Seven Deadly Habits that Kill Your Business

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7 Deadly Habits download available below.

Welcome to today’s episode of Driving Success. This is a good one. On this episode we talk about the seven deadly habits that kill your business. 

This list was created by my friend, Judge Graham. And Judge and I are in a partnership on another business called But the point is we want you to understand is this happening in your business? So we give you the seven deadly habits. We talk about the evidence of the seven deadly habits existing in your business, and then we offer you the cures.

This is a powerful episode. We’re also giving you a free download of the seven deadly habits for you to print and share with your team or just keep it to yourself if you want to learn about it and start looking to see if these exist. Again, this episode is super powerful because we talk about the seven deadly habits that kill your business. What’s the evidence that it exists and what’s the cure and it just tell you the bad news. We actually gave you a way to fix it and we’re giving you the download of this sheet in the comments section.

So we hope you enjoy this one. We hope you’re learning from the podcast and you’re getting better at running a great business in the transportation industry and we’ll see you all down the road.

We know that you know how to tow cars or scrape vacant lots or deliver freight. We know you’re great at that, but do you really know how to run a great business? And that’s the intent of the podcast to help you if you’re in the transportation industry, run a better business.

I love today’s episode topic called The Seven Deadly Habits. Now these seven come from my friend Judge Graham. Judge and I are involved in another company called Burn the Ships. You can learn more at in which we put on business boot camps. They’re called Attack & Conquer business boot camps and you can go to to learn more about those.

But my friend Judge built and sold two eight and nine figure businesses in the digital marketing space. And at one time had over a thousand employees at various offices around the country. So Judge like myself, we have lived these seven deadly habits and I want to share them with you today in some detail so that you can be aware that if these seven deadly habits are happening in your business, you better get in there and stop them or at least get aware of them, share them with your team.

That’s one thing I would suggest from this. And we’ll give you a download at the end of this podcast where you can actually get these seven deadly habits free. It’s our gift to you, but let’s get into it today. The first deadly habit that can kill your business is what we call talking in bullshit. Now, here’s the evidence that talking in bullshit is actually happening. Number one, you’re having these sugarcoated conversations. You just can’t seem to get the truth out of the group, out of the team.

You can’t get good reasoning for things. And the number two piece of evidence for talking in bullshit is there’s a failure to deliver bad news. We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. We’re not exactly sure how to talk about it. Maybe we talk about it too harshly and so we just don’t deliver the bad news. The one thing you as the owner or the big boss need to get is bad news and you need it as early as possible. You do not want bad news to fester.

Time is not your friend when it comes to bad news. It’s the same thing in the sales process. Time kills deals in the sales process and it kills your business if you’re not hearing the bad news. But it’s not good enough for us to just create a topic and then tell you what’s going on. We need to help you with a cure. And so here is the way that you would cure talking in bullshit if it existed or there was evidence that it existed in your business. Two reasons, two ways, two cures. Number one, require transparency.

Force an environment in which everyone feels safe to talk about the goings on, the good and the bad. They’re comfortable in delivering bad news because you don’t rip their head off as the big boss. You’re not the superman or superwoman. You’re actually there to take in ideas and opinions and data, and as a group make good decisions. The second way you cure this is you tell the truth even when it’s ugly. 

Look, that salesperson is missing their quota and somebody in your organization is afraid to tell it to them. You have to give the good and the bad and the ugly, and as we’ve talked about it before, you just can’t be in a hole about it.

Let’s get into number two. The number two deadly habit that can kill your business is what we call living in quicksand. Now, what’s the evidence that your organization might be living in quicksand? Everybody in the organization is living in a fog. They’re not really sure what their role is. They haven’t been defined. There’s no job descriptions or expectations that are clearly defined. So everyone’s just sort of like, “Well, what am I supposed to do? I’m not sure. Is that my job? Is that your job? Who’s in charge of that?”

And then the third piece of the evidence that living in quicksand might exist is there are too many downstream vetoes or second guessings. So you finish the meeting and everybody feels good and it looks like decisions have been made and then all of a sudden there’s a sidebar meeting, right after the meeting in which the decisions were made and people are starting to second guess. And they’re starting to wonder, “Should we really do that?” I mean, listen, I’ve been guilty of this countless times as the boss.

And the real reason is because I have this great idea on Sunday night and I come into the organization on Monday and I say, “Here’s the new way that we’re going to go ahead and do this. This is the way it’s going to be.” And then on Tuesday, I forget what I talked about on Monday. I know you know that that’s happened to you as well. It’s the curse of being the boss. We are often idea people and we’re not always execution people. And that’s what creates the second guessing downstream.

People like, “Man, is this guy really… Is that really what he wants us to do?” But wait a minute, didn’t we just agree upon it? That’s the problem. Now, what’s the cure? Clarity, accountability for your people and trust in your people. Trust in your management team, trust in your employees. Hell, you guys have filters to get people into the organization, don’t you? I mean, you just don’t hire every Tom, Dick, and Harry to come and work for your organization, right? I mean, they have to pass some screening tests to get through the door to get the employment opportunity with you, right?

Great, then trust them and empower them. Let’s go into number three, the need for certainty. That’s the deadly habit. Let’s talk about the evidence. This happens to be one of my most favorite one of the deadly seven sins and the evidence that need for certainty exists in your organization is something that we call cud chewing. Now, this may not make sense for you if you live in New York city, but when you live in Texas, this example I’m going to give you should make sense. And we see this.

You can literally see this happening in nature and picture a cow grazing in a field. Oftentimes you will see that cow with this big hunk of grass in its mouth and its lip. That’s called cud. And the cows literally don’t know what to do with it, so they just keep chewing on it. They chew on the cud because they don’t know how to make a decision. The decision is, “Should I swallow the grass or should I spit it out out?” Can’t make the decision. I’ll just keep chewing on it. And you can literally see these cows just chewing and it just grows in their mouth and in their cheek.

It’s called cud chewing. That’s what happens in your organization. People just sit on these decisions because they’re afraid to decide. The second piece of evidence that need for certainty exist is spinning. We just keep talking about it over and over. What if we did this? What if we did that? What if we tried this? And you just spin on these ideas and it creates this wasting of time and the wasting of resources because every body just keeps talking and talking because they’re afraid about making a decision.

Now, what’s the cure? Have confidence in your ability to make decisions. Make sure you’re hiring people that have made these decisions in the past and therefore they have confidence in their abilities to make these decisions. And then this last one, my friend Judge says that he believes making decisions at 70% accuracy is how he ran his businesses. Now in our world, we look for more of a 90% accuracy. So Judge says the cure for need for certainty is making decisions at 70% and I want to give Judge credit for creating these, but I’m going to add that I think it should be 90%.

I think if you make 90% of your decisions right, you can live with the 10% that you make wrong. It also allows you to help people and encourage them to actually fail and make mistakes. That’s how you get the greatness. If you’re looking for perfection in everything you do, you’re not going to find it. But you need to quantify the failure. And Judge says, 30% failure is acceptable and I’m going to challenge that and say 10% failure is acceptable 90% of the decisions need to be done correctly and properly and that allows you to live with the 10% that you do incorrectly or you screw up.

Number four, participation in the game of thrones. What’s the evidence that this exists in your organization? There creates a us versus them mentality, right? It’s when operations is fighting with sales or sales is fighting with marketing or accounting is fighting with sales over every expense report. It just creates this dissension in the organization, this movement to the corners and because perhaps the group is talking in bullshit, nobody’s able to come to the middle and work through this stuff.

Game of thrones, this us versus them mentality is very dangerous. How do you cure it? You create a no I in team. You have to get the people in your organization understanding that they are not the hub of the organization. They are a spoke in the organization and by the way, that includes you as the owner. You are not the hub anymore. Great companies don’t have the owner making every single decision. The owner becomes a spoke in the wheel and you know what becomes the hub? The stuff that we’ve been talking about on previous episodes, culture and core values, they become the hub, the foundation of the wheel, and everybody else just becomes the spoke that’s running off the hub.

Let’s move into the next one, which is a huge one and it happens all the time. Doesn’t matter what the size of the organization is. And in fact when the owner is superman or superwoman, this one becomes more important and we can’t because… We can’t do it. Nope. Not a good idea. Nope. Used to do it that way, doesn’t work. Nope. That’s just the way we do it around here. Sorry about that. Well, wait a minute. There’s new data. There’s a whole new generation of business owners. Nope. That’s not the way we do it here.

Hey, I think we should try to have a client appreciation picnic. Nope. We tried that one time and only four clients came out. Yeah, but we’re a different company now, maybe more people will come out. We didn’t promote that last one well. What if we did it? Nope, it’s just a big waste of money. I think we should go to this trade show. We might really have an… Nope, we don’t like trade shows. Trade shows don’t work. It’s leading with negativity and leading with a no. And the team begins to focus on the roadblocks, right?

We’re going to have to get IT involved in that. We’d better not do that. No, our system isn’t coded to handle that. So we better not do that. Well, what if we said, “No, we’re going to find a way to do that.” What if we move to the cure of this one? The cure of we can’t because, and we started to answer with yes and then we found a way. Here’s one of the most important things you can put into your business, which happens to cure this problem of we can’t because. Be optimistic that the idea could work.

We recently did a blog post on my LinkedIn account in which we talked about a conversation that I had with a billionaire. And one of the biggest things that came from the conversation was his optimism, his ability to always think that it was going to work out, and that is a requirement in the organization. Heck, it’s hard enough to get business. And your salespeople are being told no all the time and orders are changing all the time. You’re dispatching a driver to go pick up a vehicle or a pallet and when they get there, it’s not there. There was a change. The gates aren’t open.

The hours of operation aren’t what you thought they were going to be, and so it’s hard to do the job. They don’t need to come back to the office and get their ass chewed. You need to be optimistic and produce that in the organization, that optimism and it will all work out. How do you know that you should be optimistic? Because you’re confident in the product that you offer and the service and your pricing and your niche against the competition. You’re optimistic that the universe will reward your good doings. That’s a huge one.

Let’s move to number six, the tolerance for mediocrity. How do you know that this is evident in your organization? You got low standards, man, good enough, becomes good enough. Yeah. The customer didn’t fire us. I mean hell, their check cleared. Heck, the office key worked, so they must be able to make payroll. If you don’t do a lot of the things that we talk about on this podcast, you begin to accept a tolerance for mediocrity and it’s really extremely deadly in the organization. You want to hold your people to greatness.

I think one of the most unbelievable examples of this that I’m seeing in modern times is this coach of the Minnesota Gophers college football team. And if you’re watching what’s happening, that team is still undefeated. Now, this guy, PJ was the head coach at Western Michigan, a school that nobody had ever heard of before and he went on to turn the program around. Why? Because he has high expectations for his people and his players. And he talks about all of us have to row the boat together and you can visualize that as as a metaphor.

I mean, truly if you’re rowing a boat and you’ve got 10 people in the boat and four of them are barely rowing, and six are rowing their ass off, you can see that it disrupts the movement of the boat. You need everyone on the boat rowing the boat at the same pace, at the same cadence. That’s what happens when you begin to accept mediocrity. You stop rowing hard and you just sort of say, “Well, we can just do 50% efficiency, that’ll be fine.” Really? Not in the transportation business. If you only showed up 50% of the time on time, your ass is fired.

The acceptance and tolerance of mediocrity is a sin that can kill your business. Now let’s talk about the cure. You define new standards. Guys, this is the way we do it here. I know Matt, but what do I do if these people have been with me a long time. Work with them, talk to them and say, “We’re moving in a new direction. Some of the production, the performance, the way you’ve done your job, it has to move up the food chain, my friend. Otherwise, we may have to part ways. We’re no longer acceptant of mediocrity. We’re now acceptant of excellence and greatness.

And the last one, last of the seven deadly habits that can kill your business is the failure to deliver. How do you know what’s happening? Your people are not doing what they say they’re going to do. They promised it by Friday and unfortunately Friday came and went and because of this number one talking in bullshit, evidence of talking bullshit is inability to have tough conversations and get bad news and you sugarcoat everything.

Well, the guy missed the deadline on Friday and it’s Monday and nobody tells him about it. Tuesday comes and goes and Wednesday comes and goes and then all of a sudden you know what the guy starts to say? I guess it’s okay. That triggers the tolerance for mediocrity. See how all of these build on each other. Another piece of evidence is that people just start to let each other down. I mean again, what happens in the Minnesota Gophers football example, if this center chooses to not block the nose guard, the play gets blown up.

Maybe the quarterback gets hurt, maybe the running back gets hurt. Everybody’s got to row the boat and they have to understand that when they drop the ball, when they fail to deliver, it lets the team down. The cure is ownership and empowerment. Hold people accountable to their promises. They said they were going to do it, make sure it gets done. And the last piece of the cure to this seven deadly habit is accountability.

You got to push some data. You got to write it down and you got to say, “Hey, you committed to the team that by Friday this was going to be done. It didn’t get done. What happened? When will you get it done? Because when you don’t get it done, it lets the rest of us down.” Okay. Just think about this in a transportation example. I mean, what if the mechanic in the shop just didn’t get the brake job done and yet sales and dispatch and operations was promising that the freight was going to be delivered on Monday to the client.

But because the shop manager or the mechanic didn’t get the brake job done on Friday for whatever the reason. Maybe he didn’t know he had to, maybe it was bad expectations, maybe the parts weren’t there, maybe he just didn’t feel like doing it. The whole domino effect happens and it ruins Monday. Can you guys see how these seven deadly habits all build on each other and how vital they are? So we’re going to go ahead and give you the link to this download of this document. Print it out, share it with your team. Review it yourself first, make sure you understand it.

Write down some examples of what’s going on and then deliver it to the team, deliver it to the entire company and say, “Hey guys, we’re going to do a better job. And we’ve maybe gotten a little relaxed and we’ve rested on our laurels in this good economy, but we’re going to crank it up a little bit. We’re going to get our company moving in the right direction again, and we’re going to go to the next level. And we’re not going to allow these seven deadly habits to exist anymore.”

If you do what we’re talking about here, and even just bring it to everyone’s attention, I promise you, winners find a way to win. And the best people in your organization will recognize it, check themselves and improve. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of Driving Success. Again, it’s powered by Commercial Fleet Financing, so if you want to buy trucks or trailers or equipment for your business, go to, learn more about us.

Do us a favor, if you liked the podcast, tell your coworkers about it. Tell other people in the transportation industry about it. Let us help them improve their business as well. And do us a favor and like it, share it and offer your comments. We want to reply to your comments. We just love to know what you think about it. So that’s today’s episode of Driving Success. Find the link in the description below, and we will see you all down the road.

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