Bob Weiler is the managing founder of Brimstone Consulting. Over the years, he has led the firm into becoming an industry leader “focused on helping extraordinary leaders spur big changes in their organizations, business, and industries and to drive transformation.”
Brimstone Consulting and Bob Weiler follow the approach that “weaves together best practices in action learning, process consulting, change, and leadership development.” Their methods also “aligns the organization and develops leaders while accelerating growth, performance, and profitability.”
Before founding Brimstone Consulting, Bob Weiler was the president and COO of Grand Circle Travel. The firm became a leader in “direct marketing of travel to mature Americans.” He was also the Associate Director of the Global Leadership Program, which is a renowned program offered by the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Also prior to Brimstone Consulting, Bob Weiler was the executive vice president of Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, which is the largest school of its kind in North America.
Together with leadership expert Noel Tichy, Bob Weiler also “designed key modules for developing high-performing teams and individuals” at General Electric’s Crotonville training center.
Aside from Brimstone Consulting, Bob Weiler is also no stranger to partnerships with companies. He has worked with Arrow Electronics, Bob Evans, Career Education, General Dynamics, GTECH, IATA, Ingersoll Rand, Jones Lang LaSalle, Medco, Motorola Solutions, Pfizer, ServiceMaster, Tellabs, Waste Management and Western Union.
I don’t see hard; I see the next challenge. Bob Weiler, Brimstone Consulting
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Bob Weiler: Shortly after taking on the role of Executive Vice President of Hurricane Island Outward Bound, I went to Crotonville, GE’s management training center, and knocked on Noel Tichy’s door. Noel was the then-famous change management guru hired by Jack Welch to transform Crotonville into a major engine for change. I invited Noel and his Crotonville teaching staff to Hurricane Island, a small island off the coast of Maine, to participate in a three-day action learning program. Noel initially said no, but I finally convinced him.
When Noel and his team of 24 arrived on the Island, I was off on a business development trip. When I returned, I found that the program had been a disaster, and Noel and his team had left. I immediately went to Crotonville, and I sat outside Noel’s door for close to seven hours. When he opened his door, the first thing he said was, “Where do we start?” My answer was, “With an apology.” For the next three years, I worked closely with Noel, Hiro Takeuchi, and the team at Crotonville. This experience was foundational.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Bob Weiler: I don’t see hard; I see the next challenge. I am tenacious, and I am extremely fortunate in that I have been able to surround with people and a team who also lean in and are willing to work through challenges.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Bob Weiler: We were in the final stages of negotiating a $1 million contract when the power went out and stayed out. In the dark and unable to use the phone or fax, we could not continue contract negotiations. The prospect thought we flaked and awarded the contract to another company.
Just months before I had gotten quotes to install a generator because I knew power outages were frequent in the winter in what was at the time, a fairly rural part of Maine. Rather than pay $10,000 for the generator, I decided to take the gamble — and I lost.
That experience taught me that small investments can have huge returns and to always have a back-up plan.
Start by bringing your executive team together. Get clear on the brutal facts. Engage the organization in finding solutions. Give the right people the right resources. Get out of the way.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Bob Weiler: Start by bringing your executive team together. Get clear on the brutal facts. Engage the organization in finding solutions. Give the right people the right resources. Get out of the way.
This is, roughly, our Senior Team Alignment Process (STAP), a process we have seen help leaders take a company from good to great. For example, we helped the VP of Operations at a global pharmaceutical company take her team through this process. The process and the strategy developed as part of the STAP identified nearly $7 million in short-term savings and delivered more than $10 million in additional savings. Most importantly, the process helped the team learn how to make better decisions and move more quickly — and take the company from good to great.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Bob Weiler: There is a lot of research that purpose-driven businesses perform better, have more engaged and productive employees, and have more loyal customers. These are all reasons why it makes sense to be a purpose-driven business. However, being a purpose-driven business requires the purpose to be a part of the culture of the organization, part of the DNA. Becoming a purpose-driven business requires a culture change within an organization.
We build these relationships because we listen, and we get clear on our client’s goals and their definitions of success. Bob Weiler
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Bob Weiler: Honesty, transparency, empathy, and persistence.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Bob Weiler: We build strong and lasting relationships with our clients. There are many clients with whom we have worked with for close to twenty years -when they take on a new role or move to a new company, they bring us in to help align the organization and accelerate performance and profitability.
We build these relationships because we listen, and we get clear on our client’s goals and their definitions of success. Before we begin working with a client, we discuss ways we can help or recommend others who may be a better fit. A lasting relationship is a two-way street.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!