“Dave Rothacker - 2023”
Featuring Dave Rothacker - 2023
Intro: Welcome to Profiles In Prosperity. The leading podcast for residential service contractors, sponsored by Service Roundtable and hosted by David Heimer.
David Heimer: Hi, this is David Heimer. Welcome to Profiles In Prosperity. If I was going to have heart surgery, I’d like to have a surgeon who has done a whole lot of heart surgeries. If my car needs to be fixed, I’d like a mechanic with experience and not the kid that just graduated from tech school. So when I’m looking for a business book recommendation, I talk to the guy that reads more business books than anyone else, Dave Rothacker. Every year, I invite Dave onto our podcast to give us the top three business books that he read the previous year, and it’s always been a fantastic episode. Our members love it. So let me tell you just a little bit about Dave. In addition to being a prolific reader, Dave is an author, coach, and consultant. He’s an advisory board mentor for Service Nation Alliance. He works with the Go Time Success Group. He writes a great weekly Saturday Rabbit Hole blog for the Service Roundtable members. Dave was honored with our industry’s best award, the most prestigious award, the Servant Leader Award. It’s rarely given. It’s only given to those with a lifetime of outstanding service to others. It’s the highest honor you can get in our industry and it’s very well deserved. So Dave Rothacker, welcome back to Profiles In Prosperity.
Dave Rothacker: Thank you, David. And thank you for inviting me. I love this. I love the opportunity to share my book love with listeners.
David Heimer: It is fun to do this. Before we get into our top three books for 2022, I wanted to note that this is the eighth time you’ve been on this podcast talking about books and other industry-related topics. Every year since I started this podcast, you’ve been a guest on this podcast reviewing books, giving recommendations, and I got to tell you, many people have told me how much they like your book reviews on this podcast. And I personally have benefited from this. I’ve found your recommendations very rewarding, and I’ve read a number of books that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own just because you recommended them. So I just wanted to say thanks for all that. I really appreciate it and I know the listeners of Profiles In Prosperity appreciate it as well. So let’s get into the top three business books for 2022. And are these in any order?
Dave Rothacker: No, they are not. I thought about it, but I pretty much love the three of them all the same.
David Heimer: It’s a little bit like naming your favorite child, huh?
Dave Rothacker: Yeah. Oh, there’s no doubt. Yeah, I mean to only limit it to three is a challenge.
David Heimer: Yeah. All right, start us off.
Dave Rothacker: Okay. The first book I want to share is Love Plus Work by Marcus Buckingham. Now, Marcus Buckingham, I first met him, not in person, but as an author when he wrote the book First, Break All the Rules, published in the late 90s. It was my most favorite management book ever written bar none. I mean, just bar none. Marcus was a Gallup organization researcher, and all the information for that book was based on research. Well, that was over 20 years ago, and Marcus is still heavily involved in research. He’s left the Gallup Corporation and he has his own research company called ADP right now. So he pushes the edge when it comes to business, methodology, and operations. But the book Love Plus Work really has to do with the combination of working and loving what you do. He covers subjects in the book on relationships, careers, work, learning, and parenting.
And one of the things that Marcus writes about is understanding what your loves are. And this is similar to understanding what your purpose is. And like a lot of authors today who write on leadership, Marcus is very, very adamant about the leader being self-aware. Now, how he brings that to be in Love Plus Work is identifying what you love. He uses a term called a wyrd, W-Y-R-D. It’s a Norse term that says that everyone has a distinct spirit and we learn and grow the most when we are in touch with our own distinct spirit. And really what he’s talking about is our love. We’re going to be the most prolific when we’re engaged with things we love. So he talks about getting in touch with what we love, and he uses the analogy of a red thread.
And a red thread, the way he talks about it is something that courses through our work and our life when we’re really engaged in things we love. And just to give a quick example of what happens when you are in touch with your red thread, we lose track of time. We’re surprised by how well we did when we’re done with it. We’re singled out for praise because of it. It’s an activity that we really never want to end, to be quite honest. Ironically, I’m in my red thread when I’m writing the Saturday Rabbit Hole. Of all the other writing projects I’m involved with, that one right there, I am in a completely different space, and I know that I’ve touched on my red thread there.
David Heimer: I can see that. It’s interesting you say that because it really comes through in your writing. It’s excellent stuff. It’s very thought-provoking, so I can see why you enjoy it and it just kind of shines through in your writing there.
Dave Rothacker: Yeah, that’s interesting to hear that. I really haven’t gotten that sort of feedback before, but I know that because I use a separate voice in that article and I don’t use it anywhere else in my writing. And maybe that’s another reason why it’s special to me. Well, that and the people that it serves. I love Service Nation. So in the book, he also talks about, he calls them the “seven devils,” but these are things that appear in our lives basically based around work that interfere with our love. And just to give you an example of a couple, groupthink is one. Feedback, we don’t have time to get into it right here, but Marcus is on a different level when it comes to feedback. And I’m talking employee-employer feedback. He doesn’t believe in it. And it’s really an interesting perspective. And if anyone’s interested, just Google Marcus Buckingham and feedback. I think he’s written a couple of articles for Harvard Business Review on it. It’s a very different point of view. Also, rating people. Like if you’re having a review and you get ratings between, say, one and four, he doesn’t believe in that. So he goes into detail on a little bit of that. And like I said, he talks about the various aspects that this comes up in within our relationships, work, learning, parenting, and careers. So that’s my take on Love Plus Work.
David Heimer: It sounds really good. There’s a lot of mixed messaging around loving work that I’ve noticed over the years. There’s that old trope, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day.” And on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been hearing lately, “Don’t do what you love. Do what will pay the bills.” So is this somewhere on that spectrum or is this a different way of looking at things?
Dave Rothacker: I am so familiar with what you’re talking about because up until the last 10 years, it had been a personal anguish of mine, that “do what you love” business and all of that. And this is different. This really is. This is identifying your love and becoming aware of it in your life and in your work. It’s a little bit different take on it.
David Heimer: Who would get a lot of benefit from this book? Who would you recommend this for?
Dave Rothacker: In the business world, to be quite honest, I recommend it anywhere from line workers to management to executives. It fits the bill for all.
David Heimer: Okay, great. Well, I can see why you liked it. What’s up next?
Dave Rothacker: This is my favorite leadership book of the year, although there are leadership qualities in both of the other books. But this one is core leadership and the name of the book is Trust and Inspire and it’s by Stephen M. R. Covey, that would be Stephen Covey’s son. Stephen Covey’s junior or his son is in his seventies.
David Heimer: Oh wow.
Dave Rothacker: I know. And he’s a very accomplished leader. And the book is based on a way of leading that contradicts the old style command and control. And he goes into great detail in the beginning of the book, kind of setting up and explaining the whole command and control. And if you’re older than say 45, 50, the better portion of your life had probably been involved with command and control. This is where people are just basically telling you what to do and they don’t want to hear anything else about it. But the book Trust and Inspire is built on a model that he puts together. The trust and inspire portion of it is found at the intersection. It’s a Venn diagram. And so think three circles, three intersecting circles, and think on one circle you have “modeling” and that’s who you are, on another one you have “trusting” and that’s how you lead, and then on the other one, you have “inspiring” and that means connecting to our why. And in the middle of those circles, we have the trust and inspire leadership methodology, so to speak. Modeling who we are, that’s based on our approach to humility and courage, authenticity and vulnerability, empathy and performance. Trusting how you lead based on who trusted you. Thinking back in your life, who trusted you? And the belief that that person had in you, that’s what you want to perpetuate forward. That is cemented in accountability and expectations. These are management practices, accountability and expectations.
And inspiring and connecting to why, it’s found in that, ironically enough, which Gallup Company was the first one I read to come out with this, but it’s, people don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses. And when people or coworkers understand the why and buy into it, they’re going to be more engaged with the operation. So understanding the why behind what we do is very, very important. Another portion out of the book he devotes to the barriers that we encounter when we practice this methodology. Just envision a CEO who has a manager come to him and say, “Well, we should try this.” And this CEO goes, “Well that won’t work here,” or they’ll answer with fear, “But what if?” But, but, but, that sort of thing. Or “I don’t know how to let go,” or “This is who I am.” These are obstacles to overcoming the whole trust and inspire program. To conclude, in the book, he finishes with how Trust and Inspire can work with parenting, teaching, and coaching. It really is a good book. I’ve read it twice. I’m on my third spin through the book right now. I absolutely love it.
David Heimer: Wow, that’s a very high recommendation. So does it have practical tools for people to use or is it a more high-level concept?
Dave Rothacker: No, as a matter of fact, it does, and I actually forgot to mention this, but at the end of every chapter, he breaks it down with a table. And on the left-hand side, it’s command and control and on the right-hand side, it’s trust and inspire. And based on the content in the chapter, he’ll list the differences based on that chapter’s content. And so you can easily identify with what he’s listing, and by understanding the concepts of the chapter, you can weave them into your workday.
David Heimer: It sounds like this is a more collaborative way of leading and managing. Is that correct?
Dave Rothacker: It totally is. The way he looks at it is that a trust and inspire leader works that potential out and helps each and every person flourish.
David Heimer: It sounds like this would be a great book for owners, general managers, leaders in a residential contracting business. Is that correct?
Dave Rothacker: Absolutely. There are some books I’m pretty passionate about. John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which I totally believe everyone should read, this is not like that. This is really for the executive level and or a manager’s level.
David Heimer: Sounds good. What’s up next?
Dave Rothacker: The last book, and this is kind of an ironic twist because there are a lot of people out there that understand how I feel about the author. Well, not necessarily about this guy personally, but when I mentioned it, and you might recall because I’ve written extensively on it. The book is called Build; the author is Tony Fadell. And Tony Fadell was instrumental in the creation of the iPod, the iPhone, and the Nest thermostat. And I had been personally incensed that Tony Fadell came into our industry and revolutionized the thermostat. Now, you know the hardcore HVAC guys out there are going to say, “Well, the Nest thermostat isn’t as good as X, Y, or Z.” Well, that’s besides the point. The fact is he came in and he did it and he was the pioneer in the change. And ironically, I’m really not incensed with Tony Fadell, especially after reading the book. I really like the guy a lot. So it’s kind of a paradox, so to speak, about me and Tony Fadell.
But here’s the thing with the book Build, and that is his career started at a place called General Magic and he’s an engineer, hardcore engineer. And at General Magic, they were working on a product called Magic Link, which was 15 years ahead of its time. Magic Link could do back in the 1990s, a lot of the things that handheld smartphones started doing in the mid-aughts. So he’s been around the development of that sort of technology for a very, very long time. The book is his answer to, “Hey Tony, how do I do this?” And he would get that from working today. He sold Nest to Google, Google put Nest under Alphabet, their parent company, and it just got all kind of dissolved. I think today it’s separated from the Google family, but today Tony is helping start up people in over 200 companies. So that’s the kind of folks that he’s working with today.
And those kinds of people said, “Hey Tony, how do I do this?” or “How do I do that?” And so he created this book and he broke it down starting with the individual person, the career. Think like somebody just starting off in a job, their career, say, once they get involved in their career, the product that they’re developing. Then he talks about the business, he talks about the team concept and he talks in the end about the CEO. And under all of those categories, he goes into detail of how he would do things, how he would handle various situations, and things like that.
I’d like to take a minute here to talk about a process that I use when I read certain books. And this is one of them. The first couple of chapters, Tony is writing directly for the kind of people out there looking for work and he’s telling them what to do. For instance, he’s telling them,’ “Don’t chase the dollars, chase the knowledge.” So design your career or in the pursuit of the job you’re looking for, find a place where you can learn, find a place where you buy into the mission and the opportunity there and also the people there. So it’s a direct message to the people. And so what I would do when I read a book like this is I would look at that concept or his viewpoint from a leader’s point of view. So Tony’s telling you what kind of company to look for and this is the kind of guy that is ridiculously successful at his work. So I say, okay, as a leader, why don’t I just design the sort of company that Tony’s talking about? So when he talks about those specific things, it’s a twofold process. One, you can take it as if you’re the individual looking for work, or you can take it from a leader’s perspective of, hey, this worked for Tony.
Another bit of advice he passes out is look for a community of people that you’re passionate about. Well, I invert that from a leader’s perspective. Build a community of passionate people. Leaders and managers are supposed to be looking for roadblocks in your life. So look for the kind of leaders and managers that remove the roadblocks in your job. The inversion of that is, for a leader, be on the lookout and remove the roadblocks from your people. So it’s an inversion sort of process that I’ve used in reading books like this. And it’s golden, as far as I’m concerned. Like I said, he talks about the categories from yourself, your career, the product, the business, the team, the CEO. And that’s the way he’s breaking things up. Personally, I am more one to read science or evidence-based material, but I will read books like this one or John Maxwell because these are the kind of people that have the extensive successful experience and you have to really pay attention to that because of their success. So that’s another reason why I enjoyed reading what Tony has to say.
David Heimer: This book really excites me. Coincidentally, I just bought it. I just thought it looked like it would be a fantastic read. And I love hearing from people that have the experience and giving people practical advice. I think those kinds of books are great. And correct me if I’m wrong, my take on this is that this is a great book for anyone at any stage of his or her career. Is that sort of what you thought about it as well?
Dave Rothacker: It really is. He directly speaks to the individual workers and then he directly speaks to the CEOs. So you can learn on both sides of the coin.
David Heimer: Yeah. Good stuff. Well, I’m looking forward to reading it and just excited to see that it’s on your list. All right, to wrap up today, your best business books for 2022, Love and Work by Marcus Buckingham, Trust and Inspire. Stephen R. Covey, not the original, the son, and Build by Tony Fadell. So, looks great. Dave, thank you so much for sharing this information with us, and thank you for all you do for our industry. I know you write, speak, and teach. If somebody wanted to reach you, what would be a good way for them to do that?
Dave Rothacker: They could reach me at my email, email@example.com.
David Heimer: Dave@gotimesuccess group.com. Got it. Thank you for doing this and I look forward to talking to you again in the future.
Dave Rothacker: Thanks, David. Been a blast. I love it. Take care.
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