Larry Broughton and Phil Dyer are military veterans, serial entrepreneurs and co-founders of Broughton Advisory Group, as well as VICTORY Success Strategies—strategic vision, peak performance, elite team building and transformational leadership organizations.
Larry Broughton is an award-winning entrepreneur & CEO, best-selling author and keynote speaker. After growing up in a small mill town in rural New York, he spent 8 years with the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces, commonly known as the Green Berets.
Larry has parlayed his unique experience of serving on Special Forces A Teams to the business world. He is Founder/CEO of Broughton Hotels and Co-Founder/CEO of Broughton Advisory Group. He has been awarded Ernst & Young’s prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award®. He was named the National Veteran-Owned Business Association’s Vetrepreneur® of the Year and Coastline Foundation’s Visionary of the Year. Entrepreneur magazine named his firm amongthe Hot 500 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies.
Larry’s upbeat, creative approach to business has been featured in articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Entrepreneur magazine. He has been on dozens of national radio shows, on every major television network and made multiple appearances on CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.
Larry is the co-author of The Next Big Thing: Top Trends to Dominate the New Economy, as well as VICTORY: 7 Entrepreneur Success Strategies for Veterans. He is also the author of the upcoming books FLASHPOINTS For Achievers, as well as Green Beret Lessons On Leadership (both due out in late 2011).
Larry lives in Orange County, CA with his bride, Suzanne, their daughter, Emily and son, Ben.
Phil Dyer is a 1985 West Point graduate, and former Army Captain. After serving on active duty, Phil enjoyed highly successful “duty assignments” in corporate sales for a Fortune 50 company as a fee-only financial planner and as the national financial educator for a major military association.
Over the last 16 years, Phil has counseled hundreds of entrepreneurs and thousands of transitioning military service members on financial, tax and success strategies. He has given over 725 speeches on a broad variety of financial/business topics and has shared the stage with some of today’s most innovative business thought leaders.
A prolific writer and author, Phil has over 100 business/financial by-lines in major magazines and is frequently quoted in publications such as Money, Kiplinger’s, Men’s Health and many others. He is the co-author of VICTORY: 7 Entrepreneur Success Strategies for Veterans with Larry Broughton (January 2011) and the forthcoming Conscious Business Revolution with Jessica Eaves Mathews (early 2012). He is also author of the forthcoming Dream Big. Start Small. Move Fast: The 9 New Entrepreneur Success Strategies (mid-2012).
A serial entrepreneur, Phil has run and sold 2 small businesses and currently owns a boutique financial planning practice and a strategic consulting business. Three hundred small business peers recently recognized him with their MVC (Most Valuable Contributor) award for marketing and business building innovations.
Phil loves visiting Tuscany, drinking Italian wine, adventure travel and spending time with his wife, Kerry and children Alex and Lilly in Baldwin, MD.
What are you working on right now?
We are currently working on 3 major projects, including:
- Revising our veteran-focused VICTORY: 7 Entrepreneur Success Strategies for Veterans book for the broader entrepreneur marketplace due to demand and positive feedback from non-veteran readers.
- Using our combined experience and expertise to support current and aspiring military veteran start-ups through the outstanding Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) founded at Syracuse University 6 years ago and now being delivered at top business schools around the country (http://whitman.syr.edu/ebv/).
- Taking our Empowering the Entrepreneurial Mindset in a Mature Organization executive training and team building program into Fortune 100 companies, large educational & medical institutions and governmental organizations to break up deadly status quo and “groupthink” icebergs.
Where did the idea for Broughton Advisory Group and VICTORY Success Strategies come from?
After leaving the military for the private sector, both of us essentially ignored the skill sets we developed while serving. Over the intervening years, we each independently reconnected with the success strategies that make top U.S. military units the most elite organizations in the world. Concurrently, we were both becoming increasingly concerned and dissatisfied with the traditional top-down, one-size-fits-all government approach by the Veterans Administration (VA), Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Defense (DoD) to teaching retiring and separating service members about entrepreneurship.
Our research showed that while veterans start businesses at nearly 4 times the rate of the general population and achieve almost double the success rate, they were doing so in spite of government programs, not because of them.
Fate connected us nearly 4 years ago at a business success conference (out of 500 people in the room, we were the only 2 vet business owners and sat right next to each other). We worked together informally as mastermind partners for several years, synthesized our military/business experiences and filtered that information through over 100 interviews Larry conducted with top entrepreneurs, CEOs and business leaders to identify 7 veteran-inspired success strategies that became the acronym VICTORY (Vision, Intel, Coaching, Team, Ops, Rapid Action and You).
We met in Baltimore on October 26, 2010, locked ourselves in a conference room and emerged about 10 hours later with our business structure, service offerings, VICTORY book outline and launch plan mapped out.
Within 90 days, we had our book published and had conducted our first national event, which was picked up by the CNN Headline News affiliate in Southern California.
What does your typical day look like?
Phil: Is there such a thing for an entrepreneur? My days can vary wildly – from a full day of coaching executive and entrepreneur clients to facilitating an executive team strategic retreat to speaking at a conference for aspiring military veteran entrepreneurs. I usually am up between 4:00-5:00 AM and like to tackle my most pressing items before 8:00 AM in order to open up the balance of the day for meetings, strategy sessions and being available for after-school activities with the kids.
Larry: I’m an information junky, so after my morning prayers and reading, I breeze through emails and news headlines—usually while shaving and showering. On the way to the office or airport I check in with our hotel company’s executive team on any urgent needs and on how I can assist them. Once the day starts, I try to limit checking email and taking unscheduled calls, as they tend to disrupt my creative flow. Much of my day is focused on juggling hotel acquisition projects, article and book writing or coaching clients. I’m on the road quite a bit presenting keynote talks, training and visiting our hotel properties, so when I’m home I really like to connect with my kids and be a total goofball with them.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Phil: I love brainstorming, white boards, sticky notes, mind maps and a bottle of really good wine. We are both “idea machines,” so our challenge often isn’t bringing ideas to life–it’s figuring out what to actually implement and what to leave on the shelf.
Larry: As Phil said, we’re idea machines, and it’s hard to turn it off. After bouncing an idea around with folks I trust, I have to hand it off to an appropriate person with the skills and resources to make it happen. Once the hand-off happens, I have to let it go and expect that the new “owner” will make it better and bring it to life.
3 trends that excite you?
Phil: The three biggest trends I am excited about are:
1) crowd-sourcing for all manner of basic business design/support services, such as www.99designs.com.
2) mature organizations realizing that they need to think and act much more entrepreneurially going forward to create enduring success.
3) the emerging power of women entrepreneurs.
Larry: I agree with Phil on all 3 trends. Crowdsourcing is exciting because of the collaborative nature of the process—particularly as it relates to crowdfunding vehicles like KickStarter.com. Embracing of the entrepreneurial mindset among mature organizations will transform (and resurrect) many stale companies. With more women obtaining college degrees now than men, in concert with the “new market economy” based more on relationships than balance sheets, women are particularly well suited to assume leadership roles throughout society.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Phil: I worked commercial construction one winter in high school and narrowly avoided serious injury (or even death) due to being forced to do some pretty silly things. I came up with all kinds of ideas on how to do things better and was routinely ignored because “that’s the way things are done.” I vowed NEVER to accept that answer again!
Larry: While there were days while serving on A-Teams as a Special Forces Operator that absolutely sucked, my worst “job” was as a dishwasher in a filthy restaurant in rural New York where the manager was an absolute jerk. I was stunned at how grungy this place was, but it gave me perspective on how businesses should not be run–and how team members should be treated.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Phil: Two big things from my perspective: 1) not outsourcing, delegating or deleting the stuff I suck at and hate to do sooner. I suffered under the deadly “I have to do it all myself” mindset for the first 5 years I owned my financial planning business and it almost killed me and 2) hire a top business coach sooner to help me get out of my own way. Trying to be your own brain surgeon is bad for business.
Larry: I’d start by simplifying my business and marketing plan. I’d leave out all the B.S. and “eye wash” and make it more action oriented. Then I’d bring on a strong financial services team sooner to assist with all sorts of analysis and fundraising. Finally, I’d be sure to surround myself with the boldest and brightest folks I could find so that I would never be the smartest guy in any meeting or on any team.
What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?
Phil: Every entrepreneur MUST decode their E-DNA (Entrepreneurial DNA) and have an in-depth understanding of what their inherent strengths (and weaknesses) are and then structuring their business, the activities within their business and their team to maximize those strengths and support their weaknesses. We strongly recommend using the Kolbe A Index (www.kolbe.com) and the Strengthsfinders 2.0 (www.strengthsfinder.com) assessment.
Larry: Build the most elite team around me as I possibly can by developing a compelling vision that inspires and stretches superstars that are driven by growth, innovation and serving others.
Tell us a secret…
Phil: When I was 7 years old, I sang a solo of “Hark the Heralds” for then President Nixon at a Christmas pageant in Key Biscayne, FL.
Larry: I lied to my parents and siblings in kindergarten when I told them that I kissed a girl named Mary.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Phil: There is a huge opportunity for someone to build a REALLY effective virtual team company to support other entrepreneurs who aren’t interested in building traditional teams. Most virtual assistants(VAs) operate solo or with a very small team and aren’t very effective at supporting rapidly growing companies. I think there is a big business opportunity there, especially if the business owner can effectively leverage overseas labor sources (from places like the Philippines, Indonesia and Eastern Europe).
Larry: Vending machines for drycleaning. Just think about the convenience!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Larry: The Compound Effect by SUCCESS Magazine publisher Darren Hardy inspires folks to take baby steps towards their goals–and shows that success is within reach.
If you weren’t working on Broughton Advisory Group, what would you be doing?
Phil: Trying to figure out a way to live in Tuscany, Italy at least 3 months out of each year!
Larry: Training to be a Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and traveling through eastern and southern Africa.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Phil: I will confess that I am not a big Twitter guy. I totally get the strategic business reason behind it, but am notoriously bad about doing it, so I delegate it to a team. That said, 3 people that I do pay attention to on Twitter are: Scott Stratten (@unmarketing), Carrie Wilkerson (@barefoot_exec) and Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog).
Larry: Definitely SUCCESS Magazine publisher Darren Hardy (@DarrenHardy) and Jean Chatzky (@JeanChatzky). Both are leading evangelist for entrepreneurship, and of course Larry Broughton (@LarryBroughton) because he’s always got an interesting take on leadership and entrepreneurship issues (is that wrong that I said that?).
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Phil: Watching a video of a “flasher” dog on the very wrong (but very funny) Tosh.0 on Comedy Central.
Larry: I tend to laugh a lot and love folks who are self-deprecating. I had a good laugh today while on a coaching call with Phil and a client when talking about the challenges that entrepreneurship brings to our marriages. I think it’s funny that we tend to think we are oh so unique, but in fact we all actually share the same challenges.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Phil: Scott Stratten, motivational, organizational behavior and human resources expert who teaches how to enjoy work, life and the drive in-between.
Larry: Sarah Blakely, founder of SPANX.
Why do you feel military veterans make such great entrepreneurs?
Phil: Drive, determination and the ability to pick themselves up after getting knocked down and keep going. Also, the servant-leader ethos of many veterans is a critical success element in today’s business world.
Larry: Military vets understand the importance of vision and mission; they are selfless and loyal; they have experienced “real world” leadership situations at a young age and they are incredibly tenacious. They don’t give up, and they don’t give in.
What is your favorite “decompressing” trick?
Phil: We have a huge print by the fantastic Australian nature photographer Peter Lik in our family room of a beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus grove on Maui that my wife and I actually walked through on vacation once. I like to get a glass of good wine (Brunello), get the lights just right and commune with the grove when I get wound up too tight!
Larry: Are you ready for this? It’s a rather tightly held secret. I close my eyes, visualize beautiful landscapes and BREATHE. I slowly take 3 deep breaths, lower my shoulders and relax. Believe it or not, this can be done anywhere and by anyone. Try it!