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5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team, With Douglas Smith, CEO of True Nutrition

“If I could change people to stop dreading Monday’s and stop looking forward to Friday’s, if I could change this, I’d be a happier person…


“If I could change people to stop dreading Monday’s and stop looking forward to Friday’s, if I could change this, I’d be a happier person. The societal norm is to dislike your job, it’s almost taught to us, the reality is, if you really dislike you’re job/career, you should focus on changing it. I get it, work sometimes is a drag, but it should be in alignment with your purpose for the most part. It’s a shame when people remove their brain for 40 hours a week only to come back to life Friday at 5pm.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Douglas Smith. Douglas is an adventurer/traveler/entrepreneur who perpetually lives outside of his comfort zone. He thrives on knowledge, especially when it comes to health and the undefined-ever changing landscape of nutrition, longevity and pushing physical limits. After watching many people around him, including himself, suffer from the negative effects of poor nutrition, he took it into his own hands to learn everything there is to know about proper nutrition and physical/mental health. Through his ongoing quest for knowledge and heightened consciousness of the effects of his own nutritional path and physical endeavors, he continues to pursue a mission to educate people on the largely untapped and immense potential of proper nutrition, physical movements and mental health.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

All of our businesses at the core, initially started with a split decision circumstance back in 2002, where an epiphanic moment of calling my boss, quitting my job, then tearing up and deleting all of my resume’s knowing I’d never work for anyone ever again, and consequently starting our first company TrueProtein.com with a borrowed $29.00 from my cousin (to buy the URL). From there, we grind’ed on a shoestring budget getting monetarily creative with every vendor to help propel us to where we are today. Businesses take money to work, but money comes when you stick your neck out to find it. Money’s everywhere, it should never be an excuse on why you’re not doing your own thing if it’s your calling. Yell, work and ask enough people, eventually the pieces come together, sometimes organically and sometimes with brut force.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I think the most interesting, at least to me, is when I first “did my own thing” and started my own business, you realize, it’s not your thing at all, it’s massive amounts of people, be it employees, vendors, consultants and ultimately customers who define your business. You drive the bus, but the real work on moving it down the road isn’t you driving it, it’s the engine, the wheels, the guy who filled it with gas, the mechanics who keep it on the road and the people who have to be driven around in it that really matter. I always thought, by doing my own thing means I’m on my own, but this is furthest from the truth. Knowing and respecting the fact that it takes everyone else to facilitate your vision and dream is an extremely humbling concept.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

I feel it takes 3 things to make teams ultimately give the best results. First you need to properly match people which means knowing each persons limitations, positives attributes and negative attributes. If all you do is focus on someone’s negatives, I’ve found, this is ultimately what you’ll see the most out of them, however if you put an emphasis on each persons positives, they’ll shine better for you. Also matching people where one person’s positives is another person’s negatives, usually cancels out most pitfalls. Second, don’t just define goals for which the group or team is responsible for, also make sure you define a timeline for each goal. A to do list of things, usually for what I’ve found only get’s 70% finished, a list of things to do with timelines 9x out of 10 always goes to completion. And third, define your vision, wishes and dreams for the goals needed to be attained. Motivate people and show them why they are so important, so they don’t just see the goal as deeds or a “job” but actually things they want to solve and define and ultimately make theirs. I’ve found most people working towards what they believe in or a purpose they believe in will work harder to get it. So empowering your teams to think freely and openly, even though you might disagree with the path, lets them define it and if needed, after you give them their freedom, you might have to put them back on path. Most times, they find their way and ultimately the goal/result you were looking for turns out better than expected.

What is the top challenge when managing global teams in different geographical locations? Can you give an example or story?

Every business has a personality. It has a personality to the consumer and how you market to them, but it also has a personality on how the organization operates and works internally. I’ve always said, I can get the majority of my work done remotely, not being in the office, however I also know the internal environment of how we all work together, humans face to face is not only crucial, it’s the life blood of our businesses. The main challenge when dealing with teams or consultants or vendors who are not local to our facility is they don’t see the day to day interaction that make up our ‘personality’. We’ve found keeping online or phone meetings less “business” and more open allows them to glimpse into how we work. It’s not perfect but it helps show our personality, which ultimately allows them to work with us easier and projects/objectives get done quicker with more accuracy.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Control your businesses ethos, do not control the ability to morph what your business needs to be. We always laugh and state if we ever followed our business plan written in 2002–2003, we’d be out of business. However that 100 page plan is also one of the most important documents in over 15 years of being in business. At the core, our fundamentals and ethos of what’s important have never wavered, but we’ve had to change and adjust many times over the years to properly conve that ethos through our products and services.

Also empower your employees and teammates to do better. People don’t just want a job, they want to make a difference. Let them make a difference by defining their path on work objectives and goals. Always help them stay on path, but let them figure it out on their own. We’ve found employees that feel they are making a difference (and most times they are) stick around longer and work harder for you because they are also doing it for themselves, not just for you and the business.

Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?

Retaining people is easy, empower your team to feel like they are making a difference and doing it for themselves and 9x out of 10 they’ll stay. Raises are great, but we’ve found verbal recognition for work done well, goes further. Additionally, people quit for many reasons, and the reality is, every person that quits can create an opportunity for the business and the remaining team members to grow from it and shake it up a bit. There’s positives in everything, if you spend more time focusing and finding those positives and less on how terrible it is that the organization just lost a key member, usually the business excels past where the business was before the person quit.


Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”.

1. Be yourself. I’m a believer you can’t read a book on “how to be a manager”, you can take pointers and tips but you have to be you. The more you are you, the more genuine you’ll be and people generally want to work for honest people, not puppet like people.

2. Always put yourself last. Not so you are stepped on or treated like a doormat, but to show your team you have their backs and will do whatever you must to help them succeed. If you always go first or think about yourself before them, they can read that and feel that. I always view my team as my children or my family, and in those cases, they always come first and will do everything for them first to help them succeed. You will reap the benefits by them working optimally, as they’re more efficient and smart at getting the job done.

3. Always recognize ‘above and beyond’ work. If someone does a great job, tell them! A simple, “great job!” does more than most understand.

4. Use failed objectives or poor work as a jumping board for change. It’s tough to get better when your team is always doing a great job, there really is no metric to go beyond when your team is seemingly running at optimal levels. However when a teammate or a group make a misstep, this is the perfect opportunity for you guys to analyze it, see what went wrong and plan for change to go in a positive direction. The idea is to not sweep the problem under the rug but to bring it to the forefront so you don’t do it again. Usually looking at it with out anger, fear or emotion, allows the team to see exactly what went wrong and how to make it better and ultimately not do it again.

5. As the leader you have the ability to make the team feel happy, sad, fearful or excited. Although, it’s always tough to be the beacon of positivity day and day out, do understand as the leader/manager of that team, you have the ability to direct the emotion the team feels. Think for yourself what you’d want. Do you want to work in fear? Do you you want to be upset? No! So always remember, even during the tough times, or a failed objective, keep positive and utilize good attitudes to propel the team forward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could change people to stop dreading Monday’s and stop looking forward to Friday’s, if I could change this, I’d be a happier person. The societal norm is to dislike your job, it’s almost taught to us, the reality is, if you really dislike you’re job/career, you should focus on changing it. I get it, work sometimes is a drag, but it should be in alignment with your purpose for the most part. It’s a shame when people remove their brain for 40 hours a week only to come back to life Friday at 5pm.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote of all time is by Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” This quote somewhat defines how I live my life and think. Most peoples biggest enemy is themselves, they are the reason they are at where they are, why they feel the way they do and ultimately define themselves if they are happy or not.

Originally published at medium.com

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