Rocket Fuel with Mark Winters

Posted by John Livesay in podcast | 0 comments

Leadership Lessons From Mt Everest with Alison Levine
The Art Of Opportunity with Marc Sniukas

Episode Summary

Today’s guest on The Successful Pitch is Mark Winters, the author of Rocket Fuel. He talks about the different personalities that are entrepreneurship. There’s a visionary, who has obviously the vision, and then there’s the integrator, and you need both. You can’t both be visionaries or both be people who integrate and implement the situation.

He has specific examples from history like Roy and Walt Disney, as well as the problems and frustrations that each of these personalities faced and how to handle them. He said, “You know, when a visionary starts changing his mind, the whole company gets visionary whiplash,” which I just love that concept, and he really talks about how important it is to have a same page meeting with the co-founders before you get in front of your employees.

He’s got all kinds of other great tips. Be sure to listen and learn what it takes to be a successful visionary and integrator.


Listen To The Episode Here


Rocket Fuel with Mark Winters

Hello and welcome to The Successful Pitch. Today I’m very happy to have Mark C. Winters who has a passion for helping entrepreneurs get unstuck so they can pursue their freedom and let’s face it, we all need that. Depending on the situation, he can introduce people to the right combination of perspective and process that then allows teams to start moving, and not just moving but moving faster and get going in the right direction with clarity, because you can start moving faster but if you’re going the wrong way, forget it. Mark is sort of you GPS compass is what I call him.

He’s a teacher, a coach and a facilitator, and he spends a lot of time with leadership teams. He’s, in fact, a Certified EOS Implementer and he helps them become really smart businesses. He’s got over 25 years of entrepreneurial leadership experience and he’s got everything ranging from raw startups on a napkin to big multimillion dollar global enterprises such as big brands that we all know like Procter & Gamble. This diverse background allows Mark to identify patterns of success to virtually any business scenario, so you can see why I’m so happy to have him on. Mark, welcome to the show.

Thanks, John. Great to be on here with you.

Yes. Well, I always like to hear from my guests the story of origin. I’m guessing if we go back 25 years that there was something in your past that, “Hmm, I made that mistake. I’m going to help others not make that mistake.” Can you tell us a story from where you were there, 25 years ago?

I don’t know if it’s a story of origin or a story of rebirth, but basically I was a good corporate soldier in the Procter & Gamble army, which was the thing that it seemed I was supposed to do coming out of undergraduate school. Somewhere along that experience, I had an encounter that completely changed my direction, and it basically went like this.

I was having dinner with my manager, and we were talking about having a very, very senior executive come in and tour our market. The discussion we were having had this distinct feel of being a setup, meaning we were going to make the market appear as if everything was just wonderful and perfect, and in reality it was anything but that in a couple different areas, for sure. I questioned the intent of that; “Shouldn’t we let this guy see what’s really going on so that maybe we can get some of these issues to get some attention?”

The response I got from my manager was just this stare that went right into my soul, and he says, “Mark, don’t F with me.” You can fill in the blank on the F. It was like time stood still, and everything went into this weird swirl around me, because what I saw in that moment in time was, “Wow, I’m in a situation here where my entire corporate career with this company,” which was really, I only ever thought about being with this company, was in this one person’s hands and they could really shut down all the stuff that I had going on, and all the ambitions that I had in that world, and in that future that I had imagined. Candidly, I had imagined that I would be the CEO of that company one day.

To see that and to realize that, it just took me to this place of, “I don’t like that at all. I don’t like the feeling of that, that feels awful to not have control.” I literally left that dinner, went straight to a bookstore, and picked up a handful of different books on how to start your own business; you know, Entrepreneur Magazine, and whatever happened to be on the shelf at the time, and went back and thought, “I’ve got to get out of this,” and began the process of trying to figure out what I was going to do, and how I was going to pull it off. That led me down a path where, at this point in time, there’s a dozen different companies that I’ve either started up, bought, shut down, or sold, or done something with, which is a whole different path than what I was on at that point in time with Procter & Gamble.

Well, that’s the hero’s journey, isn’t it? There’s always those big moments, some catalyst that causes us to say, “I’m not going to keep going down this path, I’m going to take a different path that’s unknown, and even a little scary, but I’m going to do this because I want to take control of my destiny.” Is that what happened there?

That’s exactly right. You know, of course my wife got to come along.

Yes, we all need support, that’s for sure as we go on journeys. Speaking of books you went out and found that allowed you to make this happen, you have your own wonderful book called Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination. Tell us about that.

Rocket Fuel is a book I wrote with Gino Wickman, and what it’s about is the combination of leaders that we find at the helm of entrepreneurial companies that really take it to a whole different level in terms of success and impact that they’re able to achieve with the company. The two different types of leaders are one we call the visionary, which is your stereotypical founding entrepreneur. They’ve got tons of ideas, great with external people, and see in the future.

The other we call the integrator, which is much more execution-oriented. They’re all about getting things done, and making things happen, and pulling the different parts of the team together to do that. They in combination, the visionary’s coming up with these ideas, and the integrator’s making them real, and it can really supercharge an entrepreneurial company.

Well, a classic example of that I think is Steve Jobs and Wozniak, right? One was the visionary, the other was the executor?

Yeah, to a certain degree that’s so, and we’ve got a number of different big company examples that we’d like to talk to people through. The important point I like to make is, we’re talking about when a company is in that entrepreneurial stage, so when they’re at that stage, they’re just getting rolling, that’s the dynamic that we’re looking for.

We even go back to Henry Ford had a guy named James Couzens. Couzens was the one who helped do all the things that Ford couldn’t do; Ford was a mechanical genius in terms of how to invent the car and make it work, but Couzens was the one who saw how to work the distribution channel, how to do all the processes and everything around that so they could actually build a sustainable company out of it.

Well, you also talk about Walt and his brother, Roy Disney doing the same thing, correct?

Exactly right, exactly right.

What do you see there that was a little different, where they were brothers? It’s interesting if you find a co-founder, but when they’re brothers, does that change the dynamic at all? Is it the same from childhood all the way through, and everybody knows their role, and nobody questions it?

Yeah, maybe to a certain extent. Any time that there’s a family relationship, or sometimes a friend relationship, it changes the dynamic. You know, when you look at Walt and Roy, Walt would say himself that, “If it wasn’t for Roy, I probably would’ve ended up in prison.” He certainly had his struggles when he was off on his own before he came back and partnered up with Roy to make the Disney Company itself go.

Well, it’s so important for everyone who’s listening who’s working for themselves as an entrepreneur or thinking of doing this, that you find the right co-founder and that you have complementary skill sets, right? You don’t need two visionaries running the helm, you need a visionary and an integrator, right?

That’s right, and that’s really sort of a trap that’s easy to fall into because a good visionary will instinctively go out into the world and look for themselves, because it feels good, right? You go and find somebody else that thinks like you do, and does things that you’re familiar with. You’ll be drawn to that, and in reality you need something very different that may not feel very comfortable, and in fact may feel abrasive to you.

I was interviewing a visionary and an integrator from a company in the Dallas area that was in sort of an urban arming business. When they went to look for their integrator, the visionary and one of his business partners that was working with him, they said frankly they would not have hired this guy if they hadn’t done some pre-work just to really understand, here’s who we need, and they worked with a profiling company to understand the pattern of what they were looking for.

It didn’t feel good in the interview, but they knew that that was really what they needed to complete the two piece puzzle. After they got together and started to work out the relationship, they found that that they were absolutely right. That’s where we put some structure in the book, we talk about the five rules and the five tools. We put some structure around that relationship to help take those differences that are naturally very filled with friction if you will, and blend that friction into something really positive and powerful.

Well, part of it has to do, I would imagine, with mutual respect. Right? “You do what I don’t want to do and vice versa, and we both need each other.” Can you speak to that? Am I on the right path here?

Yeah, you are. In fact, maintaining mutual respect is one of the five rules. What tends to happen is that the visionary may think of the integrator as something less than, or in fact the integrator may think of themselves that way. What’s important is that the two of them need to see each other at eye level, and it really is a very strong relationship. In fact, I have one client, a visionary that refers to their integrator as their business spouse.

It’s almost like a business marriage; that’s the kind of respect you want to have for each other in this relationship, and so you’re never treating the other as less than, you’re never out saying anything negative to somebody else in the organization about your counterpart. You’re working that stuff out one-on-one with each other through a vehicle we call the same page meeting, and that’s where you get strong. You hash it out, or fight it out, or however you get there. Ultimately, you resolve things, get on the same page, so when you walk out of that meeting you guys are locked arm-in-arm, on the same page presenting the unified front to the rest of the organization.

Source: Pexels

You know what this reminds me of, are parents. Parents have to deal with their stuff, otherwise the kids will start to try and play them off each other. If a parent starts complaining to one of their children about the other parent, it’s disastrous; I would say the same thing is true with co-founders. If they start getting employees taking sides with one versus the other, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Yeah, for sure.

Your cure seems to be this same page meeting, I love that, we’re going to tweet that out, which basically says everything right there. “Let’s get on the same page before we go out in the front.” You have five rules. Is there one rule that you see people tending to break over and over again, that you could warn people, “Look, if you’re going to break a rule, don’t break this one because this is curtains if you do?”

Yeah. Staying on the same page is the number one, but we’ve talked about that, so here’s a rule that I see, a behavioral-based thing that I see people break that gets them in trouble. We call them “end runs.” If you think about it, a company when it’s starting out, before it has an integrator, it’s just the visionary there. Everybody goes to the visionary with their problems.

Or the solution to their decisions, so they’re sort of trained and in the habit of going directly to the visionary. In the structure, the integrator actually lies between the visionary and the rest of the organization. The structure of accountability is for those folks to go to the integrator, so an end run is when somebody goes around the integrator directly to the visionary and says, “Hey visionary, solve this problem for me. You know, be Solomon and tell us what to do, or give us a decision.” Right?

The trap is if the visionary does that, then he or she is going to reinforce that behavior in the folks in the organization, it’s going to keep happening, and they’re also in the process going to sort of cut off the integrator at the knees, and really prevent them from being able to be effective and be successful. We introduced a solution here that we call, “The Question”; what we train the visionary to do is to, when someone does that, they may listen and just let the person vent, or air whatever it is they’ve got to say.

But at the end of it they don’t give them a decision, they don’t solve the problem, they don’t give them direction. Instead, they confront them with The Question, which is simply this: “Are you going to tell them, or am I going to tell them?” Meaning, “Are you going to tell the integrator about this, or am I going to go tell them, because somebody has got to tell the integrator about this.” You lay it right back at their feet, and what we see in practice, John, is if the visionary will employ that tool, within about 30 days end runs will be a thing of the past. They just won’t happen anymore.

Well, I can imagine that in a family scenario, right? Your kid comes up to you, goes, “Mom’s been mean, mom did this, I feel it’s unfair, blah-blah-blah.” It’s the same thing in business. You go, “Well, are you going to tell mom, or am I going to tell mom that we’ve had this conversation?”

Right on it.

I love it. Now you have this whole chapter devoted to patience, and that’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s something I’ve had to personally work on, I always want things to happen faster than they are, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel that way sometimes. Talk to us, Mark, about how can we become more patient?

The context for this is, you go through this journey as a visionary and an integrator, and so you know, step one, we call it “Crystalize” because you’re just trying to get clear on, “Hey, is this the structure that can help me in my business or am I one of these parties? Am I an integrator and I need to go find a visionary out there? Is this something that has an impact or relevance in your life?”

Second phase once they get clear on that is what we call “Connect” which is where they get paired up. They get joined up, they find each other, and so now they are a pair, and that brings us into the third phase which we call “Maximize” which is all about making that relationship great and powerful, and that’s where we blend that friction into something positive.

That’s where patience is essential, because a good entrepreneurial visionary is very impatient and so they get their integrator onboard, and so immediately they want this thing to be running at 150 mile an hour, and doing everything that I read it could do, and all that stuff. The reality is it just doesn’t happen like that; you’ve got to have a little bit of patience, so recognize that, manage the expectation going in.

There’s some specific things that you can do to move progressively along that path, and set some milestones, but the reality is it may be a year before a visionary/integrator duo is really hitting their full stride, and trusting each other, and staying on the same page, and really acting like two different halves of one brain.

It’s just essential to go back to that place and realize, “Hey. It’s a journey, it’s a process. We are getting closer to where we want to be, we’ve come a long way from where we were,” and you know, frankly the journey’s going to go on forever so just be patient in that early phase of getting it together and making it do what you want it to do.

Well, I love that. It’s so important, because I see it happen a lot. You know, “Why isn’t this up and running? How fast can it be?” The other nuance that happens, and I’d love your insights in this, that I see and you can tell me if you think this is a common problem is, “Okay, we’ve agreed. This is something,” new software for example, “we wanted to use and it’s going to make everything better and so you as the integrator are going to make that happen. That’s my vision: that our customers don’t have to wait,” or whatever.

And so like, “Okay, great. It’s going to take 30 days. Got it. Boom.” Then the next day, “Oh, now I see a new toy I want to do that’s going to solve a new problem, and I want this to happen in the same amount of time,” and the integrator’s like, “You can’t. I said 30 days, meaning that that’s going to take me 30 days of 100% of my time to make that happen, not give me five more things to do and still expect me to meet that deadline.” Is that something that’s happened a lot?

Oh, absolutely. We talk about it as, “visionary whiplash.”

Source: Pexels

What a great line. Yes, okay.

That’s what effect the visionary left unchecked can have on not just the integrator, but the organization. It’s sort of the visionary looks left, the whole organization looks left, and then they look back to the right, and they get whiplash trying to keep with them. The integrator, part of their role and their challenge is part of the visionary’s unique value is all these ideas that they see and that they come up with and that they throw out, and so you’ve got to listen to that and try to sort through it and get the distractions out of there, get the things that are too much out of there, but always looking for that gold nugget, that thing that can really take us to another level.

Part of the process that helps them do that together in the five tools, there’s some questions. We call them the “Four Questions” that they have to answer, and they have to get clear on, “Hey, where are we trying to go with this thing? You know, what business are we in, who are we selling to, what do we want this thing to look like three years from now?” They get a clear picture of the vision of what they’re trying to do, and then setting the priorities towards achieving that vision, and they do that collaboratively.

That becomes the plan, right? These new ideas that keep popping up, you’ve just got to recognize, “Hey, is it in alignment with our plan? Is it consistent with our plan? How does it match with our capacity?” That’s a key application of the integrator’s role is to sort all that out, and help make sure that we don’t put the organization on tilt just because the visionary happened to be at a show and saw something that triggered some new idea; you don’t just throw all the other stuff that we’re working on out, and actually a friend of mine says it very well when he says, “The biggest threat to a visionary’s great idea is their next good idea.”

Wow, that’s so true because they’re not implementing the first one.

That’s right.

Well, you know, people obviously need to buy this book, Rocket Fuel, but you’ve taken it a step further with a Rocket Fuel Maximizer that allows people to have an online community so that they can take what they learned from the book, but still even ask questions to you, and keep this from getting visionary whiplash. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on in the Rocket Fuel Maximizer.

We developed the Rocket Fuel Maximizer to create this place where visionaries and integrators could go and regardless of what stage of the journey they’re on; whether they’re still crystallizing, or they’re trying to get paired up, or they’re in a relationship that they’re trying to maximize, they can get support to move them further down that path and hopefully get there faster with fewer mistakes.

We’ve got a lot of different elements that go into that. Every month, I’ll do an interview with a visionary, I’ll do an interview with an integrator, those get posted and there’s a library of those online, I’ll have a monthly office hours which is a “Ask Mark anything, or stump me” where they’ll bring their questions and ask those, and I’ll answer those live. Those all get archived.

We have a question board on there, where you can ask anything and those get voted up and down, and so every month I’ll do a deep dive video response to the question that gets upvoted the most, and then we have some different areas and different tools. We have what we call the “VI Matchmaker,” where integrators who are looking for a visionary can post themselves. Same thing for visionaries, they can post themselves, say, “Hey, I’m looking for an integrator.” They can find each other and get paired up.

We have stories where folks have organically met through that tool and gotten paired up, and gone on to be a really powerful visionary/integrator combination. We have a whole resource section of other folks that can help you along this path, so you know, lots of different value, but that is the places for visionaries and integrators who are moving down this path to go and become great visionaries and integrators together.

Well, it seems to me that everybody needs that no matter what stage they’re in, because you know what? Let’s face it, whether you’re a visionary or an integrator, you get frustrated. Wouldn’t it be great to keep it out of the company and culture, and have a place to go to say to another fellow visionary for example, “I’m frustrated this isn’t happening. What do you do?” And then of course, they can always ask you. Right?

Absolutely. And really, there’s a lot of power. I think you’re hitting on something really key is to learn from other peers who are wrestling with the same stuff you are.

To be able to hear their experiences and have them react to the challenges of questions you’re facing is really a powerful piece, and just recognizing that you’re not alone in this thing. That’s sort of an entrepreneurial truism for founders in particular is, you have this feeling of isolation, of being alone. When you can be in a community that is aligned in what you’re trying do and you’re wrestling the same stuff, and you can learn from each other so I don’t have to step in the same hole that you stepped in, if you’re kind enough to tell me there’s a hole here. That’s good stuff.

That’s great stuff. I’m sure people are like, “Oh my god, I can’t wait. How do I find out …” The book, so obviously we’ll put that in the show notes, you can get it on Amazon, but how does someone learn more about Rocket Fuel Maximizer? What’s the best way to find out about that?

So is the main website, and so that’s the place to go. I put out a weekly video, just a short three minute video that’s available, so you can sign up for those there, you can sign up for a free trial of the Maximizer program and go in there and explore, and see what that’s all about. That’s really the one-stop shop for everything “Rocket Fuel.”

Well, the other thing that’s on that same website,, is the Integrator Mastery Forum. Now this is for somebody who may be not able, or not willing for whatever reason, to be part of the online community but says, “You know what? I need to get this information fast,” and you’re like, “Guess what? We do a full day intensive workshop just for that.” Right?

Yeah. Really, everybody should be in the Maximizer program; if you’re a visionary or an integrator, it’s for you. The Integrator Mastery Forum is specifically for integrators, so visionaries cannot come, visionaries aren’t allowed, but it’s a place that integrators come if they want to be a truly great integrator. Literally we’ve got 50 integrators locked in a room for a full day of intensive teaching and interaction, and coaching, and we do live issue solving where everybody’s putting their challenges up on the board and working through all that.

It’s a very, very powerful day. You talked about not being alone, and when you see a room full of integrators for the first time, realize that, “There’s other out there like me,” it’s a really, really powerful moment. You know, visionaries, they recognize there are other people out there like them. They may not have found them or interacted with them, but they have a lot of opportunities to find that. For integrators, there’s nothing else out there like this.

Right. So your personality if you’re a visionary is you’re probably outgoing, you’re out going to all these events and networking, and listening to motivational speakers, but the integrators have a different need and a different personality, so they need to be in a safe space and that’s what you’ve created.

Exactly right.

Tell us one final story before I let you go of someone who’s attended this Integrator Mastery Forum, their big takeaway from being at that day.

Okay. His name is Stewart, and so Stewart comes to an Integrator Mastery Forum, and Stewart is solid. I mean, this guy is a rock star, I feel, on the team that he plays on as integrator, and he came and spent the day, and his big, “Ah ha” takeaway at the end of the day was, “Wow. This integrator thing is a full time job.” Now to play back a little bit, Stewart was sitting in a couple of different seats on the accountability chart for their organization. He was playing multiple roles, and he was trying to fill that integrator seat just as a part-time thing.

He thought that was okay, but when he saw all the different things that other folks in the room were doing, and just realized how much could be done and how big an impact it could have on his organization, he got clear that, “What I need to do is bring other people onto my team to sit in those other seats, so that I can really devote my full time and attention to this role.”

Full circle. Empathy. That’s what it’s all about. If you can really understand what the other person’s going through, then your requests get a little more compassionate, yes?

Yep, and you get clear on what you need to do.

That’s so great. Mark, clearly your book, your online community, and this incredible event that you have once a month, is making a difference in the world of entrepreneurs. I encourage people to look at all of it, and pick one or both, or all three that works for you. Thanks so much for being on the show, Mark.

Thank you, John.

Links Mentioned


Do You Want To Host Your Own Podcast?

Click here to see how my friends at Predictive ROI can help


Fox 11 News Los Angeles John Livesay The Successful Pitch book


Share The Show

Did you enjoy the show? I’d love it if you subscribed today and left us a 5-star review!

    1. Click this link
    2. Click on the ‘Subscribe’ button below the artwork
    3. Go to the ‘Ratings and Reviews’ section
    4. Click on ‘Write a Review’
Leadership Lessons From Mt Everest with Alison Levine
The Art Of Opportunity with Marc Sniukas