When Athletico Physical Therapy Founder Mark Kaufman talks with younger entrepreneurs, one thing he's sure to discuss is leaning on his team to fill in knowledge gaps. That's not easy, he says. It requires being open and vulnerable enough to create and leverage the expertise of those around him.
"I think the old Kaufman, way back then, was one that felt he had to figure it out or learn everything or know everything himself versus asking people for help," he says during an interview with Smart Business President and CEO Fred Koury. "I learned fairly quickly that I wasn't going to be an attorney, I wasn't going to be a finance expert or an accountant, I may not be a great salesperson, but I can leverage those people in my circle of influence that could help me along the way."
He identified what he did well — building relationships, treating patients, working in the field with the company's athletic outreach program — and tried to spend as much time as he could with the things he did well. He then leveraged others for the things he needed to learn.
Still, he had to make some mistakes to gain that perspective. He says as a young manager he would catch his employees doing things wrong rather than catching them doing things right. When he reversed that, it was a cultural shift for the company.
"When you make the deposits in your bank account then you can eventually make the withdrawal. But if you don't make those deposits around showing appreciation and catching people doing things right, there will be times when you need to sit down and have a discussion around something constructive and if you haven't made those deposits in that relationship, it's probably not going to come off well because now you are only sitting down when there's something going wrong," he says.
It's fun, he says, to catch people doing things right in a company because too often those actions can be taken for granted. The thought can be that employees should always be doing their jobs perfectly, giving full effort and delivering great service. But that can ignore how special exceptional performance really is.
"But when it's done, it's done with a certain amount of effort, skill, expertise, experience, and there's a lot of people that don't call upon all those resources on a regular basis to deliver their very best," he says. "So, you should recognize it and appreciate it."
There could be people who leave a company because their hard work wasn't recognized, or they weren't promoted appropriately. That's something he still thinks about occasionally.
"The times where I just simply wasn't the manager I wanted to be, or leader, I live with that and try to improve," he says.
In a more personal interview, Kaufman talked on Smart Business SmartTalk about the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship. Hit play to catch the full conversation.