Our Obsessive Quest: “What makes the over-performers different from the rest?”


For the last 20 years or so I have studied one thing, “What is it that makes the over-performers different from the rest?”. It was the big question when I opened my first business. And to some degree it still is. Except now I am a little older and have pieced together the answers running my own businesses and helping other people run theirs.

When I set up my first business, aged 21, I set off in a search for the answer. I read Tom Peters’ “In Search of Excellence” and Jim Collins’ “From Good to Great”, and Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth” to mention a few. They certainly helped to frame the question.

Later, I worked alongside Prof David Storey at Warwick Business School and watched as he pieced together “Understanding the Small Business Sector”, a seminal work that gathered the very best of the business school research on business births, deaths and successes.

Slowly I was piecing together a model that reflected what I was actually seeing in my own businesses and those of my consultancy clients.

There then followed several pieces of research instigated by The Directors’ Centre including the reports and boardroom briefings that were essentially written for specific clients eg The Magic Millionaire (2008), Mind the Gap (2014), Secrets of Mastermind Success (2015). These were part of a larger pattern of work that started with “Kick-Start Your Business” (2001) through “Customer is King” (2002) and “Grow Your Service Firm” (2008) and “Grow Your Digital Agency” (2015).

This passion and thirst to understand what makes the high performers different is not limited to the facts or characteristics of the subject in question. It is easy enough to identify the high performers. It is easy enough to identify the characteristics that separate them for the rest.

My second passion was to understand what the ‘average’ performers need to do to join the high performers. More importantly, the heart of the ‘chase’ was to understand exactly how one can help business owners join the ranks of the high performers. What do we need to do to help them?

Not only do we need to know what changes they need to make, but we also have to understand how to access the MDs and how to show them what they need to do in a way that will spur them on to take the right actions that will create the right results.

Working alongside key players in the digital agency world, I was privy to research across Northern Europe and America that developed and refined existing success theories and case studies and started to systematically apply a growth methodology in live businesses. The results have been staggering.

So, a decade or so later, we have finally figured out what does and does not work and how to get it applied.

Is it a 100% guaranteed silver bullet five-step solution? I wish it was. But, of course it is not.

Is it an incredibly sophisticated and intellectually challenging model that few but the most intelligent could understand? It is not.

On a general level, these techniques create remarkable results with almost any businesses. What we have learnt with digital agencies we apply to all other businesses as well as to digital agencies. The model plus or minus a few specific adjustments, works.

However, our real focus is with digital agencies, working with them one at a time. This is the niche that we have always been heavily involved with. Slowly, quietly plugging away. We have a mission to help agency owners to run the business they really want to run. So that they get to live the life they really want to live!

Robert’s new book will be released in December, order yours with Crowdfunder