269. It’s About Scale: Growing a Business by Working Less
He knew it was time to rethink his career path when, along the way to his doctorate, he asked the question, “What’s the next step after you get a Ph.D. in mathematics?” The answer: “Go get a post-doctorate in a very large city, live in a basement apartment with your wife and daughter, and make $25,000 a year.”
Frank Bria began his entrepreneurial career in the financial services technology sector. He worked with several start-ups, some selling for hundreds of millions of dollars, and some crashing in flames. His experience includes helping some of the largest corporations on four continents grow their businesses by improving their customers’ experiences – and turning that into a scalable offering. He now turns that experience to the small business sector, work with consultants and other experts to scale their business by productizing their expertise and scale. He is author of the book “Scale: How to Grow Your Business by Working Less.” He lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area with his wife and three daughters.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Frank was working on his Ph.D. in mathematics, juggling research and family. His studies were suffering. His academic advisor suggested, “Why don’t you send your wife and daughter away for a year so you can finish this up?” He thought a moment, then replied, “Well…NO, thank you very much.” He left academia and went to work at a small consulting firm. “It was in pension valuation—with a lot of retirement analysis—which I found incredibly boring. But the fun part was that I was a consultant.” While most recent math grads were stuck in a back room crunching numbers, at the consulting firm, “They saw I had a different skill set, and so they put me almost immediately in a client-facing role, and I ate it up. I was working with Fortune 500 companies almost from the first day.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I was in the middle of a meeting with a client bank in Kiev, Ukraine, giving a presentation when I had that moment every person prays will never happen: I received a text message from home. My wife was in an Emergency Room in Phoenix, Arizona. It said, ‘It’s serious. They’re checking me in for emergency surgery.’ I told my client, ‘I need to end this meeting now. I know people have flown in for this, but I need to get on the next flight back to the United States as quickly as I can.’ During the long, 36-hour trip home I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something different. This can’t work.’ I realized that I was doing what my skills taught me to do, but I really wasn’t enjoying it. This wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I started to prioritize my life. I needed to build my work around the important things in my life, and not the other way around. I was done with missing the awards ceremonies, with having faxes of my kids’ homework slid under the door of my hotel room. I was done with just not being there.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“We still have a very traditional view of the role of work as a utilitarian, put-food-on-the-table, kind of thing. We need to give ourselves permission to have a mindset that says, ‘I have control over my work.’ People are in a much better position to do that. We’ve had a technology and entrepreneurial revolution over the last five years. With technology and globalization the way they are, with easy access to so many things, it’s a different world.”
Steps to Success from Frank Bria
1. Ask yourself, “What is it exactly that I want?”
2. Prioritize the important things in your life.
3. Build your work around your life’s priorities, not the other way around.
On His Bookshelf
Scale: How to Grow Your Business by Working Less, by Frank Brio
Connecting With Frank Bria
Subscribe to the Podcast Free: