Episode 174 : Business and Leadership Re-defined with Brad Sugars

Brad Sugars is internationally known as one of the most influential entrepreneurs. Brad is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and the number one business coach in the world. Over the course of his 30 year career as an entrepreneur, Brad has become the CEO of 9 plus companies and is the owner of the multimillion dollar franchise Action Coach. As a husband and father of 5, Brad is equally as passionate about his family as he is about business, that’s why Brad is a strong advocate for building a business that works without you so you can spend more time doing what really matters to you.

Over the years of starting, scaling and selling many businesses, Brad has earned his fair share of scars. Being an entrepreneur is not an easy road but if you can learn from those who have gone before you, it becomes a lot easier than going at it alone. That’s why Brad has created 90 days to revolutionize your life, it’s 30 minutes a day for 90 days teaching you his 30 years experience on investing, business and life.


  • Could you share a little bit about how you got to where you are today?
  • In your bio, it mentioned that at the end of the day, you want to be working in a business that can work without you. Like so many people don’t understand that concept. Could you explain what that means?
  • And so, maybe could you share with us, let’s say 3 to 4 success principles, or just things that will help to make you be more successful as a business owner or an entrepreneur.
  • Could you share with us I would say maybe, let’s move it up to five traits that a leader needs to really grow and develop their people.
  • Where do you get to that point where you’re starting to attract really quality people? Is it because of the energy that you’re giving out, your leadership style, what makes the right people or attracts the right people to come to you?
  • What’s your views on marketing? Is it something that still needs to be occurring to keep present in the customers mind? And if so, based on the fact that marketing has changed so much I would say in the last 10 to 20 years as you’ve mentioned, which platforms do you focus your marketing on?
  • Could you share with us what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you maybe pick one or two that have had a great impact on you over your lifetime? It could be a book you read recently, or even one that you read a very long time ago.
  • What has been your experience, I would say, let’s narrow it down to the last one to two years of customer experience. And I know it’s a very general and a wide question, but we just want to get an idea of how your experiences has been across different industries, like travelling to a hotel, or airline or restaurant, or even just local stores that you may visit in your community where you live.
  • Could you share with us what’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Before we wrap our interviews up, we always like to ask our guest, do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge you’ll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps get you back on track if for any reason you get derailed.


Brad’s Journey

Me: Now, even though we read our guest bio, we always like to give the guests an opportunity to share in their own words a little bit about how they got to where they are today. So, could you share a little bit about that with us?

Brad shared that he was born and raised in Australia and moved to the United States, married an American girl. So, they have 5 kids. So, he guesses he’s stuck in America now, he’s an “Aus” American. Being in every type of business, you name it, he’s had it, whether it’s service or retail or actually manufacturing. He did manufacture in the food space, he’s been across the board, he’s an entrepreneur, he buys and builds and sells companies, that’s what he does. And teaching became a passion and as mentioned his 90x programme.

When he hit 50, he thought what is he going to do and he built himself a TV studio and he went in and recorded 30 minutes a day, every day of business and then 30 minutes a day every day for life and success principles. And then the same for wealth and thought, “I’m going to give back” and their main company Action Coach, obviously, they’re in 83 countries, he knows that coach Marcia in Jamaica there. And across Africa, they have their coaches all across the Caribbean in fact, in the US, they have about 1100 offices around the world doing that. So, 17 books on the subject of business and wealth. So, he guesses he’s a prolific at creating books, kids and businesses.

Me: Amazing and for those of our listeners that clearly will not have heard our pre podcast conversation. I met Brad when he came to Jamaica in 2016 and his presentation was amazing. And Coach Marcia, who represents Action Coach in Jamaica, she’s also supremely amazing, like everything Brad talks about, she continuously preaches, be, do and have and it’s just amazing.

The Concept of Working in a Business That Can Work Without You

So, Brad, could you share with us, I know that your whole life has been surrounded around building businesses and in your bio, it mentioned that at the end of the day, you want to be working in a business that can work without you. Like so many people don’t understand that concept. Could you explain what that means?

Brad shared that well, in essence, what they’re trying to do is the difference between working for yourself and building a business is two very vastly different things. Working for yourself is building a job for yourself.

Building a business is building something that is an investment that makes money whether you show up or not. So, his definition of a business is a commercial profitable enterprise that works without you.

He learned this early in his career that he was the hardest working person in his business. In some cases, he even took home less money than a lot of the staff in his business and it just didn’t seem right to him to work that way. So, he had to learn how to turn his business into something that worked so he didn’t have to. See when the business works, the owner doesn’t have to. If the business doesn’t work, then the owner is generally the hardest working person in the business.

Principles That Will Make You More Successful as a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur

Brad stated that if we’re going to go with just 3, it’s hard when you’ve written this many books and taught for this long to pick just 3. So, first he would go, you don’t build your business, your people do.

Your job as the owner or the CEO is to build your people, they build your business for you. So, as you educate them, coach them, mentor them, train them. He still remembers 20 or 21, he forgot how old he was, he went to his dad and he said, “You know what, Dad, I just can’t get good people.” And he said to him, “Brad, you get the people you deserve. You’re an average manager running an average business, the highest caliber person that wants to work for you is average.”

And it’s like a big slap in the face. Thanks, dad. But he was right. If I became a great leader, then great people wanted to work for his company. So yeah, he would say that’s the first one, build your people, they build your business.

The second he would say, you’ve got to be great at sales and marketing to be great at business, being the rainmaker, bringing in new business is one of the most important aspects and that’s why out of his 17 books, actually his newest, his 18th book is all about marketing as well.

So, it really is about getting the customer in and keeping them for a lifetime, his definition of marketing is profitably buying lifetime customers. So, if he spends 1000 on an ad, and he gets 10 new customers, will it cost him 100 to buy each new customer. So, marketing is about the profitable buying of customers and when people learn it, every dollar out should bring $2 back in type thing. So, we really have to focus on that.

If he could only stick to 3. We will go through a lot more as we get through the day or through the session.

But he would say the third is, be really clear on where you’re going with the business. He likes to think of business as something that you finish, you build it so that it eventually runs without you.

So, by what date will you finish the business? By what date will it run without you and then go to work on the business more than in the business type thing. Gerber said that based on his book.

Me: Indeed. So, we have to work on the business and so many business owners, myself included, work in our business and not necessarily on our business. And it kind of goes up and down, sometimes you get it to a point where you are working on the business and then for some reason you get back sucked into the operational activities and you’re back in it again. So, it’s up and down. But as you mentioned, if you really want to generate wealth, it’s to have the business run on its own.

Traits a Leader Needs to Grow and Develop Their People

Me: Now, you mentioned at the beginning, I loved your first point stating that you need to develop and work on your people. And of course, that’s all this podcast is about, navigating the customer experience and I preach constantly about the fact that internal customers are so important in a business. Many times, companies focus on the external, but if you don’t get it right internally, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to master it externally. So could you share with us I would say maybe, let’s move it up to five traits that a leader needs to really grow and develop their people.

Brad shared that we’ll break that into two separate segments. First of all, we’ll break it into the difference between management and leadership. Because in a business, you need both management and leadership.

Now management is a system and leadership is an art form, the system of management is designed to do two things. Management should build competency and productivity in the people in your organization. So, build better people like build their competency, build so they can do a good job by training, coaching, mentoring, educating, make sure your people are competent at their job. If there’s a lack of competency, there’s a lack of management or there’s bad management going on.

Productivity is also management. So, it’s really about how do you manage people to get a high level of productivity because if you want to double a business, if you want to double your profits, you either have to double the number of people or double the productivity of the existing people, productivity is always faster and easier. And then the flip side then if you look at leadership.

Leadership is also in his opinion about two things. But this is where it’s about, if management is sort of the short-term day to day, week to week. Leadership is more than monthly, quarterly, annual and 3 to 5 year type thing where in a leadership scenario, he’s looking to create passion and focus. So, the leader’s job is really building passion amongst the people and building focus. To be focused, they need to know what they’re doing, what are their goals sort of thing. Where are we headed? To be passionate, there has to be more meaning to work than just the pay check and more meaning to work than just the profitability of the company.

As a Leader, What Attracts the Right People to Come to You

Me: Indeed, indeed. So, we spoke about management and leadership so important. Now, Brad, let’s say for example, you had mentioned that you said, your dad said to you, “You attract the people that you deserve.” Where do you get to that point where you’re starting to attract really quality people? Is it because of the energy that you’re giving out, your leadership style, what makes the right people or attracts the right people to come to you?

Brad stated that all of the above. Plus, recruiting today has to be seen as exactly that recruiting, it’s not hiring anymore. Most people don’t think of it this way, but what you want to do is you want to be more like a sporting team, they don’t go and place an ad and say, “Hey, if you’re out of work, apply to come work for us, we really want all of the people that are out of work to apply for us.” No, a sporting team goes and looks for the best player in that position.

Now, most of the best people already have a job, the vast majority of the best people are already working. So, how do you get your job advertisement? How do you get the fact that you are recruiting in front of the right people? And that’s where marketing has to kick in. How do you actually invest money in marketing for a job?

Twenty/thirty years ago, people were like, “I just placed the ad and 100 people apply, and I picked the best one.” Not anymore. The way that we have to look at it these days is we have to go searching for the best of the best people, we have to search for them on LinkedIn, we have to search for them through Google, we have to search for them through Facebook, we have to search for them by going through people who know us like.

We often find that the best employees are people that already knew us, they already know our company. So, they might be on our newsletter, or they might be a friend of someone that already works for us. Or they might follow us on social media. So, how are you marketing that position to find the best of the best, and have them at least see that you are recruiting? That’s the vital one.

Me: Brilliant, I’ve never heard someone, I would say reposition it the way how you just repositioned it for us. And you are right. If you take that approach that you’ve just indicated to us, your father is absolutely right, like on target in terms of attracting the people that you deserve. Because you really want to ensure that you’re getting the right people, as you mentioned, using the analogy of a sporting team and getting the best player, because then you will really have a totally impactful and efficient and effective team, which is critical if you really want the business to grow. And as you as you mentioned at the beginning, function without you. I love that.

Views on Marketing

Me: Now, we spoke a little bit about leadership, we spoke a little bit about internal customers. Could you share with us a little bit about marketing? I get a lot of questions sometimes, should we spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising of our business? Shouldn’t it be a case where our customers, especially if we’re a brand that’s already known, we’re like a household name. What’s your views on marketing? Is it something that still needs to be occurring to keep present in the customers mind? And if so, based on the fact that marketing has changed so much I would say in the last 10 to 20 years as you’ve mentioned, which platforms do you focus your marketing on?

Brad shared that is a lot of questions in one way, let’s see what we can get to. First of all, marketing should be something that never stopsMarketing is the lifeblood of a business. Marketing has two jobs, getting new business and keeping business. So, you got to get them in and you got to keep them in. What’s the use of building a database of existing customers and that even assumes that businesses are, you must collect the names, emails, phone numbers, etc. of every single prospect, every single customer in your business, that is the most valuable asset of business has its database of existing customers, its database of prospective customers.

Now, what you need to understand if he goes back to what he said earlier about marketing is it’s the job of marketing is to buy customers, to buy new business, to buy new customers is a consistent thing. So, we’re getting them in and we’re keeping them in, we’re looking at lifetime value of a customer, meaning how much are they worth to us over years of buying from us and that’s where most businesses don’t invest the time and energy because they don’t even think about that. When he was in the dog food business, their average customer stayed with them for 3 years, which meant they spent over $3,000 with them and they made over $800 in profit from them. You think about that. If you just thought of your customer as a one off sale, you don’t actually make a lot of money from that person, you don’t think of it that way. But if you keep them for their lifetime, you’ll make a fortune out of that customer.

Now, in order for marketing to really work in this day and age, he thinks the biggest thing we have to understand is that historically, marketing was almost like asking to get married on a first date, we ran an ad, and we asked you to buy straight from the advertisement. In this day and age, it seems stupid to go up to like, “Yanique, if you and I met in a bar, and I walked up and said, You look like a very smart, attentive, wonderful woman, I think you’d be a great mother, why don’t we get married?”

That is the dumbest thing you could ever think of, but that’s what most marketing is. You’ve got to actually ask people, “Why don’t we have a coffee first? Why don’t we get to know each other type thing.” And so, what we call that as you’ve got to ask prospects to raise their hand, you got to say, “Hey, if you’re interested in this, then raise your hand.” And he’ll give you a simple example of that.

So, at Action Coach, one of the things they do is a lot of sales training. So, they have a sales training programme for companies. He just did a webinar yesterday on sales training for companies with 20 or more salespeople, so the whole thing was, how do you manage your salespeople? How do you get great results from your salespeople?

So, 84 people showed up to their webinar saying, “I have 20, or more salespeople, I’d like to learn how to manage my salespeople.” By the end of that webinar, out of the 84, 60 of them said, “I would be interested in finding out about the sales training programme.” So not only does he then do the webinar and get 60 people that are interested, but now today on all of his social media will run a post that says, “Just finished my webinar on how you manage a great sales team, how you get your sales team to perform. If you’re interested in the recording of the webinar, please type the word webinar below.”

So, he’ll probably over the next month or two, get another 200, 300, 400, 1000 people that will type the word webinar. And then you’ll have another 1000 people that are interested in their sales training, does that make sense? So, his goal is to start conversations. He teaches conversion rate, because that’s important, out of every 10 people that call, how many did you convert?

But marketing really needs to look at conversation rate, what is the rate of conversation, so he doesn’t care how many likes, how many comments you get, what he cares about on your social media, on your emails, on everything you do is how many conversations were started by that post.

Me: Indeed, indeed, that makes a great amount of sense. And I guess it doesn’t matter the platform, whether it’s LinkedIn, or Instagram, or Tik Tok, as long as the conversation is happening, and it’s being generated, and there’s some buzz and word of mouth around it and there’s interest. Yeah.

Brad agreed, 100%.

App, Website or Tool that Brad Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Brad stated that he’s was going to say his phone, or Zoom. He’s a believer in better levels of communication. He’s a believer in high quality conversations more over low quality conversations. People like email, they like their texting, he personally thinks that a phone call or a Zoomcall, obviously the highest form of communication is face to face. But he would rather have a phone call than a text message or an email, he would rather do that. And he knows that his kids, having 5 kids, he always end up in this debate. His kids text him and he’s like, “Stop texting me. I don’t answer your texts. You call me I’m your dad.” But if he wants a great relationship with a customer, it’s not going to happen via email, it’s not going to happen via texting, it’s going to happen by communication at a high level, which is face to face or at least voice to voice.

Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Brad

Me: So, you mentioned that you are on your 18th book, but outside of the books that you’ve written, I’m sure you have read 1000s of books. So, could you maybe pick one or two that have had a great impact on you over your lifetime? It could be a book you read recently, or even one that you read a very long time ago.

When asked about books that have a great impact on him, Brad shared that he could list off the last set that he just finished reading. The last seven that he just finished reading Marcus Sheridan, They Ask, You Answer, amazing marketing book. Marcus is phenomenal around it. They asked, You Answer. Subscribed, Subscribed is a phenomenal book, his name is Tien Tzuo, a phenomenal book about marketing and the future of it. And then Oversubscribed. So, there’s two books, they’re both on the words on subscription. So, you can imagine what he’s learning about. Daniel wrote a great book on that one.

Blitzscaling, another phenomenal one by Reid Hoffman, he really enjoyed that. The Membership Economy by Robbie Baxter, she’s phenomenal. Just loved the work she does. The Business of Belonging, David Spinks, really cool book, really, really cool. And Building Brand Communities, that one there, Charles Vogel with Carrie Jones. So yeah, that’s the last 7 books he read. Out of those, he would probably say Marcus’s book They Asked, You Answer would be the top of the 7 that he just read. He reads a books a week, so he raced through a lot of books.

How Has Your Experiences Been Across Different Industries

Me: Now, you do travel, I imagine quite a bit, Brad, and you interface with many different organizations across different industries, across different cultures. What has been your experience, I would say, let’s narrow it down to the last one to two years of customer experience. And I know it’s a very general and a wide question, but we just want to get an idea of how your experiences has been across different industries, like travelling to a hotel, or airline or restaurant, or even just local stores that you may visit in your community where you live.

Brad shared that what’s happened is, obviously, COVID changed a lot of the way we perceive the world, it virtualized the world in a way that we would never have thought possible. And that to him, has been a phenomenal thing, the level of virtual nature of the world. He thinks that we have seen a lot of the customer service experience move to more virtualized and that doesn’t make it more positive by the way, that just means it’s more virtualized.

The average consumer, he thinks has a little more patience at this point, not a lot more but a little more patience at this point. He lives in Las Vegas, he’s in the epicentre of sort of customer service mentality, because it’s a city based around tourism and Yanique’s in Jamaica, in a country where tourism is very high on the agenda sort of thing.

And so, in these markets, we must be customer related. And he’ll give you an example of how Vegas is different. People come here to watch a sporting event, or come to a football game or a hockey game, or whatever it might be. And normally, they’re used to going to other cities where the local fans hate on the new fans coming to town type thing. Well, in Vegas, they love it when other people come to town, like, “Oh, you’re visiting our city. Thanks for doing that. We appreciate you paying our taxes.” They are a hospitality-based city. So, he thinks the customer service experience in Vegas. Now that being said, where he sees the customer service experience moving to is a lot of the removal of humans, if you want to scale a business, you need to remove humans from a lot of the things now, that’s because in two ways.

You need to remove humans where they didn’t add value. So, for instance, Uber, all Uber really did was remove humans from the hiring a taxi, you remember the days when to get a taxi, you actually had to call a number, that person then gave the address to the dispatcher, the dispatcher then called all the taxis and said, who’s in this area. And it took three people to get a taxi to your house, so they just removed the humans. There’s a lot of areas where having a human actually detracts from the experience, it doesn’t add to the experience, if that makes sense. And so, we’re seeing a lot of the customer service experience removing humans where they don’t add value.

Me: That does make sense. And I’m so happy that when you started talking about removing humans, I was actually going to ask if you actually think there’s no use for humans in customer interactions anymore, but I’m glad you gave the example of Uber and you specifically stated if the human experience or the human being there is not adding value because I do believe that people genuinely still want human to human interaction, but it depends on what service or what value as you had mentioned that human is providing. So, if you think about it, technology should be there to assist us in delivering the service. But I don’t think as a society even globally, we’re ever going to get to the point where humans are going to be completely eliminated from all interactions.

Brad shared that no, people need people, we saw that through COVID. People at the end of COVID thought, “Oh, I’ll never want to go back to an office, I want to stay working from home.” And then the immediacy, immediately when we could go back to an office people like, “Oh, thank God, I could get out of my house.” It’s like, “Oh, I love my spouse, but not that much. Two years locked up together was enough.” He remembers during the middle of COVID, they came down and actually spent two weeks in Jamaica, Discovery Bay and sat on the beach there and they rented a big house and just sat on the beach and had a great time.

And some of his friends, he was like, “Well, if you want to come and visit us, you can, but if you feel uncomfortable, that’s okay.” Everyone’s like, “We’re coming. We’re coming.” Like, humans need human interaction. And it’s interesting to see though, people going back to the workforce now the number of them who have requested cubicles as raised dramatically, because whilst they’re happy to go back and be with people, they do want more privacy, because they liked the privacy of working from home too. So that’s been an interesting change.

What Brad is Really Excited About Now!

When asked about something that he’s really excited about, Brad shared that he’ll give you two things. Actually. One, their charities, he has the Action Coach Foundation, they take a lot of young people through YES programme (Young Entrepreneurs Smart Start). So, they actually teach 12 to 22 year olds how to not leave school and get a job, but how to leave school and give people a job. So, rather than being an employee, being an employer. The world doesn’t need more employees, it needs more entrepreneurs who give people jobs. And so, they’re taking a lot of young people and helping them through that process. So that’s super exciting for him.

From a business side, probably because he buys into companies all the time, he’s very excited, their commercial cleaning business and people like, “You’re excited about a cleaning business.” Yes, he loves their cleaning business. When he originally purchased to share, it’s based in Australia. And now they’re opening in the US and the UK. And so, he loves watching his companies go global, he loves his businesses, geography shouldn’t limit your business, especially now, especially after we’ve gone through this whole phase of people can do business virtually, well, they can buy from anywhere in the world right now. And so, watching that business expand into a global phenomenon is going to be a lot of fun for him.

Me: Amazing. Now, you mentioned that you have a programme for young people between the ages of 12 and 22. If we do have listeners that are interested in that programme, how can they connect? And maybe sign up or be part of that process?

Brad shared their Action Coach Foundation website:

Website – actioncoachfoundation.org

Where Can We Find Brad Online

LinkedIn – Brad Sugars

Facebook – Brad Sugars

Website – www.bradsugars.com

Website – www.actioncoach.com

Me: Amazing. You mean you’re really easy to find.

Brad shared, could you imagine being a marketer and not having someone being able to find you on every single platform there is, jump on Amazon. Amazon has all 17 of his books available. So, Audible has his books on Audible. So, you can find him pretty much everywhere.

When asked if he was on Tik Tok, Brad shared that he is, but he doesn’t dance. His team asked him to do that. And he told them the story. If you think about marketing, and being true to your brand, because it’s really important to be true to your brand. He had an advisor who was taking them through Pinterest, and she said, “You need to appeal to a more female audience because that’s who’s on Pinterest” and she kept telling him how he needed to wear certain things. And he said, “That’s not who I am. That’s not the way I want to be. And I’m not going to do that.”

So, he told his team the story of Adele, Adele was in a marketing meeting and a young person came in and said, “Well, we need to write a song that’s going to go viral on Tik Tok that people can do a dance to.” Adele left the meeting and said, “If that young person is at another meeting ever, I will fire this company as my representation.” Being truly your brand is important. So yes, he uses Tik Tok, but he doesn’t do things that are not him.

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Brad Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Brad shared that he’ll give 2, both are from the same gentleman, his name was James Rohn. Mr. Rohn said to him, he was 16 years of age, sitting in Rizman City Town Hall listening to him speak, him and about 1500 other people. And he said he things that he wrote down that he believes changed the course of his life. The first thing he said was, “Never wish your life were easier, or wish that you were better.”

And it struck him because a 16 year old, you’re sort of sitting there saying “Oh, I want this, I want that.” And it all about what you want. Mr. Rohn made him recognize the fact that his goal is not to want things, his goal is to get better.

And he backed it up with the second statement that was, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

And he remembers running down to him at the end of the event asking him to sign his notes, which unfortunately he lost in a move one time, because he had him signed them, he signed his notes and he said, “Mr. Rohn, what’s one thing I can do as a 16 year old boy to make certain I’m successful in life?” and he said, “Son, it’s really simple, read a book a week for the rest of your life. Not a month, not every 2 weeks, read a book a week for the rest of your life.” Today Audible reads to him, so he’s very lucky.

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