really critical to living it, not just be a word.
Gene Hammett: You know, a lot of people we’ll get this confused when it comes down to hard work and the grit that it takes. And I know that you’re probably a hard worker and you, you know, you talked about 30 years, but you also tell them. You know, next week, you’re going on a month’s vacation. So you’re leading by example of saying it’s, it’s good to take time away and recharge. Is, is that a fair example to set for your team?
David Bezar: I think it’s a must. I, you know, and again, there were times that I’m sure you experienced the same thing is that you forget about yourself, right? And you just keep working and working. And what ends up happening is you drain the battery down to zero and then how can you be a leader. Right. I mean, how can you really be there, in the tough times, you know, and, and be able to lift people up from a value standpoint, you know, build their spirits, you know, all that. If, if you’re drained, you’re not really having a lot to offer. So, you know, over the years I learned to reward myself, you know, kind of celebrate the successes that we were experiencing. I actually built, into kind of my schedule, a 90-day reward system where I, you know, I really believe anybody can do anything for about 13 weeks. And if you’d, you know, you just kind of lay it all on the line over that period of time, then go rejoice in those wins, go get that battery recharge. And, you know, I think that allows you to continue to play at a high level.
Commentary: Hold on, David. Draining the battery to zero. You know, this is not good. Even just those words draining into zero. Just doesn’t sit well with any leader I know, but we do it all the time. We push ourselves and we don’t really take the time to be intentional about taking care of ourselves. I want to make sure you understand that your job is not just to get the work done, but you’ve got to manage your energy. You got to be very intentional about where you are needing the most energy, bringing your best self to work, bringing your best self to the people that are most important to yourself. I am not the kind of person that says you should do the work until you fall over dead. Because I think that doesn’t create the kind of leadership that allows you to move your employees and inspire them beyond just, you know, getting the work done. You want to make sure that you are tuning into the energy that’s going on inside yourself and inside the organization and make sure you manage that appropriately. So that you become the leader worth following back to David.
Gene Hammett: You know, there’s a lot of leaders listening in here that need to hear the words that are coming out of your mouth, but
David Bezar: I hope we can add some benefit, bring some value today.
Gene Hammett: I know you’ve seen this because you work with probably a lot of high-level people with his clients and whatnot. And they feel like they could just go, go, go, and they end up getting to a point of burnout. But from what I’m looking on your face, maybe you’re excited about going on a month’s vacation, but you’re not at a point of working so hard that you’re burned out. You’re you seem like you’re ready to go every day, for whatever’s in front of you.
David Bezar: Yeah. It’s you know, it’s, I still got a purpose. I still got a lot of fuel left in the tank. It’s still got a lot of why. You know, and it keeps me energized. , but again, I think it’s critically important to take those breaks, you know, all work and no play makes the, you know, David the old guy. And the other thing, you know, you would mention about this vacation and I, and I think it’s important and I know you’ve had John Maxwell, on your podcast previously, and I’m a. Big fan big student. , a lot of my early learnings were from, and I’m going to date myself, but you know, watching John’s video cassettes on VHS. But I’ll tell you, I wore those things out. I watched them over and over and over, and I feel almost through a bit of osmosis. I kind of, you know, learn the process of becoming a leader and the fact that, you know, I’m taking my family away for a month. , John always said, you’re not really a leader until you develop leaders around you. So if you work with that goal in mind, it really does afford you the ability to create a business or create a life that’s pretty much self-managed.
Gene Hammett: You know, you had, share with me the why you’re able to take a month off. It was exactly kind of what you talked about. You’ve built leaders around you. You said a great leadership team. Tell me a little bit about how you’ve been able to do that.
David Bezar: So I think, , it was two stages, right? So one was where I would constantly spend time. Every Monday morning we would have a team meeting and we’re real big on the team. Like, everybody has a seat at the table. Everybody’s got a voice. , we listened. And we share. And in the beginning stages, I really felt like I had a lot to offer from a leadership perspective and it was teaching. It was trying to get people to understand how to elevate themselves into a leadership role. And then what I learned over time is. You know, I don’t say this in an ego way, but a prophet is without honor in their own land. So eventually it got to a point where people were becoming tone-deaf, and I could see that that created a little bit of a lid on how far we could take our leadership. So the second stage of it is we went outside of ourselves and, you know, found the right type of organization that teacher leadership and we engaged them. We make an investment because we know that investment will give us a return on that investment and not necessarily monetary. You know, we don’t see a direct result from a monetary standpoint, but it’s not all about the money, right. It’s about having balance. , in your life and being able to make money, but also to be able to enjoy it.
So I feel that that investment that we made to start bringing in, you know, leadership coaches and we’ve done a lot, you know, we’ve used a lot of the name brand companies that I’m sure a lot of people listening to today have heard of, or maybe even been engaged with. , but we’ve taken a definite purpose-driven attitude towards bringing those folks in.
Gene Hammett: So without making this a commercial for anyone, what have you learned by bringing in these outside people to give this leadership perspective across the organization?
David Bezar: So, you know, I’ve attended, strategic coach and, my partner and I both attended strategic coach and what I found out and phenomenal, I mean, just absolutely elevated you know, skills and capabilities and attitudes and all the things that go along with that. , but what I, what I came to the conclusion is I probably wasn’t very good at cascading that down, and utilizing that was good for me. Right. It wasn’t necessarily good for the team. , so we looked for things that were synergistic to that. Read a book called traction, ultimately sought out, you know, an EOS facilitator, the entrepreneurial operating system facilitator. And then we brought our team into that fold. So not only did I go gain knowledge, but now we’ve got an organization that’s engaged in the process. Of learning leadership.
Commentary: Hold on, David just talked about traction with EOS the entrepreneurial operating system. This is one of the most popular systems inside of fast-growth companies. , it really is a very good system. I’ve read the book. I’ve talked to a lot of people. A lot of my clients actually use this. But what I’ve noticed is there might be some gaps in the framework. It’s not their own fault because you just can’t put everything into a framework. One of the things that I do differently, just so you understand helps you understand the mindset of a leader and help you understand how mindset drives the actions that you take and the thoughts that you have and how that all works together for the strategy to be successful. EOS is a very good strategy, but it has some missing elements that you want to make sure that you get the private coaching that you need, and you really are able to. To move past the mindset issues, because that’s what typically is holding people back. It’s not the tactics of getting things done and how to run meetings and such. It is really shifting your mindset when you need to most back to David.
Gene Hammett: And I know that you’ve said you weren’t good at cascading it down. , but, but how has your leadership changed with all of this work that you’ve done through the cassette tapes, through the work that you’ve done with traction and whatnot? How can you put a finger on how you have benefited from this.
David Bezar: Yeah. So, you know, I don’t know if, if you’re a fan of ice hockey, but I was a former ice hockey player. So my attitude where it’s leadership was one of, I would say, a strong stern bully, like approach. And what I learned is that’s very, short-lived they work, you know, it kind of work at the moment and, but long-term, it really, wasn’t a viable way to build a team around you. Yeah, it kind of creates a turnstile, to be honest, you know, people end up not liking, you don’t want to follow you, undermine you so on and so forth. So, you know, you know, again, by constant education, constantly striving to learn more. You know, I learned out, I learned that you know what you learned after you think, you know, everything is really the good stuff, right? So that, that constant self-improvement approach I think helped me navigate from becoming kind of a strong-arm leader into a leader that inspires and pulls people up versus pushing down.
Gene Hammett: You know, the strong arm leader is that our third authoritarian or directive kind of leader. And it works for some people in the early stages of the company because you’re so integrated into the tactics of it when you’ve got four or five and people, sometimes they just need to be told what to do. I get that. But when you get to the point where you’ve got 20 people plus, And you’re building a team and you eventually want to take a month off and hint, you have to approach this completely different. Would you agree to that whole concept?
David Bezar: A hundred percent and absolutely. I mean, it was a willpower issue before which again, if you go back to just looking in inwardly, that’s a big drain, right? That’s a big drain on energy, just trying to build and push a business forward through sheer willpower. , you know, the old analogy we all probably heard and used. Like, you know, the reason that geese fly in the V formation is for efficiency purposes. And when the, you know, that lead goose gets tired, they kind of fall back to the back of the pack and that next goose sums up. Well, if you don’t have that next goose, you know, you’re always going to be the one that’s trying to, you know, pull people along. That’s a big drain. And, and, you know, I think you could run out of capacity. You can run out of fuel doing that. So, yeah, I think constant improvement, you know, always working on yourself, being the example of what you want people to become as important?
Gene Hammett: Well, this brings us full circle here because we came here talking about, be a leader worth following. And is there anything that we haven’t touched on that you feel like is important for our guests to know?
David Bezar: You know, I think the only thing that I would say is I’d like to share just a quick experience because again, what I’ve learned is. What gets you to a certain point may not be what you need to get you to the ultimate glory. And in our process of building Thrive Capital Management, we brought in a consultancy firm early on. We had some pretty good growth right out of the gate. We, you know, ended up onboarding a lot of folks and, you know, kind of didn’t know what the next step was. So we thought, Hey, we’ll bring in a consultant. The type of consultant that goes comes in looks at all your process, interviews, all your staff. And then you’ve got an exit meeting where they start talking about what they learned and what the strategies were. So I was, you know, I was thrilled to have that process. I was really looking for those nuggets. , that they would deliver to us. So we can take our business from one level to the next. The shocking result of that exit is that they told me specifically that I was a bad leader and I was the problem. And it would be best if maybe I would consider leaving the business.
So I’m sure you could imagine, man, what a kick in the teeth. And, I was, I was shocked. I just could not believe it. Number one that my staff, my team would ever, you know, talk badly about me. And then number two is that now I’m at this kind of fork in the road situation. So that’s what you know. So I had to do some kind of introspection and try to figure out what was the next play. I could get really upset. I could become a tyrant, you know, I can go fire a bunch of people, or, and this is the real difficult thing for a lot of people is I could change, right. It gave me an opportunity to recognize something wasn’t right. And I had that decision to make, and I could tilt either way. And what I did is I ended up tilting towards the purpose of change. I put my ego aside, I sucked it up. I didn’t hold a grudge. I actually met with different people and learned what their perception of me was. You know, why they felt that way. What was that I was specifically doing so on and so forth. And I took that experience as a learning experience. And quite frankly, I really think that number one changed me as a person, you know, much more humble. I’m not egocentric I’m other centric now. And, it really catapulted the growth of our business because it was able to coalesce the team. And they really did believe in us as leaders. At that point, they saw that we were willing to make that change.
Gene Hammett: It’s a powerful story. I don’t know if I would have gotten it that way. The way you set it up, but that was what makes it such a good story is because I was expecting you to say, you know, they were wrong and maybe that’s the first place you went, where you went to. But, the fact that you have enough, , fortitude and grit to say, you know what? I have no one to blame in this, but myself, because that’s what I heard in that.
David Bezar: Absolutely. Again, you know, we either are ego-driven. Or were others driven. And if I wanted to self self-manage business and have the ability to take off a month and go away with my family, it has to be another focus, right? Helping people get what they want out of life. , you know, our staff utilizing thrive capital as a vessel to help them achieve what they want to achieve in life. I had no option, you know, it just kind of, it was great. It was one of those aha moments. That I can remember very vividly that, I made the right decision.
Gene Hammett: Perfect story, David, to wrap up this interview, I really appreciate you sharing this experience, what it means to be a leader worth following, and I can see why you’ve been so successful and able to take a month off.
David Bezar: It was great talking with you. I enjoy it. Look forward to, wrapping with you offline some time. And, it’s been a great experience. Thank you.
Gene Hammett: Well, I’m going to wrap up here at, David’s still listening in to me, but I just wanted, to understand what I’m getting from these interviews. When you look at someone who is willing to look at their own shortcomings, look at the feedback. And even when it doesn’t feel good saying, you know, I’m not going to blame someone else. It’s about me and willing to change. And the shift that that takes and is such a powerful form of leadership. And this is another example of leading by example that we really want to highlight here. You know, if you’re on a journey to be an extraordinary leader, you don’t need feedback from others, you know, where something’s probably a miss I’d love to help you figure out what your next step is.
All you have to do is go to GeneHammett.com go to start your journey, and that can help you figure this out. You might be a good fit for one of our programs that we offer. We have a community of fast-growth leaders, founders, and CEOs that come together to grow. That’s called fast growth boardroom. If you think you’re a fit, just check that out. We’d love for you to apply when you think of growth and you think leadership think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. See you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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