Jamie Birch, owner of JEB Commerce and partner at Renewed Horizons, began working with Josef in 2013. Jamie is currently the highest ranking member of the Clear and Open Dojo.
Josef identifies Jamie’s orientation toward change and personal growth as the single most important factor for how successful he is in business. Jamie agrees and credits his upbringing, noting that his father was a business leader who instilled in him the importance of adaptability, personal growth, and entrepreneurial spirit.
“I love to be a part of people changing their lives and learning about themselves and growing, and I use my businesses to be a part of that with more people.”
In order to get to that place, however, Jamie had to lose the aspects of his self-image that prevented him from seeing the problems in his business.
His turning point came when he saw how he was the one getting in the way. “I’m my biggest bottleneck. What you need to learn in order to grow isn’t constructive but deconstructive. It’s stuff you have to let go of…. You build up so much stuff around you to get through certain things in life, and you never let any of that go. It has to be an intentional act of discovering what you should let go and what you don’t need any more.”
Letting Go of What Others Think
Jamie says the biggest thing he has worked to let go of is his “image,” which he realized he spent considerable energy to keep up, for the benefit of people who he didn’t necessarily care about or even like. He realized this affected not only him but his family, not to mention his business decisions.
“I wouldn’t look—really look—at the areas of my business and my leadership that were a problem, because that would affect my image [as] an ‘entrepreneur extraordinaire,’ a successful businessman, a leader in my community… it kept me from finding the truth.”
He was carrying a number of assumptions about himself, image-based needs, and stories that were all in the way of him doing something as simple (not easy) as looking at his financial numbers.
“If you’re hungry for the truth, then nothing else matters and you can make so much more headway. For me the image thing kept me from looking at my finances. Kept us from being in reality and knowing the truth on that. We made some awful, awful decisions based on that, spent tens of thousands of dollars on things to uphold my image.”
Unraveling the Truth
Once he looked at his finances, it was like pulling on a loose thread, and other necessary aspects of development came to light.
When he finally did look at the truth and allowed it to change him, it revealed to him what was true about money, his employees, and other parts of his business that weren’t working.
Aside from the financial side of things, the unraveling thread led him to see where he needed to focus on accountability, employee development, and hiring and interviewing practices.
The Story: “Accountability is mean.”
“I have an immense capability to not hold myself or anyone else accountable… I’m a recovering nice guy… there’s that concept, again, of ‘you’re the bottleneck’ in your business, and the business is going to grow as far as you grow. That’s a lot of weight, and I can’t see how any business is successful if their leader isn’t willing to change and adapt and grow.”
When Jamie recognized that lack of accountability was not serving him or his business, he decided to rewrite that story. Now he sees accountability as a gift that allows him to further his ultimate purpose of helping others.
“I want to help everybody… but I also have seen how I can do that at the detriment of my own health… at the cost of my family… and at the cost of the business. At the end of the day, I can’t help people in the way I feel is my purpose if I can’t hold people accountable. If JEB wasn’t growing, I couldn’t invest in the second business and impact another thirty-five people. And if I wasn’t holding people accountable in both of these businesses, I wouldn’t be able right now to be planning the next business where I get to [help more people].”
Once he really got serious about accountability within JEB Commerce, the company turned over 65% of its staff within eighteen months.
“Every time I made a change… a significant [personal] improvement… not everyone made the turn,” says Jamie. He has remained steadfast in his commitment to accountability, despite the pain it sometimes brings. The company is now leaner and more efficient and successful as a result.
There are three Clear and Open courses, in particular, that Jamie uses with his employees to maintain and promote excellence.
The first course Jamie mentions is The Accountability Path. “I love it because I have a problem with accountability!” he jokes. “Having a path? I get to lean on that now. It helps me catch my tendency to not hold someone accountable.”
He also mentions how the Path helps him deeply engage the people working for him. There are some who respond to the first step, “The Notice,” almost instinctively, whereas others require walking farther down the path toward “The Line.” But above all he says it is a useful tool in that employees always know where they stand. The steps toward accountability are communicated ahead of time, and employees have the opportunities they need to correct their mistakes.
CLEAR the Issue is a second course that has made a big difference in the way things are running at JEB Commerce.
“I’d say nine out of ten times we were solving problems that weren’t the problem.” He uses this course with his employees and says that it has been amazing to watch them learning to “go meta” and figure out the underlying issues that need to be solved.
The third course that Jamie says has changed the way his business runs is Clear Workspace, Open Mind. He says the practical tips on how to get organized, manage time, and get out of overwhelm save five hours per week, per person.
Before and After
Before he began working with Josef, Jamie says profit was an abstract concept for his company. “We operated—as most American families do—one check away from disaster. Paycheck to paycheck… We weren’t investing in the company, we weren’t holding [people] accountable, we had the wrong people… and the money was going out the door.”
“Now, we have five months of complete operating expenses in our savings account, and it’s our goal to have a full year by the end of 2019… We have now more cash on hand, more profit percentage, and more cash actually in the bank every month, on 30% less sales, than we did before.”
“These are the conditions, and now what do I do?”
Adaptation is necessary. Change is necessary. Spending energy fighting against change ensures you repeat the same mistakes.
Perhaps the most telling result from all of of Jamie’s inner work is that stress is something he is much better able to handle now. “I used to take a lot of supplements and medication for anxiety,” he said. “I don’t remember the last time I did that.”
This mainly comes down to a shift in his relationship to the truth. Rather than avoid it, he now sees it as fundamental and is able to accept it and work from a place of power in abiding with it.
“If the truth isn’t the foundation, good luck! Because [luck] is what you’re relying on. We spent tens of thousands of dollars based on information that wasn’t the truth. I’m still paying for those mistakes. Like, literally, every month I’m still making payments on some of those things.”
To watch the full interview, click here.