Even the best companies and executives can use a set of fresh eyes when they’re tackling tough challenges. So who should they call? Damon Neth, the co-author of X-Formation, believes they should call interim executives who are highly trained experts in organizational leadership and transformation.

Interim executives draw on their wealth of previous executive level engagements to help companies blast past barriers, crush their challenges and catapult themselves to new performance heights. And in this episode Damon shares the principles that successful interim executives apply when they’re helping companies attain world-class results.

In this conversation, we dive deep into the characteristics that make interims unique, why they are different from consultants who simply perform studies or make recommendations? Damon believes that interims are true unbiased leaders who are interested only in achieving tangible results.

By the end of this episode, you’ll know what it takes to work with an interim executive who can actively help your company transform. So whether you’re an executive at a startup or a Fortune 500 company, this episode is for you.

Damon Neth: So for me, the notion of X-Formation and the concepts in the book started back in the 1990s when I was leading large scale technology initiatives and transformations for massive companies, multibillion-dollar organizations that had worldwide scope.

One client in particular, they called me up, they had to have me immediately, they had initiatives that were on fire that needed rescuing. I stopped what I was doing, I went to that client, I had the initial meeting, and I couldn’t help but be struck by the sense of déjà vu as they described the challenges they were having with this massive technology initiative.

“Team isn’t getting the right things done. We had no idea when it’s going to be complete. We have no idea if this will deliver value to the organization.” Things like that.

The reason that was like déjà vu is because my specialty was rescuing failing tech initiatives, and these were common things I was hearing over and over at organizations. For me, it turned on the light bulb that most companies don’t have the skills or the perspective to really properly address large-scale or important transformations in their business.

That’s what X-Formation talks about, is getting the right specialized on-demand executive leadership to leave your company through a transformation or a change that the team itself can’t accomplish.

What Is an Interim Leader?

Charlie Hoehn: So this book talks about interim leadership. What is interim leadership? What is that about?

Damon Neth: Yeah. The book specifically talks about interim executive leadership. There’re all kinds of leaders in different organizations at different levels.

Interim executive leadership is finding on-demand talent to solve your specific business problem at the time you need that talent, and that kind of flies in the face of traditional hiring practices where especially at the top of an organization, you look to hire a long-term stable team.

The reality in today’s rapidly changing world is that it’s hard to find talent that can always have the right skills to address what’s coming down the pipe at any given moment.

“A lot of organizations find themselves trying to branch out into new areas.”

That might be new revenue growth, or approaching new opportunity, or fixing long tenure problems that they’d not been able to get on top of.

For example, I’ve worked for dozens of clients and led dozens, if not hundreds of massive transformations. I am an expert in leading those types of projects. Most executives are not.

Charlie Hoehn: So what is the cost of companies trying to do these big initiatives on their own without interim leaders? I mean, what is it costing them in terms of dollars, time, resources?

Damon Neth: Yeah. It depends obviously on the specific company and their need and all those types of things, but on par, what I’ve seen is many organizations burn lots of time, valuable time really, and money trying to accomplish, I would say, new things that start at the top of the organization.

So these types of things, in case folks are wondering like what type of transformation might an organization have? It could really be anything that starts at the top. So it could be a new strategy for sales, an operational initiative designed to improve efficiency or put more money to the bottom line.

It could be developing a new strategy or a long-term plan, a short-term plan, any of those things where the executive team itself is struggling to find their way through it.

“So the costs are really those of opportunity cost—lost time and a lot of times lost money.”

Because even if you look at internal resource costs, like your executive team, your employees and whatnot, there is real cost in there if you’re trying to execute initiatives that maybe haven’t been defined properly, aren’t teed up for execution, have unclear goals or suffer from many of the maladies I saw early in my career.

Often times, those costs are very large.

So it’s not simply that we missed an opportunity. It’s that we’ve spent years trying to get on top of this thing, have not made any progress, and as a result they’re really now kind of sideways or in a funk where this is becoming an urgent matter that has to be successfully accomplished.

Not Quite a Consultant

Charlie Hoehn: Right. Damon, what is the difference between an interim leader and a traditional consultant?

Damon Neth: Well, that’s a great question. I wrote the book with two other leading interim executives and we debated this topic a lot, because at the end of the day we are consultants in that we are outside of an organization stepping in.

So we’re not an employee. In that regard, we consult. But the difference between a consultant and an interim executive really comes down to basically the approaches we used and the accountability that we have.

So a traditional consultant might come in and study things and make recommendations or even perform a highly specific tasks that are needed where you don’t have that knowledge in-house.

An interim executive leads the organization through change. So if I’m working as a consultant, I am reporting to someone and I don’t have any direct authority or leadership in the organization.

“If I’m working as an interim executive, I have the full weight and power of that seat.”

So I’m making budgetary decisions. I’m hiring and firing and reviewing employees. I’m leading my team and they report directly to me, and I’m really acting as though I was the full-time permanent holder of that seat, even though I’m an outsider.

The frame of reference, the scope of the activities I’ve involved in are usually related to some form of larger need for change of transformation within the organization.

I am there for a period of time. I am not a full-time leader. I’m full-time when I’m there, but I’m not a long term or permanent member of the team.

I’m really leading them through the parts they don’t know, getting success and then helping the organization transition into a longer-term model.

Real Life Examples

Charlie Hoehn: What are some of the signals that some of these companies are putting out that interim leader is a solution to your problems, and maybe talk to us as well about what it was like for you when you came in and worked in those situations?

Damon Neth: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s funny because a lot of people ask me about “What does your world or life look like?” Because it’s hard for them to imagine somebody stepping in to an organization from the outside and being able to add value, particularly stepping into the top of an organization.

A lot of what brings projects or opportunities to someone like myself, or any interim, is that burning need. Where simply the pain level has become too high or the opportunity is so large that the organization feels they need to make change.

So what we’ve done in the book is we brought to light many real-life case studies from the author teams’ direct experiences about the pains organizations are going through and how interim stepped in and made a difference and solved those challenges for the company.

So, for example, some signs that an organization might want interim executive help. A typical one is you’re just outgrowing the executive team. A lot of the organizations I work with in Austin, Texas are high-growth entrepreneurial companies.

It’s very easy when you’re a high-growth company to exhaust the capacity of the team that started the organization as you reach critical growth and scale milestones. Like a lot of organizations talk about, the team that got you to 1 million won’t get you to 10 million.

“That team won’t get you to $100 million.”

So it’s easy outgrow your team, then where do you turn, right? If you’ve outgrown the person in that position and they don’t have the skills you need, how do you know what skills you do need or if the person that you are interviewing has that particular skillset, right?

That’s what an interim would provide with a proven track record of success in that particular area.

Too Close to the Problem

Charlie Hoehn: It seems like an interim leader is the perfect solution during that time where you’re looking to fill that seat, right?

Damon Neth: Absolutely. I myself fill roles that include chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief information officer. So what I find is that a lot of times, I’m the first real chief information officer or CIO at a company because they are able to get off the ground and have their needs met in the beginning.

As they grow and the needs become more complex, they start to recognize they need a real leader in that seat, and they don’t have one, and then eventually something happens that causes them to bring that leader in where the pain level gets too high or the risk becomes too large or they just simply have too much to do.

They realize that they’ve never really had any one particular person focused specifically on technology in the organization.

But some other great examples of like why organizations use interims; succession planning, either for traditional executive team or especially family-owned businesses where maybe people are kind too close to the problems to be objective about them.

Turnarounds – I mean, huge opportunities and lots and lots of work for many interim executives and turnarounds. There’s actually a special discipline for interim executives who just lead turnarounds. So that’s a specialized kind of approach for taking organizations from crisis to health rapidly.

“A lot of times the existing leadership team is just too close to the problem.”

Or it doesn’t have the perspective to really have a solid go-forward plan.

Another would be lack of strategy. As I mentioned in kind of our opening here, there’re so many organizations that workshop at the beginning of the year and then it becomes kind of somewhat stale and lives on a piece of paper, in a file cabinet, or a Google folder or whatever and it isn’t really active in the business.

When I’m coming into an organization, the very first thing I’m evaluating is what is the strategy we’re trying to accomplish, and then what do we need to do to make that strategy a reality? So what’s the gap between what we want to go and where we are? If we can’t put the strategy behind it and connect those dots, it becomes very hard to be successful in other activities.

So a lot of times I’m being engaged to drive out strategy or facilitate strategy for organizations, or in the acquisitions fronts, just like there are many interims who focus on interim executives.

There’re many folks who focus on turnaround specialists, same thing with mergers and acquisitions. There are lots organizations that simply acquire other companies and then struggle to get the merger and acquisition of those pieces right.

So there’s folks who’ve been there, done that over and over again at the executive level who step in, and it’s a known playbook to them what we need to do to be successful with the merger and acquisition.

Who Needs an Interim

Charlie Hoehn: Maybe an executive team might feel pulled in many directions and having to wear many hats. Is that fair to say?

Damon Neth: Oh, yeah. Well, there’s a few things bound up in what you just said, and they’re all true. One is that a lot of times the existing leadership team is just overwhelmed with what’s on their plates.

So trying to then drive other large-scale change, it’s just kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back. They start becoming more and more dysfunctional as they try to do more and more things and eventually they reached the point where it feels like kind of nothing’s working and that’s where they seek the outside perspective.

But the outside perspective is where, really, interim executives at the most value. So, for example, in my case, I’ve led many massive supply chain reinventions for large companies, small companies, entrepreneurial companies.

Charlie Hoehn: Could you give some examples of the types of companies that you work with?

Damon Neth: I’ve worked with all size companies, literally from pre-revenue startups to Fortune 500, and the projects themselves are obviously driven somewhat by the size of the organization. So a company that is $1 million in revenue is going to have different needs, different budget than a Fortune 500 sized company.

“The challenges themselves are specific to the opportunity.”

The size of the organization, all the different factors that are in that company.

But in terms of who can get help for interim executives, it’s really companies of pretty much any size depending on their needs. So pre-revenue companies are typically engaging me for strategy or planning or kind of future-looking things, so that they’re ready when they spin up.

Large companies are either solving problems that have been long tenured or they’re making such a large-scale change that their internal team just does not have the skills it takes.

So, for example, one of the projects I led was replacing an enterprise system for Fortune 500. That system lived right in the center of the organizations. This is a multibillion-dollar retailer that had complex supply chains, many warehouses, many different customer channels.

All of that data flows in and is connected by the ERP system. So when you pull that out and replace it with something else, it cascades change throughout the entire company.

So it cascades, obviously, technology change, how do we use this thing?

But it’s really more business process impacts that oftentimes are kind of cash shortchanged on the technology side. You feel like once we get the technology up and running, everything will fall into place, but large-scale organizations like that, you really have to proactively plan for how does every single job change?

How does the dataflow change? How does the overall process from one department to the next? How are those things impacted when we change the technology that’s at use?

So by having done that for huge companies, I can help smaller organizations understand what are the critical things that typically need to go right or the typically go wrong? How can we insulate ourselves against this type of risk? What are proven approaches that you, meaning me, Damon, have used to accomplish these things in the past so that we have more of an assurance of success?

“That’s really what we’re doing—we’re bringing that experience to bear.”

It would take many people lifetimes to assemble simply because they work at one company for 10 years then move on to another one, or whatever.

They just don’t have as many opportunities to lead these types of activities because most companies go through these things once every 10 years, or 20 years, or in their lifetime.

So by being an interim executive, I have the incredible opportunity to lead those things over and over for the companies involved and just get a huge amount of practical experience that all my clients then benefit from.

Getting Results

Charlie Hoehn: So talk to me about your process for getting your clients results.

Damon Neth: Absolutely. This is another area where the author team really spent a lot of time kind of deep diving.

If you can imagine, most interim executives, like myself, are kind of lone wolves. We have this great experience base. We make a lot of connections. Those things tend to feed us a lot of work.

So as a result, we kind of work on instinct, if you will, the challenges presented to us. Like, for example, two companies merge and the CEO of the acquiring company says, “We’re not sure what we’re going to do with this acquisition. We saw the market need for it and that’s why we did it, but now that we have it, we’re not sure exactly where to go. Can you help us with that?”

To which I’d say, “Sure.

Then what I would is kind of follow smoke to fire, what are the bigger problems, prioritize those and execute those as different initiatives to accomplish the overall change or goals that the company was trying to accomplish.

But the reality of being an interim is that most people do this by instinct. They’ve been successful doing these things over and over again. They have their own toolbox that they use, and it tends to be very contextual about how do you get the results?

So the author team had a really kind of do a deep dive and talk about how is it that we come into organizations time and time again, into unfamiliar situations and could start creating value quickly and ultimately get the prize? We kind of had to parse through, “What is the commonality of what we do?”

“How do we accomplish these things?”

What we came to was basically a four-step approach that summarized our general, if you will, plan for executing transformation in an organization. The first step is strategize. You’ve got to focus on having great strategy, and this is a lot of times where people’s eyes kind of roll back and they say, “Oh, geez! Are we going to spend like two months defining strategy? We’ve got to really get to work and get things done. We don’t want to do that.”

I completely agree, and for a lot of companies, this is a very short exercise where we’re simply identifying what are the goals that we need to accomplish? What are their priorities? What are the barriers in the way, and does this whole strategy stick together? Does it makes sense when we talk about in its fullness?

If so, we’re then ready to move on and start putting our shoulder into things. If not, then we’d got to get that strategy right, because there’s absolutely no point in moving forward if we’re not sure what the destination is.

The Bottom Line

Charlie Hoehn: Then after that, you have optimizing or optimize below the line innovation. What is that?

Damon Neth: Yeah, so once we have a great strategy, then the reason that we put optimize second is because a lot of times organizations are focused on topline growth and sales, which is terrific. I enable that for many clients.

But getting more topline sales typically only makes sense if you can serve those with your infrastructure.

So optimizing is about creating bottom line efficiency, increasing the transaction throughput or the flow through the business, creating individually efficient processes, understanding the cost of your transactions and things like that so that you can create a bigger bottom-line impact.

While it’s not all about what drops to the bottom line, by focusing on those things you’re able to create operational efficiency, and the way that I describe this to organizations is when we’re optimizing.

“We’re taking your current pipeline of your business transactions, and we’re making it bigger.”

We’re increasing the capacity that the organization has for business, basically, before we push more transactions through it. So optimizing is about getting ready for and creating efficiency in all of our major core processes, then we can move on to maximization or maximizing, which is all about finding more sales and pushing more transactions through that optimized pipeline.

The reason it’s so critical to do them in that order is if you start bringing in more business before the organization is ready for that transaction level, usually what happens is you wind up with an inefficiency and your model starts to break down, creating more cost, creating more errors, creating more issues, impacting customer satisfaction.

Now, all the effort you put into generating more sales is really not creating much of a return on the company because you’ve got all these fires burning on the operational side.

Optimize First

Charlie Hoehn: Yeah. So like an analogous situation, on an individual level versus an enterprise, would be instead of trying to go out and make $10,000 more for your salary in trying to get a promotion, start first with examining your cause and see if you can’t clear up a thousand dollars per month in some of the cost that you have on going, because that’s optimizing first, and then you can go maximize. Is that a fair comparison?

Damon Neth: That’s a great analogy. I’ll give you a real-world example. So an organization engaged me. There were about a $10 million company when they hired me as an interim.

Their plan for that year was to about double their sales, which seemed like a great goal. The company had tremendous demand pull for their products. They were really on fire, and they didn’t see any barriers to getting there.

What they didn’t realize was that they were already at operational capacity. They didn’t have the ability to produce enough goods, store those goods with quality, with inventory accuracy, creating quick turnaround time, etc., to support double the amount of sales that they already had.

“So they were already starting to break down, but didn’t realize it.”

They just thought, “Well, we’ll just make more product and ship more product. What’s the big deal?”

They didn’t realize that they were at a critical tipping point where order backlogs were growing and growing and growing, and if they had actually accomplished that doubling in revenue, it would have created a serious hurting on the company.

So just with the awareness of what their true transactional capacity was, how much business could the company support with its current operating procedures, warehouse, manufacturing capability, etc.?

Once they understood that, the task became, “Okay. We’ve got to scale up and right size and optimize operations so that we can then go in double sales and be successful and get all of the positive outcomes that we’re looking for.”

Maximize and Organize

Charlie Hoehn: Got it. Next is maximize and then organize.

Damon Neth: Right. So maximize, as I touched on, is all about driving maximum revenue. So this is really the sales and marketing side of the house.

So how do we position our products? How do we take our products to make sure they’re appropriately priced?

They’re in the right market segments.

That we’re creating the right sales channels for our business. So these are the disciplines that are related to being a chief marketing officer or a chief revenue officer or a chief sales officer, and this is all about how do we go and find all of the different places to sell our product?

How do we make sure that it is optimally priced, that we’re earning the right margins on it, and that we’re giving our customers what they want through things like bundles, kits, different ways to buy popular products.

This is where we examine the notion of, “Are there any recurring revenue models that could be spun up to create more stability for the organization?”

“Frankly, I’m talking about doing lots of new things.”

Much of what an interim’s job is, is educating the company about the things we need to stop doing, right?

Many product companies that I work with, for example, are continually adding to their product line, but rarely taking things out of the product line. So over time, it just becomes an inefficiency. The cost of making and storing and selling all of these different types of products when they are not each returning a big enough result to the organization winds up having a deteriorating effect.

So most companies aren’t thinking about what to take out of their product line. They’re just thinking about what to add to it. So maximization is about getting the right everything for your product or service, whatever it is that you’re selling, so that you can maximize revenues with what you’ve already invested in or identify the things you need to invest in to attain that end result. So far we’ve talked about strategize. That’s at the core, right?

“We’ve got to have that solid strategy.”

From there, optimizing and maximizing or where we put our shoulder into changing the business and our individual practices around bottom-line performance or sales.

The final discipline is organization, and this is really the icing on the cake. This is where we look at how is it that we are organized as a company. So how are the people organized? How are our major assets organized? Whether that’s information technology, manufacturing equipment, physical plant, or other things would invested in.

All these major investments or assets, how do we align them to achieve our ultimate goal?

Because many times organizations are purchasing assets for specific purpose, but they’re leaving an awful lot of food on the line if you will like if I have $1 million piece of equipment that makes widgets and it’s only operating six hours a day but has accomplished its objective for buying that.

My first question as an interim is, “How can we get that thing busy the rest of the day? Could we get a contract manufacturer, or are there other products that we could make on this? Does it make sense to – Is this the right piece of equipment? If we’re only using it 25% of the day, that sounds like an underutilization. So why do we have so much capacity or horsepower?”

Many organizations are focused kind of on individual pieces of the picture and that’s what I think interims are so great at is seeing the whole picture and bringing it together helping our clients realize these are all the great things.

These are the things we’re not sure about, and these are the problems we see. How can we get a common view of the future that brings all these things to be value add and net add to the company and its performance?”

Preparing for an Interim

Charlie Hoehn: Talk to me about how do they know if they found the right interim and how do they need to prepare for that interim?

Damon Neth: Yeah. That’s great. You took the words right out of my mouth, Charlie. You said, “How do you prepare for it?” That’s where you start.

The first thing is having a clear understanding of what are our needs. I’m talking about being an interim executive. Clearly, I’m not right for every role, or every company, or every need.

The organization needs to first be clear on what is it that it needs. What are the gaps that are there between the existing leadership team, or the existing strategy, or the existing company operations, etc., versus where we want to be?

“That’s critically important.”

We have to understand what that looks like so that you can then go and find the right person to address those needs. Just because I work as a chief executive officer does not mean that I’m the right CEO for every company.

So I’m asking organizations that contact me, “What are your specific needs? Because I want to make sure – I mean, I need to be dead sure that I can help, and if I don’t have that feeling, then I’m not the right person for that assignment.”

So the first thing is getting prepared for an interim, being clear on your needs.

Defining the goals, then setting the parameters.

How much are we willing to spend? Is this a full-time or a fractional position? That’s a notion that many people don’t understand about interim executives, is that a lot of times I’m working fractionally for companies.

So I might be a one or two day a week chief information officer, and the reason that that model works is not every company has a full-time need in that position. Plus, remember, I am bringing a huge amount of experience from having done these assignments over and over again, for nearly 30 years.

“So oftentimes what I can accomplish with my team in a day is all the organization can handle in terms of change.”

I’ll work with the team for a day, step out for the rest of the week. They’ll move that initiative forward. I’ll come back in the next week, we’ll set the new agenda for the next coming week. What are the needs? Solve more problems.

And all of this is in line with not just weekly activities, but the ultimate goals of the assignment and what we’re trying to accomplish. So we’ve got to be prepared and understand, “Are we looking for a full-time person or a fractional person and why?”

Then we want to talk about what is this person’s title and position? Sometimes organizations will meet with me and get excited about the value I can add, but they don’t actually have a seat for me at the table.

So, again, I’m not really a consultant as much as I am an interim executive. It’s important to me that I have a team working for me, that I have the right authority and that I am being viewed by the organization as the full-time leader there. I’m just not.

But I should have the exact same view from a company perspective as anybody who would be holding that seat permanently.

Charlie Hoehn: Got it. All right. So anything else?

Damon Neth: Well, at the end of the day, one thing we can’t discount is that the organization has to prepare itself for an outsider. You can imagine, when I show up at a company having only met with them for maybe a couple of hours before I’ve accepted an engagement, there can be some skepticism.

“Who’s this guy? How’s he going to really impact our outcome? Oh! Is this just another high paid consultant who’s going to recommend, but not really lead us to results?”

You’ve got to prepare your team as well and make sure that they understand why it is that the intern is coming into the organization.

What are the goals? How do we treat this person? Because there’s some education that typically has to happen so that you’re really embraced by the team. I’ll say, even if you do that preparation, what I’m focused on is stepping in and creating real wins day one so that everybody can see, “This guy is actually helping, not just talking about helping.”

Connecting with an Interim

Charlie Hoehn: Right. So that all makes sense. So where do I actually find a good interim? Are there a lot of them? Are there only a few? How do I go about it?

Damon Neth: So I think it depends on your definition of interim. In the book, we’re really drawing the line between kind of folks who call themselves interims and what are true interim room looks like me.

I mean, even the word interim by definition just means kind of non-permanent, or a transitory. It doesn’t really describe, “What does success look like or what should we be thinking about?”

So in our definition, the true interim executive leads the organization, is prepared to execute anything that they’re recommending and is a true leader.

I should also say that a lot of the work we do is coaching up and helping the whole executive team through the experience that we have working with other organizations.

“Once you start producing results, typically other needs emerge.”

So I’m always helping and coaching my leadership teams around me even if they’re not under me in the position that I’m holding. But a true interim is someone who is prepared to do that, is essentially accountable for all of the results and is willing to stand by those results.

A lot of people will call themselves interims for different reasons. Either they’ve been high-end consultants and they just simply think, “Well, I’ve worked at the top of organizations. So therefore I could be an interim executive or a leader.”

That’s not really true. To be a great interim, you have to have the skills to be a great executive and to be a great consultant.

Both of those have to really be present, because they’re two different disciplines that come together at the top of organizations if you’re not a full-time participant or a permanent hire, if you will.

So there’s that aspect, and then there’s the other aspect too, which is that sometimes executives who currently don’t have an opportunity call themselves interim because they say, “Well, I used to have an executive position. I don’t have a permanent job now, so I’ll market myself as an interim.”

But they’ve never really stepped in as an outsider and led an organization through massive change and transformation.

“Simply because you’ve had an executive seat does not mean that you can or should be an interim executive.”

When you talk about kind of what is an interim leader? I think it’s important to know that true interims are people who practice interim executive leadership as their profession.

I’m not an interim executive only when I’m not fully employed by somebody. I’m an interim executive every single day that I wake up. That is my business.

So that’s a really important notion that many people don’t understand and that we try to really clear up in the book, is that there are people who practice interim executive leadership as a career and a profession.

Those people, where do you find them? They tend to be kind of lone wolves.

So, for example, I’m a member of Interim Execs as are the other two members of the author team. Interim Execs is the premier organization for people who practice interim executive leadership.

So that’s a great resource for any company that’s looking for interim help because they know the largest population of high-performing interims and can really help dial in the right interim for your specific needs.

Success with Damon Neth

Charlie Hoehn: What is your biggest success story? What are you most proud of having accomplished for a client?

Damon Neth: That’s a great question. I mean, man, there been so many just incredible wins, and I’m not saying that to kind of toot my own horn.

Really, I’d want everybody to know that in working in this profession since the 90s, I’ve worked for over 50 organizations. Every single one of them is referenceable.

“I feel like every time I show up, I get the job done in one way or another.”

Sometimes the project will change or will determine this is not relevant and it will be the company’s decision to not move something forward, but that’s why I was engaged, to figure out is this thing worth moving forward.

I remember one particular moment where a multibillion-dollar retailer engaged me for a very specific type of project. This was back in the year 2000 days. So in the midst of replacing all of their other technology, they also spun up a project for very specialized type of purchasing system.

So they brought me in as an interim to lead that purchasing initiative. The reason it was so interesting was it was for music and movie title purchasing where there are way, way, way many more titles in an inventory than can possibly fit in a shelf, in a store. So even if you had the biggest store in the world, you can’t put everything on the shelves.

How do you know what’s selling at this store versus that store or what the right mix is for an urban setting versus a suburban setting? Things like this.

“This was the closest I ever came to being carried out on the shoulders of my team.”

When we launched this, the vice president of music merchandising almost cried because he thought it was an impossible task. We accomplished it with quality and created incredible efficiency for the team that was using that tool, and at the end of the day he said to me, “I thought we would never be able to build this.”

For me, that’s like the biggest form of flattery and win is accomplishing something that others thought was not possible.

Charlie Hoehn: I love that. That’s fantastic. So tell us how listeners might be able to get in touch with you if they are looking for either more guidance or to potentially work with you and your co-authors.

Damon Neth: That’s a great question. Well, actually the best resource would be just to go to the book website, which is x-formationbook.com.

That’s the landing page for the book. That has information on all the authors. Really, another great resource again is Interim Execs. We can always be found through them and by them. Each of the authors, we have our own individual author page on Amazon. So you can find out more details about what we each do through that as well.