March 28, 2023

Michael Girdley - Chairman of Girdley Enterprises - Becoming a Creator, Building a HoldCo, Going from Idea to Business Launch

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Michael is CEO of Girdley Enterprises, LLC, a diversified holding company of 11 businesses. 


In this episode Chris & Michael discuss:

  • Becoming a creator and the business of creating
  • How he has built a hold-co and keeps everyone accountable
  • How he takes a business from idea to a running business
  • Why he wants to focus on BIG ideas


Key Takeaways:


(2:08) - Sudden Deafness & Insights into Girdley’s Persona

(6:52) - Why have you chosen to spend so much time building your presence online?

(10:05) - What makes for great content on Twitter?

(11:38) - How much time is spent on your threads and writing?

(17:41) - Building a media team

(23:38) - Twitter’s change under Elon

(27:44) - Girdley on changing his Twitter strategy

(29:33) - Has LinkedIn translated well for you?

(31:46) - Girdley on Remote teams

(33:10) - How are you able to stay on top of multiple different companies?

(37:27) - What do you fail at?

(38:44) - Do you teach the EOS or hire someone to implement it?

(40:53) - What do you feel like you still have to learn?

(41:43) - What does your Chief of Staff do?

(45:49) - Was there a pivotal moment when you realized where you were the strongest in your role?

(47:06) - What do you mean when you say you only want to work on “big” things?

(49:36) - What is your process from formulating an idea, to launching, to stepping back?

(56:23) - Are you still involved in VC?

(57:16) - How do you approach capital allocation in your HoldCo?

(59:41) - What happens when you’re not aligning with a CEO?

(1:01:41) - Are there best practices for incentivizing a CEO?

(1:02:40) - What is a Holding Company?

(1:06:02) - Why did you decide to create a course?

(1:10:14) - How do you approach distribution and scaling content?

(1:11:59) - How do you see the 4th quarter of your career playing out?

(1:13:33) - Why have you chosen podcasting as a medium?


Additional Resources


👉 Girdley on Twitter:

👉 The Complete HoldCo Course:

👉 All of Michael's Links:

👉 Traction by Gino Wickman


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The FORT is produced by Johnny Podcasts



Michael Girdley: You want to talk about sudden deafness?

Chris Powers: Yeah, let's talk aboutit, so we're getting off. Here we go.

Michael Girdley: So sudden deafness is something I had. And my wife reminded me it happened like six years ago. And basically, what happens with sudden deafness is it happens to one out of every 10,000 adult men over 40, you just wake up one day and your ear stops working.

So that happened to me and, I learned a lot about the science of ears, which is, it's basically medieval-like they don't, they know very little about how ears work. And if you go to an ENT and you're like, hey, which is ear noses, and throat specialist, and you say, hey, why am I deaf in this ear? They will tell you; we have no idea unless we cut open your head and do an autopsy on you.

So, it's a real mess. Yeah, so I just woke up one day and my left ear was basically not working anymore. I had a strong sense of vertigo. I went to the local little emergency room and the ER doc said, well just give it a few more days and see what happens. Which is precisely the worst advice. So, I did learn if your eyes or your ears stop working for more than 60 seconds, you need to stop everything and go to the hospital, because anything they can do for you happens within the first 24 hours, and then after that, you're pretty much screwed.

Chris Powers: How has your life changed? Not having one ear that works.

Michael Girdley: My family's very annoyed with me because like this entire half of stuff is not very exciting, it's created situations where you know before I had a lot of anxiety going to cocktail parties and stuff. I hate cocktail parties. I like, I love social stuff, but I hate unstructured social stuff.

And it's made a lot of times now where we'll be at stuff and if it's too loud, Like just above a normal roar. Like I can't hear anybody. And like I'll just be like, I can't stay. Like it's because people will be talking to me and all I see is like this.

Chris Powers: So, have you changed anything about your life besides not going to cocktail parties and being in loud situations?

Michael Girdley: I guess it's a pretty first-world thing to be like, yeah, I can't go to cocktail parties. The good news is I didn't even really like them, you know, I think annoying to my family for sure, but I really looked at it as one of those things where I could say, how do I want to react to this?

Yeah. You know? And I think that really defines people. Like, how do you react to adversity, and you get to decide what that level of the reaction's going to be? And for me, I just decided like, screw it. I'm going to make some stuff happen. You know, I'm going to live every day. it's like I'm going to be deaf tomorrow.

Chris Powers:I think we could consider ourselves good friends at this point. we've been like online buddies, but we've seen each other in person several times. And as I think about you, and if I just had to brand you or tell people about you, always the glass is way half full with you.

And you said a quote when you said like, I could choose how to look at this. We were talking on the pre-call about how you deal with getting on Twitter or online and seeing things that you don't like or that would typically trigger you. And you had a quote and you said, my strategy's simple.

I'm okay with somebody else being wrong, or, or something to that degree. And, if you look at life that way, then it's your permission to like, I don't have to react to every little thing that comes and I can just be positive.

Michael Girdley: Yeah. It's super liberating. Like, you know after 15, 20 years being an adult trying to change people's minds, you're like, ah, this is so annoying.

Like I'm not going to do this anymore. Like, just was, let them think how they want to think.

Chris Powers: Was the ear the thing that kind of, have you always been that way or was it just maturity?

Michael Girdley: I think it's natural maturity. I mean, as a younger person, I definitely had insecurities that turned into the smartest guy in the room type stuff.

And yeah, man, I would tell you what I thought you should do, and here's the right answer to this. And I've got it figured out and I don't have it figured out, I've done too many mistakes.

Chris Powers: you have some humility and, some scar tissue.

Michael Girdley: You know, I think one of the transformative things you know, I gravitate towards teaching.

Like I just love it. I think it's so much fun and the intellectual challenge of how you translate an idea and give a person that kind of perfect thing that they need to hear. Yeah. To help them unlock and achieve, like, that's so interesting to me. And you know, I think that if you're in a position where you can be okay with like, letting them be wrong, but then when they're open to it, be there for them.

That’s super fun. And I don't know if I just wandered off into another space because sometimes, I'll think about three ideas at once, but,

Chris Powers: We're going to go wherever this goes.And when we talked at lunch earlier, I said we might start somewhere, but I think we're going to incorporate that later.

Let's just kind of keep going on teaching. So, you are a prolific teacher and you've been super generous. And so, I want to kind of move into how I would describe as someone who's just been outside looking in this creator momentum that you've built, I think you've leaned into this in a big way.

And when we talked earlier, a lot of it was based on teaching people. But maybe let's just start with like, why have you chosen to put so much time into building an audience and becoming more maybe notable on the internet?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. Lots of reasons. You know, I think most good ideas tend to have multiple factors.

Yeah. So, there's not one reason for this. Number one, I enjoy the process, like the teaching process and you know, I don’t know if you've ever looked, have you kind of studied what makes an okay tutor different than like a really good tutor? So, they went and studied what makes an okay tutor different than a really good tutor.

And the difference was an okay tutor will tell you the correct answer. The great tutor gets into your head and tells you the perfect answer. And like, to me that's such like a cool challenge intellectually to be like, okay, well like this is where you're at. Like, let me really understand what you're thinking.

And like I'm reading Twitter all the time thinking about like, what are people thinking about this? Like, where are they at? What is their perspective? Trying to understand that. And then that intellectual challenge is like super fun. And then I dig into it and lean into it. And then the other like thing that happens is, you have a situation where you're teaching and giving on Twitter, and like every time I do it, I get paid back 10 x.

Right? Like, so let's just take it a micro level like you and I have become friends just because like, I beat my ass. Writing threads on Twitter. Yeah. right? Like, that's how we've connected. You've gotten to know me; I've gotten to know you. Like, that's like a great gift. And so, it's that reinforcement that happens because it's just an enormous return on investment for me, top to bottom.

Chris Powers: But to be fair, I would say when we first met, maybe we were all kind of messing around on Twitter, trying to figure it out. But I would say in the last, I don't know 12 to 18 months, you've taken it to another level. Was that a decision or was that just, hey, I've really enjoyed fumbling around on Twitter for three years?

If I'm going to spend this much time on it, maybe I should channel it more, or something of that nature?

Michael Girdley: I want to win. Yeah. If I could help more people, that's a win. You know, for this year I had, that goal of getting 150,000 followers made it a month late, unfortunately. Yeah, two months in, I discovered that.

The follower counts ideas, total stupid metric doesn't really matter. But I still kept doing it because I'm me. But yeah, there's a level of like, it's a competitive thing. It's like a video game to me. And I don't mean in an I win, you lose the way. Yeah. But I definitely want to win.

Chris Powers: Yeah. why did the follower counts not matter like you thought they would?

[00:09:33] Michael Girdley: So, people think back in the old days on Twitter, follower accounts were people that actually saw your stuff. And then when they went to the algorithm, like approach to things that changed what your audience actually is. So, your reach isn't, it is somewhat correlated to your follower count. Yeah. Because it's typically indicative that you're putting out good stuff, but now you can look and there are people with 2 million followers or 180,000 followers and they get like three likes a post.

It's because their stuff's not any good. And the algo has learned not to prioritize their stuff for viewers.

Chris Powers: So, what makes forthe good stuff?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. Look, I think there are different versions of that. Okay. And you see that there are different people putting out different stuff.

There are all kinds of corners of Twitter that you and I don't go into. Yeah. You know, there's adult entertainment Twitter, and there is my least favorite corner of Twitter, which is. Bro Twitter. I would describe it like a non-masculine Twitter. Have you, have you ventured into this? No. It's the worst corner of Twitter.

Like it's the worst. It's this like what's a non-masculine Twitter? They're anonymous people. Okay. I'm trying not to use the incel work. Yeah, but they're basically that, and they're people that are promoting this like Andrew Tate type stuff. All right. So they're in the Andrew Tate genre, some version of that, and they're promoting like, this is how you can be more of a man.

Yeah. And it's like, no, being more of a man isn't cigars and whiskey and being a jackass and treating women poorly. It's actually the opposite of that. Like real men take responsibility. So that's like my least favorite quarter Okay, so you can produce stuff there. Yeah. But like ultimately I think that kind of Twitter corner grows because it's based on negative emotions.

Yep. To me, I think the best tweets are ones that come out of a place of good and giving, and it's like how do you help somebody become a better version of themselves? How do you help them achieve their goal? And I think about it when I add stuff there. Like how do I take and make this useful to somebody else and that's good content?

Yep. And anyway, there's that dichotomy there. But there are lots of ways to get an audience. That's just the way I choose to do it because I don't want a bunch of jerks on my feed.

Chris Powers: For sure. To give the listener here some idea, and people ask me about this all the time and like how much time you put into it.

But can you maybe give a little bit of insight into like how you think about writing,and how much time you spend writing these threads? I mean these are not things you put together in five minutes. These are very meticulously put together. And maybe just a background of all the effort that goes into what people actually get to read by the time they read it.

[00:12:04] Michael Girdley:

Yeah, a hundred percent. Well, there's a dichotomy. Yeah. So there's like the people that you know intently for Twitter, there's kind of the joke, there are the toilet seat tweets that invariably, you write it, you think about it, you write it on the toilet and you're like, whatever. So like, and that's just a one-liner.

My most popular version of that one is I wrote a tweet about every bankrupt person I know has owned a boat. And like, there's some nuance to that comment. Yeah. But like, it hits into a lot of things and got whatever, 12,000 likes or something, which for me, a one-liner is like enormous. But then there's the other end of it where it's very intentional content.

For me, I've discovered I'm pretty unique in this in terms of what I go through. So because you and I have been in a creator group of other people that are like sharing like tips and how to do this stuff. And so my process basically is I will develop a concept based on what I think somebody would be interested in hearing, right?

So it's like, okay, well here's the one I'm working on now is like how to be a small business, CEO. And so I will go through and I will do a lot of thinking and prep work on that, and I'll start to build out notes around that. And that might be a couple hours of being on walks or thinking about it or being an airplane, whatever, and thinking about the thing.

And then I will quickly write out a first draft. And typically I will go through five to six hours of revisions, five or six revisions, and then I'll let it sit over a week or so, and then I'll come back and revisit it again for readability. And then oftentimes the last step is going through and removing half of the words twice.

Putting everything into sixth-grade English, short declarative sentences, be able to read it, you know, on a typical trip to the toilet, like a People magazine article. so a typical thread is probably four to six hours of work for me. And the pace sucks.

Chris Powers: It's a long game. You keep telling yourself that it's a long game.

Okay, here's where I struggle. And I told somebody this the other day on the phone, I felt like I have not participated and tweetednearly as much as I used to. And maybe you've kind of answered it, but a lot of times I'm like, people already know this, or I don't want to come off s, I never want to cross the line of coming off aslike kind of what you said.

Like, I know more than you do. Or, look at me, look at me, look at me. But you have found like a great balance of it comes off as genuine teaching. But the real question is how do you not overthink some of the concepts from a standpoint of, everybody probably knows this anyway. Why am I going to put it out?

Like, how do you get through that mental block?

Michael Girdley: Yeah, I hear you. An eye-opener for me. I think it was 34, 35. So over a decade here. I'm 48 now. I volunteered to help at a technology accelerator and there are a bunch of young entrepreneurs there. They're in their twenties and early thirties. And I'm spending time with the guy running the program and I was like what do I have to teach these guys?

Like what? Do what, and why? Like, you know I’m still pretty early. Like I'm in my mid-thirties and he goes, Girdley, You don't know all the stuff, just go out there and talk to them. You'll figure it out really fast. And I went out there and talked to these people and these are like cream of the crop handpicked technology entrepreneurs in an elite program.

An, like we're talking about some basic stuff like copyrights, like just really basic stuff. I'm like, you don't know what a copyright is. They are like, oh, no. Because they've been working in some job at a big company forever. Like they never dealt with that stuff. So, that's the feedback I would give to you.

Like, you know, you're spending time with a lot of peers who know stuff really, really well and are experts in these things, so you're like, wow, what could a beginner possibly have to learn from all this? Turns out there's a lot and then I think the second thing is, as you start to think about what you're going to write or what you're going to share there, like read what other people's questions are or read what they're asking.

You and I were talking about YPO, EO and Vistage, and stuff like that. Today in the plane on the way up, I was talking to a guy on Twitter and he's like, what's a peer group? Yeah. I was like, oh, you don't know what this is, do you? I was like, okay. Like I know I can help you

Chris Powers: Okay. You have 150,000 followers now. Now let's just frame this from now that that tool is in your tool chest or that arrows in your quiver as you move forward in business, how does that audience that you've built factor into how you look at time going forward?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. I wish social media paid better because I would devote more time to it.

doesn't pay very well, but it's an amazing accelerant for the things you're doing right. It makes you smarter by writing. It makes it easier to hire like I put a job post up today. I'm building a media team.

Chris Powers: If you're like me, you like to wake up and get your daily dose of reading.For me, a lot of that has to do with commercial real estate because of the industry that we're in at Fort Capital.

And the news is important, but if you're a busy real estate professional like me, you don't have time to skim through the dozens of dry andad-filled media outlets each day. That's why I read CRE Daily, a free email newsletter that cuts through the clutter and delivers concise, witty commentary on the latest trends in transactions and commercial real estate.

I discoveredCRE Daily a few months ago, and it's an email I look forward to getting each morning. If you're a real estate professional, you owe it to yourself to try it out and stay on top of what's happening in the industry in only five minutes. To give their free daily newslettera try, visit CRE That’s

Michael Girdley: I'm building a media team, so I've got one person, Mirko, who's amazing, who produces our podcast, not as well as this one, Johnny. Just so you know, it's a shadow of yours, but we're doing good. But it's gone to a point now where I've learned I'm good at creating and I find a lot of joy in that.

Yeah. And I'm happy to do that. Unpaid distribution is so annoying. And by distribution, I mean figuring out which clips you're going to show and figuring out writing episode summaries. Like I hate all of that stuff, or repackaging stuff. I have so much stuff that I've created and it's like d in a blog somewhere.

Yeah. So we're going to hire folks to do that. So anyway, over time, that's how I see it, but I see it as an accelerant for the core business that I'm in.

Chris Powers: Okay. Now you've got me interested, so this media team, do they just work on your stuff or are they an agency thatworks for other people? How are they going to get paid?

Michael Girdley: I'm going to pay them, unfortunately. If you know anybody who is really good and wants to work for free or pay me to work for me, that would be good. But no, I'll pay them because I want to have good people that are highly motivated. I've tried the agency stuff and partnered with people like that, I just do better with missionaries over mercenaries

Chris Powers: what does that mean?

Like I want to have somebody that's fully dedicated, and they think about my business in the shower and how they're going to make it better. And they're a missionary and they're aligned with me. Hey, we're going to change people's lives by creating content and putting it out there. And a mercenary is thinking about how they're going to grow their agency and I'm one of their customers.

The difference I think in social media between pretty good and great is pretty shallow. Like that's a pretty narrow gap, but it's hard to reach that gap, right? Yep. And you know that six hours that I talked about and doing threads, I want people that are on my team that has that same level of excellence.

Somebody who's running an agency isn't going to have that cause I'm just one of their customers

Chris Powers: How do you think you find these people? Because I think we're entering like this world of creatives. Like, what do you look for to go that per, like, how do you hire that person? Because I guess some of it could be a resume, you could look at their past work, but is there something else you're looking for to go, this is somebody that will basically become your left brain.

Yeah. They get what's inside your head and can become extensions of you. How do you do that?

Michael Girdley: Every hiring job for me is the same process I run with everybody else. So, it's a combination of top grading, which is this track record-based hiring process, which I talk about all the time.

The personality assessment tool, you and I both use the same one. Culture index. And then aptitude a gentleman aptitude assessment and you know, I can take those things as kind of a first filter, but then use the personality that I learned through the top grading process to really understand them.

Yeah. So like Mirko, who works with us, like the dude's a bulldog, right? He's in Argentina. He produces stuff for our podcast and has helped us do really well. Right. But what I saw in him was a pattern of things that I knew I wanted to have, the kind of culture he had built into him in terms of how he was wired on my team.

And he's proven to be that guy. Like he's just, ride or die, right? And it's just like, I want to have those types of people around. And so yeah, its track record and then the same hiring process I use with everybody else.

Chris Powers: Okay. I'm just going to keep picking, this is selfish. What is an organ?

What is a well built out media company or media staff that you've envisioned in your head look like?

Michael Girdley: Hopefully it's built around where I think my strengths and weaknesses are. Right now, I don't want anybody else to help with creative. There are other people that are good with outsource creative to their team, and you could see it like there are people building little media empires.

What I want to do is just accelerate all the crap that's already coming out and help me filter it and make it really good. Yeah. So for example, like right now I've got 13,000 people or whatever on my newsletter. Like, I don't write very often because like I'm too lazy to take the Twitter threads and put them in the newsletter.

That seems terrible to me. I'm like, oh, I have to do that for free. give me a break. But people that, in my case, can be that wagon wheel, the spokes. And I know we're not supposed to do this in an EOS like modern business thing. I'm supposed to be automating things, but I just need people to do those things that I really hate in terms of my stuff.

So we're going to be taking the content that I already have, which I think is genuine for me. Like, I don't want to be publishing somebody else's content under my name. Right. I mean, you see big creators that are doing that and I'm not interested in that at all. I don't want to be like, hey, this is ghost written for me.

But then like, being omni-channel as opposed to uni-channel where I am now. But doing that with the team. Yeah. So if you want to keep probing, I will continue to full on,

Chris Powers: I'm going to keep probing because all I did for this episode, worth like three topics, and creator is one ofthem. And I think.

You're part of this emerging class and I would maybe put myself in this category, not near as great as you've done it, of people that are coming from the business world. Yeah. And becoming creators. Whereas you also see a lot of creators that have never run a business. And so, it's interesting to watch these professionals, maybe we're digressing or aggressing, I don't know which way we're going in our career.

We'll see where it ends up down the road. But we are starting to, okay, we have this knowledge of stuff. Yeah. Now how do we kind of reinvent ourselves? And I don't think it was a conscious decision I made, I just kind of kept doing it. And I think, maybe you did too. And now I finally sit here going, okay, I've created fouryears worth of content on the podcast.

I've not really thought too much about itbecause I've had this other thing, but I'm just now waking up. And we talked about it a lot at lunch today to go. Oh, wow. This might be the next thing and here's why. And we can talk about what this could lead to down the road, but one thing I was going to go back to, you just said, I've got 13,000 newsletter followers.

Would you rather have 13,000 newsletter followers or 130,000 followers on Twitter?

Michael Girdley: Oh, right now the 130,000 on Twitter.


Chris Powers: Okay. Why?


Michael Girdley: Because I actually enjoy creating content for them, but look, I think to highlight something going on with Twitter right now, which is its changing under the new ownership.

Chris Powers: It sucks right now.

Michael Girdley: Elon has said that he wants to create something for the masses, and that may mean niche creators like us get punished. You know, if you look at who's really doing well and the tweets that are working well now they're all mass markety, mid twit stuff, right? The niche is kind of, here's SO Terry about property management or acquisitions in real estate, or like, here's how you hire a CEO.

Like that stuff is getting punished and like I see creators that used to publish stuff that was super interesting and would get four or 500 likes and would get visible with people. Like I saw one of our mutual buddies, he clearly spent several hours on a thread today on investing that was very good.

Four likes and like 1500 views.

Chris Powers:And do you think that is because they've already changed the algorithm to that or because as they're unravelling the algorithm and trying to get it where they're going, things are starting to crumble under their feet?

Michael Girdley: I don't think you should ever attribute to malice what you could attribute to just cluelessness.

But I do think that if you look at the charts that Elon has been putting out, and I use his first name like I know the guy, like my buddy Elon, he comes over for barbecue. Like, that's the other thing with some of these, you ask for questions from Twitter for me, and they're like, surely he has met some famous people and I am like, nah, I'm a big nobody.

Seriously, I like being a nobody. Like I don't hang out with famous people. I'm just a rando. But anyway, if you look at the charts like that he has published, and by the way here's a great thing about the algorithm. Recently I don't see any more Elon tweets. I don't see him at all.

Chris Powers: I know what's going on.

Michael Girdley: But it's because like I don't interact with them. I'm not interested. But the charts he's put out are like, how many daily active users am I having? How many tweets are going per minute through the thing? And it's like, oh, if you draw back to what he's measuring, that's what's getting managed here.

What's getting managed is, like nudging from where we were, which was this global community of little town halls getting nudged to one big town hall talking about something close to four chan style content. Like that's kind of what's going on now.

Chris Powers: It is very much going on.

Michael Girdley: I think it all happened right around my birthday January 4th because I did a tweet thread, I was pretty proud of it.

It was my favourite 15 dishes at Twitter or at Chili's on Twitter. And then I thought I had tripped some kind of like pornography band or something like that. Cause I pumped out too many images. But I think they changed it right around then. And I felt it like that week, because I'm spending a lot of time I'll tweet four or five things and delete four or five of them.

If none of them go. Because I'm trying to feel like, okay, here's what people want to see, here's what it works. And I felt it like immediately and a couple weeks later, like all of our friends are like, Hey, like Twitter's broken. I'm like, yeah, I thought it was just me.

Chris Powers: I send something in December that was like, I'm not seeing if I don't see you.

Moses Kagan's, sweaty startup. On a regular basis. I knew something was off and for a while, I mean, if Moses is listening to this, he'll laugh. I texted him on the side. I was like, are you mad at me? Are you okay? Did something happen? Did you block me? Am I muted? But it was, no. And I will tell you, it's made me realize what I loved about the old Twitter was feeling like I was walking into a room with all my best buddies and we were just going to start chatting.

And now I feel like I walk into a room, and I just don't know who's going to be in there. Or it's like some of the folks, I can't really describe the way I feel about it right now, other than I've put four to five years into it. I'm not going to give up on it. It's got to get better. And I'm not abandoning ship, but I do miss that niche community vibe.

But I also can acknowledge the importance of maybe a big community vibe too.

Michael Girdley: I think two things are happening. One is I have noticed, this was coming to me, people that watched my tweets, they said, you've changed your tweets in the past two weeks. I said, yeah,


Chris Powers: What'd you change them to?

Much more pithy, kind of one-liners, much more image-centric. Like for example, I don't know if you remember like two, three months, four months ago before the change, like if you posted like a short form video, like never worked. Nobody ever cared. Yeah. I posted one the other day. I got like a hundred likes, which is like enormous.

And of course it was me talking, talking about how I recommend a book to people that I haven't ever read. But anyway, the joke was like I didn't need to read the book because I understood the concept from the title. Like this book should have been a tweet, but you know, if other people want to not read, so that I've noticed, I've personally changed what I'm creating.

Yeah. Like there's long form threads and all that stuff. We're getting punished and I'm doing much more kind of pithy, I would say middle-of-the-road content. Where like niche content just doesn't do very well anymore. And then I think the second thing happening and I'm starting to do this, which is like seeing. This is a platform I can't necessarily trust anymore. I knew there was a trust level that I had that Twitter was basically owned by the employees. They ran the shop, and they weren't going to change in mass, and now they're all gone, and we have a new overlord who may change things and is changing things.

And I think you're going to see a lot of more folks doing like what I'm doing, which is long-form content, like threads and stuff like that's going to go to email. It's going to go to LinkedIn, because it's not getting rewarded anymore. You're getting punished for putting it on Twitter. So that's part of why I'm hiring this person, and building out a team is like, okay, newsletter, newsletter.

At least I know unless Google changes its spam rules, I'm not going to get cancelled there. But on Twitter, I don't know what the new overloads are going to decide and the way it's going is not optimistic.

Chris Powers: Has LinkedIn translated to you? Has it translated well? Like what worked on Twitter, has it worked on LinkedIn?

Michael Girdley: It's kind of a different culture. I've done zero LinkedIn, but I have been observing a lot of my Twitter buddies. Have shown up on LinkedIn.

So, I think everybody has gone from Twitter and just started copy pasta, copy-pasting all their stuff on LinkedIn. Copy pasta. That's a computer science joke.

I started doing that too, and then I was like, this is lame. That was my reaction. I was like, this is so lame. I'm like, where are we all just making our Twitter threads into slides and putting them on LinkedIn? So, about a month ago, I was just like, you know what I do? I'm just going to go be a real person on LinkedIn and see what happens.

Because nobody else is being a real person. Yeah. Everybody else is like, check out my new whatever. I'm like, I'm just going to go be a real person. And it's been so much more fun. I highly recommend that. Okay, just go. If you're a real person on Twitter, go be a real person on LinkedIn.

Like let me tell you, here are the 14 things I learned from, Seth Godin's book. Like, ugh, gag me with a spoon. It's so boring.

Chris Powers: But LinkedIn is a strategy right now.

Michael Girdley: Total experiment. Okay. Yeah. Total experiment.

Chris Powers: Email. Uh, good. Do you do anything else on any of the other platforms like Facebook, Instagram,or any of that?

Michael Girdley: No.

Chris Powers No.And why so?

Michael Girdley: I think for each of those platforms, you have to figure out how to be a native in those platforms. And I see where people are. Going in just kind of half-ass where it's like, okay, well I'm just going to like take clips and I'm going to use my YouTube clips. I'm going to put those on Instagram, it's going to work great.

And like, I think that being good at any single one of those platforms at a level where I'm going to be proud of the content coming out and I want to associate my name with it like it needs to be me or me plus a combination of people really leaning into those and like, I don't want to put a bunch of crap on those platforms that I'm not proud of if that makes sense.

Yeah, as I like to get more people to help with the distribution stuff and build out all this kind of team-type thing that I'm doing to amplify my messages, I think I'll do those kinds of things. But for now, I would prefer not to be on those platforms rather than put something out I'm not proud of.

Chris Powers: Yep. You said Mirko is in Argentina. Will this team be distributed across the world, or you think those would be US-based?

Michael Girdley: Everything I'm starting to build these days unless I have to, is a hundred percent remote.

Chris Powers: Really. And do you ever find a, not even, is there ever like a cultural thing where especially as you're distributing content, you think this is how Americans like to receive content?

Is it the same of how Argentinians like to receive content or is there like a bridge that you have to gap there?

Michael Girdley: So, I think for what I'm learning is for some overseas roles where there's a cultural difference, like hiring anybody but the North American when your major consumer is North American is very difficult.

So, like Mirko is amazing and like the thing I love about, like him and I love about hiring Argentinians for example, is like, those people love to work. Like they're aligned with guardly values that way it's like, let's go. We're going to push, we're going to do better. We're going to have high set of standards.

Which is crazy when you look at Argentina, which is like one of the world's most screwed-up economies forever. And it's funny because they all hate the government, but they love their country. It's the craziest thing, but I just love working with them. But it's a big gap, right? Where you have, if you don't have somebody that's native in a language like that, it makes it just so difficult to have nuance.

So, I think there'll be a combination of people that are North American, either Canadian or us. My chief of staff right now is Canadian. She's great and people overseas, but that'll be specialized depending upon roles.

Chris Powers: Okay. So when I think about something that you are very, very good at, and you just got done talking about managingteams overseas and there's a gap.

Do you do have an ability to manage a lot of different relationships companies? Girdley Enterprises is a holding company with 11 different businesses, and you don't work in any ofthem. Which means they're all accountable to you.Let's start at the top, what is it about you or your strengths that are able to keep so many thingsaccountable to you and that you're able to stay on top of?

Michael Girdley: Yeah, well I mean at the core of all this is, I'm very systems oriented, so I like to have systems for stuff and it just works and it just goes from a culture index standpoin, that's the personality estimate that I use.

Like, the consultant they read my profile and he is like, okay, you're the set it and forget it guy like you're the Ron Pope of business. You need to set things up, so they're automated and because you're never going to remember. Okay. And the reality is like, unless I have recurring systems reminding me to remember stuff, I will forget details.

Like crazy. Okay. So that's why like to be able to do that, I have to set up recurring things to where it's like, okay well there's this one-on-one on my calendar, and like that's how I make sure I have this interaction model. We have a board meeting and I get these reports on this date and I set it up and I am able to forget it because I have a memory of a goldfish

Right. So, it's like super important to do that. And then that works its way down. Right? And I have an interaction model that I've standardized across all the companies. It looks very much like, a kind of standard HoldCo approach that most people do. And then there's a standard, API in terms of, to use a computer term in terms of what I see from them.

And I say, okay, I want to see this. And they send it back to me. Or it just shows up, right? Okay, here are your monthly financials, congratulations. You get to see them. So those systems and routines are how the whole thing really holds together.

Chris Powers: And how do you know, because you have the system, but you said you have the memory of a goldfish.

How do you stay up to speed with what you should be up to speed with? Is it purely like, Hey, these are the reports I got last quarter and I go review those quickly before my next, like how do you kind of stay to where you're in a flow with somebody to where every time you're interacting with them, they don't feel like they're just totally catching you up to speed, but you kind of feel like you're on top of things?

Michael Girdley: Like the leadership style I try to have is like being transparent with them about where I'm good and where I'm bad. Yeah. And they all like every, like the fact I just said, I have the memory of a goldfish. Like they all understand that like nobody is like going to be insulted because I forget something because like they just know, like sometimes I'll be like, wait, what are we talking about again?

Like, just a little confusion there. So, like they, I hopefully do that, but at the same time do the things to communicate to them other ways that I care about them as people first and the business second and try to do things in that way. But like for me, like everybody uses the same common language in terms of how they run the businesses.

There's the EOS process, which is the business operating system. I ask everybody to use and then, and you are that the force, the agreement I have with people is use this if you have a better idea. Bring it up and we'll all change to that one. And nobody's come up with a better idea at this point.

Okay. And it gets enforced when people are like, okay, we're having our board meeting. And I'm like, where's the EOS stuff? Right. Where's the, where's the 10-year plan? Like, where's all the stuff? I can't get up to speed on your business unless you show it in a format. I can understand, having that standardization allows me to say, okay, well I've created this interaction model with this company, right?

And, and I customize it by the company because I have a heterogeneous set of things. If you have a homogeneous set of things, you can standardize your interaction model. In my case, it's different. Every company's in a different stage, different market, and different CEOs. And then the different CEOs are important because different CEOs need different things for me, and I customize that for them.

And so, I get those, get those things, and I have that defined interaction model, and it all gets run by my Google calendar where it's like, okay, like this is showing up on this date and I'm having this one-on-one on this date, and I'm having this, this quarterly meeting on this date. And the routine just happens.

Chris Powers: Do you ever screw up like what would you screw up on?

Michael Girdley: all the time for example,

Chris Powers:  All the time, baby.


Michael Girdley: No, I mean all kinds of stuff. I mean the very basic stuff like, because I have so much going on like it's impossible to keep everything in my head. Like I may forget things. So, I could do that. For example, you know, one of the things I've tried to get much better at is not jumping to conclusions on things.

Working with my business coach, I actually switched to be too much, not jumping to conclusions. And that caused the problems, it went from hey, he jumps to conclusions too much to Hey, he's not providing enough input. So, like the pendulum swung the other way.

So, I'll do that as well. You know, and then there are times where like if I'm not careful, little cracks can come in where like that, that process that's supposed to happen, like the every two-week one-on-one or the weekly one-on-one or the monthly meeting, I can let things fall through the crack and I just have to be super diligent to make sure that I don't have that happen.

Because the last thing you want to have out, it's with business problems, it's super easy if you know about them four months before, they're critical. If you know about them four minutes before, they're critical, that's really bad. So that way I can try to stay ahead of things.

Chris Powers: So many things I want to unpack little questions here, but, okay.

Just going back to EOS real quick. And anybody that's listening, if you don't know whatEOS is, read the book Traction, it'll tell you everything you need to know about EOS. It's an operating system for businesses. My question to you is, do you teach the business every business EOS or do you hire an implementer with every business?Or do you just make the CEO read the book and hope they understand what it means?

Michael Girdley: I let them choose how they're going to deal with it.

Chris Powers: Really?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. So, there's a super high level, like for me, like I want to empower the CEO to take ownership of it. So, I am very limited in what I tell him or heard they're going to have to do.

So, if they want to hire an implementer, they can do that. If they want to self implement, they can do that. If they want to delegate it to an employee in the company, they can do that. I'll coach them and I'll say, I think you should do it this way or do it that way. But other than that, I'm not going to force it on them one way or another.

Chris Powers: I think I know the answer because this is a lot of things. There's that imaginary line of when are you doing too much? When are you now becoming the CEO yourself? What happens if in this example they choose toself-implement and it's just been a poor job, which you see often forfirst-time implementers of EOS

Michael Girdley: yeah. That's where I would give them feedback on the work product. And just say, Hey, like this isn't very good. Are you breaking this rule here though? Sometimes they get pretty good, and they tell me I'm misunderstanding the rule. Yeah. Which happens, it's pretty funny. Like, oh, okay. Well thank you.

We'll pull out the book. It'd be like page 82, that would be feedback for them, but it would be in the context of all the other work product they're preparing. And then, I'm spinning up and, and I do an annual review process for all of them. So, where some of that would get sussed out in terms of, okay, well, is that going well or not?

What was the core problem maybe there that caused them to make a decision and predict it went the wrong way? That’s just part of all their work product.

Chris Powers: You're the business coach to them. And often the chairman could be considered maybe a business coach, but you just said you have a business coach.

Michael Girdley: Yeah. Well, most of the CEOs that I work with are also in peer groups. So a lot of them are in the other peer group run by my same business coach. They're in another Vistage group.There ares like four of them in there.

Chris Powers: So what doyou feel like you still have to learn?

Michael Girdley: What do I feel like I still have to learn?

Yeah, it's really interesting. I mean, I feel like at this point I'm in the, there's two categories of things. That are learnable. One is there's all this kind of temporal stuff, like tactical stuff that's changing all the time, I'm curious about that stuff. Like, okay, okay, what's working?

And that's pretty obvious stuff. But I think at this point like I've read enough business books and been around the block enough that really cues the Donald Feld idea. Like there are the unknown unknowns. That's the stuff I keep learning and that's why I like Twitter so much. Like I'm just stumbling around and like, you know, Johnny and I were talking to the pre-show.

He like told me about something I hadn't known before, and I took a note. I was like, okay, I'm definitely doing that. So, like those unknown unknown things are just by like kind of stumbling around and trying stuff. Like it accelerates my learning.

Chris Powers: What does your chief of do for you

Michael Girdley: Well, it's pretty good.

We talked about my memory of a goldfish like the other day. Like I was in the one-on-one with her and I was like, I'm getting managed here. Like, this is great, like, this is really good. But like, I'm really good at like being at 60,000 feet and developing insights. I'm terrible at taking 60,000 feet stuff and bringing it down to 5,000 feet.

To where it could be implementable. And so, a really good chief of staff for me is going to be somebody who, you know, to use culture Index is going to be low C likes to have a lot of stuff going on, but it's totally comfortable with taking that kind of, you know when I walk in and I'm like, I don't know what I need.

Just make it good. And they kind of ask me some questions, try some stuff, I give them some feedback and they are comfortable translating that down into where the rubber hits the road. That’s super valuable. And then frankly there are processes that I know how to do that I have to get done, but I should delegate those things like running a small hiring process. Those are things where it's like, okay, you go do this. So, like the social media person we're hiring, like she's running that process. Yep. And we've agreed on here's how it's going to get done and she'll present one or two candidates, we'll agree on them, and then we'll go from there. And then she'll probably build the training plan for them as well.

Chris Powers: Can you give an example of just like a real life example of something that you might conceptualize and that act how it actually ends up getting done?

Michael Girdley: Yeah, all that hand waving stuff I did about the social media stuff, she's rearchitecting all of that. So, I'm like, okay, this is where I think we need to go.

We need to be becoming more email-centric. We can't depend on Twitter anymore. We need to become omnichannel. We need to think about putting a calendar together. And so, she took that kind of level. That's the level direction I gave her, by the way. That's why I'm such a great manager. That's fantastic.

Chris Powers: You sound identical. I don't even know if I would've given that much detail. So, a lot of this is for me right now.

Michael Girdley: Well, it's funny, one of the CEOs, you know, that I work with, he's like, okay, Girdley . Stop philosophizing on me because that's the type of culture, index profile. I'm sick, I need some detail here.

You got to tell me exactly what you want. I was like, yeah, just gimme a financial statement that looks good. Like, I don't know why this is hard. Just give me this format right here. Just do this. Something looks like this and anyway, so, but yeah, that would be exactly a project she's doing at this point where it's like, okay, translate this down into some actual activities of how my website changes, how my production flow changes, all that kind of stuff.

Chris Powers: And then does she come back to you with like a plan or it just, she's just off to the races to do it? And how do you play a role? We were talking about this at lunch. I'm really good at giving you the high level. Me thinking, you heard what I thought you heard. And then once the product's done being like, no, no, we got to change this, this, this, and this.

Andthat other person can often get really frustrated going, well, it would've been nice to know that upfront. Andin my head I'm thinking, I thought I told you everything and you agreed to it. So, I guess my question is, once you've given that to her and it's her project, does she come back to you with like a write up of how the project's going to go?

Or how do you kind of make sure she's doing what you actually thought you told her to do?

Michael Girdley: Yeah, so one-on-one chats, like, there's a good habit there. There are weekly one-on-ones. And so, she'll bring those up and then we revisit them. But like today, this morning, we had a call before you and I met for lunch, and I was like, okay, well she had taken the 60,000-foot thing and 60,000-foot confused.

So asked me, kind of confused about what the next steps are, so let's have a call. So, we got on the call and we pulled up, what she had kind of produced so far. And I was like, okay, well why don't you take this and translate it into a plan? And then when you get to kind of a stopping point or where you're confused, like, let's talk again.

And then at each point, I said, when you kind of have one way or big decisions to make, like let's stop and have a check-in. Because I've learned the same way. I can't just be like, yeah, just go make that awesome and then you disappear. Like, I have to stay part of that process. And that's part of us like getting to know each other and her being like, yeah, okay.

Like this is where Michael's weak. Because frankly, that's a weakness. Like every strength has a weakness. And she'll come back to me and be like, okay. Like that's where I felt like I was getting managed. Cause she's intuiting, intuiting what she needs to make me successful. And her successful.

Chris Powers: Was there a certain moment or was it just kind of continuing to mature where you realized this was your role in business and it wasn't in the business any longer?

It was going. Or did you take tests and that's what the test told you? Like when did you kind of get the clarity that this is where I sit in theworld?  

Michael Girdley: Yeah, well I was, fortunately, I feel like I can talk about small business CEOing because I was small business CEO Twice for over a decade.

And there was this kind of pivotal moment where like I went away on vacation and like came back four weeks later and like everything was running better than like when I had left. And I was like, you know what? I may suck at some stuff. And over time that idea and that level of humility gets reinforced because you try things and they don't work or in my case, you buy into kind of the personality assessment, you know, culture index or predictive index type stuff.

And they're like, yeah, you're a flawed and perfect human being all at once. Like, accept that and lean into your perfections and hate on your flaws and let somebody else take care of them. And understanding that I think has been, You know, eye-opening for me, there's a lot of entrepreneurs that think they can do everything.

Yeah. I suck at a lot of stuff. I'm really bad.

Chris Powers: Oh, me too. really bad. Well, we're going to get to big ideas in a little bit, but, and maybe we can, we can kick it off with one of the things on our call thatwere most interesting was, you said, one of my goals going forward is I only want to work on big things, let's just actually start there. What does that mean to you?

Michael Girdley: Yeah, so I think the transformation I've made is, you know, at this point, and I think everybody kind of reaches this in business, you kind of look up and you're like, okay, well if I really didn't want to work anymore, I don't have to. Yeah, right.

Like, where am I going to find meaning and what kind of games do I want to play that is going to be interesting to me? And I think that's where I've been a business coach has been really helpful. Like once a year we'll sit down and kind of do stock of like, take stock of like, okay, what are you excited about?

What are you dispassionate about? And for me, like things that didn't have a ton of impact or potential to make a shit ton of money. That's a technical term. Like, those are not that interesting. I'm just at the point in life where I think, you know, I probably could not work ever again if I don't want to.

Which I kind of say that and I feel like really weird because like people are like, well, why don't you just quit? And I'm like, why would you ask that? Like, that's how weird of a question it is to me. Yeah. Because I love playing the game so much. And so, to me it's there's a two by two dimension of impact and potential financial outcome, whether that's nine digits or 10 digits.

Those are the types of ideas that I would want to work on that 20 years from now could look like that. And along the way, I think the theme of everything that I do is I've looked at it and with my business coach it's like, what's the theme of everything you do? It's like, I create opportunities for other people.

Like I run a school like our fireworks business, you know, creates jobs for people that come in and run those locations. As all of that have, are things that I've created, opportunity, top the bottom, these things, and I want to have that level of big impact. I just don't want to do it on a small scale anymore.

Chris Powers: Okay. Now that we've set that, you've been a master at being able to take things from an idea to kind of launching them and then, when it's your time to get out. So maybe we could describe how in the past you've gone from idea to getting it off on its own and taking the role that you eventually take, which is a chairman or an advisor type role.

And then I want to go from there and go, does that process change as you go through big idea thoughts are there different filters you put in place? So let's just start with number one. What has been your process from going from, Hey, I have an idea to start this to it's launched and I'm back where I need to be at the chairman level?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think historically that I've realized I'm a business creator and not a business builder, right? And there are people that I think find a lot of joy in a business building. I Probably could do it if I wanted to kill myself, but like, it's not fun for me. But the idea of creating, synthesizing all the opportunities, synthesizing all the, the people and the resources there, and kind of doing, you know, I do this effectuation style creation of new ventures, like all of that is where I find inspiration and joy.

So I want to stay there. And it turns out that inspiration and joy start to decrease over time as the business gets built. Yep. And eventually business building is doing 101% of things rather than 100% thing. And I want to work on the 100% thing. I don't want to work on the 101% things except for the couple percent of those that are actually really interesting problems.

I'm driven by interesting problems. I love interesting problems, but you're a boring ass. How do we upgrade our HR system? Like, kill me. Literally like I've been in those meetings and I'm like, thank God I'm not the CEO here. This is the worst thing I've ever sat through. But there are other people who do that and like it and love it.

And I want to partner with those people and I want to put them in the seat and I want to create an opportunity for them and get the hell out of their way and be their best friend and supporter. Because together we can win. Because I don't want to do it. It looks terrible. This is the worst.

Chris Powers: Okay so you come up with an idea. Then do you find the CEO next? Like what happens from the day you go, we can take one of your businesses if you want to do areal-lifee model. We could take the coffee one or pick a business of how it happened.

Michael Girdley: Code ups a fun one. Okay. I think that's a great one. So that's our coding school that I have 50-odd employees located in San Antonio.

In Dallas as well. Not in Fort Worth yet. We'll work on it. Okay. But yeah, it's on the list.

Chris Powers: Country coders over here, we'll call it Country coders.

Michael Girdley: Country, yeah. We're fancy. We're in uptown, we're cool. But yeah, so that was a business. You know, the creativity of it was, I saw it was at the, I nascent part of when it happened.

It was whatever. We started it 10 years ago and I read about a business where these guys in Seattle were teaching people how to be computer programs to help me give jobs. And they were doing it all in like 12 weeks or something like that. That's not enough time by the way. We learned that after a while,

But basically, I read about this, and I had been investing in company as a angel investing and all these startups were like, how do I like hire programmers? And I was like, wow, there's a huge shortage of programmers here and these guys are doing it, it in Seattle. Why don't we just do it in San Antonio?

Like we're just the smartest, then why the hell not? And so we took the same idea and there were only like seven or eight of these boot camps at the time back then. And I remember being in our house and I turned to my wife. I was like, you should do this. That's usually the first Girdley thing.

She's like, I don't want to do that. So then I was like, okay, well she doesn't want to do it. I guess I'll just make it happen, at the time I knew a couple of guys because I didn't want to teach the classes. I knew I was the right person to start the business. But I knew I didn't want to actually do real work.

Just kidding, in that case I said, okay, well, like, I texted a couple of people and I texted this guy Jason, who's now the CEO, and I said, Hey Jason, like check out this idea. We should do this. It's the whole pitch. We met and he said, I totally want to do it.

But I'm also starting a business right now. And I started it a week ago, so I have to do that too. And that was a consulting business. So, an agency for software development said we need to get another teacher as well. I said, okay, well let's go find, so we found our third co-founder. So, it was a guy, Chris, who was also located in there.

And so, I said, okay, well like let's start this business. Let's go see if anybody wants to buy, you know, what we're selling. And really that was the theme of kind of everything that I do under this effectuation model of entrepreneurial creation, which is like, you go figure out what the biggest risk is and you see everything you're doing as an experiment.

Yeah. And to me, the biggest experiment was not could we teach the course? Not could we find a classroom? Not could like we create a logo. Does anybody want to pay us for these courses? Because if I couldn't get anybody to pay us for the courses, it doesn't really work. So, this is 2012 or so. And so, I told the guys, I was like, okay, let's try this.

And they said, okay, well we'll build some curriculum. I was like, no, don't build any curriculum. Don't do that because it doesn't matter. We know we can do that. The big risk here if you build all this curriculum is nobody wants to buy the damn thing. So, we put up a website. I started having like little like seminars at the coworking space.

I'd buy everybody pizza. And I did this like song and dance and I was like, okay, once we sign up, 15 people willing to put down deposits, then you can start building curriculum. And at that point, like we got 15 people, and I was like, okay, build the curriculum. We're good. And along the way we had structured how we're going to structure the business, who's going to own what, who's going to get paid what.

And you know, I agreed to take more ownership but not get paid, which was a good decision. And you know, basically we went off to the races and I was the first CEO, so that was my kind of last small business CEO job and. I did all the marketing, business, admin, all this kind of stuff, dealt with the authorities when they called us because we weren't licensed.

And then they did all the teaching, and we did the first course, then we did the second course and eventually, 18 months later we hired a CEO and I got out the door

Chris Powers: And now you're just chairman to that CEO?

Michael Girdley: The first CEO, she ended up leaving us. And then Jason, who is one of the co-founders, made a transition from being a teacher shut down his other business and is now CEO of Codeup and has been doing it for four and a half years now.

Chris Powers: That's awesome. Okay. So, as you think about big ideas, when I hear that, I'm thinkingof things that are just going to take a lot more effort. To get done, or maybe they're just ideas that are so good that they can start small, but they have a huge impact. Does your model change at all?

Michael Girdley: I don't think so, our business d our software I think is an enormous idea that checks those boxes. It started small, with me and, my partner and co-founder Paul buying one software company. And then we bought two software companies and we bought a third one. And so yeah, I think the idea that you have to start big in order to eventually turn something into something big is kind of, is definitely flawed, right?

I mean, there's the Silicon Valley venture capital thing where you can do that, and you go raise big time VC and good luck to you. But I think there's plenty of bootstrap businesses that can get there. MailChimp is a great example, right? Just start small. If it's going to work at a billion dollar scale, it's going to work at a $10 scale. That's my opinion.

Chris Powers: I've never heard that before. That's true. You have done VC investing, do you still VC invest?

Michael Girdley: I am still working on the funds that we raised in 2012, 2014, and 2016. I still spend part-time on that stuff because I made a commitment to the investors and people that gave us money. I'm not raising any of the new funds.

Chris Powers: Yeah. Did the same exact thing. I raised a 2014and 2017 Little Angel Fund.

Michael Girdley: Never again. It's tough. I would tell you if you're raising a venture capital fund, if you're somebody that wants to be true to your word and wants to do right by investors.

Yeah. Like, you're signing up for 10 to 12 years, that's one of my kind of core values, I couldn't take somebody's money and I put my own money in. Like a good chunk of the money. My partners and I were 10% of the money and, I look at my partners and they have the love for it.

They love it. That's awesome. And I want to be the man in the arena though.

Chris Powers: Yeah. As a HoldCo. Do you do capital allocation? How do you know when to take earnings or distributethem?

Michael Girdley: This is a total Twitter question. Oh, we're going to get through a few of them, I studied the Twitter questions, I think in my course by the way, I got to promote my course.

Chris Powers: Oh, if you look on the screen and you goHoldCo -course, we're about to get there.

Michael Girdley: It's super funny because every time I talk about the course and stuff, by the way, I've made the course because I was so sick of answering people's questions for free and I was just like, okay fine.

If you would like the answers to these questions, I will give them, you could pay me anyway. And it's also great because it selects out, like if you can find somebody willing to pay $2,500 for a course like they're going to be some people with some wherewithal and they're going to be truly motivated rather than the people who are just like DM me questions.

But anyway, the way I think about it in terms of capital allocation, capital calls, and how that works with the companies is there's a hurdle rate that is risk-adjusted on a per-company basis. So, I will take a look and say, okay, you know, I want to have an IRR for example of X or a yield of Y on my overall portfolio.

And then I will adjust that up or down depending upon what the company's kind of risk profile is. And then if they areinvesting below that, they need to send money up to papa gerd. And if they don't, if they have a great place to deploy it, which most of them do, then they can keep reinvesting capital and we'll go from there.

Chris Powers: And, as far as if they do have somewhere, is there a hurdle or a certain return that you want that, does it have to be in year one or do they just have to convince you it's good? Or how do you know it's a good place to deploy capital?

Michael Girdley: Early on with the smaller stuff, we will be doing a lot of wet finger in the air.

Does this make sense? As the companies get more mature? We will do a more sophisticated kind of sensitivity analysis around those, our fireworks business is very sophisticated in terms of how we do underwriting deals at this point. Like they'll build LBO models or not LBO models, but leverage models in terms of site development and estimations, all that kind of stuff.

And so, we have a hurdle rate for them, and then the individual businesses will analyse those kind of on a per initiative standpoint.

Chris Powers: All right. We're getting it to the course in just a second. That's fine.

Michael Girdley: We've promoted it already, hon. That's the point.

Chris Powers: I think we're going to tie what we just talked about with HoldCo, with being a creator.

And the plan was to kind of bring it down to this thing. But when you have 11 companies, you have 11 CEOs.What's a typical profile of a CEO? Hard charging, maybe a little ego in there, maybe a little, I think I'm right. All great people, but I guess the question becomes, What happens if you're at odds or you don't seem to me to be somebody that you get at odds, and maybe we're going to be mad and fight over it, but like when you just do not align with what the CEO wants to do, as your system set it up to where that filters it out really far in advance to where you're not being surprised by something?

Because once you have 11 personalities, it seems to me like there could always be something where I was like, all right, we're in severe disagreement here. How have you thought through that?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. So, I think having an aggressive interaction model with one-on-ones being on the same page, and them understanding kind of where we're at each ad in terms of one, what we want to achieve out of the business is the right model there to not be surprised by anything?

Is there a time in which we get to a point in which I will occasionally say, Okay. There's a tie here, and guess who wins? That happens, but it's rare. It's maybe a couple of times a year. And the reason is you try to avoid that by having those kind of interactions ahead of time.

But the second reason is like I really want the CEOs to be taking ownership of the business. Right. I want them to feel like they're in control of it. Yeah. So, it's very rare that things get to a point where I'm like, no. Like we're doing it my way. Yeah. And that's by design. It's because I'm going to put ultimate trust in them.

And I think that creates a pretty healthy dynamic because they all take it super seriously. They take, they're like, man, I'm really being trusted with this. Like I need to really bust my ass because I mean, we're putting faith in in them.

Chris Powers: And you had done a threat on it at one point, I think it was how to hire a CEO.Or best practices for how to incentivize a CEO?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. I mean, I think there are different models in which you can do it, and they can get tailored by the situation. So if you say somebody's coming on really early and they're a co-founder, CEO, like a great way to have them is give them equity from day one.

They can share in the risk. If somebody's coming into an established business, that's oftentimes more difficult to give them equity, the model that I actually use is a bonus style structure that is incentives based around them being aligned with the owner. So, say for example, if the investment thesis to own a business is maximizing multiple for time of exit five years from now, and we don't care about profit, you can incentivize them around that.

Or if it's healthy growth, right? You can, you can create an incentive around there. So, I did a thread on that. It basically ends up being a two-by-two matrix. Yeah. Where it's like EBITDA versus revenue. And I use that with, you know, pretty much everybody at the sea level in, in my, in my companies now.

Chris Powers: All right.We're going to now take it back to kind of the top on, just on HoldCos. When I think of a HoldCo, just so we're all speaking the same language, but I think you've saidthere are multiple different types. Some people like to think a HoldCo is like, oh, you just don't do a whole lot. It's just this entity and it owns all these businesses and maybe Warren Buffett's made it seem easier than others, maybe not, but in your opinion, what is a holding company?

Because I watch people on Twitter, I sometimes see these people that say they have holding companies, but then I watch what they're tweeting. I'm like, you're an operator dude. This is a fake hold company. This is an operating business. So to you, what is a Hold Company or what are the different types of Hold Companies?

Michael Girdley: At its core level, a holding company is a business that owns multiple independent businesses. With leaders that are empowered to run those businesses’ subsidiaries. And there are different flavours of those. There's everything from like a Warren Buffet style, what I call a pure holding company, which is like this.

And that's what I do. It's like a disparate set of unique assets and you may even run different strategies. And then there's all the way at the other end of the spectrum where you may only buy, say things targeting the same industry or you may only buy this like, you know, our software business door is a HoldCo, but it's a different type of HoldCo.

Because they only buy B2B software companies, right? So, like they can run a different model than what I do where I'm totally distributed in terms of my HoldCo. And then there's Rollups, which I also consider HoldCos , where you buy three different chains of oil change places that's a rollup that technically could be considered a HoldCo.

And I consider it that. And ultimately, I think the difference is between an operating business. and the HoldCo is what the CEO does every day. Which to your point, people think, oh, you just kind of hang out and you go to Dairy Queen, and you drink your Diet Cokes and you hang out. Like almost every HoldCo operator I know operates more like I do, where we're working our asses off.

Because we don't own Union Pacific and it's all this stuff that Warren Buffet. I wouldn't do anything either if I own Warren Pacific, Geico. But guess what, like the baby boomers bought all those companies. They're not around anymore. So, the rest of us, gen X, we got to figure it out.

In my case, what the CEO does all day is capital allocation coaching, and supporting monitoring. Like, what I'm doing is supporting those CEOs and it's a full-time job.

Chris Powers: Is there a capacity where you just can't take on anymore?

Michael Girdley: So what people mostly tend to do is you end up creating like people underneath you? Portfolio managers, Will you do that? Possibly. I mean, I've got a lot of room to scale right now just because my model's like really low touch. Right. I mean, low, low time requirement. Like I just go to board meetings and do one-on-ones and you know, like say per company, I would spend two to three hours a week max.

Chris Powers: Okay. But to be fair, even if it's two, that's 22 hours a week. If it's three hours a week, that's 33 hours.

Michael Girdley: Absolutely. Yeah. But I'm only at 11.

Chris Powers: But then you've got threads, right? We're going to get to what is a week in the life of Girdleylooks like. But in fairness, let's just say you added four more companies, then you're kind of at a spot where maybe you have to hire that next person, so let's just talk about the course for a second. This isn't apromo for a course. It's more like, why did you choose, because I think this is. You know, there's been this whole thing on the internet. It's like, oh, you're selling, like, people know what would we say?

They tease you if you have a course. But as I think about this world evolving and I think about all the information we give away for free, and then you're at a point now with 150,000 followers where to be fair if you wanted your whole full-time job could just be responding to people, yeah.

That would take up your whole week, so you decided to create this course, and that was to filter down what you wanted to teach, but also do it with folks that you felt like would take it seriously.

Michael Girdley: I mean those are definitely by-products. I think that the internet beat me. I was in the, like, who needs to do a course that's so slimy?

Like you're trading your social capital, which I still see social media as social capital. You're trading social capital for money, which I was always like, Ugh, it's kind of yucky. But like day after day of people like, will you help me? Give me this for free. Do this for free.

My DMs are just a dumpster fire full of those things. And like I said, okay, well, like I want to help people, but. And I'm going to, and I'm trying to help people more by building up a cost structure. Like I'm hiring people like we have Mirko who does the podcast stuff. I'm going to hire a social media manager.

Like I'm investing all this time. Like I want to make this sustainable and it's not sustainable for me to be coming out of pocket to help everybody for free. Right? So that's ultimately like the core stuff. A, I love helping, but B, it's like okay, I need to monetize this so I can pay for all these people.

And because otherwise, like if I go home to Mrs. Girdley and I'm like, Hey, you know what I'm doing? I've heard from four people we're seeing no revenue. pretty great. That doesn't go as well as you think, but that also makes it sustainable where it's like, okay, I can justify giving away my time basically for free.

But like hiring people and paying salaries and like doing more of that without some sort of revenue source. Like kind of a bummer.

Chris Powers: How did you build it? Did somebody help you build it? Did you just kind of stream consciousness? Was there a format you followed?

Michael Girdley: I got to do all the fun part and then Mirko and then Robin, chief of Staff helped a lot. So basically, the way we did it was we collaborated on creating an outline. We partnered with a company that does the production of these, so would recommend them. They're good people. And so, they've helped us with kind of all of the like editing video production.

Like they hired video production people to come to my office. But basically, what we did is after the outline, Mirko and I would basically spend an hour every other day of me just going through a particular topic, like how do you hire CEOs? And I just like to spend 30 to 45 minutes just like giving a monologue total, like all over this, like this about everything I know about the topic.

And then they would take that and then they would translate that into a script. Yep. That would be all my stuff. And then they recorded me for four days straight reading that script, which was close to 400 pages. It's like this thing like I talk about how I want to approach the threads.

That's how I approach the course, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to put my name on it. I want it to be really really good.

Chris Powers:Was there ever a timewhen you were putting stuff out that you weren't proud of? Or have you always been that way?

Michael Girdley: I delete stuff I'm not proud of. I've put out a couple of threads, and I'm like, oh, this thread sucks. Damn it. I hope nobody noticed I deleted it. Oh. I mean, people will be like, hey, you delete that thread. Why'd you delete it or why'd you delete that post? And I'm like, it sucked.

Chris Powers: How many hoursdid you spend building this course of your time?

Michael Girdley: Hundreds, hundreds. And some cash along the way. So, you have a lot invested in this course, time-wise.

Yeah. I mean, course production's actually not that expensive. Like all the infrastructure and everything is like $17,000.

Chris Powers: Okay. Yeah. Have you started selling it?

Michael Girdley: Yeah, we've done pre-sales, so I've got like 55, 60 pre-sales.

Chris Powers:How do you sell it? Just for your newsletter?

Michael Girdley: I write a Twitter thread and then I say, Hey, please buy my course. It's approved by the course.

Chris Powers: Okay. So now we're getting back to where we started though, and this is where I think when I think of the podcast, you've built an audience and now they know what you're about and you can kind of point them to things that you know.

It's nota for-profit thing, but it's saying, look, if I'm going to put all this time into creating content that everybody's going to benefit from, I also at least want to have the lever to go, Hey, I want to get into that business. Everybody check this out. And you kind of have a way to basically pre-sell everything that you want to get into.

Whether it's an actual course or just getting people interested in a business that you're in. Or maybe you want, you need investors for a business, you're about to get in. Is that how you think about Growing this distribution long term?

Michael Girdley: Yeah. I mean, I think the business of distributing social media, like, I just want to break even on that.

Yeah. We always kind of joke, Hey, we're almost breaking even. We did break even last year. I made 30 bucks an hour, we're going to a podcast that is below my normal rate, but it's fun to do it.

But yeah, on the distribution stuff and like scaling the messages, like, maybe there's a better word to say the messages. Because I feel like I'm like an evangelical preacher or something, but like to scale that I just want to break even on that stuff. Yeah. And then I'll make money doing other things. But yeah, if I'm going to be scaling and producing and distributing more stuff, like, and hiring help, I just don't want to be losing money on that.

Chris Powers: I think we've covered a lot today and we brought it kind of full circle there with creator HoldCo how things could be sold and bought because of the audience that's being created. And now we're just kind of saying with all of this confluence of business, this emerging audience that you're starting to create, and you've now been through what I'd call the first half of your career and you're entering the second half of your career.

If I just said, where is Girdley going to be like 20 or 30 years from now? We talked about big ideas, but,you're a philosopher so you've obviously thought about this, like what is the second half of your going to career look like? That might be differentfrom the first.

Michael Girdley: Yeah, and it's interesting, we've talked about that at lunch.

I've gone through four segments. I'm in the fourth segment. So, yes, to answer your question, fourth quarter to answer your question, like a true philosopher, I'm going to change your question for you and make it better. This is like, I don’t know, culture index, people will think this is funny.

But anyway, culture index jokes are the best. But no, I mean that's how I think about it. So, phase one: was working for other people, learning how big corporations work, and being miserable there because I just didn't feel like I was working on interesting stuff. And then making a transition from working in tech in California to like running the lease tech-oriented business.

At the time, we had one computer when I came back to San Antonio and it was connected to the internet and we had dialup, that's how we emailed around. We had an AOL address. And I did that for 13, 14 years as a CEO and learned a lot there, but learned enough to know, hey, like there's better people at this than me.

And the third phase was kind of doing what we're talking about, like being okay with working on smaller things. And I see myself as having a foundation where like I just want to work on hugely impactful stuff, big outcomes, big ideas, you know? And I'm going to do one every year, one every two years, and get them going and see what happens.

Chris Powers: I wouldn't be doing the podcasting world a service if I didn't say I have a podcast. You actually have three?

Michael Girdley: Yes. Or two and a half? Maybe two. Two and one. That's on hiatus. On hiatus.

Chris Powers: We'vetalked about being a creator. Why have you chosen podcasting as a medium?

Michael Girdley: This is a culture index thing again, philosophers have a way with words.

I don't know if you've ever, have you ever seen that in the philosopher discussion. Here we go. So, Culture Index has these archetypes of people, and I'm one of them. And it turns out philosophers can be remarkably charming in discussion, and they have an amazing way with words.

We all have very large vocabularies, and we can twist words in ways. That's very interesting. It turns out that's a very good format for being on a podcast. Yeah. You could turn on your charisma, turn on your charm, you could speak ideas, and then you just move on to the next thing. It's like, oh, this is perfect.

As we talked about before, my first show was this interview format and interviewing gives you. It does not give me joy. You know what gives me joy? Showing up, talking about interesting ideas, getting really excited about them turning off the podcast. I'm leaving. That's what I want to do.

So, if you look at the two podcasts I'm doing right now, that's precisely it. No prep time. Yeah. Like just show up, have a fun time, talk about interesting stuff, and leave. And Bill, whom I think you recorded with recently, bill, guess what? His CI is the Art Culture index thing. Same thing. He loves the podcast because there's no prep work.

Show up. Drop some bombs. Leave.

Chris Powers: You know the funny thing is, so when I first took Culture Index, I was a daredevil,but something changed along the way and that pattern is now labelled a philosopher. Huh. And I'm going to show you this after because you're the king ofthe culture index. But wegot to make this.

And it might be a great reason why I love doing this. I love being on this mic. I love chatting with people. I love talking about ideas, but I genuinely love the conversations like the one we just had. And as I think aboutit from a creator perspective, I think about it as scaling trust. I think the world is craving authenticity.

Obviously you could have a podcast that isn't authentic, but not in a way the only thing that happened today was two guys showed up to a mic. Johnny sitting in here, there was no post their pre-production scripts and executives that had to set this up.

And I think in the world we live in today like people are just craving it. And so, it's why I'm most interested in it.

Michael Girdley: Yeah. Well, you're killing it. I mean, you're so good at it. And it's like we talked about before at lunch, like the emotion that you're feeling when you create a podcast is what comes through the microphone.

And that's what I tell people that are starting a podcast. Make sure doing the podcast brings you joy because that'll bring your audience joy. Yeah. If it works for you, it'll come across as work. And it's clear just watching you guys like you have a ton of fun doing this. This is why you're 300-odd episodes in

Like, kudos to you, man. Super cool.

Chris Powers: Well, Michael, thank you again for coming up here today. This is awesome.