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This business coaching session is about ways to build camaraderie with your staff.

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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Lesson Nugget: Let patterns determine what you think about an employee; don't let one time instances change your judgement of a person.
  • If you are the leader, you are responsible for how your team does. You can't let people not liking your decisions keep you from making the best decision for the organization.
  • Lesson Nugget: Adding a personal touch shows your employees you value them and their ideas even if you did not use their idea.

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-Maybe this didn't happen in your meetings. But I'm just curious. Because I know a lot of small business owners deal with this in their small business management. What they do is they have a great discussion. And this guy over here is passionate about this. She's passionate about that. You as the chairman or the boss of the small business or the company, you make a decision. You say, you know what? I appreciate your point and your point, but I am going to go with this decision. Thank you for your feedback. And you're ready to move on.

But this person over here is like, aw, ppff, ff, shh. You know, they're unable to respect the decision that was made. And they just ppff, whatever. I don't even know why I bring it up, that sort of stuff. How do you deal with that sort of behavior?

Do you wait until after the meeting and talk to them privately, or what do you do? Because I know that is a source of discord in a lot of meetings. What do you do when one person doesn't respect the decision was made after a discussion? What do you do there?

-And that's going to happen at times. I mean, and again, we always go back to pattern. If that is a pattern, then maybe that's someone that doesn't need to be on your board. Because number one, you're not taking his advice very often because he's frustrated. So you don't respect what he's saying or you don't think he has the right expertise. Or clearly he is not aligned with what you're doing.

So if it's a pattern, then we need to deal with that a different way. Maybe that person doesn't need to be there. Now if it's one particular time, you would be shocked how much personal touch makes a difference. If you go and sit with that person and talk with them and say, you know, I'm so glad you brought that out. And I know we had to go a different direction today, but we're certainly going to keep an eye on this. And I always want your opinion. That goes a long ways in quelling some of that distress.

I mean, people don't like to feel disrespected, especially people you're going to have in meetings that are important. Everyone feels important. Everyone feels like their opinion is, in their own organization or in their own place, is law. So people don't like to feel like they're either wrong or being discounted.

So as a person who's running a meeting, it is important that you stay connected with that person. And make them understand that we're not discounting what you're saying. We are having to make a decision, and we have to move forward. But I appreciate what you're bringing to the table.

-You are a guy who's likable. People that I know who've said, David Robinson, he's so likable. He's such a nice guy. Now I mention that because being likeable and sometimes being liked in a meeting are not necessarily the same thing. I mean, sometimes you make a decision that not a lot of people agree with. You have to just go with it.

So we go back to your NBA days. And you come in, you say, guys, here's the deal. Moving forward, we are not going to listen to this kind of music in our--

-I wasn't liked in the locker room.

-OK. And you say, we're just not going to go with this kind of music anymore. This kind of music is not tolerated anymore.





-Because this is not how we're going to do it. We're going to do things the right way. And I'm just going to make up a scenario. But maybe four or five guys are like, whatever, you're out of touch man. Or whatever. Do you care? Do you leave that locker room going, man, I really wish they liked me. Or how do you process that emotion of knowing that you're not liked at that given moment?

-I care that they're disappointed with me. But if I really know that it's in the best interests of the organization, if it's in the best interests of that locker room, then I have to deal with it. I just move forward.

In a locker room, it's similar to running a business. But in the locker room, if I'm the leader, if I'm the captain of the team, if I'm the man in that locker room, then I'm responsible for how this team goes. When we lose, the media is not going to attack the guy that's sitting on the bench. They're not going to attack the guy that plays five minutes a game. They're going to attack me.

So I know whose neck is on the line when we lose. And so all the pieces that I feel like going into building a great team are my responsibility. And so I make the best decision I can given my information at the moment. And so in a scenario like that, those guys will have to respect my authority. And I'm not trying to push my authority down their throats. But if that is something I feel is critical for the growth of that team, I need to do it.

So do I lose sleep over the fact that they're not happy? No. But yes, I care. Because I don't want them to feel disenfranchised. I don't want them to feel disconnected to what's going


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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: Know what you are responsible for and make the best decisions you can to live up to those responsibilities.
  • Lesson Nugget: Be clear about who makes the final decision.
  • Step 7. Action Items and Deadlines
  • When a decision is made in a meeting, write down what the decision was and who is responsible so you can effectively follow up on it.
  • Lesson Nugget: Set time deadlines for action items that come out of meetings, then follow up on those action items to make sure they are being done.

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-One thing that makes you very impressive to me is, after your career, you've now got into the equity fund business. Basically you have the Admiral Capital Fund, where you guys have acquired a lot of real estate.


-I think the Forbes article said there is about $250 million of assets there that you guys are managing at this point. I know that number goes up and down a lot, but you have a lot of assets there. And that means other people are putting money in with you to acquire properties. And without getting to into the minutiae, the point is you have to buy a property that makes money in return for these investors.


-So I can't imagine a situation where there could be more potential for disagreement then when I've put my money into your fund, he's put his money into the fund, and you decide to buy a property that I don't want you to buy, and he does want you to buy. I could see that as being an issue, but because you're confident, and you're not necessarily worried about being liked, do you want to be respected? Are you able just to make those decisions, even now, in the real estate.

-That is supposed to be our expertise area.


-If people don't like the things we're investing in, we're probably the wrong fund for them.


-So you have to know what you've been given a responsibility for. We know what our mission is. We know what we've been called to do. And when people come, and they give us their money, we hold it as a great responsibility. But they have to trust our expertise in those areas. And if we bring them back a good return, then we've done our job. They set their criteria before we even start. So they know what we invest in. We've been very clear about that. We set out our papers. They know what we're looking for. So we try to make all those things clear up front. And I think it's the same, whatever scenario, if it's in a locker room. The things that are clear up front is, I'm the leader of the team. Right? I'm the one who's responsible for making certain decisions. So as long as we're clear, then most guys can deal with that. It's when the lines aren't clearly drawn is when people can get very upset.

-If you're watching this right now and you're going, man, this was helpful. Or maybe you're saying, well maybe that's just how David Robinson deals with it, and maybe other meetings shouldn't have any conflict, or even have passionate discussions, I will tell you, if you read Jack Welch's book called "Winning," it's a management book, or if you read the case studies of Donald Trump, or if you read stories about the CEOs of Disney. Trust me, there is a lot of passionate discussion in meetings all across--


-It's natural. It's part of the process. You shouldn't feel bad if there's some guy who's arguing--


-But the main thing is that we want to make sure you make the best decision, that stays on mission, and if everybody doesn't necessarily agree, we got to just move on, we have to be OK with that. Now moving on to the final point here, is action items and deadlines. A lot of times we come to a meeting, and we leave the meeting without any action items.


-So we come to the meeting with all these things to discuss, but we don't-- we, kind of, leave without having anything that has been decided, or anything we need to do.


-So the principle here is that we don't ever want to leave a meeting without having made a decision on at least these items here. David, when you do your meetings, how do you record who's supposed to do what? So let's say we had a meeting at Carver, and we discuss 20 items.


-There's been 20 decisions made. How do you keep track of who's supposed to do what, and when they're supposed to do it?

-We actually put it in the meeting minutes. What task was assigned to what person, we put it in the meeting minutes. The minutes are always a great record of what happened at those meetings. And I know all meetings don't take minutes. But we were doing Board meetings, so we did take minutes. But obviously the chairman, or the secretary, or someone should be responsible for all those items that come out of the meeting that need follow up... Small Business Management.

-Do you follow up in the next meeting if those items were done?

-Before that, if I need to. I mean, there are a lot of times, there's time deadlines on those things. And for a Board, we only met every quarter or so. There were a lot of items that came out of those meetings that could not wait until the next Board meeting. So if we needed to do phone calls, whatever we needed to do to get these agenda items done, we did. So those things usually sat on my table or my head of schools' table.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: Meetings can build camaraderie and generate a team's energy toward a goal.
  • Lesson Nugget: For every agenda item, assign a person responsibility for the item and the time frame in which they must complete the task.
  • Lesson Nugget: Meetings are great opportunities for young leaders to learn from the seasoned leaders in your organization.
  • Lesson Nugget: If you have talented people around you, make sure they are involved in the meeting. It is a waste of their talents to not let them contribute.

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-What I found as sort of like a best practice is-- I've got a chance to study a lot of successful people, and go to their meetings, and see how they do it. It's really important that every meeting ends with some sort of action items and some sort of deadlines. That there's some sort of expectation of-- like a lot of times we'll say, well, we need to fix the marketing plan. And we'll say, "we," but then there's no assignment of who is actually going to do it and when it's going to be done.

DAVID ROBINSON: Right, right.

-Did you ever find yourself, when you're first starting the school, having a lot of meetings where you would leave without any action items or any type of deadlines and it was just sort of circular discussion? Or have you--

DAVID ROBINSON: I think it depends on what type of meeting it is. I mean for our board meetings, especially early on, some of our meetings were more informational.


-I wanted to always keep our-- one of the things about a meeting and this is where I may disagree a little bit with the action items--


-One of the things about a meeting is-- that's so wonderful-- is that you come face to face.


-That you spend some time together, and that you gain a camaraderie. You pick up on the passions of the people around you, which I think is important. Meetings are important for that-- for building a unity, for building a like-mindedness, and for building a-- generating an energy towards your goals. Even if they're a little bit clashing, but we all have the same goal. We all want to save the children. We all want to educate. So I think meetings have that value.

So sometimes, and especially in a board meeting setting where you meet once every quarter, it's important just to be face to face. So I don't want to discount that part of the value of the meeting and always just focus on the outcomes. But, yes, if you come to an agenda item that needs to get done, you cannot be unspecific about it. You need to say, we have a time frame and a person that's responsible for moving this agenda item forward.

-So you're saying that the meeting-- -- I mean, you have a lot of specific reasons for one, but one of the big ones in your mind is the camaraderie.

-Camaraderie, getting to know the person around you, getting to have the information. But not just the information, but building a cohesiveness towards a goal. I think those things are really valuable about meetings that you should never underestimate. It is an opportunity for you to bond with those people who are trying to achieve the same goal with you.

CLAY CLARK: Do you feel like it's important for every small business, every business out there, to get together with their staff and see everybody on a consistent basis?

-Absolutely, there's no question. It's an honor and an opportunity for all of the young leaders in your organization to spend time with the senior guys. Number one, they get mentored. They see how it's supposed to be done. But, number two, they get to show you what they're doing. And get an opportunity to show you the maturity and the growth that they've had.

So meetings I think have a real value to them and you shouldn't underestimate that side of the table, but we do want to make sure that they're productive. And we do want to make sure that we leave with direction, and focus, and opportunity.

-How do you balance this need to get together and to build a team, right? With-- and I don't know if you ever felt like this. But when you were starting, Carver, I would imagine when you put that much money into it, and you have these deadlines-- I mean because you have-- you probably ran into construction delays, and you probably ran into all sorts of issues--


- --and you wanted to be starting. You wanted to start school on a specific date. Do you remember day you opened up the school?

-I don't remember the exact date. It was in August of--


- 1990-- let's see. No, it was in August of maybe 2002.


-2002 or 2001.

-So I mean when opened the school, I mean, was there kind of a mad rush up until the grand opening?

-Oh, absolutely for about a year and a half up until the-- we had construction. We were building-- not only were building a facility, a $14 million facility, we were building a team. So we had plenty of mad rush growing up to that point.

-So you still had to, even though you-- and reason why I mention that is because you still wanted to get your team together to build that camaraderie, yet you also still had to get deadlines done. And so it's that balance. And do you wish that going back at it, looking back at it, that you would have known some of these principles about meetings when you first started having your meetings?

DAVID ROBINSON: Absolutely. I can remember many meetings that I ran that I can look back now and say, I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I would have liked to with those meetings. And I've always had great resources in those meetings. And I don't think I've always taken advantage of those things.

When you've got these wonderful people and brilliant people sitting at your table, you need to engage them. You need to have them buy into what's going on. If they're working for you, need to get them excited about what they're doing and activate their talents, their potential. It is a waste of a meeting to go in and talk to people and then leave the meeting and not let them contribute to the meeting.

-Dave, I appreciate you sharing about this, because, again, I know when I started my company I grew it and pretty soon there was like five people there. And I remember one day going, I need to have meetings. And I would show up at these meetings without an agenda. I didn't know what to talk about. I wasn't really sure what we should be doing. I knew I should be having a meeting. And then I would leave going, I don't really know what we just did, but I think we should do that less often. It was just sort of that weird deal and so I think this is helpful for a lot of people... Small Business Management

-Well, fantastic.

-So again, thank you for sharing about how to avoid death by meetings and how to run an effective meeting.

-Well, thanks, Clay Clark.

-Thank you,


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