Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
7 Questions with Josh Steimle
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Josh Steimle
Name: Josh Steimle
Current title: Founder
Current organisation: 7 Systems
Josh Steimle generated over $10M in revenue for his businesses by building a thought leadership system that includes books, speaking appearances, and over 300 articles in publications like Fortune, Time, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, TechCrunch, and Entrepreneur. Josh is the creator of The 7 Systems of Influence framework used by entrepreneurs, educators, parents, and community leaders to build influence and increase impact. He’s also the founder of Published Author, a company that assists entrepreneurs to publish nonfiction, how-to books they can leverage to grow their businesses, and he’s the host of the Published Author Podcast.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
People. As myHR friends like to say, all business problems are people problems. And I'm the biggest people problem of all.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started it. In 1999, I was a college student working part-time for a dot-com startup. After watching the founders for a few months and thinking, "I could do that," I couldn't take it anymore and had to strike out on my own.
I ran my business, a marketing agency called MWI, from 1999 to 2013, when we almost went out of business. As a result of the struggle to stay alive, I engaged in some PR efforts and landed a contributor role writing for Forbes. My writing for Forbes opened doors to write for over two dozen other publications including Fortune, Mashable, TechCrunch, and Inc., which led to speaking opportunities and a book deal. The attention from this content generated millions of dollars and allowed my agency to expand internationally and secure larger clients like Marriott, Orange Theory Fitness, and AMC Theaters.
In 2016 I began turning day-to-day management of my business over to my partners, and started to coach executives and entrepreneurs to do what I had done, which led to my current venture Published Author. At Published Author we help entrepreneurs write a nonfiction "how-to" book they can leverage as part of a thought leadership system to grow their business.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My schedule runs from 5 am to 9 pm. My routine each morning includes prayer/meditation, yoga, and reading scriptures and other inspirational material. I then work on one of my books for a bit until I have breakfast with my family.
After breakfast, I spend the next few hours in what Cal Newport calls "deep work," or working on my larger, more important projects, that require my full creative abilities.
I then lunch with my family (I've worked from home full-time since 2007). From 1-3 each day I handle phone calls, emails, meetings, podcast recording, etc.
From 3 pm to 4:30 pm I exercise, which is either swimming or running.
At 4:30, I join my family and we spend the evening having dinner, talking, reading, playing games, or doing other activities together until bedtime.
That's how I structure my work days, but how often do I stick to that structure? Well, that's a separate question.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
People are different.
I used to think people thought the way I think. I thought they saw things the way I see things. Or I at least thought they were capable of thinking like me and seeing things from my perspective. I also thought my way was generally the right way of thinking and seeing things.
What I've learned is that we're all different, sometimes it's impossible to get on the same page about everything, and this doesn't mean I can't work with someone.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen.
This is a book about what really matters. It helps me look at both the short and long term impacts of my actions in the here and now. So many of my problems have been the result of short-term thinking. Now, before I do something, I try to ask myself, "How will I look back on this 20 years from now and are my actions today meeting my long-term desires?"
Sidenote: I had the opportunity to meet and interview the author on multiple occasions (he passed away in early 2020), and he was one of the most genuine, kind, gentle people I've ever met.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Love and competence.
Competence is the technical side of things. You can learn this from books, watching others, intuition, etc.
Love means having good will towards others, sincerely caring about their needs and wants. Love makes up for a lot of incompetence, but no amount of competence can make up for a lack of love. If you have both in yourself and in your organization's leadership, then you'll figure out the right leadership programs for your enterprise.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
In the early days of my first business, we met with a potential partner. Afterward, a member of my team sent an email to the rest of our team saying, "How about that guy? What an a-hole!"
The problem is he copied the potential partner on that email.
Except that wasn't the only problem, the real problem was that I had someone on my team who would say something like that, about anyone, in any medium.
The potential partner never became a partner (no surprise), and that conversation with that team member was the only time I've ever made a member of my team cry.
However, I had to look at myself and ask if I had created an environment that made that team member feel comfortable gossiping/insulting someone openly. Since then, I've tried to be positive and respectful in all situations. I haven't done a perfect job, but I hope that today, the company has a culture where such a thing would never happen again.