Alex Castro knows what your business can and can’t do well.
Alex Castro found that ninety percent of his clients were not in a position of readiness when he was brought in to help with growing and transforming their businesses. As a result, he started to leverage a readiness assessment as part of the onboarding process that helped to avoid strategic debacles.
Alex was born in Buffalo, NY, on a seriously uncomfortable mid-summer day to immigrant parents from Argentina. After being told how much it snows in winter, his parents quickly moved to Sudbury, MA. He grew up in what can only be categorized as one of New England’s most progressive WASP nest communities (zip code 01776, the year of the revolutionary war), where he only knew how to speak Spanish until nursery school, so he fit right in.
Alex is an only child, which explains a lot. His late father was a physicist that spoke three languages (Spanish, English, and Calculus). His mother is an avid gardener who executed marvelous designs and concepts with the support of her child labor team (Alex).
Throughout his childhood, Alex was regularly enrolled in a number of activities including riding horses (which he was allergic to), figure skating classes (in the same rink where all his friends would play hockey), and soccer (it was the ‘70’s), which led Alex to realize for college he needed to move as far away from home before being enrolled in pottery class. He made his big move to attend Northeastern University (40 minutes away from home) where he competed as a member of a national championship crew team and received his bachelor’s degree in Art and Architecture. As if that was not enough, he did post-graduate classwork at Harvard leading him to wanting to leave New England, so he moved west.
Although Alex had held a job since he was 13 years old, his first professional job was with United Engineers working on international airport projects. Realizing the corporate life was not for him, at 26, he worked on his first start-up (Land Info International) that created the first off-the-shelf digital map set of the entire US that was available on floppy/CD overnight (this was the ‘90’s, no internet). After the company two off and the investors reaped all the benefits, Alex moved on to Transamerica as VP of Operations and Technology to be part of a team to turn around a struggling division. After 2 years of living that dream, the division had nearly tripled in size and want off, and Alex was able to get back to entrepreneurs’ life, where he was one of three founding partners of M Corp, a management and technology consulting firm. Now in it’s 15th year, Alex (as CEO) is guiding M Corp’s transformation from consulting firm to platform company featuring ReM Score™, which is featured in his book Measure, Execute, Win: Avoiding Strategic Initiative Debacles.
Personally, his legacy lives through his amazing daughters, both Division 1 collegiate, and fundamentally better than he is in every way. Professionally, Alex wants to transform the realization of innovations and vision through execution by embedding the use of an execution readiness score in a leader’s decision-making processes.
Alex lives in Foresthill, California, with his life partner (because he secretly wants to be Will Smith).
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“The larger companies, in their drive to create operational efficiencies, have lost something in the journey.” – Click to Tweet
“How do you correct some of those vulnerabilities that prevent good execution?” – Click to Tweet
“It’s a razor’s edge between success and outright failure.” – Click to Tweet
“The customer is only looking at are you delivering on the promise you made to me.” – Click to Tweet
“I ask them to share their story, and then I look at the numbers. Then I look to see if the numbers jive with the story they told.” – Click to Tweet
“The companies that take on the attitude of measuring execution readiness before investing capital are going to be the ones that outperform the rest of the market.” – Click to Tweet
“Your gut is not as accurate as you think it is.” – Click to Tweet
“The downstream problems with culture, employee retention, and purpose come from employees being handed initiatives that they can’t be successful on.” – Click to Tweet
“In today’s world, you have operating models that aren’t the best ones that are going to propel you into the future.” – Click to Tweet
“If we can’t do the things that we envision, it’s irrelevant.” – Click to Tweet
“One in five acquisitions produces value, the other 80% do nothing or retard value.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s the hindrance of old-thinking with new innovation that’s really holding the market back.” – Click to Tweet
“Companies globally are underperforming by fifty percent.” – Click to Tweet
“What are the elements that are truly affecting execution at the root cause level.” – Click to Tweet
“Companies globally are underperforming by fifty percent.” – Click to Tweet
“The decision bias of executives is what’s holding back growth.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Alex Castro found that ninety percent of his clients were not in a position of readiness when he was brought in to help with growing and transforming their businesses. As a result, he started to leverage a readiness assessment as part of the onboarding process that helped to avoid strategic debacles.
Advice for others
Cultivate your Emotional Intelligence
Holding her back from being an even better leader
My own biases on how I see the world. I try to put the cart before the horse.
Best Leadership Advice
Stay in the moment. Stay connect to the current rather than being lost in the future or past.
Secret to Success
I am un unrelenting pit bull personality.
Best tools in business or life
Being part of a CEO mentoring group.
Contacting Alex Castro
Resources and Show Mentions
Show TranscriptClick to access edited transcript
Jim Rembach: 00:48
Our gut isn’t always the right decision. Decision to follow. Alex Castro was born in Buffalo, New York on a seriously uncomfortable Midsummer day to immigrant parents from Argentina after being told how much it snows in winter, his parents quickly moved to Sudbury, Massachusetts. He grew up in what can only be categorized as one of New England’s most progressive wasp nest communities. Zipcode zero one seven seven six the year of the revolutionary war where he only knew how to speak Spanish until nursery school, so he fit right in. Alex is an only child with which explains a lot. His late father was a physicist that spoke three languages, Spanish, English and calculus. His mother is an avid gardener who executed marvelous designs and concepts with the support of her child labor team. Alex. Throughout his childhood, Alex was regularly enrolled in a number of activities including riding horses, which he was allergic to figure skating classes in the same brink where all of his friends would play hockey and soccer.
Jim Rembach: 01:56
It was the 70s which led Alex to realize for college that he needed to move as far away from home before enrolled in pottery class. He made his big move to attend Northeastern university, which was 40 minutes away from home where he competed as a member of the national championship crew team and received his bachelor degree in art and architecture as if it was not enough. He did postgraduate classwork at Harvard, leading him to wanting to leave new England so he moved West. Although Alex had held a job since he was 13 years old. His first professional job was with United engineers working on international airport projects where at best he was tolerated by his uppers realizing the corporate life was not for him. At 26 he worked on his first startup land info international that created the first off the shelf digital map set of the entire U S that was available on floppy CD overnight.
Jim Rembach: 02:53
Well, it was the 90s there was no internet after the company was sold off and the investors reaped all the benefits. Alex moved on to Transamerica as VP of operations and technology to be part of a team to turn around a struggling division. After two years of living that dream, the division had nearly tripled in size and was sold off. An Alex was able to give back to entrepreneurial life where he was one of the three founding partners of EMCOR M Corp, a management and technology consulting. From now on, it’s 15 years being guided by Alex’s CEO. They are transforming into a platform company featuring the rim score or the ready measurement score, which is featured in his book measure, execute when avoiding strategic initiative, the buckles and knowing what your business can and can’t do. Well, Alex lives in a forest Hill, California with his life partner because he secretly wants to be will Smith. Alex Castro. Are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Alex Castro: 03:48
I hope so. Thank you for having me on.
Jim Rembach: 03:50
Yeah, and I’m glad you’re here and I know we’re going to have a good time, but I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Alex Castro: 03:59
You bet. Uh, my passion is about helping really good ideas and innovations see reality through the ability to understand your execution readiness for that initiative that you have in mind. There are so many good ideas or so many great innovations and visions from everything from S and P 500 companies down to startups that are really trying to drive some great ideas into the market. But the big gap is between idea and realization. We have that execution gap. And what I’m trying to do is point out how do you correct some of those vulnerabilities that prevent good execution.
Jim Rembach: 04:42
You know, as you’re saying that and going through the book, I would also say that it’s quite possible that the inability to do this execution is also hampering or undermining the ability to have even more greater ideas because people end up just doing a lot of stuff, you know, instead of thinking and solving problems in the book, you talk about 50% of all strategic decisions fail. And I think that failure rate is causing a whole lot of squash and don’t you?
Alex Castro: 05:09
I do. And so to really help put it into a better context is that leaders are, especially in publicly traded, companies are trying to drive tremendous growth, uh, and they’re trying to do it in the face of a market that is moving faster than ever before with higher expectations. And it’s a Razor’s edge between success and outright failure. And there isn’t that opportunity to circle back around for another chance at it because you have a competitor right on your heels. There’s a lot of very good, very smart people in the market. And if you have that idea, somebody else does too. And it’s probably two or three people and they’re going after the same customers that you are. And so what we see and I’ve seen through the years of consulting and working with customers, is that a lot of times those visions that leaders put out, those directives, that leaders fund are then put into operations for execution.
Alex Castro: 06:09
And when those things don’t work, they begin to erode the confidence of employees and the overall operational scalability of the company to rely on the leader’s vision to execution. And so what happens is that people become less and less committed to the purpose. And so you may have a football team that has a tremendous coach, tremendous front office, that has got a great vision, treats players incredibly well, sees them, hears them, treat them truly as they want to be treated. But if they can’t put together a winning record, it’s only a matter of time before those great players begin to attrition away to a winning organization. And so where that translates really into the space that you really drive is that we rely and, and, and your listeners and viewers rely on good customer outcome, right? And so one of the methods as an example for measuring that is a net promoter score, right?
Alex Castro: 07:16
And so customers will provide feedback on an NPS associated with the delivery or the execution of what the company is, is doing. And the only way that you can get a solid NPS score isn’t by having a friendly customer service voice. It’s not about having, you know, a very, uh, great culture that envelops the customer. Because all those things are, are wonderful, but the customer is only really looking at are you delivering on the promise that you made to me? And those other elements add to the promise. And if you can’t deliver on that promise, what happens is that your NPS scores go down and your ability to grow sales and execute further vision becomes harder and harder. And what that also then internally begins to do. It begins to erode an employee’s connection to purpose.
Jim Rembach: 08:14
As you’re talking, I started hitting on so many different elements and so many different variables at so many different organizations are dealing with, and I would dare to say that most often this manifests itself when people start saying things internally like, Hey, it’s the flavor of the month. What are we doing now? It’s when you can’t get anything done around here. And I think in the real world, that’s how that kind of part, you know, you know, brings itself forward. But you talk about, you talked about the whole velocity of today, you talk about the whole importance of the execution piece on how it undermines so many things when we’re unable to do that. And we also know that because of this rapid rate of change doing things that we way we used to do it, you know, just even three years ago is not the way that we can do them today. So how can leaders differentiate today?
Alex Castro: 09:03
Really at the end of the day, we want to outperform everybody, right? You know it from our earliest memory, we were raised, all of us were raised to win, right? We were our mentors, our coaches, our parents, our teachers, all of them or somebody in our life throughout our, uh, upbringing taught us or tried to position us to win, right? And it wasn’t about putting you in an easy position, right? That said, Hey, I’m only going, I’m only going to give you things that are easy for you to accomplish. They, but they, what they did is they positioned you in a way that you could succeed. They wanted to stretch you, they wanted to grow you and things like that. And that’s what leaders do for the company. They set a vision to go out and push the company beyond what it is today. The challenge is that sometimes that vision or that idea or that initiative strategy is so juicy.
Alex Castro: 10:08
It’s so inviting to be, to make that leap as a company to the next step that leaders for go the consideration of can we execute this? Can we actually do it? And the thing that, that the unintended consequence of that is that when employees in team members begin to see the erosion during execution, that the project is going to take longer. It’s going to cost more if we’re going to have to cut back on what the initial idea was in order to get it over the finish line. Right. You’re laughing. Cause I think you can relate is that is it begins to demoralize in a row the connection to the company’s purpose, but it also begins to erode their own professional growth because the knee jerk reaction is from managers is to tighten down and get much more controlled over how things are running. Right?
Alex Castro: 11:10
We’re, we’re going to turn the screws harder, we’re going to, we’re gonna manage harder, we’re going to do things harder. And that just perpetuates the delivery issue. When at the end of the day, the problem was at the decision point, it was not a lot of people enter into execution thinking, okay, you know, we’re going to get in there and you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna just, we’re gonna handle it. You know they, they, they wanna they want a Newt Rockne the thing they want to, they want to, they want to be the hero in the moment and everybody who has been through this stuff or has been a professional for at least two years knows that you can put an a triple plus team on an awful idea. The best result is you’re going to get a C minus with a lot of heavy lifting and do you really want to leverage your resources in that way or do you want to understand what’s going to prevent you from execution, make a decision to fund that initiative going forward.
Alex Castro: 12:10
And if you do, what is it going to cost us both from time and capital expense to correct ourselves before we engage in the process. And does that fit within the window of opportunity? And if businesses can begin to consider execution capability as part of the overall formula between business case financials and execution readiness to make that decision, we’re going to start to see a significant increase in capital performance within companies. And more importantly, you’re going to start to see overall stock value, earnings per share, return on invested capital is going to skyrocket. And the companies that take on that attitude of measuring execution readiness before investing capital are going to be the ones that are going to begin to outperform the rest of the market.
Jim Rembach: 13:00
Well, I mean, when you start talking about that, I mean a lot of people would just say no, no, I mean you just need to focus, right? You just, but, but the problem with that is you start relying on things that cause you know, some of the issues you’re talking about. So in other words, when we focus, all we’re doing is just, you know, actually using our gut in order to help us make the decisions. And so you talk about 85% of decisions, and I’ve seen studies on this that all fall within that 80 percentile range, is that that’s how senior level leaders actually make their decisions. It’s gut feel. There’s a problem with that. Why? What’s the problem?
Alex Castro: 13:35
Well, the problem is is that they’ve, they’ve been missing, uh, an element of the decision process that they’ve had no ability to have in the past. Right? They’ve missed, it’s like saying it’s like in the seventies or sixties and seventies when banks began to use a credit score for lending, right? It used to be that if you were going to borrow money from me and I was your banker, I would come and I would talk to you. But then I’d go in and interview your, your employer and I talked to your friends and I’d want to know how stable you are and how, how good of a person you are within the community and things. And then I wouldn’t make that loan that way. And that’s how leave it or not. The majority of executive decision making is done today, even in the largest companies in the world. And it’s because they’ve missed having the opportunity to have the, the scoring or the data that says business case plus financials, which we all have today, plus readiness or execution readiness score equals decision.
Alex Castro: 14:44
And it’s that piece that they have missed. So they substituted data with bias. They substituted data with gut, and I have executives, especially seasoned executives who will sometimes take a little bit of umbrage with the fact that I’m saying, no, your gut is, is not accurate or is as accurate as you think it is. Right? Because there’s that piece comes out and says, well, in my experience it’s like, yes, but what your experience does is it makes you a great whichever. Okay, so what it does is that you can take any log from any tree and even from, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the Oak or Cedar or Birch or whatever, and you’re feeding it into that with chipper and that which shipper is ever able to process that raw data into an outcome that is cogent. That’s what experience those for you. It increases your ability to take in raw information process and create some kind of a cogent output.
Alex Castro: 15:47
The difference is that a woodchipper has gears that are tuned in and blades that are tuned in and a mechanism that’s been refined that can really judge and evaluate what that data is. It’s coming in and that’s the piece that has been missing out of executive decision making. So it’s not that executives are bad or incapable. In fact it’s the opposite. They have very good vision. They’re, you know, we’ve had conversations with executives from startups to fortune five companies and the ideas they have are fantastic. And what they all realize and they all struggle with is when they’re in the precipice of funding that initiative and investing their capital into that initiative, they’re all like, can we actually get this done? That’s the thing that they worry about because they don’t want to wind up into a situation in the press where they’re being called out.
Alex Castro: 16:47
So the fact that they’re spending money and nothing’s happening, right. And so it’s a lot of that decision making at it. That is the root cause of where the downstream problems with culture come from. Employee retention come from that co employee purpose or connection to purpose of the company comes from. And the bandaid approach has been, let’s focus on bringing resources in to talk about culture, to talk about purpose, to talk about overall engagement of the employee. And it’s artificial because what that is trying to make up for is the fact that employees are consistently seeing initiatives being handed to them that they can’t be successful on and they know they can’t succeed on because they have no voice or they understand some of the mechanics better than the executives do. Um, and where, where the gap is is that in today’s world you have an operating model.
Alex Castro: 17:49
We live in that six Sigma lean world where operations is focused on current need. And when that strategy comes into play, that new box goes up, that curve of grow. And there’s that overlap between our future state and our current state depending on how aggressive that is. That overlap is what is relevant to the future state. And everything else either has to be removed or redone. So your people, process and technology of today are not unnecessarily in alignment or the best ones that are going to propel you into the future. And it is that oversight is that missed read by executives that, that, that gets a lot of companies into this, into this capital drain process. And so what happens, companies start to do stock buybacks. Companies start to do acquisitions simply to do acquisitions. So one in five acquisitions produces value, right? The other 80% either do nothing or actually retard value in a company.
Alex Castro: 18:55
One in five back office systems actually does what it was meant to do. The other 80% detract value or consume resources that could be better placed in the company. And one and two strategic initiatives are successful. And I’ve heard people saying, you’re being generous. I’m like, I’m just going out to the academic research need. I, you know, I’m not going to just start, you know, bringing up data. So you, you’ve seen some of it and I think people intuitively are very aware of it, but they never had a method for how do I, how do I correct it? And so there’s just been a lot of bandaid work
Jim Rembach: 19:29
and I’ve seen it at all levels. And so even what you’re talking about, when you look at the growth of today, it is all done by acquisition. Well, that means what, when you start talking about growth by acquisition, you start talking about this whole debt load issue and that’s for servicing debt is what most companies are doing now. So, but the bias thing happens and I want to get a little bit more into that because it’s so important. It happens at all levels. So for me, I have a blend of discussions with customer experience people and we’re talking about their customer experience, their customer journey, customer emotion and connection, engagement, all of those things. That whole execution component, this, that and the other. And I hear it on a regular basis and it’s a pet peeve of mine when people say, well I know I wouldn’t want that to happen to me.
Jim Rembach: 20:05
I wouldn’t like that. I’m like, you’re not your customer. You should not be answering on behalf of your customer doing that. That in itself is a major bias. Well you’ve met, you mentioned eight in the book and believe me there’s, there’s more biases but you focus in on these eight cause I’m sure you see them most often and you have the confirmation bias, the framing bias, the anchoring bias, sunk cost bias, Monte-Carlo bias, the self assessment bias, the availability bias and the bandwagon bias. Uh, and you explain all those in the book, but when I started looking at all these, there’s no way that they’re all weighted equally. Is there one or two that kind of stand out as being,
Alex Castro: 20:48
it depends on the type of thing that you’re doing. So if you’re doing an acquisition, there are some biases that have more weight than other biases. If you’re doing a new product launch, again, so it’s the waiting, depending on the type of initiative that you’re doing and the scale of the initiative that you’re doing that is going to bring that bias more forward. And so, you know, an acquisitions, we tend to look a lot for confirmation, right? In the sense that I believe by buying this company we are going to enhance our sales or our opportunity within markets. Or our ability to grow that we can’t do work anecdotally and I’m going to get better results out of that. And so we look for acquisitions that are going to confirm that bias. The number one problem with acquisition integration, uh, is culture. The number one issue with acquisition, you know, lack of performance or I hate to use failure cause it’s such a subjective term is integration, right?
Alex Castro: 21:54
So I bought this company how I’m going to integrate it into my business and that’s where the wheels come off the cart, right? The ideas are fantastic. This is not about a lack of great innovation. This is not about a lack of vision. This is not about a lack of people who are afraid to take risks. That is not our global business problem, right? It’s been rehearsed and practiced so much in the last 10, 15 years that cultures are very driven towards those things. The challenge has now translated into what Thomas Edison said, right? A hundred plus years ago, which is vision without execution is hallucination. Okay? So if we can’t do the thing that we see that we envision, it’s irrelevant. And what leaders today have to ask themselves is, am I investing capital into the right initiatives, number one. And if there are initiatives that we really want to do, an acquisition, new product, new market, a back office optimization or some kind of cloud migration or something that is going to make us more competitive or give us a better position in the market, what, what uh, what landmines, what Piccadilly is are going to come out of my business, smack me in the face as I’m going along that now I have one project to do something.
Alex Castro: 23:22
It’s now splintered into a principal project and now a micro project because the micro project is, I’ve discovered this vulnerability, now I have to go fix it while I’m trying to execute on the main focus and that’s now draining resource away and it’s costing us more and so on its own.
Jim Rembach: 23:39
So for me, even when as you’re talking, I start thinking about this whole, talking about that mission, vision, purpose thing is that there’s a whole lot of goal setting that happens. And for me, I was just even on this call just the other day where a CEO was saying and put an essentially pushing and driving, trying to get things delivered and saying, well, we have this goal. Well we have a goal of doing this and we have a goal of doing that. And you know, and he was referring to something that hasn’t happened for the past four or five months, that in his mind they had a goal of doing every single month. And I’m like, but how can you even get it done? That wasn’t even part of the discussion. It was about this is a goal. How are we going to get it done? There’s a problem in that.
Alex Castro: 24:19
Well, but that’s the thing that I think is holding back, uh, a lot of issues. Right? And so I wrote an article that got published in fast company a few weeks ago and I talked about we work, uh, yeah. And the whole debacle around that entire element and that valuation of $45. And the thing that I was trying to point out in that article was really the fact, it’s like maybe they are really worth 45 billion. The challenge was that every round of funding, they weren’t measuring execution readiness for that time and period for the, for the initiatives they were looking to do and it was mostly because the board and the leadership were using very uh, seventies and eighties management theory for a new millennium type of business. And it was in conflict. It was in direct conflict and if they had used, and I’m not promising anything but what I’m, what I’m offering is that if they had used that measurement element, understand in the funding process, the investors in the board, that whether they were ready to make that leap or what was going to get in their way to make that leap, if they could have understood that spent time correcting those issues, they could have reached that valuation.
Alex Castro: 25:39
They wouldn’t have to be in the press today because they have a great business plan. They have a wonderful operating model. The culture that they produce on site is fantastic, right? People love investing in working in those spaces and it’s the hindrance of old thinking with new innovation, new ideas that is really holding the market back. And that’s why I really believe that 50% you know that companies globally are underperforming by 50% and and capital markets are then under underperformed by 50% if if people think today that the stock market and the valuations are bananas, think of what would happen if you had a 25% increase in EPS on every company in the, in the S and P 500 and all you have to do is take the time to measure execution readiness before you invest capital. Correct. The abilities or the vulnerabilities that you have before you engage and you’re going to see deceleration to market, you’re going to see acceleration division and people are going to start to realize innovation faster going to start to realize performance at a higher level. And I think everybody benefits from that. And it’s this, and it’s just this anchoring in this old traditional thinking because there just hasn’t been anything offered to them from a management theory standpoint that says, can you do it? And now they have the opportunity to have that data and it’s just operationalizing it. Right? And I, and I truly believe it, company, you’re gonna start to see companies really start to deliver on all kinds of promises that are just fantastic.
Jim Rembach: 27:14
So really for me, when you’re talking about that, I start thinking about visibility into your business and people who are at that higher level, you know, don’t have that visibility into the business in the ready measurements score allows them to now have visibility so that they are connecting all of these things appropriately. Now there’s 14 domains in this ready measurement score, uh, and you actually have, um, you know, in different categories so that they can get more visibility. What are those categories?
Alex Castro: 27:45
Well, the categories are, they come to begin with. They were developed based on, uh, academic and professional research that has been done over the last 20 years. So, and it’s married into our own data. And so the thing that we wanted to look at is what are the elements that are truly affecting execution at the root cause level, not what the perception is, right? So our technology clients are, you know, traditionally go after and say, look, uh, Oh, the project didn’t do well because the coding wasn’t good or the architecture wasn’t good or we pick the wrong software to do whatever. And that’s not the problem, right? Project management practices are exceptional. The training is exceptional. The people in those practices are, are exceptional. The issue is that they have been handed, uh, an, uh, an initiative that fundamentally because the business is not positioned optimally to deliver it, they cannot deliver it, right?
Alex Castro: 28:52
They, they are now having to fix the business while they’re trying to deliver the initiative. And so the domains, everything from alignment to management to, uh, operational capability to, uh, business rules and maturity to vision, uh, and, uh, organizational adaptability. We have metrics in there that allow you to pinpoint exactly what is the root cause of what is going to trip you up and how do you correct it. So as an example, there are entities that try to do something that’s very aggressive, very new, and they’re trying to transform their business from a current state of operations and potentially either reacting from a market or that they are, uh, see an opportunity in wanting to take advantage. But they have a current operating model that’s been in practice for five years, 10 years, 30 years, whatever it may be. And oftentimes you’ll see what we call an organizational adaptability problem, meaning that the staff and methods, people, process and technology of today are the leap from today to that future state of vision is so deep, so aggressive that those folks are pumping the brakes as they’re trying to deliver on the initiatives and they’re not consciously trying to subvert the business.
Alex Castro: 30:22
It’s that fear of that leap that begins to introduce issues. And so they withhold information or don’t understand about, you know, contributing or they are, they have this sort of, I’m going to wait and see before I really commit to this. And that in itself is, is really slowing the initiative. And so we measure those elements and within each one of those domains, there are multiple themes under those domains. So as an example, people talk about alignment. They talk about, okay, is the business in alignment? Well, that’s a good consideration. That’s one of, that’s one of the first domains that we have. But alignment, you have really three themes in alignment. You have alignment to strategy, right? Is the initiative we’re about to do in alignment with the strategy and the vision of what we have, right? Or is this a Larky kind of a thing?
Alex Castro: 31:18
Okay, is it in alignment to market need? Does the market want this? Does it, does a customer want this enhancement because they want it? Right? But the other part is, the third is, is it in alignment with our culture as an operating unit? Is the thing that we’re about to do? The acquisition, the new product, the new market or the back office automation, let’s say, is that in alignment with who we are as a business? And if it violates one of those thematic elements, it violates our alignment. So you can’t simply say, Oh, I’m, I’m out of alignment. Well, okay, where are you? Align it. Right? What is that? And traditionally that type of analysis has taken between a month to three months to get it comes back as opinion and it stopped actionable. And what, what the book talks about and what, what I tend to try to profess is it, that needs to be a metric, like a credit score. It has to be something that is understood very quickly, that has actionable data associated to it. You understand, pinpoint from a pinpoint a level of precision and should be done in days, not weeks or month. And that’s, that’s really where the acceleration component company,
Jim Rembach: 32:42
well, without a doubt, I mean, uh, you know, executives want to be able to just make decisions easily and not have to understand variables and independent variables and all of those types of things and causation and correlation. And I mean, that would just drive him nuts. So, I mean, when you start talking about all of this, I mean, gosh, I can imagine just there’s just a slew of different emotions and that’s where it all starts from. And one of the things that we use on the show to help us be focused on doing the right thing and maybe getting visibility and all of that are quotes. Is there a quote or two that you liked that you can share?
Alex Castro: 33:15 Well, I think I shared one earlier, right? Which is about, you know, a vision without execution is hallucination. Um, you know, it’s a, there’s a couple that I share in the book a little bit too, which is, uh, somebody told me a very long time ago that if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist. Right. And so, you know, a lot and it kind of feeds into, you have to really do the, you know, the homework and the analysis a little bit. Um, but I also have a, a quote in there, uh, from Steve jobs, which is, you know, sometimes you just, you know, fundamentally it’s, sometimes you have to let go of some things and you have to say no a lot to get to the right. Yes. And executives. I think in general managers, there’s a lot of fear in that because it’s like, what if I’m missing that acquisition that could have blown us out?
Alex Castro: 34:04
It could have made us huge or whatever. And what I am trying to respond with is don’t shy away from that. Measure yourself. Measure your ability to execute on that. Is that because there are times that are, there are acquisitions that look amazing, amazing. But then suddenly what happens is you try to integrate that acquisition and it, the whole business just disintegrate because it’s too much. It just culturally didn’t fit operationally, didn’t fit. The acquisition may have been X, but the integration is X to the power of three. And so the whole value element, the return on equity on that is just not there.
Jim Rembach: 34:47
Well, for me, Alex says you’re, we’re going through all of this. I’m, I’m thinking that there is no way possible that all of a sudden this just kind of popped out for you. It was a result of you probably going through frustrations, working with client frustrations. You talk about in the book, you know, going slow to go fast, which is really the mantra of the fast leader show. It’s doing it right, putting in the work and then your velocity will be enabled as a result of that. Um, but we talked about, uh, on the show about, you know, getting over the hump and this is where a lot of these learnings that come, is there a story that you can share when you’ve gotten over the hump?
Alex Castro: 35:19 Well, I think that, uh, really where you’ve touched on a really great point, which is that, you know, we, we originated as a consulting firm, uh, and we were doing a lot of management consulting, meaning we were working with strategy acquisition, uh, consulting elements associated with growth. And we’re also doing technology consulting, which was how do you now apply technology to enhance that experience, to move the agenda forward. And I can safely say that 90% of our engagements over the last 15 years, over a hundreds and hundreds of customers and billions of dollars of invested capital in the, in the initiatives our customers had, that 90% of our clients, we’re not at a position of readiness when they brought us in, right? They, they brought us in and we’re saying, okay, well now that you’re here, you’re gonna figure all this out as part of the, the execution process.
Alex Castro: 36:18
And what that left us in was either in a negative position where we had to then take on work that we didn’t have to pay or we had to create some kind of retrenching and change the scope of the initiative, which then just upset everybody. Because you know, the last thing you want is, you know, if you’re going to build a home, the last thing you want on day one is a contractor coming in and saying, Oh, well, you know, I thought you already had, uh, these things in place, uh, now I have to go do it. So now we have to code. You have to change the nature of our arrangement and it just upsets people, right? Because, well, no, this is what I hired you. And so what we needed to do was develop an onboarding method for our customers. And in doing that onboarding method, we went out and did, started to do the research and understanding are we isolated in our thinking or we more mainstream?
Alex Castro: 37:09
And it turned out we were more mainstream in our thinking and we started to develop a method for onboarding companies or customers through a readiness measurement, uh, as a, as sort of like a, an initial part of the engagement that would help identify where the customer needed to do some things in order for the initiative to truly meet their success points. And when we started to utilize that, it customers really reacted very well in the sense it’s like, this is fantastic to know this now because I don’t want to know this six months from now, right? Or three months from now. And, and it really began to shape up much better execution on initiatives for the customer side. And we realized that this could be an actual methodology to increase overall decision making. And, and so it, you know, it’s more of a general story, but this is the Genesis of where this came out of is that it’s out of practice and out of research to really realize and, and what behavioral economists have been publishing and in their own work as well as some of the best noted publications globally for the last 20 years in saying the decision bias of executives is what is holding back growth and what is affecting retention, experience, purpose, connection, engagement, and the overall effect on culture.
Jim Rembach: 38:34
So things are, I think becoming a little bit more clear for you and you can see that you have something that could solve a massive amount of global issues for organizations of all types. So when I start thinking about all this, I mean, you’ve got the book, you’re doing the transition onto a platform and all that that you probably have, like we kind of talked about a moment ago. Goals, right? Um, so when you think about goals that you can execute, what’s one of them?
Alex Castro: 39:00
One of them I believe, is being able to influence the decision process at the C suite level. Uh, in everything from global, uh, S and P companies to newborn startup, uh, is really understanding that like, that know before you leap element, right? Um, because again, the thing that, uh, we really want to influence is the fact that we see so many really great ideas being left by the wayside or just pittering out because they were gapping on that execution piece. And if they had just done a little bit of work on the front end, they could have catapulted into something really amazing. And I would love to see more success coming out of, uh, a lot of the initiatives and the ideas that are out there today and it’s execution that’s retarding it. And we want to be able to create, lift the fog and create clarity and the decision making process so people can engage in and address those vulnerabilities that are really holding them back.
Jim Rembach: 40:08
And the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best.
Jim Rembach: 40:11
Alright, here we go. Fast leader Legion. It’s time for them home. Oh, bow. Okay. Helen’s, the Humpday hoedown is part of our show where you give us good insights fast. Just want me to ask them several questions and your job is to give us robust, yet rapid responses are going to help us with onward and upward faster. Alex Castro, are you ready to hoedown I am ready to go down. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today? I think it’s
Alex Castro: 40:40
the, honestly, it’s my own biases on how I see, you know, the world and, and patients and, and wanting to roll out, uh, my model and REM score and everything else. You know, I’m, I, I try to do the, I try to jump, you know, put the cart before the horse, so, uh, I’m guilty as much as anybody else.
Jim Rembach: 41:02
What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Alex Castro: 41:07
Best leadership advice, uh, has, uh, been to, uh, stay in the moment to stay very connected to the current rather than being lost in the future or the past.
Jim Rembach: 41:23
And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Alex Castro: 41:29
Uh, I am an unrelenting Pitbull personality. and I will just go at it and add it and add it. And I just don’t even think about, you know, not getting there. And so it helps a lot, but it’s also, uh, has its challenges. Yeah.
Jim Rembach: 41:51
And what is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Alex Castro: 41:56
I think one of my best tools as a leader is being part of a CEO mentoring group. I belong to Vistage international. I’m not, you know, plugging or anything, but it’s helped me and understanding what, you know, it’s what, I don’t know what, I don’t see the things from a leadership position and, and growing myself. And so it’s, you know, I, I really appreciate having that mentor.
Jim Rembach: 42:20
And what would be one book that you recommend to our Legion? It could be from any genre. Of course, we’ll put a link to measure, execute and win on your show notes page as well.
Alex Castro: 42:29
Yes. Um, I would say really anything by Malcolm Gladwell. Um, he does a tremendous job and, and does it in such an elegant way of connecting the dots. And helping you really understand, uh, why he does a lot of root cause. It’s like, you know, this is what’s happening, but it actually, the Genesis of it, it was really down here and really helps you see that journey. And so I would encourage people to read Malcolm Gladwell.
Jim Rembach: 42:59 Okay. Bassler Legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/ Alex Castro. Okay. Alex, this is my last hump. Hold on. Question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take all the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Alex Castro: 43:24 Uh, I think it would, uh, be to cultivate what it is that you profess a lot, which is emotional intelligence to really invest in growing and enhancing my own emotional intelligence and how I approached both personal and professional aspirations. Um, I think it would have enhanced the journey, uh, by multiple, uh, to where I am today. And, uh, unfortunately we weren’t, you know, I grew up, I didn’t grow up our, uh, you know, in 25 I was not in an age where emotional intelligence was a recognized thing and I wish it was. And for those who are younger, invest in it cause it will help you a lot. It will really, really help you a lot.
Jim Rembach: 44:13
Alex, I had fun with you today. How can the fast leader Legion connect with you?
Alex Castro: 44:17
You can connect with me at REM score.com I also have Alex Castro. Dot. IO, which is my own page. I do, public speaking engagements, anything from, a small group of executives to keynote talks and would love to come and talk to, you know, your audiences, anywhere they feel that that could add value for them. I think that when I do speak to audiences, it helps to begin to reposition some thought process and helps them and, and really seeing, okay, this is how we’re going to get there.
Jim Rembach: 44:54
Alex Castro, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and helping us. Oh, get over the hump.
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.