After leaving School with multiple degrees and a Masters, Madelyn Dunlap soon realized, even with all that business knowledge, that she was ill-equipped to help the business develop.
This led her on a journey that coincided with her joining Matthew Pohl in his business. Matthew was on his own journey to grow his business and realized after trial and error and some 10 years of searching, discovered a book written by James Fischer titled Navigating your Growth that led them down a 3-year pathway of building a successful business and transitioning through a series of stages.
This then led to the establishment of The ReWild Group LLC Group in 2017 and as they say, the rest is history.
Madelyn talks about how the business owner has all the skills and energy to achieve their objectives, but they sometimes play whack-a-mole putting out fires.
The resources on The ReWild Group LLC platform are some of the best in the industry and a good portion of them are free.
Stephen Sandor CEO Inspiring Business
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We don't wanna focus on, well, you know, this fire here, I've gotta put this out. We wanna really get at the core of the, what is going on, what are the foundational components in your business that are keeping you from getting where you want to go? Because most of the time, find business owners stuck with too many fires to put out and they're playing essentially whack-a-mole, but fire version and they just can't get ahead and it's because all those surface symptoms can be really, if you un, you really do some digging. That's really these core things that are going on in your business. Whether it's business development is not working, or your business model doesn't make sense or there are things, you know, your values or the communication system in your organization are eroding your, culture, that's where you wanna work.Steve Sandor:
welcome to the Inspiring Business Podcast, where we hope to inspire you, the business owner, and provide you with the knowledge and information so you can create a business that is scalable and sustainable, and ultimately independent of your daily involvement. I hope the information you're about to hear helps you navigate towards your success. My guest today is made. Dunlap from Colorado in the United States. And we were talking earlier that, um, it's Bri dreary over there at the moment, Madeline, but it's also raining over here in Australia. We are recording this in September and we're not yet into the summer months. Just started spring. Um, Madeline is the director of business development at the re, re Wild Group, and that was started in 2017 and Madeline is a foundational employee, so welcome to the Inspiring Business Podcast.Madelyn Dunlap:
Thanks so much for having me, Steve.Steve Sandor:
You're welcome. We were talking earlier and you've got a really. Um, strong passion for working with businesses and, um, you get a real kick out of helping them or seeing them grow and grow successfully um, and so that's really what we love to deep dive into here at the Inspiring Business Podcast. So let's get stuck in to that, shall we?Madelyn Dunlap:
Yeah, I'd love to. Any place you start in particularSteve Sandor:
I think a lot of the times we always hear people talk about their successes, uh, and I think that in the failures there are far more lessons to learn. So maybe if you could reflect back on your career and look for that, you know, maybe that one or two major mistakes and what was the lesson that you learned from that, and maybe we could kick off the conversation there.Madelyn Dunlap:
I don't know if I would categorize this as a failure, but it was a moment of a lot of clarity for me and a moment of feeling very inadequate. I had, I was really just, I was sitting at my, my first managerial position. Um, I had spent time, um, getting my undergrad in business and economics and finance, and then invested two additional years to get my master's degree in decision sciences and business analytics and I thought I had everything really that I needed to further my passion of being able to take all this data we see in the world we've access to, and making better decisions with it, whether that's at home or at, work and that's where I was trying to apply it and I had this realization that I actually didn't know how to the business that I was working for be more successful after I had invested all this time, energy, money, resources, I thought that I would be prepared. And there was this day where I realized I, I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to make the business more successful. I, don't know how I would've fixed that, to be honest with you, had it not be the CEO that I was working for happened to be a bit on, a bit of a journey himself trying to grow his organization, and he came across this idea of businesses going through stages of growth and how to navigate growth in your organization. And I had the privilege of being part of that leadership team to take these concepts and try them in the business. And it was over a series of about three years where we learned and tried, and there were definitely failures along the way. Although truly none of them really stick out. When I look back what it it was, it was this journey of, of really connecting those dots of what I learned in school, what I've, what I'd seen in the workforce, even at an early and young age to really close that gap of how do you help a business grow? it seems like such a simple question, but it's, it's one of those, I mean, that's what we're all trying to do. And the solution, what I realized was I probably was making it more complicated than it needed to be.Steve Sandor:
There's a couple of things that I'd love to dive deeper into. One is the, I'm assuming mentor, so the ceo, beca or is a mentor. You know, we all in those roles, we all have different roles that we play at different times. Coach, consultant, mentor, teacher, trainer. How did he approach that with you? So obviously you are feeling a little inadequate, you know, here I'm this educated person, I'm supposed to know what I'm meant to be doing. I'm getting paid reallyMadelyn Dunlap:
right. to do this and then this. Wow. I don't know what I'm doing because I've had a few of those moments. In fact, I'm probably, you know, continually having those moments. It's, you don't know what you don't know, right? And, and each circumstance that you come up with. So what. what was at the core of the CEO's being, if you like, for him to be able to recognize that.Madelyn Dunlap:
So I kind of lucked out. I, I don't even know that I, one shared that thought with anybody or two, realized that, that was such an important moment for me until I looked back and in and truly in, in conversations like this have had to recount, you know, how did, how did you get from where you were to, to here today? But I think at the heart of the ceo, which is a, heart that I see in a lot of CEOs is. They are, they're hardworking they're intelligent but they don't have all the answers and he'd been trying to grow his business for about a decade and he had some successes and he had some failures and, and he felt like in his words, that he'd hit a plateau that he couldn't get past. Um, the business was super dependent on him and, there absolutely at least in, you know, if you looked back at the historical, the, the numbers of the business, there was a ceiling they could not break through and it was a very open, he was a very open and, and coaching leader, I would say that I was amongst a number of the leaders in the organization where he said, I think this is gonna work. But what I'd like to do is go on this journey and I've read this book, and what I'm going to do is pull out these concepts that I think are the most applicable and we're gonna try to learn them and apply them to the business together. And through that process, I not only watched myself grow and the others, you know, on the leadership team grow, but truly made some of the um, most important professional relationships developed some of the most important professional relationships to this day. It was in that pursuit where we all kind of came in together. No one knew really much more than the other. All eager and willing, all, uh, open to ideas and it, made a tangible d difference in the business, in what was really a short time when you think about trying to incite this, this kind of change in organization, these are not overnight fixes. And in a matter of three years, we had a different business.Steve Sandor:
so you can't. Right. What was the book, What was the book?Madelyn Dunlap:
So the book is Navigating the Growth Curve by James Fischer.Steve Sandor:
and it I guess I might be spoiling this story, but that, that CEO and that mentor is today my, mentor here at the The Rewild Group, and that's how I ended up here. And navigating the growth curve is the methodology that he went out and acquired because it made a difference in his business and he and I and our team are on a mission bring this concept and this information that changed our trajectories, the trajectories of, of all the people that worked with us and for us take it to other businesses, take it to those business leaders who are smart, who are hardworking, but know they don't have all the answers and, and they need to bridge that gap..Steve Sandor:
I think there's a lot of people who are in trying, I think we are all trying to do that um, sometimes the business owner doesn't see that and, and you know they, they're not. they're not yet in that space where they un they've come to that realization. So for the 10 years that your owner, you know, your boss at the moment, you know what was in his journey to get him to that point. But at some point in time, the, you know, the, there's a realization that you just go, I can't do this on my own. What, are you seeing? Uh, like we've gone, just gone through two years of pandemic. We're still coming out the back end of that. We've now had the great resignation, which I think may be a little bit of a media beat up. I think it's maybe the great the great move. I'm leaving one company to go to another one because I can get more money or I don't have to travel now so maybe it's not a resignation. Maybe it's just a shift of employee employers. I don't know, making, I'm, I'm, I don't have any empirical evidence of this it's just my anecdotal evidence. So we've gone through, you know, we've gone through a fairly major upheaval in our personal and business lives. How did you guys navigate your way through that and what are you now seeing come the back end of that? What are the, some of the challenges that you are seeing because you are working, you know, with business advisors and businesses. So I'd really love some insight into what you are seeing on that front.Madelyn Dunlap:
Yeah, so I would say the, you know, the pandemic was hard for our industry. If I say, if I categorize or our industry as being management consulting, because most organizations just, they cut budgets, they thinned out. They were trying to, I mean, they were letting go of employees. Um, you know, let alone thinking about keeping on any sort of consultants. It wasn't one of those needs, it was, it what felt like an extra that got cut and so we saw that really across the board. We do have advisors globally although predominantly in the US but I would say there were some areas of the world that seemed to be hit harder at certain phases through the last two years but, that was a ch that was challenging. I would also say that I've seen a lot of people who have whether they were part of the great resignation or just part of this shakeup have made a decision to go into consulting and so I think we saw an influx of consultants joining the ranks as well. So all of those things I think have created for a really challenging marketplace for business consultants. The need for business consultants to come in and aid organizations in specific periods of growth with specific challenges, with specific projects. I am probably the biggest advocate of that. Um, there are so many instances and you can more maybe now today than ever before, you can have access to incredible resources for your businesses without hiring a full-time employee. And if that's how you think that you get your, all of your answers is through a full-time employee, it'd encourage you to really shake that up. There are fractional resources consultants that the, the landscape of how people work is and has changed is changing and that's, I think a big piece of it is this idea whether you're a consultant or an employee, you don't have to be at a physical office. You don't need to be a hundred percent devoted to one company, you can be more of a, you can take more of a freelance approach. So challenging in management consulting, I think there's new challenges. I think it'll shake out. I've seen more of a, normalizing over here, I think. And definitely seeing companies who we've been talking to or advisors been talking to before the pandemic saying, okay, we've, we've really, we've found our footing again, we're ready to invest. I think this, this other reality is that the, the, the status quo has been shooken up, um, across the board. I think that there is this realization across businesses that you have to have more of a plan. You can't just exist. You can't just put your shingle out and say I'm in businesses and this is what I do and in that realization, I think there is a lot of opportunity for management consultants to come in and, and aid these organizations to bring in that expertise to really solidify you know, things like their, their business model and how the culture that they're developing and that's especially important as we look at the landscape of hiring and retention and all of these things. So it's been a mixed bag. I, I, I definitely, it was worse than is getting better, I think. I think we're on, I think we're on the right trajectory.Steve Sandor:
Yeah. It's interesting. I started this business after I'd returned from Papua New Guinea in 2019. And, I had work lined up in PNG and then the don't, then the pandemic came along and can't travel. You know, so what do I do now? And fortunately, I had some reserves. So I could spend some time through that period to actually figure out what it was that I wanted to do when I grew up. And, you know, you and I met through that period when I was doing research on Products or services or information that I could share. And that's where, you know, I subscribed for some time to the Rewild group and I'd love, I love the, simplicity and the simple way of, of explaining the complexity, if you like, of businesses and how a business can move through those stages of growth. I'm not a great fan always of growth, to be honest. So a lot of the times I go in and talk or have been talking to businesses recently and, and their, their mission is not growth. Their mission is to have more time for themselves to improve profit, but with less of their involvement. and do what they love so they can be with the ones that they love. And so growth, you know, at that point you go, okay, well if you want to grow, well, do you realize that if you want to grow that you're probably gonna have to invest the next 12 months of your time to be focused on the business you, know, it's not. There are things that you are going to have to contribute. Oh, okay. All right. Well, maybe, maybe not Um, but I love, I love how you distinguish between, and I distinguish between a coach and a management consultant.Madelyn Dunlap:
Like I see the management consultant having that ability to come in and be that almost the gig economy at that general management level at that, you know, the C-suite level. So you can have a, you can have a smaller business and have three or four people working with you at that C-suite level. You know that chief financial officer or the chief marketing officer or the chief operating officer and they can be there one day a week and be as effective and cost effective as well as effective. So we're sort of singing from the same hymn book, I guess in that so I'm gonna circle back cuz I normally, what I ask in these conversations is what was how did you get to this point in your, in, in, in your career? And we jumped straight into the conversation. So I, I'd love just to circle back a little bit now and maybe you can just give a little bit of your background, how you actually got to be where you are today. I know that's a bit weird, right? We'reMadelyn Dunlap:
but, we'll see how it goes.Madelyn Dunlap:
no. Yeah. You know, I, I grew up with entrepreneurial parents and so I was working from a young age and I, I don't know that I've even, that I even know what it was about work, but I had an appreciation for it at a really young age and worked my way through college. Was just busy. Just have a lot of energy, but also want to do things that I see value in and so that's really kind of been my focus is where can I add the most value? We talk about the concept of being of highest and best. This idea that you're spending as much as you're of your time really in this, this, the performing at your highest level, right? The things that you do well, that you're energized by and offering the greatest amount of value to your organization. I've really been fortunate to be able to do that for a lot of my career. Went into the the legal consulting firm that I worked at and after we had really some, some great growth there the business was acquired and I this isn't, I don't know if this wasn't really a mistake, but if I think about one, like it was such a pivotal point in my career because I had learned so much and I, I felt like we were just getting started and the organization was acquired and all of the sudden I, remember asking myself, what if that was the best that it ever is? And being early in your career, it was a terrifying thought to me Yeah, I mean, I truly even just like such an emotional time because I thought, what if I can never do that again? What if I can never feel like that again about another organization? And I did a bit of soul and career searching worked a number of different things and then had this opportunity here at the Rewild group. Um, You know, we've been doing this now for a number of years and there have been so many moments where I look back and, I'm thankful for what I didn't plan which was exiting that business very early and being able to impact organizations at a much larger scale. I think one of the big things I talk about that I took away from that experience was just seeing how the impact you have on a business is really the impact you have on the people within a business and their families and their families and their communities and it's, it really is this ripple effect. And I got to see that at a micro level I got to see, I can see a name, all the faces of the people that were impacted by our success in the, in growing that business. There are days that I miss that there are days that I miss the, the interacting and, uh, it being my team that we're growing. Um, we're still growing here at our headquarters. It's a little bit of a different business but that's really what makes this so rewarding is that for every, every CEO that attends a workshop we put on and takes that back and strengthens their business we are getting to have that impact on the people in that organization. And it's, it's immensely fulfilling.Steve Sandor:
Yeah, we find our tribe, don't we? We, we find our place. Uh, uh, it's sliding door moments like that, that always send chills down my spine. You know, you, if you went down that track would it have been better? Uh, def, uh, def definitely different, right? And the universe you know, always has the, has your, you know, has a lesson for you. I'm gonna say has, You know, has your best interest in heart. But I don't think it does always. Right. It's certainly lessons. It's how you then apply those lessons to whether it becomes a, a, you know, something that is positive or something that you regret, right? And so I love, I love that sliding door moment in your career and now that you're, in that place where you can, it's that gifting of your value and receiving the value back in return for, the effort that you are putting in. Oh, I love that. It's just, and, and, you're right. We, you know, we have a huge, uh, responsibility to the people that we help. Right. They pay us good money to do that, and then, You know, I always, always feel a, a huge sense of responsibility in the advice that I'm giving or, you know, suggestions that I'm making. Cause I'm always going, I hope this is the, like in my heart of hearts, I know that the advice is right. right? Because I've done it before. I never take on anything that I haven't done or, have thought through and, you know, the consequences of it so I'm more of a hand break on a business than the business owner would would want. You know, sometimes they, they go, can we move faster? I'm going, yeah, maybe not so much. If you get it wrong, it's not, you know, not the end of the world for everybody, we can have such a positive or negative impact if we're not, if we're not careful.. So that leads us to what is the Rewild group because I've read your and I've read about the business, I've used some of your tools to explain stages of business to clients. So maybe you could give the listener a rundown on the actual Rewild group and what it is that you offer, and maybe how could the listener reach out to you?Madelyn Dunlap:
Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, we have a structure for how businesses grow. We call it the seven stages of growth. And we see businesses go through these specific stages and put simply the strategies and the focuses that work in one stage don't serve you in other stages. And that's, you know, if we, if I look back at the, at caa, I mean that's what happened is the leader, Matt was a great leader in stages one and two. His natural leadership styles fit with the stage one and two and as soon as he would bump up, up next to stage three, he'd get into stage three and he'd be applying those same concepts and they weren't working for him. So the stages of growth really help us take what feels complicated about a business and organize them in a way that helps you see what's going on. It doesn't say, go out and buy this, you know, subscribe to. Um, platform or, or use this particular website. Pla you know, it really, these are, these are foundational, structural principles in growing your organization. That's what makes it industry agnostic, is they're, they're just foundational truths that you have to take and apply to your own organization. So it's not a get rich quick or grow your business fast methodology. It really is this roadmap for understanding. where, you know, where is my business at? Maybe I've grown ways and I I miss things. What did I miss? And um, how do I get to where I wanna go? And Steve, I love that you mentioned that sometimes you don't, growth isn't the ultimate and so when, when people ask me, what is the biggest misconception about the stages of growth, the biggest misconception is that the goal is to get to stage seven. Cause it's not the goal. Your business is and should be what you want it to be, but you have to understand first to figure out what you want the business to be. But the strategy should be different, right? If you're trying to increase profitability and increase how autonomous your organization is, that's a different strategy than than doubling or tripling the size of the organization. And the, the problem is, is that a lot of times we just kind of go, we, we just work the business. We work the business, we take on new projects, we prospect new clients, we solve operational challenges, but we don't do it with kind of this goal or strategy in mind. And and that's really when we look at your organization or when a lot of, businesses, we help actually help themselves with our resources. It really doesn't even have to involve us at the Rewild group or any of our advisors. But the idea is to, to really understand what's going on in your business. The Rewild group, the name really alludes to how we help businesses work how we work with businesses or help businesses work on themselves that is, we don't wanna focus on the surface symptoms. We don't wanna focus on, well, you know, this fire here, I've gotta put this out. We wanna really get at the core of the, what is going on, what are the foundational components in your business that are keeping you from getting where you want to go? Because most of the time, find business owners stuck with too many fires to put out and they're playing essentially whack-a-mole, but fire version and they just can't get ahead. And it's because all those surface symptoms can be really, if you un, you really do some digging. That's really these core things that are going on in your business. Whether it's business development is not working, or your business model doesn't make sense or there are things, you know, your values or the communication system in your organization are eroding your, culture, that's where you wanna work. And so really by understanding where you're at and then what symptoms are showing up in your organization and where should you work you just end up spending your time in the right places. We're not going to change your ability. We're not gonna infuse necessarily, you know, greater brilliance, but it's really taking all that, energy and that brilliance that exists in businesses and arming them with what these decades of research have uncovered for us.. And like we said, you know, Matt and I we've been on that side of the table. Um, we were just beating our heads against the wall and this is what changed it for us. So when you ask kinda what, where is, where do you start, if somebody's interested, you know, I'm on LinkedIn and I love to connect with anyone and have a personal conversation. If you would find value connecting with me. but I would say that the true magic is in the methodology. We have a stage calculator on our homepage, rewildgroup.com. And start with that. Start by just figuring out what stage of growth you're in. We give a lot of free resources away that you can download and start to unpack what does that mean and start seeing these truths in your business. If you're looking for some, you know, hands on. You like podcasts. We do podcasts if you like workshops, we do workshops. If you like books. There's books. There's kind of, you know, something forever. There's coaches, there's advisors. I don't downplay that. I, I think having somebody to help you along your journey is critical. But I think the first step for most business owners is to see, If what we do holds weight to you, and that's why there's so many resources that you can explore and try out yourself, because I don't talk about this part of the story maybe, but navigating the growth curve wasn't the first book Matt read in his journey of trying to figure out how to grow his business to get it to where he wanted it. It was probably the 50th and so, we understand that, that there's. A business leader has to be ready and they have to believe in the insight that they're going to get. Um, stage calculator is the first place to go to see if, if what we do resonates or if it, it seems like it's describing what you're, you're struggling with.Steve Sandor:
Uh, that's great Madelyn and. I've got some links. We'll, um, we'll put those in the show notes and, and I'd encourage, um, the listener to go and have a look at that, the website, cuz it, it is, it's a phenomenal how much you actually give away. Uh, you know, the resources there and you'll, it, you know, reach out to Madelyn you'll really enjoy the conversation as I am enjoying this conversation now, it was just a I wanted to point out a couple of things that you. Said, And it's what I see a lot of consultants the mistake that they make is that they, they go into a business and they go, you are broken and I'm here to fix you. Yeah, have a look around like the business, the business is doing. Okay, right. It's not broken. And I see that. Is that, you know, that's because the consultant has to demonstrate some value. All right? And so, you know, my value proposition is that I'm gonna. You know, I'm, I can help you become unbroken. Um, and I love your approach because it obviously resonates with my approach is that the, value and the genius is already in the organization, right? For the organization to be sustainable, you have to build internal capabilities and capacity for it to be able to con, you know, continue as the strategy is being developed. So I love those resources and, they are, uh, listener. You, you, when you read the information of the, you know, the stages, you will recognize your business there. I, you know, when I came back from PNG, I had been a, been a general manager, divisional manager with, you know, between 30 and 120 staff with marketing budget with sales budgets, with, you know, targets, CFOs, I had all the resources I need. I came back and I'm running my own business trying to do it the same way. Right. With a solo operator and you go, Hmm, this ain't working, what? What? Oh, right. I don't have all of these resources. Right. Or I don't have the time, or I can't make the same sort of mistakes because that sort of. over here in this space is going to have a significantly different consequence to the mistake that I'm, same mistake, right? Just different context. So I love it. We'll make sure that the information on the Rewild group is in the show notes. Um, sadly. Madelyn, we've come to the end. So there is just one question that I ask, and it's one I ask of all of my guests, and that is, what are you curious about?Madelyn Dunlap:
I was thinking about this and I, I have to be honest, you know, this is, we've shared a lot about my professional side, um, but a lot of my extra mind energy, I've got young kids and, um, a lot of my curiosity is spent in thinking about what I do today and how that's gonna impact, um, you know, fast forward 20 years and, and where they're gonna end up. And I think that's true of a, a lot of things in life in our businesses, in our relationships. Um, but yeah, I mean, in, in every decision we make, big or small, um, I always, my, a lot of my curiosity goes to that is, what are the ramifications of the decisions that I'm making today and how's that gonna show up in 20 years?Steve Sandor:
Yeah. Consequences, right?Madelyn Dunlap:
Yeah. Yeah.Steve Sandor:
Yeah. We.Madelyn Dunlap:
and some take a long time to show up.Steve Sandor:
Yeah. No, I love that. Love that. And I think your children are in really good hands, by the way, Madelyn Dunlap from the Rewild groups. So thank you so much for being my guest on the Inspiring Business Podcast.Madelyn Dunlap:
Thank you for having me, Steve.