Thomas Mangum: Welcome to The High Performing Team. I’m your host, Thomas Mangum. If creating extraordinary from ordinary peaks your interest, or if moving from good to great results inspires you, then you’re in the right place. Get ready for the next episode of The High Performing Team.
00:00:18 Thomas: All right, and welcome back to the show. Today, I have a couple of special guests that I’ve had the privilege to work with a couple of times. These are two individuals, two leaders here at The Sliding Door Company. Doron Polus, he’s the CEO of The Sliding Door Company, and Sheryl Hai-Ami, the Chief Operations Officer, or Administration Officer, in case I get in trouble for saying chief. But I always think Chief Administration Officer, handling all of that.
It’s really special, I’ve worked with them a couple of times. One of the most extraordinary things that I remember, and this is not always the case, they run a fairly large company and it just feels like family. I think that’s so amazing. I wanted to have them here because it just sticks out to me. As you know, I work with lots of teams and brands all over the world, and it doesn’t always feel that way. It’s refreshing to see a larger company that’s creating amazing results, amazing growth over the years, and it still has a vibe of family. So it’s not mom-and-pop, and we’re kind of stopped out. It’s, no, we’re growing, we’re expanding, and we care about the people on the team. So welcome Doron and Sheryl.
00:01:45 Doron: Hi. Thank you very much. I’m happy to be with you.
00:01:45 Sheryl: Thank you Thomas.
00:01:49 Thomas: I hope I did you justice with that real brief little intro.
00:01:53 Doron: Absolutely yes.
00:01:55 Thomas: I want to kick it off, guys. We’re talking about the high performing team, and, so, of course, my question is going to be, what’s your definition when you hear high performing team? You might hear all sorts of terms: Elite, high performing, extraordinary, championship. But how do you two describe high performing team?
00:02:19 Doron: Wow, this is a million-dollar question. I’ll help to try to analyze this because it’s very serious. I would say it’s two way stream, it’s people that really want to take and to give, and this is equally important as what you’re willing to do for them. When you’re talking about high performance, it needs to be some definition ahead of time, where are we going, who are the people, what they need to do? And to make sure that they are committed for what they want.
Some people who like to be laid back and do their job, 8 to 5. Some others, they have motivation. Some, they want to go and replace me one day. And all these very, very, welcome, and the commitment is number one. So as company, we are totally committed to train, educate, support, and do everything that we can do to make sure that they will feel at home, they will feel wanted, and appreciated. So by the get-go, we know what we’re willing to give. And then, we need to see what the other members of the team are willing to give.
00:03:35 Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
00:03:36 Doron: Number one, as you mentioned, the people. We value the people, we would like them to succeed, we would like them to be happy. We would like them to come every day with smile on their face, and be happy is keywords for success. And obviously, it’s life, and you’re not happy every day, but whatever I can do for your happiness is very important to me.
00:04:03 Thomas: Absolutely. Now, I know that’s your intention with your team, and I can only imagine that some days it doesn’t feel that way. Some days someone doesn’t feel cared for, or there had to be a time when you were building this team, or either the previous teams, you worked with … Because I know you come with military experience, you’ve worked on different teams in your lifetime.
00:04:29 Doron: Absolutely.
00:04:30 Thomas: And so what I’d love to hear is … Tell me about a time when it wasn’t working as a high performing team, and what was that turning point? When did things shift in your business team, your military team, something like that, that … I think we can share a few lessons to listeners, that based upon your experience, you found this to be very successful.
00:05:01 Doron: It’s very good question because it’s depending … You’re right. The military background is 12 years that I served in the Army. It was not just serving, training, and even participating in wars. And you very, very, value first of all, life, and you value the people that fighting with you because everybody keeps the other as full [inaudible 00:05:26]. And this is very, very, important message that we all need to work as a team. They’re very individual in the team but, overall, the team together is what will save our life. So this is save our life in the Army, and the same as business. I mean, if you’d like to go and you would like to continue, so only teamwork will happen, and will make it happen. If you are singing the tune, you need to shine some individual, it won’t work. So to create a team is number one.
Now, how you creating team, you set up goals. And if you set up your goal, the highest that you can in the beginning it won’t work. You should set up your goal in the beginning as very high you can, because if you set your goal low, you won’t set your goal. So set them high, but you don’t need to set high, the same high goal for what you set for you, to set for the others. So you build it a little bit, stages, and you try within the stages to build and see how they coming up in every stage of the game, and how good they are. Because when you build a team in the beginning you don’t even know the qualification of the team, you need to see them under pressure, under work, under meetings, under everything that they can give. And then you have your-, what you need to do is to plan them, and to help them, and to help them achieve the goal. So you set the highest goal that you have for yourself, you cannot set the same goal to the team, because obviously you’ve just assembled them, and you need to know how good they are.
So you set up a goal that is high enough, but not compromising goal, and then you build, because if you, and then you see that the [inaudible 00:07:16] goals. Because if you set up the highest goal immediately, you set them to fail. And this is, you don’t want. So you build a goal within the goal. Within your goal, you see the other goals for the team, and you lead them to believe that yes, we can set up the goal.
Now, if you don’t come, and you do not set up, you cannot set up your first goal, don’t complete it to the second one, because it won’t happen. So every stage of the game, you need to look and see what are we doing, what we accomplish, what we didn’t accomplish, what we need to do if you have patience to continue and train. And if you think that it’s not working, you need to do something about it. And when I say do something about it, either you replace member of the team, either you add a new member to the team, maybe you’re not the best and you need to have somebody to help you, so every stage of the game you need to stop, evaluate, and look forward.
00:08:15 Thomas: Gotcha. So I can only imagine, like a lot of folks, you learn this through a tough moment as you are building the company?
00:08:26 Doron: Yes.
00:08:27 Thomas: Was there a particular turning point or was it just many over the years?
00:08:33 Doron: No, I mean basically, if you look, the turning point there, yes, there are a few turning points, and all in economics you know, that it’s the most hard thing to do is to sell the first million. And I’m sure that you’re talking about companies like Southwest that don’t remember when did they sell the first million dollars because they are a huge company, which every airplane costs them over a million dollars.
So obviously, they started somewhere and they started with the first million dollar sale, that is really hard. So you have some stages in a company that you know is the most hard things to do is the first million when you are a small company. And then you have another plateau in the five million and then so on and so forth, and every stage of the company requires different sets of people that help you to go to the next one. It is very very hard to keep everybody from A to Z, because everybody has different agenda.
When I started the company, I started the way that I’m going to sell the product will be through dealers and outside the company, and very very very very soon at the beginning of the game, I realized that this won’t put me where I want to be, and I needed to do a full shift from a strategic point of view, from going to dealer to self to sell the product, and I needed to do it immediately. So if you don’t do it immediately, and you continue to check, and check, and fight with what’s happening, you’ll go under.
So I think it’s quick that you need to do the move especially when you are small, you need to be very … Put your finger on the pulse, see where you are going, see what is coming, don’t fool yourself about maybe, maybe, maybe. And this is the first time that after three, four months in the business, I needed to do a full turn shift from a strategic plan, from selling from dealer to inside the company, and it sounds like crazy, but this has saved the company.
00:10:54 Thomas: Yeah, so, based on your experience, and obviously you can refer to any team, whether it’s building the team that you have now, or when you were on a sales team, or whether you were on a military team is, what have you found that made the greatest difference in moving your good team, or great team, to a high performing championship team? What made the greatest difference?
00:11:21 Doron: You know, first of all, I would say something maybe that everybody knows, but is important: Leaderships. You need the leader first, and because people going after leaders. So the leaderships is number one-
00:11:35 Thomas: What does that look like?
00:11:36 Doron: If you believe you are-, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Army, it doesn’t matter if it’s business. When I opened the business I was a one man show, and then Sheryl joined the company, and then another one, and another one. And without those, the quality of leader, that people trust you, it’s all a matter of trust. You need to do what you say, and say what you do, and you need to be very transparent, and they need to understand that everything is open. Open book policy, and it’s very important.
So we talk about leadership, people believe that you’ll do whatever you promise, totally open communication, because if they start guessing every day what you are going to do, and I’m not sure when he talks to other people, when they are going to replace me, or whatever, it’s not adding up any good. So they need to believe that you mean what you do, you do what you mean, you don’t sell false hope, and if it’s bedtime you need to share with them it’s bedtime, and not play games like everything is okay and vice versa.
So, it all starts with leadership, and then, when the people, when you lead them, and they believe in you, it’s much easier, and you actually open and pave the way for success.
00:13:05 Thomas: Beautiful. Okay, so ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to take a two minute break here and then we’ll get to part two here. Go grab your favorite drink, coffee, tea, or a glass of water. Get a little stretch, and we’ll start back here in just a moment.
(Short spiel) Thomas Mangum here, I hope you’re enjoying the show. You know, one critical element I see from amazing, effective, high performing teams is their team members get really good asking for and receiving support. They keep it easy because if somebody’s already creating amazing results, why not borrow that idea? Come on guys, keep it simple. What kind of results could you create with that one simple fresh perspective? We’ve got loads of gifts to share with you from tips and tools, to training. It’s all yours by going to GiftsFromThomas.com. That’s GiftsFromThomas.com. Make sure you write that down, GiftsFromThomas.com. Hope you’re enjoying the show, now let’s get back to it.
00:14:13 Thomas: All right, so, welcome back to part two. I’m with Doran Polus and Sheryl Hai-Ami of the Sliding Door company, laying down some wisdom of what is creating this very successful brand. I’ve watched them grow over the past couple of years, this is absolutely a company to watch, and even when you do some research online, I’m a LinkedIn Business Premium member, I’m not sure if Doron and Sheryl know this, but you can actually see their growth over the past couple of years, a lot of indicators, and I’m just excited by this. I love these two, they are my auntie, my uncle, my cousin, they’re just cool.
00:14:56 Thomas: So, I want to kick off, guys [laughs], did I just embarrass you? [laughs]. So let’s ask this question: What … I guess if you could go back to the beginning Doron and Sheryl, if you could go back to the beginning, when it comes to creating a high performing team, a championship team, a connected team, an amazingly loving team with each other that is high producing and results creating, if you could go back to the beginning, what advice would you give yourself?
00:15:29 Doron: Sheryl.
00:15:30 Sheryl: Thanks a lot Thomas, for the question, and honestly, in establishing a high performing team, something that we learned at the very beginning was that we needed to qualify the team members and expose their confidences right up front. So that we give them an assessment, and their skill set is absolutely exposed through that assessment, and then we hone in on their skill set and help them on a personal level, develop that so they can be the best they can be. So we developed a team by putting together people that have different skill sets, so the word synergy comes into play, and really, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts at any given time. And that’s something that we’ve learned to do better over the years.
00:16:24 Thomas: So Doron, how about you? If you could go back to the beginning, what kind of advice would you give yourself?
00:16:31 Doron: Be part of the team, and take responsibility for good and for bad. So it’s exactly what I said in the beginning, the leadership, but you are not just the leader and tell what to do, you’re doing by yourself everything that you expect them to do.
And then, just you to know, the first installation, we are a Los Angeles based company, you know, the headquarters is in Los Angeles and the first installation was in San Diego, your home town, and I took the truck and the doors, and I didn’t even have a tool then, so I stopped in Home Depot, purchased some tools, went to the customer’s home, and installed the doors. It was beautiful room divider, divide between his bedroom to the other section of the house, and I just put it together and I knew exactly how easy or not easy it is, to tell the others I did it.
So lead by example. Especially in the beginning. You cannot do it later on. Today I cannot lead by example to the installer, because I’ve forgot already how to do it. And we have many many more products that … It’s impossible. You need to be daily in the fields to know exactly, know every part of the installation, but I did it. I know what to do. I know how much sweat you need to put into it, and how much time you need to do a good job. So, lead by example and they know if the boss do it, I can do it.
00:18:11 Thomas: Right. Excellent. So, I got a couple of fun interesting questions here, and I gave you a heads-up, so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. What’s something that you’ve never shared before that you feel leaders and teams need to hear, especially right now? No holding back. What do you think they need to hear right now?
00:18:38 Doron: Sheryl, do you have any idea?
00:18:41 Sheryl: I truly believe that high integrity on a personal level, it’s not something we really talk about with our team members, but like Doron said, leading by example and having the high integrity of being able to tell people when times are tough, and what’s expected of them, and being very direct with people when they might have something they need to improve upon, and giving them a pat on the back when they’ve achieved something fabulous. So, I’d say, high integrity as an example throughout the day, from everything you do, so that everyone can see you are trustworthy and transparent.
00:19:26 Thomas: Beautiful.
00:19:27 Doron: I agree to that, definitely. And the most, not the most, but part of it, they know that you are here for them, and they need to feel that whatever happens, somebody will pick them up and help them to go over this. And it can even be personal, though we are spending too much time, but if somebody in the tabloids, somebody in, or situation at home, obviously, it impacts his life outside the home, and we are here to help them and to make them stronger. And if you believe in that, you’ll get everything in return.
00:20:06 Thomas: Great. Awesome. And so we’re coming into the quick fire questions round, and so, do either of you have any special morning routine? This is just something I’ve heard from folks that are successful in their area. If you have some sort of special morning routine, what is that?
00:20:29 Sheryli: Absolutely, the physical exercise is fabulous for opening up the mind, being positive, and being healthy.
00:20:39 Thomas: Great. How about you Doron?
00:20:41 Doron: Good music. Exercise definitely, and good music to your ear, because you hear very other music later, so you’d better open your day with good music to your ear.
00:20:54 Thomas: [laughs] I actually totally understand what you’re talking about. I took it literally and I took it metaphorically throughout the day [laughs]. Okay, so what’s a piece of technology or some kind of app on your phone, something like that, that you can’t live without?
00:21:13 Doron: I used to live without the phone because the phone is not always our friends, you know? But just to add to what I said before, and I think it’s good advice, you should open your day with positive. Make a phone call that you know it will be positive to start your day. And what I mean by that, if you know that you come into the office and everybody will come with their issue, start your day with positive phone call. Call to your best sales people, call to your best operation and say, “Tell me something good today.” And you open the day on a positive note. So I think this is … And when you start getting, you know, people bragging about something and crying, whatever, “Oh my God.” This is what I need to do today, so always start with positive.
00:22:03 Thomas: Okay, so how about I’ll expand that a little bit, do either of you have a favorite resource or book that you’d like to recommend? It could also be an app or piece of technology.
00:22:16 Sheryl: I really like using LinkedIn, it’s one of my favorites. To be connected and to share various articles and posts, and to read about what is going on in other arenas that are related to ours with architects and designers, so I really like LinkedIn. And I do have a favorite book, written by Stephen Covey called Principle-Centered Leadership, and that’s one of my favorites.
00:22:42 Doron: I spend some time reading about Breakthrough Company, and I know that Southwest airline was on the book, and into the QuickBooks, by the way, they are one of the companies that were introducing the book as a breakthrough company, and I’m always trying to see what they do that I’m not doing. Even they are now today, big companies. And try to learn from them, what was the breaking point, what caused them to twist everything around, or from small company to big company continue managing it to go year, after year, after year.
And I think to learn from others is good. Southwest Airline, it’s not The Sliding Door Company, and they have their own issue, and our own issue, it’s not the same. But I think the bottom line is the core of every business is the people that’s working in the company. And I totally believe in it. It doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter if you fly airplane or you install beautiful sliding doors in your place. The people, they are number one ambassadors of the company, and if they represent you well, you look good and you must be well. And if they are not happy, your customer won’t be happy. So always look for the people, they are the number one assets of the company.
00:24:22 Thomas: Got it. Is there someone … It sounds like you kind of look up to Southwest as an influence. Is there someone in particular throughout the industry, or in life, that you look up to as an influence?
00:24:40 Doron: In our industry, you mentioned in our industry, we actually … We are against the stream, against the current, because it’s a new niche that we needed to design and build. So not just that we needed to go into the market, we needed to explain what we were doing in the market. So it was not somebody even to go after or look after, because in our field, we literally brought something new to the market.
So I learned from others, but I cannot learn from competitor. I wish to, or somebody that did it before, because we were the first company in the United States to go with this concept and develop it throughout the nation, nation-wide from coast to coast. And it was a big challenge because we needed to explain what we were doing here, and we didn’t have many supporters in the beginning, and obviously today is a little bit different.
00:25:41 Thomas: So Sheryl, is there someone that you look to, whether in your industry or just in life, is there someone that you look to as an influence?
00:25:50 Sheryl: I would have to say, in a related field, in the field of architecture, I would look to Gensler as, you know, a company that is someone to be commended for their growth and their input, into building design and building flexibility into the very beginning of the process when designing and building a hospital or any of the places that we now put our doors into. I really appreciate putting quality and flexibility and the ability to re-purpose rooms whenever needed on the fly. Building that into the design process is something that I really respect, and it allows the sustainability of a building, let’s say, over 100 year period of time, to be used for multiple purposes without having to redo all the HVAC, which is really expensive, for example, or to redo the entire electrical, because at the very beginning it was built up in a way that areas could be repurposed. And I just have a lot of respect for the architectural work at Gensler, as an example.
00:26:55 Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now, as you think about what we’re looking to accomplish on this show, we’re just getting down to last few seconds here. This is all about moving good and great teams, to extraordinary high performing teams, and whatever the definition is to folks. For many it involves creating results, being far more productive than they are right now, and doing with care, and love, and all of those, and really through abundance, if you will. So when you think about what we’re looking to accomplish on the show, is there someone that you would recommend for the show, or someone you would love to hear on the show?
00:27:38 Doron: Yes. I think it’s in the same field, not of doors, but I have a good friend of mine that … The name is, his name is Arik Tendler, and he used to be the CEO of CaesarStone. And he actually started, like me, something from zero, to bring a new quartz slab to put on a kitchen, and it’s developed to kitchen, and floor, and walls, and everything within the design industry. And the company jumped from nothing to $200 million company in a very short period of time, and I think it did an amazing job to penetrate to a market and to bring the product from design to commodity. And this is a big big successful, that I definitely want him to be on the show.
00:28:51 Thomas: Okay, great. How about you, Sheryl? And it can be in or outside the industry. Either way.
00:28:59 Sheryl: I agree completely. I think that someone like Arik is a really good choice. I think that an influencer that does good for the community is good. Someone that does a lot of philanthropy, you know, Oprah comes to mind. People that are visual, people that are athletes, that are famous, that actually have the stage to do something good for the world and for young kids. I definitely think Kobe Bryant is a good person to get on the show. He’s philanthropic, he gives back to the Boys and Girls Club, people like that, that can make a difference, would be a good candidate.
00:29:39 Thomas: Great. Well, thank you so much for your time, your energy, gosh, your presence, and your wisdom. If listeners are interested in finding out more about you, what’s the best way that you can be reached?
00:30:08 Thomas: Great. Well thanks again, Doron and Sheryl. It’s always a pleasure hearing your voice and again, thanks so much for spending your time with us today.
00:30:18 Doron: Thank you very much for having us, and have a good day.
00:30:18 Sheryl: Thank you.
Thomas Mangum: Thank you for joining us today on The High Performing Team. Get notified of the newest episodes by clicking subscribe and, of course, rate the show. Now, you know, it really does inspire me to know that you care enough about your team to move it from good to great. It is always a pleasure helping you create a high performing team. As always, connecting with me is easy as going to ConnectWithThomas.com, that’s ConnectWithThomas.com. I’ll hear you next time.