Welcome back to Tenacity Tales, friend!

This is our favorite feature, (we hope it's one of yours too!) and we're stoked to continue sharing inspiring entrepreneurial journeys in 2020.  

We're kicking this year off with a somewhat familiar face: Our own founder and CEO, Roy Lamphier.

We're not showcasing EA's leader to toot our own horn, but rather to show you how Roy's experiences might mirror your own. He's a small business owner too and knows firsthand the role's equal joys, fears, frustrations, and everything in between.

Read more about it in this month's Tenacity Tales.
Roy Lamphier, Founder/CEO of Excelerate America

What’s the obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re most proud of?

We started the business [Excelerate America] with a general idea of how we wanted to help people but not exactly sure how to best deliver that help. You could think of this as the company you start off as (out of necessity) and the company you want to eventually be. Well, it’s a long road and at different points you inevitably question the progress you’re making.

What I’m most proud of is we were able to articulate the company we wanted to be through a series of principles (loosely aligned around the question of “what would EA do?”). When we held up our work to date against those principles, it helped us to see where we were in fact making progress and also where we could see that we needed to do better. Seeing a team you put together rally around those set of ideals and making it work was truly humbling and something I am really proud of.

 

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Roy (center back) and the Excelerate America team tried out axe throwing for a team building activity in 2019. 


What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?

The question supposes that knowing is enough. I knew plenty about the virtues of customer centric product design. Channeling my best Eric Ries, I understood that whatever you build will initially be wrong when it first comes in contact with customers.

Nevertheless, we get busy, have deadlines to meet, and you get lured into jumping into building before you really know who you’re building for and what their true needs are. That leads to a lot of product iterations, and frankly guessing. Fortunately, we learned a lot from our early prototypes and also the flaws with our approach. So now I guess we went from knowing to believing.

What’s your best advice to other small business owners?

Get out and talk to people. Share what you’re thinking about. Ask others what they are trying to accomplish or how they tackle a specific problem. If you have employees, ask them how they would tackle a question you might be working on. Feedback and outside perspective are hyper learning tools. It also raises trust and credibility.

 

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Since starting Excelerate America, Roy has created the Game Changer notebook which includes a simple framework he created to
help entrepreneurs get more of the right things done each day.


What’s a typical day like for you?

I don’t have an alarm clock, but I have a dog that expects to be walked early in the morning. I’m usually up before the dog though and always marvel at how happy it starts each morning wagging and such. I usually have an idea that I wake up with around something I’ve been working on. I’ve stopped using headphones on our morning runs in an attempt to be more aware of my surroundings and I am amazed how it leads to revelations on that thought I woke up with.

Afterwards, I generally enjoy a cup of coffee while I spend an hour or so reading and writing. When I read the paper, I typically skip the front page theatrics and focus on articles I can reflect on. I always read with a pen and write thoughts in the book or newspaper. I don’t pick up my phone until I’m headed to work and I try to set my to-do list the day before. Email to me is the equivalent to other people’s to do list, so I generally try not to dive into it when I first get to work.

We’re fortunate to have very few formal meetings, but we have a number of blocked off times to work collaboratively on different projects. Our team is dispersed, so sometimes I end up chasing time zones later into the evening, but generally I try to make it home for sit-down dinner with the wife and kids. We have a strict no device policy at the table and I can work after dinner, but the standing rule is you can’t do it in front of anyone else so I have to go to my office to fire up my laptop or check email on my phone.


What’s next for you and Excelerate America?

I like where we’re at and how far we’ve come, but I really feel we are just beginning to grow into the business we will ultimately be. I’m excited at the work we’re doing in developing game like activities that focus on using your time well to grow your business and connections. I hope to eventually be a big player in the evolving category of human co-experience and fundamentally impact how entrepreneurs learn, connect and grow.


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