Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine, where we have the distinct honor of interviewing Matt Ryder, CEO of 7th Level. Matt’s company is at the forefront of reshaping the sales industry, placing a strong emphasis on empathy, respect, and trust.
Through innovative sales training programs, 7th Level equips individuals and organizations with the tools necessary to unlock their full potential and achieve success in the world of business. Central to their approach is the Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questioning (NEPQ) sales methodology, rooted in a deep understanding of human behavior, which fosters genuine connections between buyers and sellers.
In this exclusive interview, Matt Ryder candidly shares a pivotal moment in his leadership journey. He discusses a significant crisis his business faced and the strategic steps taken to navigate through it. His insights shed light on the importance of adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity, offering valuable lessons for leaders in any industry.
Join us as we explore Matt Ryder’s inspirational journey and gain wisdom on leadership, crisis management, and the art of building resilient teams.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Matt Ryder: I started 7th Level with a vision of reshaping the sales industry, striving for greater empathy, respect, and trust within the profession.
Our mission is to equip individuals and organizations with the tools they need to unlock their full potential and achieve success in their business endeavors. Through our sales training programs, we aspire to generate value for both buyers and sellers, making the sales process a meaningful and fulfilling experience.
Our approach centers around the Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questioning (NEPQ) sales methodology, rooted in an understanding of human behavior. This method helps our clients achieve their sales goals with a human-centric approach.
Can you share a time when your business faced a significant challenge? How did you navigate through it?
Matt Ryder: In May of 2022, I stepped down as CEO of a business that I had built. I stepped into the founder role and guided from the background. By August, the business had accumulated so many fixed expenses that, by my calculation, it had 4-5 months before facing a liquidity crisis from which it might not recover.
This business was generating roughly $14 million per year and employed many staff members with whom I had strong relationships. I had to come back in, fire most of the C suite and begin a very painful process of fixing the issues.
Throughout August, September, and October, my Chief Revenue Officer, our then VP of Sales, and I worked roughly 14-17 hours per day to fix the issues. We were managing 22 different sales teams as our business was outside sales teams. This was one of the most challenging and intensive times in my business career.
We had to let go of 70 people, reduce our monthly operating expenses from $750k to $300k, terminate contracts with over 60% of our clients to regain momentum, and only deal with the most profitable accounts and had to overhaul the entire company culture around hiring, spending and client management.
After this was accomplished, December and January became the most profitable months the company had ever experienced. We then transitioned that particular company into a more manageable, long-term model that now generates $6 million per year with minimal intervention.
How has a failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Matt Ryder: The above story was a failure on my part to identify if a business was ready to not have the owner running it. I was growth-focused and handed things over too quickly. This mistake was nearly very costly, and it has changed the way I view business and growth.
Not all businesses should grow past a certain point, and the model that gets you to one milestone may not be what gets you to the next. After learning this lesson, I have taken the group of companies that I own, diversified them, and we now generate over 40 million a year with a far lower risk profile.
How do you build a resilient team? What qualities do you look for in your team members?
Matt Ryder: A high-performing team is a combination of people whose behaviors and values all point in a specific direction, united under a common mission.
The key, must-have criteria or attributes for my teams are Accountability, Integrity, Discernment, and Caring. We use ‘the attributes’ by Rich Diviny as a guiding principle for team formation and hiring.
How do you maintain your personal resilience during tough times?
Matt Ryder: I was a special forces sniper, I have always enjoyed difficult and challenging activities. I have a high level of self belief and a proven track record in hard situations. I think that this is a confidence built over time.
What strategies do you use to manage stress and maintain focus during a crisis?
Matt Ryder: From a CEO perspective, it’s a job requirement to not get really stressed in times of crisis. I think anyone who has a comprehensive answer to this isn’t meant to run a large organization because the person who remains calm and collected under fire is the one people will naturally look to for leadership. Leadership cannot be taken, it must be given.
How do you communicate with your team during a crisis?
Matt Ryder: Calmly. Crises are temporary, and nothing is permanent. The reason CEOs get paid a lot more than the average employee is because, in order to be the calm one, you need to be out of trouble.
On a battlefield, the generals are not on the battlefield; they are in a bunker miles away, watching things happen and making strategic, not tactical, decisions.
If they are under fire and at risk, they won’t be able to make the same level of choices; they will take their own safety into account. So, to really be able to make great decisions as a CEO, you have to not be worried about how those choices affect you personally.
Hence, the large salary—to put the CEO in a position where they don’t need a wage for a year or two or 10. Then, and only then, will the truly right choice for the best of the company and the mission be made.
What advice would you give to other CEOs on building resilience in their organizations?
Matt Ryder: If you don’t have it, then they won’t. But building resilience doesn’t have to be a good thing. It means you are making decisions that cause crises on a regular basis.
You don’t need a resilient team; the CEO and a few key leaders need to be resilient and then pass down clear, concise, and decisive commands to be carried out. If someone told me about how resilient their team was, I would ask them why they keep being in crises?
How do you prepare your business for potential future crises?
Matt Ryder: A 5-year look forward is key. Have a clear outcome, whether it’s an exit, going public, etc.
From there, forecast what that looks like, figure out the most important numbers and drivers, then set the projects and KPIs based on them. Model that out in 3-4 different ways, taking into account historical data, and see what makes the most sense.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leadership in times of crisis?
Matt Ryder: Good leaders don’t allow their team to know they are in a crisis, the burden of CEO is there are no peers, leaders lead and they don’t burden people with all the knowledge.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Matt Ryder for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Matt Ryder or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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