A New Year’s Bowl – with Good Wishes from TPG Companies

As 2016 comes to a close, we at TPG Companies wish you peace, joy, and fulfillment throughout the coming year.
We appreciate all who work to enhance the lives of those around them – in business, in the community, and in the world around us.
We give you this symbolic bowl, with our best wishes for you and yours.bowl-poem-image
With warm regards from Paul Kirpes, Founder & President, and the TPG Team.
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Are You Ready to Scale Up?

Is now the right time to grow your company? growth-key-951783

TPG is excited to support the launch of ScaleUpU. Be a part of the first ScaleUpU initiative in the world beginning in Kansas City this November during Entrepreneurs week.

15 high-potential companies will be selected this year and in each of the next 10 years (150 firms in all), to spend 24 months in an education, coaching, and technology-supported process to address four key aspects of scaling a business: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.

There are big goals here, and your company could be a beneficiary. ScaleUpU expects these outcomes:

  1. Putting one of the selected firms on a strong trajectory to $1 billion in revenue – adding an important anchor firm to its city and broader business community.
  1. Helping five to 10 companies scale and then exit for a combined $1 billion to $3 billion – adding significant wealth to their communities.
  1. Assisting 70% – 80% of the remaining 140 firms to increase their size 3x to 10x

These goals aren’t manufactured, given the bona fides behind this program. TPG and I know the players and have applied their resources ourselves.

You may know the book Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it…and Why the Rest Don’t, by Verne Harnish, founder of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, founder/CEO of Gazelles, Inc. and co-founder and Principal of Gazelles Growth Institute.

Verne and other leaders of business growth are allied in creating ScaleUpU, as a way to craft “scaleup ecosystems” to complement the robust startup ecosystems developing in cities worldwide.

ScaleUpU will eventually be in cities nation- and world-wide. But it starts in Kansas City, this month – starting with joining Verne Harnish for dinner in KC on November 14.

Know an entrepreneur ready to take action? Want to learn more? Contact TPG at 515-270-2453 or info@whatmattersmost.com for more information.


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Meet Carl & Jake Kirpes

I love those moments when, as a parent, one knows that The Kids Are All Right – and they’re being recognized for it.

carl-jakeIt hit me again when I saw Meet Carl & Jake Kirpes as the title of a blog post from the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers.

Carl and Jake are my two oldest – both young professionals in their own right, and actively engaged with careers, themselves, and with the world around them – that give them opportunities to Transform, Perform, and Grow. Happily, both are also contributors to the teams at TPG Companies, and Jake joined TPG full time this year.

Carl and Jake recently co-authored an article, How Industrial Engineering Saved a Company,” for Industrial Management magazine (find a link to it in this blog post about them). In the article, they describe key moves and steps grounded in industrial engineering strategies and methodologies, that helped to turn the business GENESYS around during the Great Recession.

I have three reasons for sharing this with you today:

  1. For businesses that are struggling (especially supply chain industries), Carl and Jake’s article is full of good examples of helpful tools.
  2. If you’ve read many of my prior blog posts, you may notice similarities in approach and tone, between what Carl and Jake describe in their article and how I tend to talk about transforming and growing companies and organizations. Beyond “apples not falling far from the tree”… it’s more like new apple trees taking root and providing more apples for everyone!
  3. What can I say – I’m proud of my kids (all four of them).


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YOU Can Change the World! What Five Books Have Most Influenced Your Success and Why?

See below to make a difference today.

Transforming the World, One Relationship at a Time

Paul w Evarist Kemsolbaye 160714-cropped

Evarist Kemsolbaye of Chad (right) with Paul Kirpes

Transform, Perform, and Grow isn’t just a business name or business model with me –it’s a calling. At TPG Companies, we’re drawn to opportunities to transform, perform, and grow ourselves, our relationships, businesses and organizations, and even countries and thus the world (at least the parts of the world we touch).

So I’m naturally drawn to others who embrace such a calling. What a privilege, then, to have a new and growing relationship with Evarist Kemsolbaye, an engineer from Chad working in the oil and gas industry and a Mandela Washington Fellow through the Young African Leaders Initiative.

Evarist visited my Rotary Club this past summer during a visit by 25 of the 2016 Mandela Fellows hosted by Drake University. Our connection was immediate, as I believe we sensed in one another similar values, beliefs, and desires. This highly motivated young man is not only growing as a leader in his business, but also deeply wants to make positive change in his community and country. He has a hunger to learn and apply as much as possible about leadership, business growth, organization development and strategy, business performance and management…in short, things I’m keenly interested in as well, and that TPG is known for.

Evarist and I are staying in touch. There’s plenty I can learn from him including about his country, global perspective, approach to helping others, and overcoming hunger and adversity. Plus I’m eager to partner in his growth and development as a leader and change.

Evarist asked for a list of books that have been beneficial to me as a leader, business owner, change agent, and encourager of others. I’ve shared an initial list with him, and he’s eagerly begun what he calls his “food for mind journey.”

You Can Help Change the World With Your Own Recommendations

What five books have most influenced your success and why? (Email your recommendations to info@whatmattersmost.com ). I’ll share your suggestions with Evarist, and perhaps add them to TPG’s library as well.

If you’re one of the first 25 to share your book list, I’ll send you a copy of the annotated book list I sent to Evarist.

Be well friends!



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There’s Power in Mistakes

You can tell a lot about a leader – and a company’s culture – by how they respond to mistakes - statuemistakes. I appreciate the title of Dan McCarthy’s blog post, “Say Thank-you to Mistakes.”

My experience with mistakes is much like McCarthy says. Mistakes “can often be the by-products of and catalysts for innovation, empowerment, delegation, development, change, and continuous improvement.”

Innovation. Empowerment. Delegation. Development. Change. Continuous Improvement…most business owners and leaders WANT these in our companies!

We’ve seen business owners, leaders and even managers who strive to keep such tight control that they don’t allow for “mistakes” (learning, growth and solution opportunities!). They think they’re doing right, but more often than not, they’re impeding growth and crippling the business (progress, people, culture, ability to adapt, etc.). If you hold the business reins too tightly, you’ll keep control – but as with horses, the steps will be smaller and growth will be slower (or even stop).

Conversely, I encourage, celebrate and congratulate leaders who reduce the layers of restrictive rules (formal and informal) and increase the creative freedom they offer their employees. Such leaders tend to follow three guides:

  1. Determinedly HireA Players” – along the lines of the Netflix model of building a team of “ever more high performance people.”
  2. Ensure their A Players (and other team members) are aligned with a). the market, b). each other, and c). with the company’s vision, purpose (mission), values, and strategic direction.
  3. Enable – and nurture – their A Players to fulfill their roles and accountabilities – without tightly controlling every step nor decisions along the way. Guideposts are good – measures and indicators of success are good – regular communication is good. Not so good: requiring permission for actions or decisions that are reversible and not “harmful” to the business or its customers.

When A Players make mistakes, there’s huge opportunity for resulting benefits! McCarthy’s three open-ended questions to ask following each “mistake or unintended outcome” start the benefits in motion:

  1. What happened?
  2. What have you done / will you do to fix it?
  3. What did you learn?

Notice, what’s not beneficial are the questions or statements that follow most mistakes…the following are generally counter-productive: “How could you do that?” “You’ve ruined this for us!” “Whose fault is it?”— or even,  “I’ll fix it for you.”

A Players are continuous learners. They’ll respond to those three questions and turn them into innovation, empowerment, delegation, development, change, continuous improvement, solutions and growth!

The added bonus is that McCarthy’s three questions can help create more A Players! Getting B Players to clearly define the facts, be accountable and responsible, think for themselves, and turn the mistake into learning are key ingredients for developing them into A Players.

Embrace mistakes and the “mistake” makers: the results can be powerful.


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4 Themes at the Heart of “Transform, Perform, and Grow”

Volunteering, delivering papers, mowing lawns, and working in the family business as a youngster in Dubuque, Iowa, taught me a lot news deliveryabout helping others, and seeing what “success” looks like through their eyes.

Ever since, I’ve had a drive and a passion for helping people achieve what matters most to them – in their ventures as well as their adventures.

Somewhere along the way I put the words Transform, Perform, and Grow to this work. Because I find those powerful, interconnected ideas to be what does matter most to passionate and dedicated leaders, owners, and executives.

  • We need to Perform well in order to Grow.
  • When we Transform, we look for new ways to Perform.
  • When we experience Growth, our Performance needs often change.

And there we are: TPG Companies. Transform. Perform. Grow.

At TPG, we’ve found there are certain mindsets and actions – themes – that are at the heart of helping a business, person, or entity Transform, Perform, or Grow. For instance:

  1. Integrity is Paramount.
    My years as a member of Rotary International have ingrained in me the words of the Rotary Four-Way Test. It is a top notch way to describe an approach to operating with integrity, respect, and honesty:

    1. Is it the truth?
    2. Is it fair to all concerned?
    3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
    4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The Four-Way Test is a standard we go back to time and again. I simply don’t believe we can truly be helpful to other entities unless we hold ourselves to a standard of high integrity.

  1. Tend to the Relationships.
    We care deeply about the people we work with, and the success of their companies and organizations. If you care deeply, you do your best to tend and nourish the relationship – by acts of care, being authentic in your communications, active listening, and by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to see and experience from their perspective.  “We’re in this together”  – believing and making this true can build valued and valuable relationships.
  1. Words Matter.
    I veer away from using the term “customers,” or even “clients,” as those words imply a transaction rather than the deeper, longer-term, and more mutually beneficial transformative relationship we experience with many entities. Relationship language is so deeply valued at TPG Companies, we’re in a constant mode of re-training and reminding ourselves, because word choices matter.If we say we’re about Transform, Perform, Grow, but our words don’t reflect that, then somehow we’re not actually telling the truth (see #1 above!). I’ve written more about words here.
  2. Keep Learning. Filter and Integrate What’s Learned.
    I’m an information collector – just ask my colleagues. I’m drawn to knowledge that helps owners, leaders, and executives think and act in better ways – to achieve and grow results. Collecting and learning are strong values at TPG.Filtering and integrating that new knowledge is key, though. To truly tend to our relationship (see #2), I need to be highly discerning about when integrating the “new” is of value to you and your business, versus when it’s just overwhelming.

And it all started with volunteering, delivering papers, the family business, and mowing lawns…seeing the world through the eyes and the stories of PULMs (People Unlike Me).


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Words Matter: From Transactional to Transformative Language

Too easily, we fall into using the wrong words – and it’s costing us business.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between Fireflylightning and the lightning bug.” –Mark Twain

Example: we fall back on transactional language, even when we believe the value we bring is transformative.

In our culture and in business, it’s common to deal in transactions on a daily basis. We’re surrounded by transactional language like:

  • Buying and selling.
  • Quotes and bids.
  • Rates and deliverables.
  • Products.
  • Customers.
  • Buyers.

For some businesses it’s the accurate terminology. Yet, I’m convinced that we’re so used to this transactional, vendor-supplier language that often it’s applied too broadly – to the disadvantage of all involved.

So many businesses offer much more than a transaction, but their language hasn’t evolved to indicate that. So there’s some “discord” between how they describe themselves and who they actually are as a business.

If the words I use are transactional, should I be surprised to be treated as the next vendor in line?

At TPG, we help owners, leaders, and executives Transform, Perform, and Grow their businesses, people, and corporations! We care deeply about their culture, vision, goals, and passions, and we’re in it with them.

We don’t view what we do as transactional, because with each entity, we build a greater connection and relationship between us than a transaction involves. It’s a transformative relationship.

Therefore, the words we use to do business need to reflect that transformative nature. We want our words and language to truthfully reflect the kind of relationship we’re in.

I’ve found we’re more accurate and in sync with who we are as we’ve trained ourselves to use a vocabulary more like this:

  • Instead of selling a job or tasks, we begin a project, relationship, venture or initiative together.
  • Instead of producing deliverables, we identify (together) the results or outcomes we seek through a mutually-developed Scope of Work.
  • Instead of quoting a fee, we define the investments appropriate to pursue or achieve desired results, outcomes, and impact.

This isn’t just word manipulation for marketing purposes. It’s about changing how people understand who we are and what we do by choosing the right words.

Because words matter.

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It’s Not Your Father’s SBA

Check your assumptions at the door.

If you think the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is only there to make loans, and downloadrequires a deep dive into the land of bureaucracy, check again.

I have worked with an array of entities over the years who have benefited greatly from the SBA as they started up and established themselves in business. The SBA has much to offer in a range of areas, from startup and growth resources, to regional innovation clusters, to training & support for businesses led by veterans, immigrants, military spouses, and more.

And yes, funding. With dramatically less red tape these days.

National Small Business Week is May 1-7 this year. Here in my home state, there’s an Iowa Small Business Week Awards Reception coming up on Friday, May 6, and I plan to be there, to celebrate entrepreneurial businesses that are making an impact.

Will you join me? It’ll be a good opportunity to connect with one another and focus on what’s working for small businesses in our region.

Not an Iowan? Check with your state’s SBA office to see what they’re doing to celebrate National Small Business Week – and to discover the SBA of today.


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10. Don’t Lose the Core to Do the More: Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Tenth and last (for now) in a series of ten maxims I find myself repeating often. 

The Next Big Thing can be great – except when it isn’t.apple core

In the world of VUCA, permanent whitewater change, and the imperative for innovation, there’s pressure all around to grow – change – grow – change – and at a faster pace.

That can be a good thing. It can even be great. But like every good thing, it can also be problematic – even severely so.

I’ve seen countless companies grow and change, achieve success and commendable profitability, when that growth and change occurs from a place of clear knowledge of who they are at their core.  But – companies that Lose the Core in order to Do the More, are almost always less likely to succeed.

KnowingCore-New Idea who you are at your core comes from being crystal clear about your company’s Mission, Vision, and Values – and then making sure that your innovation, growth, and change is grounded in that core.

Your Core grounds you, but it isn’t necessarily static.

It’s best if company leaders check in with their Core at least annually (or ideally, quarterly or even monthly)  – does this still represent us, and tell the world who we really are? Does it still represent how we function and where we are going?

Don’t Lose the Core to Do the More. Know what your Core is, and you’ll know if the More aligns with it or not.


So there you are. Ten Maxims to Boost Business Impact and Effectiveness. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.

I’ve got more Maxims, too. What are yours?


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Here’s What an Award-Winning Entrepreneur Looks Like

Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry, President of GENESYS Systems Integrator

I’m so proud of (and excited for) my friend and client Matthew Perry, President and Partner of GENESYS Systems Integrator, recently named a 2015 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year! This prestigious award illuminates the expertise and passion of GENESYS’ entire team, and it recognizes someone I greatly respect and enjoy.

Since 2012, TPG Companies and I have worked with GENESYS – a global player in systems and technology integration. We can testify to the entrepreneur and leader Matt is, as well as to the vision and energy of Matt’s partner and brother, Pat Perry.

Matt and Pat Perry

Brothers Matt and Pat Perry at the EY Central-Midwest Region Award Ceremony

Early on, we helped GENESYS see the rationale for separating their CEO/President position to fit the respective personalities, interests, and capabilities of the owners. I saw Matt as the right person to take on the role of President, and had the joy of advising, coaching, and mentoring him as he took the reins, restructured the organization, and led its growth with enthusiasm, vigor, and humility.

At a recent breakfast with Matt, I felt again how he makes others feel appreciated and honored. Like how he has said to me, in true Matt style, “I’m so grateful for how much stronger and better I am – and GENESYS is – with you and TPG Companies on our side! And through it all, I am proud to call you a good friend.”

Matt and GENESYS have been through a number of transformations in recent years including, as he says, “becoming less of a commodity and more about bringing value to manufacturers – being a hero to entities who need a company like GENESYS to get them to the next level.”

Matt’s video for the EY award shows his heart for this work. I’ve seen it first hand, having helped create or facilitate more than 25 strategic projects and growth initiatives at GENESYS over the past three years.

As a winner of Ernst & Young’s Central-Midwest Region award, Matt moves forward to the national competition and gala in November 2015. TPG Companies and I are pleased and honored to be trusted and relied upon by such a fine person – and to work with all the leaders and owners of GENESYS Systems Integrator.


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