MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Welcome everyone to the interactive entrepreneur podcast, sponsored by interactive accountants, where we help you minimize your taxes and measure your success. On today's episode, we're speaking with Steve Pizziol with the tab Southwest Miami. So if you've never heard of tab before, it's the alternative board and Steve is the owner of the Southwest Miami division of the alternative board.
Now a little bit about Steve, Steve's the, obviously the owner of the tab here in Miami. but in his past experience, he spent the last 25 years in business management for two of the world's most well-known and accomplished fortune 500 brands that being Domino's and blockbuster. He has led teams and managed business units across multiple regions and continents, including the USA, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific room and Africa.
He has been involved in startups, accelerated growth programs, and has also been a country CEO with full P and L responsibility who worked with private equity institutional investors and has helped companies go public. Steve, welcome to the interactive entrepreneurs show. And thank you for being here.
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Hey Matt, it's great to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, Steve, uh, I gave you a little bit of a heads up on what we like to do here on the show, but now we're LIVE, so now's your chance to kind of give us your feedback on a few questions that we have here. For all of our interactive entrepreneur listeners.
And the first one is what's your biggest success in your career and what did it teach you?
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Um, well, you know, tough question because, you know, I think I've had a lot of, um, a lot of success in my career, a lot of, a lot of wins, but probably, um, the biggest one that if I look back over time occurred when I was at.
Domino's when I joined the company, I was asked to run the Asia Pacific business based in Hong Kong, and the role was really to expand, um, Domino's into markets where, um, there was already a presence, but also, and very importantly, uh, introduce the brand to a number of new countries where. There were no Domino's stores.
And one of those countries, probably the most important country that we really needed to penetrate was China. Uh, this was towards the end of the two thousands. I arrived in Hong Kong in 2007. Um, China was kind of in that real, uh, phase of explosive growth that with a whole number of different, uh, quick service restaurant categories, uh, Quite a few KFC's that had opened over the last 10 years.
Pizza hut McDonald's and Starbucks were really starting to expand, but there was no Domino's presence. So I'm working with a team that I established, uh, and over the course of, you know, many years of just focus, hard work planning, uh, we were able to scale the market uh, open the first stores and then, you know, expand.
Uh, and then when I left the region in 2019, uh, we had 200 stores. Now, there are well over 500. So, you know, probably the biggest, um, I would say success, uh, in, in that, you know, it was a long-term project. It didn't happen overnight. It took many years involved, many people, what it really taught me was. You know, you, you just need to stay on track.
You need to ensure that all stakeholders understand your vision and, and you'll get there. Um, you know, there may be bumps along the road, uh, but you know, failure was not an option, uh, with, when you're talking about a big brand, such as Domino's. Yes, did have some support. Uh, from, you know, the, the parent company, but, you know, essentially, you know, we were a brand new, uh, brand, uh, no one knew who Domino's was, you know, we had to teach, uh, the Chinese consumer about, uh, the delivered pizza, uh, and the brand.
It was very, very challenging, but, you know, I think perseverance, strong direction. Um, and just teamwork led to that probably being my biggest success in my career. Very proud of that, uh, that accomplishment.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Awesome, not everybody can say they opened up 200 stores over the course of 12 years. I mean, that's, that's a lot of work.
That's a lot of work. Uh, I feel like just having three offices is a lot of work, I couldn't imagine having 200, you know? Um, but that being said, Steve, you know, what do you think. You know, throughout the course of, of your, your business career was, was probably your biggest failure. Right. And what did you learn from that failure?
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Probably. Um, my biggest failure was not following through on something that I really believed. Um, and you know, sometimes when, when you don't follow through on what you believe in and you just go with flow, um, it's really the same as saying that you do agree and I didn't, and, and I'll, and I'll explain the example was that blockbuster.
Um, this was, you know, many years ago, um, you know, Netflix had already started to be very competitive with, with blockbuster. They launched the DVD by mail program. And, and blockbuster believed that in order to, you know, continue to grow and not lose market share that they would need to address an issue.
That was a very negative part of renting a movie from blockbuster and that work that was the late fees to eliminate the late fees, uh, would entice more, um, more customers to rent from blockbuster instead of switching over to the DVD by mail. So. Um, you know, we had done lots of studies and tests, uh, but you know, ultimately, um, what it meant would be losing that revenue stream and that revenue stream was important.
I was overseeing the franchise division at the time, uh, which was a smaller division out of all of the stores operating in the U S there were 5,000 at the time of the 5,000. Most of those were, were corporate uh, about 1400 were franchise. The franchisees would tell me that this was not going to work. I believe them yet.
The corporation was very much focused on, on eliminating late fees. And I think my biggest failure was not communicating and advocating more about, you know, the financial impact that this would have on the franchise. Um, we did launch the end of late fees and subsequently, you know, many franchisees went bankrupt and, uh, it was a real problem.
And, and subsequently the, the brand never, didn't survive. And, and we all know, you know, the rest is history, so, you know, not, you know, standing up for what you believe in. Um, I believe, you know, has been my biggest failure and I think a real lesson to me that, you know, I can never let that happen.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Gotcha. So on that respect, um, you know, when it comes to my worst failure, right.
I spoke about it a little bit in a previous episode and it wasn't necessarily like, you know, just believing in my gut. It was, it was a different thing. It was a little bit of, you know, not having enough attention, put on some of my staff that, you know, and allowing them to. Just try to do things without me being there to mentor and train, you know what I mean?
Uh, so last week actually, my, I took my whole team away, right. For mentoring and training, you know, so I'm really trying not to mistake, you know, keep doing the same thing over and over again, the same way and expecting different results. Right. That's what I don't want to do. So I want to keep doing the right thing.
That's working and if it's not working, then I want to do something different and hopefully I'll get different results. So having spoken a little bit about our failure here, you know what I mean? I really would love it. If you could share just one great business tip with the audience here and, you know, just, you know, just give it a little, a little nuggets, right. You know, for our entrepreneurs that are listening out there. So what would your best business tip be? Right.
STEVEN PIZZIOL: You know, um, you know, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, um, and, you know, especially with the alternative board. And the one thing that we constantly talk about, um, is, is how important it is to really focus on, on what matters most in your business.
Uh, too many times, I think entrepreneurs, business leaders get distracted by the idea of the month. You know, they think, okay, maybe if I launched this product, or if I expand into this territory, I'm going to do more business, make more money, uh, you know, time and time again. I've seen, um, entrepreneurs go off course because they have not.
Stayed true to their core business and focused on really executing. Well, I have an acronym for focus. Uh, it's follow one course until successful follow one course until successful. And it's so true. Um, so if there's one thing that I would advise any entrepreneur to do, it would be to just stay focused.
Um, don't deviate too much, especially, you know, when you're growing your business, there is a temptation to try different things. And, you know, sometimes you've got to do that, but I think that there's a tendency for many entrepreneurs to try to do too much and, um, you know, subsequently lose focus on what matters.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Gotcha. So you heard that here. I'd never heard the focus and acronym before. So I'm going to put that in, in the little notes here on our podcast today, but, uh, I'm a big, huge fan of an acronyms, you know, and my one that I always use is kiss. Keep it simple, stupid, you know, and that's what works for me in terms of keeping my focus number one, but also my communications.
So when I'm communicating with anyone in general, You know, accounting and tax terms can be like really complicated sometimes. So I have to keep it simple so that the ordinary person can identify with it, understand it. And hopefully it makes sense at the same time.
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Absolutely.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: All right, Steve. So right now, like we told everybody listening before, when we were doing your background, you're running the alternative board.
What's probably the biggest challenge that you have right now in your business.
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Well, this, this business that I now own and operate the alternative board is a very unique business and it operates, I believe in a, in a, in a niche that's very, very important to, um, independent. Business owners and entrepreneurs.
What we do at the alternative board is we create an advisory board for the business owner who doesn't have that luxury. You know, they're currently running their business. Uh, they're making all the decisions, um, and you know, the. Big, publicly traded companies. They all have boards and the reason why they have boards is because they're important.
They add value. It's typically a group of outside business people, directors from other industries that sit all over about the management team, provide guidance, um, validation on strategy, but also hold, uh, that business, uh, uh, that, that, that, uh, management team accountable. Uh, while also providing some degree of protection to shareholders as well, the small, independent business owner, as I mentioned, the owner is making all of those key decisions, good or bad.
Somebody by being part of a board that I create, and these boards are here locally in Miami. They're made up of, um, business owners all from noncompeting industries. Uh, we meet once a month for four hours and each of these owners joins this. To, to be able to participate in an environment where they can discuss their ideas, their challenges, their opportunities with other business owners.
So then they are making better decisions which ultimately affect the outcome and the performance of their business. It really is a terrific tool. Well, the business owner, that's alone making all of these decisions. So probably the biggest challenge I have right now, Matt is, is, you know, recruiting business owners for my boards.
This is a, you know, it's a concept that really does need to be explained to. And there are some business owners who just love to be alone, right. They say, Hey, you know, why would I want to be part of something like this? I went into business because I like being my own boss. Um, and, and, you know, calling all the shots, um, that continues that that does not change anything by being part of the board.
It just, it's an environment once a month for four hours, where you can get with other business owners who they end up becoming your trusted advisors, and you can discuss things that you probably won't be able to discuss with your employees. Uh, and they're typically topics that your, you know, encountering and dealing with on your own.
So just convincing owners that this is a very, very valuable, um, uh, concept to be part of is probably the biggest challenge for me. There are some business owners that I speak to who say that they love it and they're ready to join, but just, I would say the vast majority don't understand how it works.
They don't feel they have enough time. Uh, to be part of something like this and it can be a real challenge.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Gotcha. So, for me, Steve, I, um, I don't have like a board of directors. I'm not a part of tab right now. Um, but for me, what I do have is what I call a circle of influence. Right. And my circle of influence is a couple of other friends and, you know, actually clients believe it.
Uh, who we've gotten to know each other throughout the years. And when I have an idea for my business, uh, as an accountant, believe it or not, I actually reach out to some of my clients and say, Hey, what do you think of this? You know? And they're like, oh wow. You're actually asking me for advice. This is cool.
You know what I mean? Normally they're reaching out to, to me for the advice, like, you know, tax advice or, you know, business general finance advice, stuff like that. But I have my circle of influence that I reach out to. The one thing that I've noticed with entrepreneurs is, is those of us that don't necessarily have a circle of influence or like an alternative board such as the one that you've run here in Southwest Miami.
Um, it's almost like their, their business is just the job. You know, whereas those of us that are seeking outside opinions, seeking professional, help seeking, not therapeutic, but you know, like lawyers, you know, accountants, stuff like that, uh, business coaching, whatever, it may be. These individuals, in my opinion, this is just my opinion now really want to take their business to the next level.
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, that's. Um, I would say that the ideal candidate for, for the alternative board, it's a business owner who has created a, a nice business and taken it to where they've taken it so far. But in order to get to the next level, being part of something like this, Uh, this group of trusted advisors, I mean, you're fortunate Matt, that you do have this . Most business owners, don't they lone wolves making all of the decisions and it's tough at the top.
You know, maybe they have, you know, their attorney, uh, but if they're talking to their attorney, you know, typically something's wrong. or not going right. Uh, although they'll call their CPA and sometimes they'll overwhelm their CPA with, you know, a whole bunch of, uh, uh, you know, questions and, and so forth.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: So I get so many law questions. I'm like, I'm not an attorney, I'm just an accountant.
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Yeah. So, you know, this is really for that owner who, who wants to, to take his business up a few notches and I. When we have our board meetings, you know, they're very dynamic. We have, you know, incredible conversations and each of, um, the board members on my boards, you know, really see the value and have found that, you know, wow.
You know, if only I had have joined something like the alternative board five years ago, I'd be way ahead of where I am now. So it really is a great, uh, it, it really is a great accessory for independent business owner.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Awesome. And Steve, if somebody isn't in the Southwest Miami area and they are looking for like an alternative board, you guys, when we were speaking before a little bit before the show, there are alternative boards throughout the United States and in, even in different countries where people can find this group of individuals as a resource.
So if somebody is interested in not only learning about your alternative board here in Southwest Miami, but just in general, where would they go?
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Probably the best place to go is on the company website, which is www.thealternativeboard.com. Um, there's a tab there that says, find a local board, just click on the tab.
It brings up an interactive map of. Uh, because we do operate in, in 22 countries, you basically click on, you know, the geography, where, where you live and you'll be able to find the local chapter of the alternative board. That's the easiest way to find. And the chances are there, there is a, uh, a local chapter where you live.
We're not in every single state, but in most of the 50 United States, And as I mentioned, we operate in 22 other countries. There are more than 7,000 independent business owners that currently sit on a board somewhere in the world. And typically when a business owner joins, they stay with the alternative board for an average of 4.8 years.
So they really do see the value. Um, the board becomes, um, you know, in an, in an integral part of their business. Uh, and so to do the other board members, they become, you know, they're the trusted advisors of each owner, uh, and many develop lifelong relationships and, and each of the board members see their business businesses grow and improve together.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Awesome. Steve, if somebody wants to reach out to you, they have a question or they're here in Southwest Florida, south or Southeast Miami rather. Miami. Let me just repeat that. Let me keep it simple, man. Not Southeast non Southwest, just Miami. If they're in Miami and they want to reach you, Steve, what's the best way to get you?
STEVEN PIZZIOL: Probably the easiest way is to give me a call. Um, my number is (786) 763-4470. Or you can, you know, go into the tab website, www.thealternativeboard.com/steve-pizziol. Click on. You know, the, the map for the U S you'll find me there in the Miami area, south Florida, all of my information is there. And I'd be happy to talk to you about possibly joining.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Awesome. Steve, thanks so much for joining us today on the entry reactive entrepreneur. And just to remind everyone, the Interactive Entrepreneur Podcast is sponsored by Interactive Accountants, where We Help You Measure Your Success and Minimize Your Taxes. You can find us on the web at interactiveaccountants.com, and if you have any questions for me, feel free to email me, email@example.com my email is simple, just like the anacronym. I love K I S S (keep it simple stupid). Thanks everybody for joining us today. We appreciate it. And we look forward to seeing you on future episodes.