Episode 177 – Alexander Brueckmann
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host, Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to episode 177 with Alexander Brueckmann – Usher Truth to Leadership & Freedom to Make Informed Decisions.
Alexander Brueckmann is a strategist, advisor, & executive coach that helps support leaders crystallize their organizational identity & build a legacy through rigorous processes and balancing purpose with profit. This includes the design and execution of purposeful strategies, as well as shaping conscious leadership teams.
Alex’s purpose for his company is to transform organizations to help make the world a better place.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- We got to know more about Alex’s coaching business. He helps company founders, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders with their business strategy processes. We talked about how Alex sets up the change management and rolling it out for success.
- Then, we talked about Alex’s origin story in journalism and business administration. And then, we covered how a good boss/friend — Thor Olafson — paved the way in building his coaching company.
- A superpower Alex developed over the course of time is the underlying ability to sense uncomfortable situations and transform them into something positive which helps people get to the truth.
- Alex’s fatal flaw throughout his career was his ego. He struggled with people that were questioning his authority and didn’t see his worth. We talked about how he overcame this flaw with the help of a coach.
- Overcoming his flaws has also helped Alex to massively grow his business because it allowed him to focus on the essential.
- Then, Alex the difference between a consultant and a coach for his clients.
- We also talked about Alex’s driving force — to help organizations build strategies that are not just focused on profit, but also on bringing their purpose to life.
- Big fat pens
- Molding the energy in the room
Alex mentioned the following book/s on the show.
- Intentional Strategy Toolkit by Alexander Brueckmann
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Alexander Brueckmann challenged Kate Tuck to be a guest on The HERO Show. Alex thinks that Kate is a fantastic person to interview because she is one woman marketing army. She has been a constant support for years, her talents are many folds and she’s truly passionate about what she does.
How To Stay Connected with Alexander Brueckmann
Want to stay connected with Alex? Please check out their social profiles below.
- Website: AlexTheStrategist.com
- Facebook Profile: Brueckmann Executive Consulting
- Instagram: @alexbrueckmann
With that… let’s go and listen to the full episode…
Alexander Brueckmann 0:00
One of my biggest guiding principles is what I call grit. I never give up on my clients, especially, even if they give up on a topic, or sometimes they even give up on me, I would never give up on them. So, grit for me means being in it for the long run, being there when you’re needed, knowing that success is not an overnight story. It’s the sum of all the work that you put into what you love. And this is probably one of my biggest guiding principles. And number two, I call it eye level of partnership. For me, it is super important and it comes from overcoming my ego issues. I know that if I approach everyone around me on eye level, everyone else will look at me in the same way. So if people don’t look at you the same way, if you approach them on eye level, it says more about them than it says about you. Therefore, eye-level partnerships are super important for me because it puts you next to each other into a car and you go down a route together. Rather than someone being your puppet master using you for their purposes and not looking at what do you need. So creating those Win-Win situations based on eye-level partnerships. This is not something that is important to me in business only. It’s also important for me in my private life, how I approach personal relationships or relationships with other people in general. And it has served me very, very well. From the time that I understood that I’m not better than anyone and no one is better than me. We all have different characteristics and strengths. And if we learn how to combine those we’re in for the long run and for success.
Richard Matthews 2:07
Heroes are an inspiring group of people, every one of them from the larger than life comic book heroes you see on the big silver screen, the everyday heroes that let us live the privileged lives we do. Every hero has a story to tell, the doctor saving lives at your local hospital, the war veteran down the street, who risked his life for our freedom to the police officers, and the firefighters who risked their safety to ensure ours every hero is special and every story worth telling. But there was one class of heroes that I think is often ignored the entrepreneur, the creator, the producer, the ones who look at the problems in this world and think to themselves, you know what I can fix that I can help people I can make a difference. And they go out and do exactly that by creating a new product or introducing a new service. Some go on to change the world, others make a world of difference to their customers. Welcome to the Hero Show. Join us as we pull back the masks on the world’s finest hero preneurs and learn the secrets to their powers their success and their influence. So you can use those secrets to attract more sales, make more money, and experience more freedom in your business. I’m your host, Richard Matthews, and we are on in 3…2…1…
Richard Matthews 3:02
Hello and welcome back to the Hero Show. My name is Richard Matthews. I have the pleasure of having Alexander Brueckmann on the line today. Alex, are you there?
Alexander Brueckmann 3:10
Yes, I’m here. Hi, Richard. Awesome.
Richard Matthews 3:13
Where are you calling in from today?
Alexander Brueckmann 3:16
I’m calling in from Maple Ridge, a beautiful city just half an hour outside of Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.
Richard Matthews 3:25
Yeah, so I haven’t been up there yet. But I’ve heard that Vancouver and British Columbia that’s like the nice part of Canada where it’s all warm and sunny and beautiful all the time. Is that true?
Alexander Brueckmann 3:37
I have to balance my answer here because as a permanent resident, I’m not a Canadian citizen. So I’d rather not mess with the rest of the country. But I think that’s about right. What you just said.
Richard Matthews 3:52
I’ve heard it’s Canada’s version of California.
Alexander Brueckmann 3:56
That’s pretty much it. We’re just on top of California and a bit further up north. But the weather is very mild. We have the ocean here. It’s typically not too cold in the winter. And it can get fairly hot in summer, but it usually doesn’t this year was an exemption with temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius or centigrade. It was really, really warm. But now we’re back where it should be.
Richard Matthews 4:28
Yeah, we are on our travels. We’re in Florida for our audience who have been following where we’re at, we made it to Central Florida. We’ve been going up down the east coast this whole year, which has been fun. So what I want to do before we get too far into the conversation is to do a brief introduction so my audience will know a little bit about what you do. So Alex is a coach and you work with leaders to help solidify their strategy and the identity of their organizations through rigorous processes balancing purpose and profit and your purpose is to transform organizations to help make the world a better place. So what I want to start off with is, what is it that you’re known for? What do you do for your clients? And how do you get paid?
Alexander Brueckmann 5:12
Three very good questions. What am I known for? There are basically two things that I’m known for, first of all, I work with two target groups. And one you already mentioned, leaders in large organizations. And the other target group that I work with are company founders, small business owners, and entrepreneurs in general, what I do for those target groups is kind of similar, but very different. So large organizations would hire us, to help them through their strategy processes, meaning their business strategy processes, how they define strategy over a certain period of time, set up the change management around it, and then actually roll it out, and hopefully make it successful. So it’s hands-on, it’s in the company very often face to face in workshops, and facilitating the processes with the leaders in this organization. What I’m known for there is for being brutally honest, and sometimes a bit blunt, that’s when my German genes take in, but it works well usually, wherever I’m in the world, people can deal with it. And on the other hand, I work with entrepreneurs and small business owners, to help them understand and get their heads around the topic of strategy. It’s a topic that’s everyone uses the term strategy, so often, in so many different contexts, that it has become kind of a buzzword, and no one really knows what it is and what it is in the business context. So I help people that typically don’t have a business background to get their head around it to understand what it is and how it helps them become more successful. And we do that through courses that they can take, mainly online self-paced learning, just to get your head around it. So basically, I take what I learned in the past 15 years with large organizations, and break it down into the essential elements for entrepreneurs so that they can use the knowledge in their specific context if that makes sense.
Richard Matthews 7:11
Yeah, it does make sense. So you do one on one coaching, and you do online training?
Alexander Brueckmann 7:17
Yeah, among others, absolutely, yes. How do I get paid? Was the second part of your question, I think. The good news is I typically get paid always. So I never had an invoice not getting paid, which is always good. Typically, it depends. So those bigger contracts that we have with larger organizations that typically run over years, we have a frame contract in place. So the corporations that we work with, are global brands, if I mentioned them, you would definitely know them. So those are structured processes. Purchasing is involved, and you get your invoices paid about six to eight weeks after you send them. Typically, in the business that I do with my entrepreneurs with smaller clients. It’s a completely different dynamic. When you sign up for an online course, you can just use your credit card to pay, it’s a completely different ballgame.
Richard Matthews 8:14
So what I want to find out then is how did you get started in this game. We talk on this show your origin story, every superhero has an origin story, and it’s the thing that made you into the hero you are today. Were you born a hero? Or were you bit by a radioactive spider that made you want to get into coaching and strategy for large organizations and entrepreneurs? Or did you start in a job and eventually switched over to the entrepreneur path? So how did that story happen for you?
Alexander Brueckmann 8:40
My story actually doesn’t start with strategy. It’s completely off-topic. If I go back to where I started my career I have to start at a discotheque when I was 15 years old. Like a rock club, where hundreds of motorcycles would be parked in front, and people would hear loud music and drink beer. I fell in love with that kind of club culture, and try to make it into a living. And the closest thing that I could find was to become a radio DJ. But actually, it’s not that easy. You can’t just knock on the word for radio station be like, hey, I have all this experience from working in clubs. Can I do this at your station? It’s not how it goes. So actually became a professionally trained radio journalist. And by doing that, I learned first and foremost, how to ask proper questions. Because as a journalist, you need to know how to ask questions. Otherwise, you can’t dig deep and get to the truth. That’s your main goal as a journalist, it should be at least. So after several years in that industry, I switched gears and studied business administration. And it was at that point that I realized knowing how to ask questions comes in handy when you want to help organizations build better businesses. And why is that the case? Because in order to address things that don’t work anymore, you need to understand why they don’t work anymore. And then from there, you can ask the questions that help people understand what they want to do, what would potentially work in the future. And those are sometimes really difficult conversations. Because we cling to the past, we’ve done things in a certain way in a company, and we kind of like what we do most of the time. And all of a sudden, you need to change. And then this is where it really gets tricky for many, how do you actually change. And since we’re talking superhero, I think this is probably my personal superpower, which is to bring truth to leadership teams to entrepreneurs to help them face the truth to help them face the facts. And then through questioning processes, help them understand where they want to go from there. If you don’t accept the truth, change becomes basically impossible, you need to face the facts before you can make an informed decision for the future of your organization. And if you’re a small entrepreneur, and your head is always up in the clouds, and you’d be like, Yeah, but I could do this. And I could do that. And this is a shiny object I want to go for, it’s kind of difficult to actually make some informed decisions based on reality if you don’t confront reality, you know what I mean?
Richard Matthews 11:38
Yeah, so you started off as a journalist, and then you moved into business administration and sort of brought that ability to question and really find the truth to do that. How did you transition from Business Administration into coaching?
Alexander Brueckmann 11:52
That’s a really good question. When I first started out after university, you have to earn your stripes. So I became an executive assistant of a CEO in a large corporation, one of the 10 biggest media corporations in the world they had back then a large printing organization. So large volume, grab your printing, they printed those mail order catalogs and magazines that we’ve agreed. And, Richard, do you remember when you read a magazine, holding it in your hand or ordered from a mail order catalog of physical mail order catalog the last time? You probably don’t, right? You don’t remember that because it’s long ago.
Richard Matthews 12:37
I think I saw some when I was a kid.
Alexander Brueckmann 12:40
Yeah, see. That’s the point. So the world had completely changed. And no one actually needed those mail order catalogs and magazines to that degree anymore. So the company really had to change and had to find a new strategy. And during that time, the leadership team that I supported as a strategy manager now also worked with some external facilitators and external companies to work with McKinsey’s with AT Carneys, all those big consulting firms. And there were also some executive coaches involved that helped the executive team through the process, let’s say more from a human perspective than from a business perspective. And I observed how this executive coach worked, I was lucky enough that my boss back then actually opened the door for me and said, if you want to work with this coach, as well be my guest, you can certainly learn something in the process. So I did that. And that this was when I first got in touch with executive coaching as a tool to work through issues. Years later, I had transitioned into a different job, I was not working for this corporation anymore, but actually was a strategy consultant myself, an external consultant. We met again because we were always joking, at some point in time, when I’m not working for your biggest client anymore. Let’s talk business. And maybe we can do something together. And we actually did, we met, we played around with golf. And we figured that I should join his company back then this was a one-man show. He was the founder. He had one big client, and it sounded all exciting. So we joined forces. I joined the company. And in that process also went through executive coach education and learned how to facilitate strategy processes, less from a consulting perspective, but more from a perspective to bring out the best knowledge that’s in the company and help them reframe it. And this is when I realized how important those questioning skills were, which I learned early as a journalist. And now combining it with years of experience in the strategy area, all of a sudden, became something unique that my clients really valued. And that helped them to get to the results that they wanted, which was interesting because it was never my plan in the first place. It’s not that you sit on your desk and scribble it down and be like, yeah, that’s what I want to do. Because it’s a unique combination of characteristics and capabilities that I have. You find out by accident and kind of at least I did.
Richard Matthews 15:24
That’s awesome. So you moved into starting your career. I want to find out, you mentioned it a little bit ago, your superpower is the truth seeking, and we talk on this show every kind of hero has a superpower. Whether that’s a fancy flying suit, or super strength, or in your case, the ability to tell truth. We talked about it as being a zone of genius, it’s a skill or a set of skills that you were born with, or you developed over time, that really help your clients come out on top and their journey. And the way I like to think about it is if you look at all the skills you’ve developed over your life, you probably have a common thread that sort of ties all those things together. And it’s that common thread is where you find your superpower. You mentioned the truth telling if that’s still your answer after the framing, but I want to find out, is that something that you were born with? Or is that something you had to develop?
Alexander Brueckmann 16:22
Definitely, something I had to develop. And it’s not only telling the truth or finding the truth, I think that’s maybe the result of it, I think the underlying superpower is not to shy away from uncomfortable situations. The moment I know that I will ask the breakthrough question, I feel it in my belly. And I know that this will be uncomfortable when I get this funny sensation in my body that, should I go there? Should I rather not? Should I avoid it? I know exactly that I shouldn’t avoid it because it will help the people around me. And sometimes I need to put myself into a very uncomfortable situation, like really physically uncomfortable. But if I get there, the moment before I get there, I know that it will help the people around me. And that’s when I know my superpower kicks in. The funny thing about this is when you are a physical person like I am. Oh, how do you say that in English?
Richard Matthews 17:37
Alexander Brueckmann 17:39
Potentially. So I function very much by touching things. Not so much by just sitting there and consuming something reading something. I’m someone who needs to explore and feel my environment. So my body tells me the things before they happen kind of so when I go into a room and there is a tense discussion, I would feel how tense It is, in my muscles kind of.
Richard Matthews 18:12
Tactile or kinestetic.
Alexander Brueckmann 18:15
Kinesthetic is probably what I am looking for. So when I go into the room, and I sense that there is tense energy, it is something that I love because it shows me that energy is in the room and this energy can be transformed into something. And probably this is the underlying superpower to sense it and to be able to transform it into something positive which then, in the end, helps you to get to the truth.
Richard Matthews 18:46
So what’s fun about that is that actually almost sounds like a comic book superpower where you are there and like mold it and shape it and then use it for good. I don’t know what superhero that would be. But it sounds like a superpower just on the surface.
Alexander Brueckmann 19:03
We can make up a character together and paint it and give it a nice superhero cape and a name.
Richard Matthews 19:12
Unless you listen to The Incredibles she says no capes.
Alexander Brueckmann 19:15
Richard Matthews 19:21
I love the way that you describe that, where you can feel the energy and the tension in the room and capture that and learn to sort of direct that. It sort of reminds me of a laser where you take the energy and you focus it and when you focus the energy you can take something that is light which we deal with all the time and turn it into a weapon to accomplish things.
Alexander Brueckmann 19:44
Funny that you mentioned a laser because that’s a term I would always use to help my clients become laser sharp on their decisions and their prioritization because that’s what strategy is all about. Strategy is really about being laser sharp on what you want to do, to say yes to those few things, and to say no to all other things, and then to focus and stay laser sharp.
Richard Matthews 20:10
Yeah, that’s really good. So the flip side of your superpower is your fatal flaw. And just like every Superman has a kryptonite, or Wonder Woman can’t remove her bracelets of victory without going mad. You probably have something that’s held you back in growing your business. For me, it was a couple of things, I struggled with perfectionism for a long time, which kept me from shipping products. And it’s a super low standard to hold yourself to because you’re never actually shipping anything. So you’re holding yourself to no standard at all. But I also struggled with self-care where I let my clients walk all over me because I didn’t have good boundaries. And I let my time walk all over me because I didn’t have good boundaries for my work, things like that. So those were some of the things that I struggled with early on. I’m curious, what do you think your fatal flaw is? And I think more importantly, how have you worked to overcome it so that our listeners can learn a little bit from your experience.
Alexander Brueckmann 20:58
I think the biggest fatal flaw that I observed during my career was my ego. I struggled with people that were questioning my authority for a long time, that didn’t see my worth. And that played on that weakness, it was easy to spot and therefore easy to trigger. So I really had to work hard on overcoming those ego patterns and those underlying assumptions that I discovered, thanks to working with a coach, by the way. And it really helped me to understand my self-worth, regardless of how worthy other people thought my work would be. So I took a lot of pride in my education. And in the experience that I gathered over time in large corporations as a management consultant, and later as a strategy coach and facilitator. It took years, to be frank, to uncover those patterns and to take off all those layers of clay that I put on myself to protect me from those negative influences. The moment you put down those masks and protective armor, and the moment you’re vulnerable, and accept that there are things that you need to overcome, in order to become the best version of yourself. This moment was very powerful for me because I realized at that point in time that what I bring is good enough, regardless of what anyone thinks. And that I’m not sorry for my friends in a pissing contest with anyone. It’s just me. And what I bring is good enough. Years ago, I completely stop comparing myself to the outside world, I stopped to compare my car to the car of my neighbor, I stopped to compare my home to the home of other people, I stopped to compare my salary or my career advancement to those of my friends in university. This for me was the path to happiness, comparing yourself is the path to the dark side, as I always say.
Richard Matthews 23:29
How has that impacted your ability to grow your business?
Alexander Brueckmann 23:34
Massively because all of a sudden, I could focus on what I thought was important, not what I thought would make everyone else be like, oh, this is cool. It was all about being focused on what counts most. And the funny thing is, this is what I do with my clients. This is exactly what I help them with. That I was never really able to do this for myself. So the business has been growing over the years, and it has been growing steadily organically, very successfully. But it was not my business. I mentioned earlier I joined someone else and we built the business together. He was the business owner. This changed when I moved to Canada, 18 months ago, I founded my own business prior to that in Germany. So since 2019, I’ve been building my own business and I’ve been doing things on my terms with my kind of speed or velocity in building the business. Just being confident that first of all my ideas are worthy. They will work because I did not come up with them in a pipe dream. I build it based on the market need that I see. So I know it will work. I have the confidence. I have the knowledge to do it. And those things that I don’t know, where I’m unsure off, I just sourced them. There are enough people out there that know way more about social media marketing than I do. So I involve those people. And getting back to the second part of your question, how did I overcome those? So I think it’s a lot about self-reflection, acceptance of my fatal flaws, and then finding patterns to cope with them and to overcome them. And to accept that you are, first of all, good enough, and that you don’t know everything and that it’s okay. Because there are a lot of people out there that you can ask for help. And that can support you. So being vulnerable, opening up, and saying things like I don’t know how to do that. This is the first step because it opens up a playing field of hey, but there are a lot of people that know how to do that. So let’s team up and build something amazing.
Richard Matthews 26:02
You said something a second ago, that reminds me of one of my coping mechanisms, so to speak, for dealing with my own flaws. And I call them psychological barriers or encouragement to action. So simple things like if I put my water flosser next to my sink, I never use it because I don’t go to the sink every morning. But if I put it in the shower, I use it every morning, because I go to the shower every morning, simple things like that. And I have to do a lot of those things in my life and in my business to deal with my own flaws. So everything from having someone on staff who is like, I give myself like 80% of the way through a project. But then I know I want to fiddle with it forever and ever and ever, amen. And I’ll spend four times as much time on that last 20%, as I did on the first 80% to get where I go. So now, I’ll get a project to 80%. And then I hand it to someone on my team, like finish this, here’s what needs to happen.
Alexander Brueckmann 27:00
Richard Matthews 27:01
Because it’s my own flaw of wanting everything to be exactly perfect in the way that I want it to be. And I know I’ve never gonna get there. So I just have to take it off my plate put it on someone else’s who doesn’t suffer from my negative conditions.
Alexander Brueckmann 27:16
Absolutely. It’s really important to understand what your strengths are, especially as an entrepreneur and a business owner, because the day has only 24 hours, and every moment you spend on things you are not perfectly positioned to do, you don’t get this time back to focus it on something that you were born for. So I really focus my time, extremely well, it was a process I had to go through and to learn how to do that. But it helps you incredibly to get things done and to focus on what matters most and what brings the most value to your clients and to your business. And for everything else. There are people that can be your support system.
Richard Matthews 28:03
Yeah, that’s awesome. So I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about your common enemy. Every superhero has their arch-nemesis, it’s the thing they constantly have to fight against in their world. In the world of business, it takes on a lot of forms, but we generally put it in the context of your clients. And it’s a mindset or it’s a flaw that they have when they hire you that you’re constantly having to fight against. So you can actually get them the result they hired you for. If you had a magic wand and you could just bop him on the head as soon as they sign on the dotted line. If you didn’t have to fight that enemy anymore. What would you say your arch-nemesis is?
Alexander Brueckmann 28:42
There are maybe two. The first one that comes to mind is when people hire you and don’t get out of the way, they hire you for something they know they need you for something, but then they don’t get out of the way. It’s the project manager on the client side, that is a perfectionist for example, and wants everything to be their way and perfect. If you want to have everything your way, don’t hire an external facilitator or consultant because you hire them to help you. In order for us to be able to help you, you need to step out of the way you need to give us the freedom to bring our knowledge and expertise to the table. That’s probably number one. Most of the time, we first need to educate our clients on how to get out of the way and to trust us. So we need to build that trust first. This is funny because most of the time they hire us based on years of experience working with us in different contexts, but it’s still there. It’s not a bad thing to regain your client’s trust over and over again, don’t get me wrong, but it’s something that can sometimes slow the process down if they just got out of their way. It could be so much faster. And the second one is probably for new clients, especially, to help them understand what we do and what we don’t do. As a strategy facilitator, I help you uncover the knowledge in your organization, and I guide you through a proven process that will bring you to the best possible result. I am not a consultant, I won’t tell you what you should do. This is the biggest difference between a coach and a consultant. A consultant tells you what they think is the best for your business. A strategy facilitator or coach helps you uncover this truth for yourself. The result is extremely different. as a consultant, if I tell you what to do, it’s my piece of work, it’s not yours, and therefore ownership and fighting for it will be different than if I have helped you discovered what you want to do. And thereby help you design your own strategy. You will own this, you will defend it, you will fight for it. This is completely different. And as soon as people understand that, the magic happens, because they’re fully invested. They are not reliant on some external McKinsey company or someone else that gives them a 350 page PowerPoint deck. Kind of that’s you know strategy now go for it. I’ve been there, I’ve seen that.
Richard Matthews 31:51
I completely understand that. I like the concept of getting the owner to own their strategy and be something that that is from them. And so I’m curious, when do you see the difference of the need for a consultant to come in and fill in knowledge gaps, versus having a coach who could help bring the knowledge to their forefront?
Alexander Brueckmann 32:19
That’s a great question. It’s actually an important part that I cover in my new book that we come out early next year. It’s basically just a side note. But based on this experience, and your question already goes there, based on this experience, I wrote this into the book, when do you need a facilitator? When do you need a consultant? And the biggest selling point for a consultant is in fact, knowledge and availability, consultants are available on very short notice, you can ramp them up kind of as an additional workforce on very short notice. And they bring most of the time and incredible cross industry knowledge about a certain topic that you do not necessarily have. So when you need knowledge, and you need it fast, hire consultants. As a strategy facilitator, I would actually even tell you at some points in the process, you should potentially think about getting a consultant in for this piece or that piece. So I’m kind of the enabler for that. What the biggest difference is, and that’s when you bring in a facilitator or strategy coach, is when you are per se very knowledgeable in your industry. But you are not that experienced in the process, how to distill knowledge, how to avoid certain pitfalls on the way, as the facilitator, I’m responsible for holding a safe space for my clients to guide them through a process that I’ve been through many times, and therefore know where in the process, there are pitfalls here and there. And I can help them avoid them by telling them three steps ahead already, we can do it that way. Just be aware that this will lead to X,Y, and Z in two months time. So I can help them navigate those unknown waters. Kind of like someone telling the captain, you better hold on to the steering wheel in this or that way right now. But I’m not telling them what to do strategy wise, content wise, because I’m not the industry expert. So if you want knowledge in a certain area, a consultant is your go to person. If you want someone to help you through a process, a strategy facilitator or coach would be your go to person.
Richard Matthews 34:50
Yeah, makes a lot of sense. So I’m going to talk then about the flip side of your common enemy. So if your common enemy is what you fight against, then your driving force is what you fight for. So just like Spider Man fights to save New York or Batman fights to save Gotham or Google fights to index and categorize all the world’s information, you have a mission? What is it that you fight for your company?
Alexander Brueckmann 35:11
For me, something that drives me and that is super important for me is and you mentioned in the beginning, it sounds grand and aspirational. It’s to help companies build better businesses to make the world a better place. I am very environmentally conscious. I’m a very conscious consumer. And I want companies to recognize and live up to their responsibility as corporate citizens. And what I mean by that is, the clients, especially the corporate clients, that I work with, most of them are organizations with close to 100,000 employees or even larger, the buying power, the purchasing power, the power in the supply chain that they have, the people that they impact up and downstream in their supply chain is massive. If you take a company that has 100,000 employees, those 100,000 employees have families, those families live in neighborhoods, they live in communities. And if you as a company can help your people and make educated decisions, both from a human standpoint, from a social standpoint, from an environmental standpoint, your reach as an organization is way bigger than just the people that work for you. So, I really hope that through my work, I can help organizations build strategies that are not just focused on profit, but also on bringing their purpose to life. And what I mean by that is, purpose for me is the issue out there in the world, that you as an entrepreneur or as a company, are uniquely positioned to address and ideally to solve. And this is not making money. This is something bigger than that. For example, one of my clients, their purpose statement is doing now what patients need next. They are in the diagnostics and pharma game, they were the first ones that came up with a COVID rapid test, they saw the need out there, and they went all in, in order to find something that helps us through this pandemic. And if you can merge profit and purpose, then you become something more than just an engine that helps your shareholders make money that helps your employees to have job security, all those things are important, but they are not what we need, we need more purpose in this world, we need to take care of our environment, we need to take care of nature, we need to understand the impact of how we consume goods and services to the people around us. In this case, if I can help raise the awareness through those strategy processes, that strategy is just a vehicle to bring your purpose to life, and not just the vehicle to make money. I think then I will die a happy man because this impacts millions of people beyond those that I work with. And if I can add my five cents here and there, I’ll be happy.
Richard Matthews 38:49
It must be inflation, normally it’s two cents. It reminds me of an up and coming term called conscious capitalism. And it sounds like you are fighting to help build conscious capitalism in the organizations that you work with.
Alexander Brueckmann 39:11
Totally. I recently completed a course that I totally recommend Harvard Business School course called sustainable business strategy. And the core term in this course was helping organizations do good while also doing well. And for me, that encapsulates the topic of conscious capitalism where shareholder capitalism, not addressing just the shareholders, but actually addressing the needs of all major stakeholder groups. And the public, for example, is a stakeholder group for companies like Google, Facebook, and so on, they are so large, they have such a large impact. They cannot simply work to maximize profits, they impact each and every one of us through their work. So conscious capitalism is something that is really important for us to avoid that we just burn out this planet and use the resources that are there in a way that the next generation finds this planet in a state that is just beyond the point of no return if you know what I mean.
Richard Matthews 40:37
Yeah, absolutely, it’s a good mission to fight for. I want to talk then about some practical things, they talked about the hero’s tool belt, and every superhero has their gadget belt with batarangs or web slingers or magical hammer they can expand and fly with. I want to talk about the top one, maybe two tools you couldn’t live without in your business could be anything from your notepad to your calendar, to something you use for product delivery, something you think is essential to getting your job done every day.
Alexander Brueckmann 41:13
If you know how companies typically hire us facilitators, you would picture them standing in front of a flip chart with one of those big fat pens in their hands, where we write on the flip charts or the whiteboards. So let’s say this is definitely the first one I need in my magic belt. And the second one is probably more invisible. And it’s kind of a, if you want the magic one that helps me navigate those difficult conversations that I often have with executive teams in strategy processes. It’s something more subtle, something less visible, and it probably ties back to my superpower of going to where it hurts and to molding the energy in the room. I think this is definitely one of the gadgets that I want to have in my belt.
Richard Matthews 42:10
It’s being able to understand energy and be able to capture it, move and work with it.
Alexander Brueckmann 42:17
Richard Matthews 42:19
Richard Matthews 42:20
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Richard Matthews 43:51
So I want to talk about your own personal heroes. Every hero has their mentors. Just like Frodo had Gandalf or Luke had Obi Wan or Robert Kiyosaki has his Rich Dad or even Spider Man had his Uncle Ben, Who were some of your heroes were they real-life mentors, peers who were a couple of years ahead of you, and how important were they to what you’ve accomplished so far?
Alexander Brueckmann 44:14
I believe that everyone can be a teacher, even if it was probably not the nicest experience working with that person. You can learn something from that. Would I call these people my heroes? Probably not. But having said that everyone can be a teacher for you. A few of those teachers can be your heroes, and they are the ones that paved the way and helped me get to where I am and I think one of the biggest heroes in that context is definitely my friend Thor Olafson. He brought me into the realm of executive coaching It’s the person I mentioned earlier, I joined and built this company with an absolutely amazing human being very conscious in his approach to his own life, and really an inspiration in many regards. And probably another hero in my life, which is kind of cliche, but important for me as well. It’s certainly my late father, he was someone that would always encourage me to do things. So rather than saying, this is not going to work or have you thought about this, and that he would, he would just be there and cheer me on and tell me that I should go for it if I really want to do it in there from it on the way. And this kind of mindset is something that not only helped me to grow my former business and my business now, it also helped me to become more curious and more of an explorer of life in general because it opened up the curiosity for me to be like, what’s behind this door? I wonder if I could? should I? What would my father say? Yeah, just open the door. And that’s what I’ve been doing for a long time now. So definitely, my father in what he conveyed and what he lived and how he encouraged us—to be curious and be explorers. That’s for sure. My biggest hero.
Richard Matthews 46:46
I love that my dad was the same way. He pushed me to do a lot of things. And even though like he’ll tell you today, he doesn’t understand the work that I do, or, how I get paid or any of those things. He’s like, I’m proud of you for the work you do. Because you followed your path, which is what he wanted for us. I have a similar story from my dad. But it’s always fun to hear who their heroes were because it’s very rarely like big fancy names. It’s the everyday people in your lives, your dad, your uncle, your teacher, someone who saw something in you and pushed you to be your best.
Alexander Brueckmann 47:27
Yeah. And in that context, now that you say that they saw something in you I probably want to mention my ex-wife as well. She was someone who early realize that there is a potential in me that I didn’t see myself. And she helped me uncovered with her patients and unique approach to me as a struggling person, overcoming my own demons that I mentioned earlier, she always saw beyond that person that struggled with not being enough or having ego issues. She really helped me in that context. So I would probably add her to my list of heroes, everyday heroes. Totally.
Richard Matthews 48:13
That’s awesome. So I want to talk about your guiding principles. And one of the things that make heroes heroic is that they live by a code. For instance, Batman never kills his enemies. He only ever puts them in Arkham Asylum. So as we get to the end of this interview, I want to talk about the top one, maybe two principles that you live your life by, maybe something you wish you knew when you first started out in your own hero’s journey.
Alexander Brueckmann 48:40
I think one of my biggest guiding principles is what I call grit. I never give up on my clients especially even if they kind of give up on a topic, or sometimes they even give up on me, I would never give up on them. So grit for me means being in it for the long run. being there when you are needed. Knowing that success is not an overnight story. It’s the sum of all the work that you put into what you love. And this is probably one of my biggest guiding principles. And number two, I call it a level of partnership. For me, it is super important and it comes from overcoming my ego issues. I know that if I approach everyone around me on eye level, everyone else will look at me in the same way. So if people don’t look at you the same way if you approach them on eye-level it says more about them than it says about you. Therefore eye level partnerships are super important for me because it puts you next to each other into a car, and you go down a route together, rather than someone being your kind of puppet master using you for their purposes and not looking at what you need. So creating those Win-Win situations based on eye-level partnerships. This is not something that is important to me in business only. It’s also important for me in my private life, how I approach personal relationships or relationships with other people in general. And it has served me very, very well, from the time that I understood that I’m not better than anyone, and no one is better than me, we all have different characteristics and strengths. And if we learn how to combine those, we’re in for the long run, and for success.
Richard Matthews 50:48
I like that, I like the idea, the metaphor of the eye-level partnerships, it’s saying who you’re not looking up someone, they’re not looking down on you or the other way around. It reminds me of something I learned in college because I took Greek in college. And one of my favorite words in Greek was the word fellowship. And we have all sorts of pictures of what fellowship means in English. But the original Greek word was used to describe the people who were rowing the slave ships. So if you had all the people that are sitting in the row, and they have four or five people on each one of the oars. And when they would row together. They were considered to be in fellowship because they were all working together towards a common goal, which is moving the ship forward. And I always like that metaphor of what the word fellowship actually means is to be working together towards the common goal with someone else.
Alexander Brueckmann 51:44
That’s beautiful. Yeah.
Richard Matthews 51:46
Yeah, so I like that. Anyways, I like the eye-level partnership. I’d never heard it put that way. But I really liked that. So that’s basically a wrap on our interview. But I do finish up every interview with a simple challenge. I call it the hero’s challenge. And it’s a way that I get access to stories that might not otherwise find on my own. So the question is simple. Do you have someone in your life or in your network that you think has a good entrepreneurial story? Who are they? First names are fine and why you think they should come to share their story on our show, first person that comes to mind for you.
Alexander Brueckmann 52:20
I would definitely say, Kate Tuck. Kate is my one man marketing army or one woman marketing army for that case, she has been a constant support for years. And her talents are many folds, she could probably run three or four different companies offering three or four different services. Because she’s so passionate about what she does. I love working with her because she throws her whole heart and soul into what she does to help her clients in all kinds of different ways. She’s an incredibly creative person, she draws, she comes up with amazing ideas, she helps me get my website to where it should be all those different things. And she does it in a way that is always humorous. We have always a hearty laugh on the phone. She sits in the UK, by the way. So it’s a bit of a timezone challenge sometimes, but we make it work because it’s worth it.
Richard Matthews 53:27
That’s awesome. We’ll reach out and see if we can get her to say yes to an interview, we always love to get more stories on the show.
Alexander Brueckmann 53:32
Richard Matthews 53:34
In comic books, there’s always the crowd of people at the end who are standing up and cheering for the acts of heroism. So our analogous to that on this show is where can people find you if they want to hire you for the strategy coaching, where can they light up the bad signal, so to speak, and say, hey, Alex, I’d love to get your help with our company’s strategy, I think more important than where is who are the right types of people to reach out or the right types of organizations to reach out and ask for your help.
Alexander Brueckmann 53:59
So first of all, you can reach out simply through my website, AlexTheStrategist.com. You will find a ton of free stuff there from checklists to toolkits to articles. I love to share valuable content with the people that I work with, and also people that are just interested in the topic, so no need to hire me for anything. Enjoy the free resources, get the best out of them. AlexTheStrategist.com the stuff is mainly for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and founders. A lot of those checklists and toolkits that you’ll find there will help you initially to get your head around strategy, purpose, vision mission, all those terms. What do they mean? How are they connected? How do they influence each other? But also I have a B2B section on my website. Based on those 15 years of working with large corporations, so if you are a leader in a medium-sized corporation or even a large corporation, my services can be found in the B2B section. And important to understand that, of course, you can just hire me for keynote speeches or for strategy workshops. But most of the work that I do for larger corporations, are longer-term customized projects that are simply dovetailed to the reality that you are in. So it’s nothing off the shelf, it’s really something that we co-create together for the best possible impact.
Richard Matthews 55:38
Awesome. So thank you so much for coming on the show today, Alex, and sharing your story. And what it is that you do. It’s been fascinating, sort of hear that journey and that experience. I really appreciate that. Do you have any final words of wisdom for our audience before I hit this stop record button?
Alexander Brueckmann 55:53
It’s not wisdom. It’s just saying thank you, Richard, when I first came across your show, I loved how you frame conversations based on this theme of superheroes. It’s just amazing how you are able to whatever person you talk to how you’re able to frame it in this superhero context. And it makes so much sense and I wouldn’t consider myself a superhero. But there are so many real superheroes out there, that should be a guest on your show. And I really very much appreciate all the work that you do. Thank you so much.
Richard Matthews 56:27
Well, thank you for having me and or for saying that. And one of the things that I build a show around is this whole idea that we have this sort of cultural misconception, especially in America, I’m not sure how it is in other cultures, but especially in America, that entrepreneurs are the villains. And that’s always bothered me. And you can watch any of your kids TV shows, or any of the stories they read. And there’s a common theme is that the bad guy is always some version of an entrepreneur who’s pouring oil on ducks for a profit. And so we grew up with this idea that entrepreneurs as a whole are willing to sacrifice conscious capitalism like we were talking about it for the dollar. And that’s just not true. It does happen. But it’s not the norm. And it’s not the reality. Especially, new entrepreneurs, we struggle with things like thinking that profit is evil or thinking that we don’t have value to bring to the world or that entrepreneurs don’t bring value to the world. So we struggle with things like pricing our services, and I just want to change that conversation. So anyway, I appreciate what you said.
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