653: 4 Things About the Focus to Execute w/ Jason Provonsha

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Jason Provonsha, CEO of Steam Logistics.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

Looking for a guaranteed way to create content that resonates with your audience? Start a podcast, interview your ideal clients and let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clients care about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience will care about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be to be growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry. Let's get it into the show. Welcome back to the BE TOB growth show. Today we are joined by Jason Provancha. Jason is the CEO at steam logistics. Jason, welcome to the show. Hey, thanks for having Jonathan. It's a pleasure to have you on the show today. We're actually going to be talking about this, this idea of having the focus to execute, and I think it's going to be a very cool topic. But before we get into it, Jason, maybe you can tell us a little about what you and the steam logistics team are up to these days. Sure. So, steam logistics is a technology driven international freight forwarder, which is essentially a third party logistics provider and, if you want to think about it, if you're not very familiar with transportation, a simple way to think about our businesses. We're sort of a travel agent for Frey and specifically international freight. So we help businesses, primarily US based businesses or businesses that have a strong presence in the US, with their import and export strategy utilizing air and ocean transportation around the world. Very cool, and I happen to know that steam logistics has been experiencing some incredible growth, which is one of the one of the ways that we found you and one of the reasons that we wanted to bring you on the show today. Can you tell us a little about that? Sure, yeah. So we were...

...recently named to the ink magazine Five Thousand Fastest growing companies list this past year and we came in at number two hundred fifty four on that list. They ranked at the top five thousand and we were excited to be number two hundred and fifty four, and I think we were number one and in our category, which would be that kind of international injustics focus. That's fantastic and, like I said, you know, one of the reasons that were so lucky to have you on the show today going to be talking about having the focus to execute. So, Jason, why don't you want you take it away? Where were you going to start this conversation? Well, I you know, and thinking about first of all, you were kind to invite me to be on and I appreciate that, and so I sort of thought about ways that I could hopefully bring some value to the audience and I listened to a lot of podcasts and so when I think about why I listen to those, it's really grounded in trying to learn something from people smarter than myself, and so I was trying to think about things that I could, you know, touch on that that I've learned just even over the past couple of years. And and so the thing that comes to mind kind of immediately is focus, because our business is kind of at this inflection point where we're kind of becoming more mature as a company while also growing really fast, and what we are finding is that we just have to be a lot more discipline about our focus and I think even over the vast couple of years we've found ourselves sometimes not doing that very well, and it's natural. I mean you're a your startup or your kind of early kind of growth business and naturally part of that process is trying things, testing things, failing and being willing to do those things. That's how you learn and that's how your business becomes more effective. But there comes a point where you have to begin being a little bit more discipline about which things you test, how much failure you're willing to accept and and...

...really the goal there is to learn and then not fail right. And so I think the kind of overarching theme, especially for steam this year, has been has been focused and and that can be tough because you sort of build a culture around sort of a looseness and in a willingness to try and fail, and when you begin kind of honing that in to say hey, yeah, that's great, but we also have very our articulated goals that we're trying to achieve and we can't do everything, and so that's that's sort of what brought this whole thing to mind is it's I mean this is a mantra. It's team right now, and so it was easy to connect that subject when you ask and so chasing. If you're talking about you have less of a need to test and failed. You still balance that against kind of people saying, you know, you have to innovate more quickly than ever. I mean you know things are the way in which we conduct business is changing more rapidly than ever before. I mean is there is there still a balance there? Do you take that into consideration? Absolutely, I mean, this is not a you can't take this and make it too legalistic, this concept of Hey, we're going to be super focused and block out all the noise. There's a balance to also keeping open minds towards things that you think we'll move you forward. But I think the big issue is just making sure that you a have a strategy and that it's well articulated and understood, and then essentially using that as a filter and and as these other opportunities pop up, running it through that filter and determining, Hey, does this really aligned with what we said we want to do? And if the answers know, then that that's more than likely going to be the answer that you need to have for that particular opportunity. Having said that, there's also the need to be willing to kind of Zagg and Zag when opportunities arise that maybe don't fit the strategy but...

...you have a good feeling, a good enough feeling about it, where you want to make a small bet. But I think as you grow they need to be smaller bets. In you know, you can bet the farm on something when you don't have a whole lot to lose, but after you've developed, you know, a business, you have to be a little bit more thoughtful making more small bets as opposed to one or two giant bets. Yeah, well, easier to bet the farm when you have little to nothing to lose, right. So, speaking of saying no, I know that one of us the second point you were going to make today is the importance of saying no to non priority requests. What does that look like? Well, it's difficult because I I don't know if everybody agrees with me, but I you know, so I came up through sales and sales is what I care most about, and I don't know if this is true with all salespeople, but for me I'm the easiest person to get to say yes that anybody I know, and I don't know if all salespeople are like that or not, but I am, and so I'd love to say yes, and that that's been a challenge for me because obviously you can't say yes to everything, and so we've really spent a lot of time. Again, I kind of keep coming back to this filtering process of you know, am I saying no enough and am I am I being discipline enough around our core strategy to ensure that the yeses that I am making we can get fully behind, and I think that's another important element of saying no more often, and there's plenty of people out there smarter than me who've kind of espoused this as a key part of how they've been successful, as just saying no more than they say yes. But the nice part of that that is that when you do say yes, you've created enough space to put real weight behind that yes and and make it effective, as opposed to saying yes to everything. Obviously there's limited resources to chase after these yeses and so if you're saying yes to everything, none of them are going to be very effective and you find yourself being sort of a...

...mild wide and it's deep, which is typically not an effective strategy, and so on. A personal level, worked around how to say no but say it in a way that is not sort of disempowering to people and and helping them to understand the reasons behind that, know, and telling them also that it's just no for now, not know forever. And so I think that we're beginning to build a culture around that that that I hope is really effective, that people understand that, hey, we want to hear any and all ideas and they can come from absolutely anywhere. We try to be very organizationally flat around here, which which really breeds that and and we appreciate that. But I think helping your team's understand that there are going to be plenty of times where these ideas can't be a priority doesn't mean they're off the table forever. That's a really good point. I think the the way in which you say no, you know, it can still you know, people can't take that as as a brushoff or a blow off, I mean, but if you put if you do it effectively, then it won't prevent them from approaching even the future with other ideas they feel oh no, this was a this was a thoughtful consideration. You know, it's a no for right now. But you know, Jason was. Jason was really thinking about it. Sure, and I think it's on leadership to make sure that they take the time to both consider the idea but also clearly explain kind of the why behind the what and not just rotely say no, we're moving on, but help people understand and by doing that you're also going to help them prepare future ideas, frankly, because as the more that they fully understand the strategy, the more their ideas will align with them as opposed to, you know, be in contrast with them. Yeah, that's great. Well, and you've, I mean certainly sort of alluded to point number three when you're talking about saying no...

...to, I'm nonpherity request. But that time is a finite resource. It is, and you know, in our industry is sort of an unlimited opportunity industry. It's not like an industry that you have very small segment of prospects and customers, potential customers. So you take this infinite opportunity unity industry and you push that up against a finite amount of time and it makes it even more important to know what you're doing with your time, because the opportunity costs associated with doing the wrong things are pretty dramatic and that is an area that, you know, if I could point to anything that we have have really tried to address in our business, it's that it's okay, great, we just brought in a bunch of new business. Is it the right business and why is it the right business and what could we have done instead of going out after that particular business and would it have been more effective? And so this concept of time is super critical to to our industry, particularly because of that kind of expansive opportunity out there. But Man, you can waste it really fast and so, you know, are as leaders in the end in the business and I guess we'll probably the industry, but particularly within the business, we have to set that example for our teams because if our sales team is out there chasing every opportunity, that doesn't really fit our core strategy, not only in a waste of time, it could be potentially, you know, harmful to what our long term strategies are. So we have to set the standard for how we view time first and foremost and the respect that we have for it, and then help our teams have that same that same understanding and certainly people people tend to follow what you do, not what you say, and so that's a discipline that we're really trying to put into the company, and so I think that's a that's a perfect springboard into this fourth point,...

...because we've danced around this. This idea of it, we'll dive right into it. Is the this idea of effective communication. Yes, and you know, this is kind of I guess, if I were to provide a takeaway here. Sure, everybody knows times important, but how do you sort of, you know, get this discipline in your business? And Trust me, I don't have all the answers and we're not it's a finish line on this by any stretch. But the things that have worked for us have been to to clearly articulate this strategy and be very transparent about it. You know, we have some very key things that we are trying to do over the next twelve months, for example, and those have been shared companywide. We have a monthly town hall that we bring the whole company together, we serve everybody dinner and we all spend time talking about the company, and that includes helping them to see exactly what the strategy is. And then every month we review what we did towards that, and so that's good for everything from accountability as a leadership team. Are we accountable to our people, but also to help them understand that this isn't something that we do once a month and then we forget about it in the next month we're on to something else. We're restating it every month. Okay, here's what we said we were going to do, here's what we're doing and and here's the progress us with that we're making. And I think that level of transparency is important, first of all to get by in but second of all just so that they you can kind of point back to that filter to be able to say, guys, this is what we said we're doing and everybody understands it. There's no confusion around that. So really just getting total alignment within the business helps you to be able to address these opportunities that come your way in a way that that's understood by people and not viewed as you know, somebody had a bad day that day, so they don't like my idea, and that that just helps a lot and I would say, if anything, just again spending the time articulating...

...the strategy and then just overcommunicating it, and in our case we do it in these monthly town halls. We in reinforce it with, you know, Various Emil communications that go out things that nature. But there's plenty of processes that you could put into place to communicate them, but it obviously starts with having the strategy articulated in the first place. Yeah, yeah, can't you know, overstate the importance of having that proper communication. So, Jason, you know you've you've experienced some tremendous growth with steam logistics. We've been loving asking this question at the end of our interviews. You know, as a as a CEO or just as a human being. You know, whether it's personal or professional. What kind of legacy are you hoping to leave behind? Yeah, I think I do think about it in two ways. You mentioned personal and Professional. I think I usually start with personal. My personal focus on legacy is really more about, you know, the kind of father I am, the kind of husband I am, things of that nature, and of course those are things that you think about. Am I devoting the right time my available to my family and those kinds of things. So when I think about personal legacy, it's all really grounded in that not so much how I viewed publicly to to my business life, so much on the professional side. I really think when I think about legacy, I really think more about steam. You know, what can steam be? Because this company is not me, it's a collection of really smart and devoted people, and so I think about the company's legacy in terms of can this be a great place for people to build a career and are we in tune with what their aspirations are for their career so that we can help make that happen? Can we make a real impact on this industry? It's a very fragmented industry which the top player, I think, controls maybe four percent of a global market. So it's a it's a very fragmented industry. It's hard to make noise in it, and so what can we do there? Can we be a billion dollar...

...business or more, and what can we bring to this industry, which is very old very well established, that makes the process of moving international freight simpler and a better experience? And those are the things that we're really focused on and that's why I think we've grow own the way that we have is we are trying to bring something new to an industry that that could use it, and so that's really the way I think about about legacy. It's more more company driven on the public side and and how can we again do something that maybe hasn't been done before? That's fantastic. Well, Jason We we certainly wish you all the locking continuing to make an impact in your industry and thank you again so much for your time. It has been an absolute pleasure having on the show today. I really enjoyed it. Thanks so much. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the be tob growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with like minded people. Will Talk Business, we'll talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a be tob growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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