ANTHONY TUMBIOLO

Decision Making

Why Making Fewer Decisions Will Help Your Business

In part 3 of my “decision-making” mini-series, I’m going to talk about making fewer decisions. It may seem a bit contradictory to the first two, but bear with me… I swear I’m making sense here. In my first piece, I talked about the importance of making decisions out of abundance, not fear and lack. Then, I discussed the impact and influence of your emotions in your decision-making.

Now, I’m making a 180 shift – this post will focus on pushing decisions outwards and to the edges. Aka, making FEWER decisions.

“But Anthony, you just told us in two articles HOW to make decisions. Wtf, man?”

Good point. But first, let me ask you something:

Are you your company’s bottle-neck?

Delegating is necessary when running a business, but I didn’t always feel this way.

When I started Jakt over seven years ago, I thought the best way to run my business was for me to make each and every decision. Even when I started hiring people, they would keep on coming to me so that I’d make decisions for them.

I’m not going to lie to you: there was something about it that tickled my ego. I got caught in this trap where I thought I had all the answers. I mean, it’s my company, right?

At the same, it was quicker. When we were a small team, it was just much faster for me to go ahead and make decisions than wait for my employees.

But, as we added more members to our team, I started to realize that there was no way we could scale like this. People were waiting to get to me and for me to make a choice, and I stopped the processes’ flow because I had so many decisions to make.

I was the bottleneck.

I had invested so much effort in making decisions for everyone else that I had employees who weren’t used to taking initiative on their own.

I hadn’t empowered them to think critically and individually. They were used to coming to me for answers — but not to reach their own. And that, in hindsight, limited and capped Jakt’s growth potential. Things had to change… I had to make fewer decisions.

“But they don’t do it like I do it?”

You’re right.

No one will do things the exact same way you do them (I’ll touch on letting go of control later).

And sure, I know pushing decisions back to people might slow you down at first. I also know the results may not be perfect from the jump.

But, you have to be okay with things taking a little longer in the beginning. The truth is, if you don’t make your employees think critically, you’re just creating a larger problem.

Why?

Honestly, there are a few reasons:

Because, as your company grew bigger, there is a larger disconnect between you and all day-to-day activities. Back in the day, it was impossible for me to be aware of things that I wasn’t even directly interacting with — how could I make a decision, then?

I also came to the difficult realization that I may not have all the answers. Yeah, believe it or not, your employees may actually make better decisions than you. And they probably will, especially if they are closer to the problem. 

I didn’t want to be the one breaking the news to you but, you’re not that special. (Neither am I, by the way). Yes, even if you founded the company. And yes, even if you’re the CEO.

Helping others make their own decisions may be slower in the short-term. But, in the long run, it will develop into a faster, more streamlined process.

And, this starts with…

Letting go of control = Fewer decisions

I totally get that this is not an easy concept to implement — but you just have to do it. It’s super important if your goal is to not have a You-dependent business. There are ways you can help smooth out that transition:

As you know, every business system is comprised of tools, people, and processes. Putting them into place will give your employees the ability to gain context, understand what is needed from them, and clarify their decision-making.

I also began to appreciate that everyone had a different lens in which they look through. It’s only natural that they don’t do things the exact same way I would — but you have to be cool with that!


That’s why it’s so important that you are…

Coaching over directing.

I have recently launched a new company, Polpo Finance, within The Polpo Group. Long story short: it’s a CFO + Accounting service for agencies (wanna hear more?).

My goal is to involve my team as much as possible —and give them the freedom to grow and be resourceful.

Just a few weeks back, they had to handle a problem that came up. It wasn’t a huge deal, but they just didn’t approach the situation the way I would’ve.

Old me would’ve told them how it “had to be done” —and to deal with it like I said moving forward.

But what would’ve happened?

They would’ve lost their confidence, and they’d be terrified to try something new and take initiative next time. And with good reason.

When you’re coaching instead of directing, you take the time to talk through their decision-making. You can offer feedback, but you don’t want to impose your beliefs on them.

Big difference.

Not all decisions are created equally.

I know you think every decision is important. At least that’s what I thought when I was starting out.

Look, I get it. It’s your business — and no ones gives as much of a fuck about it as you do.

But honestly, 95% of all the choices you make on a daily basis are not make-or-breakers. It’s not that they don’t matter, it’s that you’ll be alright either way.

You can (and should) pass those to your team. They’ll deal with them just as good as you could — and they’ll free up time for you to face the ones that really matter.

Think about it — what are the decisions that will make a bigger impact on your company? 

  • Who are the people in your leadership/executive team?
    What is the vision you want for your company?
    What is your long-term strategy?
  • What type of culture do you want to foster?

These are your responsibility — and the ones I focus on at Jakt. Within my company, there are hundreds of decisions made every day that I don’t know about. That’s fine. I don’t want to know. These are theirs, and I have mine.

Other than a selected group of monumental decisions, shit’s not going to break without you.

What should you do when people come to you with a decision?

First, do NOT try to give them an answer.

You’d just be further enabling them to come to you over and over again. And you don’t want to reinforce that they’ll get an easy answer from you, right?  Instead, push it back to them. Have them make a decision by themselves from now on.

But hey, they must know they have your cover and you have their back. And that you won’t get mad or upset at them if it doesn’t go so well. When you talk to them about it, make sure you are genuinely looking to coach them —not berate them. Otherwise, they won’t try to take initiative next time around.

THAT is how you start building it into your culture.

Took me years and years to learn to make fewer decisions. But I hope you can take this, implement it, and reap the benefits sooner than I did.

  1. Don’t get caught in the same bottle-neck I did. Delegating is necessary when running a business, and you are stopping the flow by making it You-centric.
  2. Coaching is not about imposing your way on your employees. It’s about helping them by listening to their perspective and offering non-determinant feedback.
  3. Understand that all decisions are not created equally. Let go of control and focus on the few decisions that matter the most.  

Decision Making

Do Emotions Help You Make Better Business Decisions?

In a recent article, I talked about the importance of making decisions out of abundance, not fear and lack. I received some great feedback from it, so I decided to do a “mini-series” on decision-making.

I started by sharing a negotiation I was part of a few years back.

Long story short, had I made a decision out of fear and lack when it came down to the wire, the deal would’ve imploded. I would’ve had to start over from scratch. Find new clients, new employees, new offices… It could’ve been one big ugly mess.

Once I stopped letting my fearful emotions guide my decisions, I closed a better deal. Jakt remained profitable, and the following years we saw an extremely rapid growth.

Over the years, I’ve continued to ask myself: how do my emotions affect my decision-making? Could I actually use my emotions to make better business decisions?

And that’s what we will discuss in this quick article.

Note: I use the word “better” intentionally. There’s no right vs wrong — they’re just decisions. The outcome might vary but, as long as you learn from them, all choices were part of your growth process.

How emotions influence our decision-making:

Emotions are normal and part of the human condition.

They help guide us through our experiences, react to the world around us and, ultimately, make better decisions within our circumstances.

Throughout my time as Jakt’s CEO, I’ve learned that emotions are not necessarily positive or negative. We all have them — yes, even you, bro.

What we can control is how they influence our decisions.

They are not supposed to be the driving force behind our choices. Instead, think of emotions as the signal for something important underneath that we need to uncover. They are there to tell us something, we have to uncover what that is.

Use them or be used. But first, you need to be self-aware enough to recognize them.

The power of self-awareness:

Admittedly, it’s taken years of conscious effort to actually learn how to process these emotions and still remain in control.

It’s been a gradual improvement –and I’m still working on it.

In my experience — and this could be a whole article in itself –, self-awareness is what allows you to remain in control of your emotions.

It’s not a black or white thing — there are many shades of grey on the self-examination spectrum. Working on it will not only have a huge impact on your decision-making, but also on you as a leader and human being.

Emotions will arise –and that’s okay.

But when they do, ask yourself:

  • What are they trying to tell me?
  • Am I in the mental state to make a decision now?
  • Or should I wait until I’m clear-headed?

Something that has helped me make less rushed decisions is this:

Establishing Your Decision-Making Guidelines

Think of it like a set of principles or “norms” that give you structure and guide you. They’re the lighthouse of your decision-making.  

For example, I am now investing in cash-flow generating businesses through the Polpo Group. When I’m pitched to partner with a certain company, I need to make a yes-or-no choice.

There’s plenty of factors that can make me lean either way. Some of them are business-related, but others are completely emotional: my mental state on that specific day, my energy, etc.

That’s why I created a group of investing principles –Commandments, if you will– that put logic over emotions. They define the type of business I will invest in, what I look for in a business partner, deal breakers, etc.

I literally have them written down on my phone. Then, when I have to make a decision, I just have to go back to my guidelines.

Keeping Your Cool Through Highs and Lows:

Have you ever looked back on a decision and thought: “why the fuck did I do that?”

And not because the results didn’t turn out so well, but because there was just no reasoning behind it?

That often happens when we let our emotions invade our decision-making. Instead of taking a step back and gaining emotional equilibrium, we are influenced by how we are feeling at that moment.  

Instead of using our emotions, they are pushing us to make decisions we otherwise wouldn’t. And this can happen in both highs and lows.

Let me give you a couple of juicy stories:

Lows:

I’m not Superman. I don’t run Jakt by day and save New York by night. And there’s been plenty of times over the years where I emotionally felt like utter shit.  

A few years ago, I was at an all-time low.

I wasn’t sure what to do with my business –even felt like shutting down the company. My brain circled on repeat: “This is shit. This sucks. Should I just quit? Let’s close this thing down.”

But can you imagine if I moved forward with it? If I had let my emotional state get the best out of me?

The business that I grew, my team who I love, and the clients that we help… all gone.

That’s why it’s so important to make choices from an emotional equilibrium. Recognize your feelings, your behavior, and your thoughts… or you might regret it later.

Highs:

It’s clear why making decisions when everything looks dark and gloomy can lead to situations that don’t fit your long-term best interests. But being hyped up is not the adequate mental state either.

At the end of the day, any emotion –both positive and negative– can skew your decision-making.

I once made a hiring decision based on feelings versus logic. Obviously, it didn’t work out.

Here’s what happened:

I was interviewing this person for a position at Jakt. They seemed perfect and I thought they’d solve a bunch of problems we had. Everything looked great, and I was ready to hire them right away. I was so excited — just couldn’t wait.

Long (embarrassing) story short: I skipped right through the hiring process (aka guidelines we had created on how we make every hire) and gave them the position shortly after.

And yeah, I quickly realized I had set up a hiring process for a reason. They ended up leaving a few months later (and I lost 10s of thousands…).

That was a very expensive lesson to learn, and I hope you keep an eye on that moving forward.

3 Quick Emotions & Business Decision Thoughts:

  1.  Understand that your emotions do influence your decision-making, but they can be controlled and used as input. Take a step back, regain emotional equilibrium, and then decide.
  2.  Running a business is like riding a rollercoaster. There will be highs and lows –and both of them are dangerous. Don’t make decisions when your emotional state is on a high or a low. Wait until you’re clear-headed.
  3. Define your guiding principles to create a structure behind your decision-making. When emotions seem to get the best out of you, they’ll be there to help you out.

Decision Making Entrepreneurship

Make Decisions Out of Abundance, Not Fear and Lack

Just a few years ago, I was sitting on one of those long tables that you often see in the movies. Lawyers on my side.

On the other side of the table? The other party in this deal. Big, bad, scary lawyers on his side too.

The stakes were higher than the Empire State. This deal could make-or-break Jakt’s future. And I had worked tremendously hard to bring it to where we were to just let it slip off my fingertips.

So, I put on my Superman cape and brought the deal home to everyone’s adoration. I was treated like a Rockstar for years. Forbes and Fortune Magazine fought for me to be in their covers…

Nah. Just playin’.

I was actually deadass scared. Nervous. Fearful.

And things were not going well. At all. It looked like keeping Jakt alive would cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars — an amount that I couldn’t afford to spend.

I knew that, if the deal didn’t work out, I’d have to start over. From scratch. Find new clients. New employees. New offices. And everything I had done would be for nothing.

But the thing is, the guys on the other side of the table knew that too. And they knew that I was afraid of having to go through that. Which is exactly why the deal was not working out for me — they had all the leverage.

But there was a moment that I got tired. Tired of being scared. Tired of thinking the world was going to end if this deal fell through.

So I pulled my lawyers apart and said — “You know what? Fuck it. I don’t care anymore. I’ll be fine either way.”

As we sat back on that infinite, wooden table, I remember realizing that something had changed. They didn’t have the leverage anymore. We did.

There was no fear in our eyes. And that scared them. Then I saw a glimpse of… alarm in theirs. The tables had turned.

In the end, we closed the deal. Because of it, Jakt not only remained profitable, but the following years were of extremely rapid growth. I still think of that day as one of my greatest W’s.

Breaking Off Fear’s Chains

This experience was a defining moment for me because it taught me one thing: never make decisions out of fear and lack.

That day, whoever was fearful and had a scarcity mindset would lose. And whoever was abundant in his thinking would win.

Have you ever wondered what fear **really** is?

I think fear is just being scared of the future or some future outcome. Which is funny since, well, none of us have crystal balls at home that let us predict what’s going to happen.

The problem with fear is that it often leads us to make “safe” decisions –which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best one.

In fact, they might not even be “safe” — they just feel it. Someone said to me that “underneath safety is fear,” and I couldn’t agree more. Be careful to not fall in this trap.

But Fear doesn’t come alone. He brings his brother: Lack. I think of lack as swimming in scarcity. Thinking that there are only “so many” chances, “so many” opportunities, “so many” clients, “so much” money you can make…

Admittedly, this is something I have personally struggled with too. Getting better at this is definitely one of my propositions for this year.

As you can imagine, lack and fear don’t help you make the best decisions.

But, at the same time, you cannot force yourself to not have any emotions. We’re all humans –not Terminators, and I don’t care how “tough” you say you are, we all have them.

It’s what you do with them that really matters. First, you need to accept that they’re a normal part of the human condition. They don’t make you weak. They make you human.

Then, you have to recognize them.

As a business owner, sometimes you’ll be fearful. Other times you’ll be nervous. And then you’ll be overconfident. And then you’ll panic. While I am much more calm now, the early years were a bit of the proverbial “emotional rollercoaster.”

Emotions have a purpose. They let you see how you’re feeling –how your body and mind are reacting to a specific circumstance. Process them. Use them as input. And earn from them. Don’t ride the rollercoaster along with emotions.

But never make decisions on an emotionally-charged state of mind. You can’t let them overtake your mental clarity. They’re there for a reason, but don’t let them dictate your choices at that moment.

How can you rewire that, and what’s the opposite of fear and lack?

The Power Of Abundance In Decision-Making

I was recently sharing the story from the beginning with a business friend of mine who is in a similar situation.

Like me, he is scared. Long story short, he was afraid of losing his biggest customer. They were pressuring him because they knew he needed them. And he was telling me that he felt like he had to do anything they asked for.

It was clear to me that he was coming from a place of lack. “They’re my biggest customers, I can’t go on without them” –he said.

As I said, emotions like these are normal. You can usually uncover valuable insights from them. Later on that call, we uncovered that the real issue was in his marketing/sales system: customer concentration, low prices, no pipeline of leads, etc.

How do I know this?

I’ve been in the same exact position.

At the same time, having an abundant mindset will give you a 180-degrees shift on how you negotiate, make decisions, and recognize situations.

If my friend approached this situation with the belief that, no matter what happens with this customer, he can always go and find 10 more –everything would change. He’d have the leverage. He’d be acting from abundance, and not reacting off fear.

Funnily enough, the Law of Attraction plays a major role here.

If you believe that you cannot find a client to save your life, well, you probably won’t. That’s how it works: you attract what you think about. So you really brought it upon yourself.

But if you walk in the room truly believing that you can figure shit out, you will. Attraction works both ways –so you choose which one you want to lean in.

Do Not Ever Make Decisions Out of Fear or Lack

  • Don’t make decisions based on fear or lack. You can’t predict the future, and “safety” is often just perceived. Emotions are normal and a learning experience –but never make a decision in an emotionally-charged state.
  • When negotiating, whoever has the most fear usually loses. If you want to gain leverage, make sure your decisions are not coming from a scarcity mindset.
  • Abundance is the opposite of fear and lack. When you believe that you can handle things either way –that you are resourceful and that you’ll be fine– your decision-making will improve. There’s plenty of great things out there for you. And you attract what you believe.

Building a Business Decision Making

When Dealing With Uncertainty: Here’s How To Make Business Decisions

As an entrepreneur or a CEO, you know that one of the only constant things you deal with in business is: uncertainty. Tough decisions are natural and recurrent, and you need to have a strategy behind them. We both get you won’t always make the choice that leads to the ideal outcome, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. In this article, I will cover how I personally deal with uncertainty and how to make business decisions. I’ll also share a few strategies that you can implement today to improve your decision-making.

Not all decisions are made equally.

There are different types of decisions that you’ll encounter as a business owner. You’ll have to handle daily, smaller decisions and big-time, monumental ones; and your approach can’t be the same for both.

Being Jakt’s CEO, I have to make numerous minor, quick decisions on a weekly basis. Over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t get hung of on being wrong or making the wrong choice (is there even a right vs wrong? We’ll talk about that in the end). You can’t let analysis paralysis or uncertainty when you’re figuring out how to make business decisions stop you from getting shit done. So what do I do instead?

I simply make a decision. Look at the data and result of that decision. And adjust. Then I make another decision. Look at the data and results again. And adjust one more time. And repeat. I cut off things that are not working and emphasize those that do work.

Let’s say you run a financial agency. You have eyed a new sales tactic –FB ads, for example– that you think could work, but will it? You simply don’t know and, the truth is, you simply can’t know. Because, well, if you knew, you wouldn’t be asking yourself whether it will work or not. Then, you could spend three months doing your due diligence, or you could just calculate potential risks (more on this later) and just try it.

So you decide to invest a few thousand dollars –or any amount that you feel comfortable with. Once the FB ads are implemented, you now check and analyze the results: what’s the ROI, is their potential for improvement, what was done right/wrong, etc. And then you adjust: you scale up if it worked, or you shut it down if it didn’t.

And what about crucial decisions?

I’ve been running Jakt for over 7 years and, understandably, there have been a handful of huge decisions I had to make. I’m talking about things that can and will impact the long-term future of my company: “Should I fire this person? Should I get rid of my business partner? Half my team quit in a matter of a month, what should I do?” And so on.

One of the key principles I learned from my coach changed the way I think about this. She said: “if you don’t know—keep going until you know.” It really rewired the way I approach monumental decisions.

When facing choices like these, I like to wait until I KNOW what my choice should be. That doesn’t mean I’m sure I’m right either –just that I’m sure of my decision. I don’t want to make premature, emotional decisions because you can’t take them back. You can’t fire someone and call them up the next day because “you made a mistake.” These are definitive decisions that affect not only yourself but other people and your company as a whole. Only make such a choice when you are 100% sure that’s what you want to do.

“But, what if I’m wrong?”

I have to make dozens of decisions every single day –and I’m sure you do too. I’ve been playing this game for over 7 years and, as you can imagine, I’ve messed up a few times. We all know how important it is to take responsibility and “own” our choices –but I want to go deeper in regards to handling your decision-making mistakes.

In the past, when something didn’t go well –if I lost say $50k or $100k–, I’d beat myself up over it: “oh, I’m stupid. I should’ve known, what the hell was I thinking!” Over time, I’ve rewired the way I go about this. The reality is, if I knew it wouldn’t work in the first place, I would not have tried whatever it was. There are no mistakes: you had to go through them, and there’s just no avoiding them. I’ve also changed my relationship with money, and now I see it as just a tool. Not tying my personal identity to it has helped me make less emotional decisions. And this gave me less uncertainty when thinking about how to make business decisions.

Now, when I make a mistake, my first thought is, “What did I learn?” I don’t get emotionally triggered anymore. And that’s been very freeing for me because I’m much more stable. The entrepreneurial roller coaster is much easier since there are no lows and highs — it’s all part of the fun, just one big game. It did take me almost seven years to finally figure that out tho.

Hypotheticals aside, I set aside over $100k for my personal brand this year. The truth is, I have no idea whether that’s going to have a return or not.

What I do know is this:

  • If nothing comes of it, I’ll be okay with it because I am okay with losing that money and it going to $0.
  • I’ll learn a shit ton, so I’m not actually losing, and
  • If it works I’ll have a great monetary ROI + I’ll learn.

I cannot lose. No matter the outcome: worst case scenario: I win because I learned; best case scenario: I learn, I make money AND I win. When you can only win, there’s no uncertainty when making business decisions–that’s how I think of entrepreneurship. Taken from this view, there is no real right or wrong. Therefore, you can take the weight off always trying to make the “right” decision, or fearing you made the “wrong” choice.

But let me give you another example: last year I lost $75K. I tried something, and it didn’t work. At all. Most people would think I’m screwed or stupid for spending that money. And three years ago, I would’ve totally agreed with you. “You just lost 75K. That’s a lot of money.” And it is. However, what everyone doesn’t understand is what I learned from losing 75K. I got an education that I couldn’t get at the best Ivy League schools.

Now that doesn’t mean that I just throw money around, which leads me to my next point:

Calculating Risks:

Look, I’m an entrepreneur, but I hate gambling when it comes to business. Every decision I make is based on minimizing the downside while having the highest upside possible. It is irresponsible and, honestly, just plain stupid to risk money away with a blind eye.

Yes, I love learning, but I also don’t like losing money (who does) –so every financial move I make has to be calculated. So, on that deal I lost above, I knew going in that I couldn’t lose more than $75K. That was my level of comfort, and I I wouldn’t care if I lost that amount. Well, not that I wouldn’t care, but I knew that losing $75,000 was not going to hurt me either financially nor my business. And when it hits that number, I pulled the plug. Unemotional. Business.

I am very precise on how much I am willing to lose. Basically, I don’t risk money I can’t lose. In any decision, I try to limit my downside while maximizing my upside potential –that’s how I deal with uncertainty and how to make business decisions. With that in mind, if the investment doesn’t work, I’m fine with it. The problem starts when people gamble money they can’t afford to lose. Or when they don’t cover their downside risk, and that’s when businesses go under and people get screwed.

Uncertainty & How to Make Business Decisions– A Takeaway:

  1. The way to approach a decision depends on its magnitude: for minor decisions, you just make them, analyze the results, adjust, and repeat; for monumental ones, you keep going until you know. 
  2. There are no “mistakes”… as long as you learn. You’re investing in education –you had to go through them. Just make sure you don’t make them again. 
  3. Calculated risks have a low, limited downside and as high of an upside as possible. Don’t gamble money –especially if you can’t afford to lose it.

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