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How To Turn Around A Company


In recent posts, we’ve been discussing the troubled company, GKIC (formerly “Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle”).

(Catch up on previous posts by clicking on them in the “Recent Posts” list to the right.)

Dozens of current and former members, strategic partners and employees have commented on my posts with their opinions and observations, and many more have communicated their concerns and complaints to me in private.

But very few have offered suggestions on what GKIC should do to turn itself around.

As Anthony D’Angelo says…

“If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.”

Here are a few of those who offered solutions…

Susan Kirkpatrick: “I recommend leadership at GKIC to complete ‘The FIVE Most Important Questions Self-Assessment Tool’ as originally created by the Peter F. Drucker Foundation.”

Rob Anspach: “GKIC lost the trust they had with their members, by bringing in someone who was an outsider. Now, they have some serious problems to face. Restoring that TRUST should be first and foremost a priority. They need to reach out to people… and offer an apology and make things right. They need to humble themselves.”

Jarrod Cash: “I love Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazer, Lee Milteer, but one look at the alphabet soup behind everyone else’s name there is enough to keep me away. CEO, COO CFO….. E-I-E-I-O….. that crap dooms most companies, just as Dan says in his old-school material.”

Phil Brakefield: “The business landscape is littered with the corpses of companies who became convinced their brand (MO, policies) was more important than their customers… The view even from 30,000 feet over the past year or so has looked more like Hiroshima than the GKIC we know and love. Looks to me like the fates have created for GKIC an opportunity to bring into play (on steroids) all the strategies it teaches it members about how to reactivate/re-energize lost followers.”

As the late, great Zig Ziglar taught…

“Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.”

If you have been hearing any of these type of comments from your customers, clients or patients, you may not get excited, but you’ll want to make sure to pay attention so you don’t enter what business expert Jim Collins calls “Stage 3 of Decline: Denial of Risk and Peril.”

I spent some time as a Senior Business Analyst for a consulting firm that specialized in small business turnarounds, and I’ve helped dozens of companies engineer successful turnarounds, so I think I’m somewhat of an expert on this subject.

I’ll point to five sources of help I suggest for companies in Stage 3 of Decline…

1. Of course, there’s Jim Collins’ chart on page 77 of “How The Mighty Fall”, where he contrasts the attitudes and actions of leadership in companies heading in different directions.

Here’s the first item on the list…

On “Teams on the Way Down”:

“People shield those in power from grim facts, fearful of penalty and criticism for shining light on the harsh realities.”

On “Teams on the Way Up”:

“People bring forth unpleasant facts – “Come here, look, man, this is ugly” – to be discussed; leaders never criticize those who bring forth harsh realities.”

This point hits especially close to home for me, because even though it seemed like almost every member was complaining about the dangerous direction GKIC has been headed in over the past year-and-a-half or so, when I repeatedly voiced my opinion to GKIC leadership of troubling developments…

  • The CEO basically told me to shut up, because “loose lips sink ships;”
  • A GKIC attorney sent me a letter threatening me with legal action if I continued to make “disparaging remarks;”
  • Two corporate executives summoned me to a meeting so they could “set the rules of engagement” for me; and
  • In one of her last official acts, the former CEO actually threw me out of the last GKIC major event “for being negative”

You are likely to have a similar knee-jerk reaction when you hear customer complaints, but I urge you not to ignore them.

Instead, heed the advice of Hall Of Fame baseball manager Sparky Anderson…

“I understand people who boo us. It’s like going to Broadway show, you pay for your tickets and expect to be entertained. When you’re not, you have a right to complain.”

2. Another great resource for GKIC (and all business owners) is Dan Kennedy’s “No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing.”

3. A search on for “small business turnaround” books shows 103 results.

4. It just so happens that the Turnaround Management Association (, the only international non-profit association dedicated to corporate renewal and turnaround management, has its international headquarters right here in Chicago.

And GKIC has one HUGE and rather obvious advantage that you and I don’t…

5. Dan Kennedy himself, the world’s foremost living small business-building expert, is a part of their team (although many long-time GKIC members and observers say they’ve seen very little evidence of that fact since the new ownership took over).

My #1 piece of advice for GKIC (and your company, if you’re also struggling) is to admit to yourself and everyone else (because they already know it, so it’s counter-productive to ignore or deny it) that there are major problems that call for fundamental changes, and then study and implement as many of Dan Kennedy’s teachings as possible.

When a struggling sports team gets a new owner, general manager or head coach, the new leader comes in and proclaims a dedication to change and rebuilding.

(Imagine how insulting and dangerous it would be for the new leader to ignore all of the warning signs and make no mention to its loyal fans and players that it realizes that fundamental changes need to be made!)

I am convinced that many of us long-time, loyal GKIC members are rooting for the company’s leadership to come to its senses.

  • We want its leadership to recognize and admit that the future of the company is in danger.
  • We want them to make the right fundamental changes to rebuild the trust of its members and avoid disaster.
  • And we want them to do it soon – before it’s too late.

If you are struggling to turn around or grow your business, try our FREE test drive and get access to some of the best resources, tools and coaches available anywhere.

9 Responses to How To Turn Around A Company

  1. Phil Brakefield Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Unfortunately, the first ones who should recognize the need are usually the last ones to do so. I personally think if Bill could somehow be convinced to come back for a year it would cause a quantum leap towards recovery…for psychological reasons if no other.

  2. Steve Sipress Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Yes, as Dan Kennedy writes in his No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing book, “affinity” is a major trust trigger. Bill was “one of us” — a fellow Dan Kennedy student. I’ve heard many people say that they started to bail from GKIC as soon as a “corporatey” outside group took over. EVERYONE I’ve talked to says there’s NO WAY Bill will come back. But I guess anything is possible…

  3. Thomas M Henry Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

    As a strggling business I have been very much attentive to what you have to say about what can be learned from the GKIC debackle. I understand admitting the emporer has no clothes is the first step and I think I have no illusions as to the need to turn around but what process do you suggest, how do I get the help I need to find a path a way to turn my struggling business around? Do you have a mentoring group for struggling businesses? I would be very interested in that because I think I can say for others when you are in this position you do not know what to do first or where to start in turning around, you judst know you have got to find a way tog get more customers so you can prosperm, but where do you start?
    Tom Henry Peoria Illinois

  4. Jon Bockman Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 9:51 am

    The “new corporation” has a slimy feel to it. Can’t say if I’m keeping my membership in GKIC. I’ll just stick with you Steve.

  5. Steve Sipress Reply

    December 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Tom: Here’s the good news…

    Executing a successful turnaround of a company in decline is extremely similar to starting a business completely from scratch — with one difference:

    At a start-up, people are excited about the future and full of energy (think back to when you were first starting out, Tom — you were likely sky-high with excitement and had very positive expectations for the future), while people working at a floundering company are weary of battle and look and act more like survivors of a war.

    (*Good news for GKIC: From what I’ve heard, their employees are somewhat excited about their future since the exit of their former CEO, and the new interim CEO is doing a good job of getting them re-energized. However, I’ve also heard that they are in the full “Cover Your Ass” mode that is typical of corporate employees, and many still fear losing their jobs. And, of course, there’s still the issue of official Denial that anything is wrong…)

    So my advice to you, Tom, is to get your head and heart in the game and approach your business as if you’re just starting out today. Then you can start to apply all the principles I teach at and in my Monthly Live Workshops.

    If you’re looking for a quicker path to prosperity, my Peak Performers small coaching group is perfect for newcomers to the world of Direct Response Marketing — business owners who know this stuff works, but aren’t sure exactly how to implement it in their own business, and want direct and personal help from me to get their businesses rocking.

    For more information on that, call my beautiful wife Michele at 630-835-4670.

    But of course, my live, personal help isn’t necessary. All you need is the right attitude and the right actions. You’ve got all the raw materials right here on this site.

    Go get ‘em, Tom!

  6. Thomas M Henry Reply

    December 15, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I always thought a great line for Steve would be the old EF Hutton commercials: when Steve speaks businessmen better listen.

    I sure wish I could make the trip up North to his venues more often than I am able because for the money and dollars invested I have learned more from Steve and his events than any single GKIC event I have been to.

    If you can go and you care about your business get to one of Steve’s meetings your bottom line will be glad you did.

  7. Ben Glass Reply

    December 17, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Not sure the old GKIC will ever be returned..
    Here’s the ad for the new president.
    Note the “MBA requirement.”

    this the same challenge as any small biz that is based on the personality of the owner has when it comes time to sell.. so any law firm, dental practice, cpa, etc… if the business is based largely on the personality of one or two (my good friends Dan and Bill) then when they are gone, what’s left after that is simply great info, but that’s never enough

    GKIC is trying mightily to become something different, so that when Dan says “I’m done” there will actually be something there. There is, in my view, nothing there that will keep old timers around once Dan stops… (that might not be for awhile…who knows)..old timers will continue to form their own mastermind groups of the other like-,minded that they have found over the years, continue to hire Dan and Bill privately if their business is to that point… but to all who have joined in the last 24 months, and to future members, there may be something. . there…

    if i can paraphrase Dan, long term affinity with an organization has to be about a lot more than just the information…. it has to be about the personality.. Dan says this over and over… so that’s the way GKIC “cures” itself.. through developing a personality that people will be connected to. Maybe they can do it.. I certainly hope so because the information is great but no one will continue to pay for the info unless they see themselves succeeding with it.. something Dan has done masterfully over the years.

  8. Paul Reply

    December 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the problems as I just came across your blog recently. I had wondered where you had gone to and miss the old radio show that there was on wind.
    I am glad to see that you are rebuilding a brand that sticks to your core values and wish you much success on the future. There’s plenty of room out there for competition. The cream always rises to the top.

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  10. Thomas M Henry Reply

    February 24, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Yes they will be fine as they have the reserves and the leadership at the top from an informational intellectual standpooint, they just need a much more responsive management that cares more about the members than how much they spent with us last year and what is likely to make them spend more? They need to take lessons from how Steve runs his events and the focus of making sure the events help the members make more money as well as Steve.

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