Trey Taylor, The Three Pillars of Business That a CEO Must Focus On – InnovaBuzz 455

Trey Taylor

Trey Taylor, A CEO Only Does Three Things

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Trey Taylor, the Chief Executive Officer of Taylor Insurance Services, Managing Director of Trinity Blue consulting, and Founding Partner of Ascend Partners. Trey is also Managing Partner at Threadneedle, a single-family office with entrepreneurial roots in the financial services industry, holding investments in insurance and financial services, commercial real estate, and early-stage technology companies.

Frequently featured as a keynote speaker, he has addressed attendees at the Human Capital Institute, the Ascend Conference, and many other engagements. Trey is also the author of “A CEO Only Does Three Things: Finding Your Focus in the C-Suite”

In our discussion, Trey talked to me about:

  • The 3 Things that a CEO must focus on – Culture, People, Numbers
  • How to build and sustain a healthy and compelling culture
  • How to share the burden of measures in the right context

Tommy Breedlove in episode 437 introduced us to Trey.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

A CEO should only focus on three things – Culture, People, and Numbers. @TreyTaylorCEO on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Trey Taylor, Author of A CEO Only Does Three Things

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • There is no job description for a CEO. Being a CEO is a hard job and becomes harder when we don’t do it well.
  • Doing everybody’s job all the time to a level of perfection is a stressful place to be in and is impossible to nail.
  • A CEO should only focus on three things – Culture, People, and Numbers.
  • You get better results from your team, when you trust them to do the things they’ve been hired to do without you looking at their shoulders all the time.
  • A CEO is only person who has the ability to affect the organisation as a whole in these three focus areas.
  • It is not that everyone else cannot be in the mission of creating a vibrant culture, hiring the best team members, and hitting the goals. Everyone in the company should be enrolled in that mission, but only the CEO holds the power to align what they believe the culture of the organisation should produce in the behaviours of people in order to determine the results of their course. 
  • Culture comes first. A CEO’s job is to create a culture that benefits the organisation as a whole as well as every individual. 
  • A collective vs an individual mindset around culture is a core piece of what a culture needs to be.
  • Values are not just aspirational statements. Values should be practiced. 
  • Discuss your company’s values. Clearly identify what these values mean to the organisation, how they are being practiced as well as some stories about how you’ve seen them being practiced. 
  • Humans learn through storytelling. When you take the stories of your values, you can ritualise them so that they become part of the mythology of the organisation.
  • Culture shows up in the behaviours of people.
  • A CEO must be intimately involved in the hiring process. 
  • The Four Conversations to Have When Hiring People:
    1. Cultural Fit
    2. Capability
    3. Compensation
    4. Commitment
  • It doesn’t matter what the job is. Job descriptions can change over time depending on a person’s success, market condition, and other staffing needs of the company. You can train anyone to do any task that you need to get done, but you can’t ask people to adopt a set of values that are foreign to the way they see themselves.
  • Use stories to show people why they may or may not like working in your company. It puts off the pressure that comes from the interview of having to get that job and allows the candidate to relax a bit and see himself/herself working for you.
  • It is only after you’ve established the culture and capability that you can start to talk about compensation and commitment.
  • Commitments refer to the things the company commits to do for an individual as well as the things that an individual commits to do for the company. 
  • It’s great to bring other people to a commitment discussion such as the candidate’s spouse or parents. Doing so creates an extra accountability vehicle.
  • Develop career paths for people by asking them what it is that they want to achieve in their professional and personal lives to make sure that their identity as a happy and healthy human is being supported, which will also allow you to get the most value in the shortest value of time. 
  • Be open to people’s career paths. Sometimes it means that path doesn’t end in your company but somewhere else. If you truly care about people as individuals, if you truly know what goals they are trying to achieve and who they are trying to become, then you have to be OK if their paths doesn’t end with you.
  • Thinking that you cannot replace good people is a poverty mentality. 
  • Grow your people a lot more than you do.
  • Love the people that your employees love. Include their families when giving them rewards or gifts. Thank them for sharing your employee with you and let them know of the impact that his/her work has on the lives of other people. Let their family know that their loved one’s work is being valued.
  • A great CEO has a dual ability to call out an identity and a vision that people have hidden inside of them. They train their eyes to see and pre-set those gifts. They make a study of watching other people and seeing where their talents are. 
  • A great leader finds what someone does well and really focuses on that far more than correcting anything that that person doesn’t do.
  • A great leader sees a person’s gifts before that person can see them in their own self.
  • It’s not enough to just see the gifts. We also have to call it out. Great leaders call these gifts out in a praise worthy manner.
  • Great leaders transform people from the inside into the people they are trying to become but may not become if someone didn’t call it out.
  • Share the burden of knowledge to your team. Let them know the metrics and KPIs as well as how important they are for the health of the business. Be transparent.
  • The primary mission for a number-based CEO is not to hit the numbers but to share those numbers and their context with everyone. 
  • Be transparent with your team. You can’t ask people to fix a problem that they don’t know is a problem.
  • Being a problem solver is a great proposition but it is also a self-defeating proposition because there will come problems that you can’t handle single-handedly.
  • Teams become more involved with the work of the organisation when they have some input into solving those problems.
  • Allow your team to capture a portion of the value that you create for the business. Share the rewards that people help you create. If you share the miseries, share the benefits too.
A great leader is able to see a person's gifts before that person can see them in their own self. @TreyTaylorCEO on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Trey’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Set aside time and commitment to study new things that are on the way. 
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Ask your sales team what your customers want to purchase. Ask people first what they want to buy before designing and trying to solve things.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – My Executive Assistant
  4. Keep project/client on track –  Overcommunicating the conditions of satisfactions
  5. Differentiate – Live your values. It isn’t enough to know them, feel them and identify them. People are attracted to people that have the same values as them. If other people who know you, don’t know what your values are without ever telling them, then you probably need to re-examine how closely you hold those values.

To Be a Leader

If you know what it takes to be a good leader, what’s stopping you from doing it today? People have gifts inside of them that need to be called out. This blessing that we can give each other by noticing the strengths in each other is something that we can do tomorrow. Compliment other people on what they’re doing and encourage them along the way. 

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Trey through his website.

Suggested Guest

Trey suggested we have a conversation with Jeremy Knauff. So Jeremy, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Trey Taylor.



Cool Things About Trey

  • He was named one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2013 and has received the Cheers for Peers MVP, Cheers for Peers MVP Giver, Employee Recognition Award and Happiest Company Award in 2014 from TinyHR.
  • He enjoys teaching introductory wine courses and is a WSET certified sommelier. 
  • He and his wife, Sheya have recently founded Tyche Wines to produce and distribute interesting wines. They have produced The Duchess, a 2007 Willamette Pinot Noir, Satyrus, a 2009 Sonoma sparkling wine, and Intrepide, a 2012 Bordeaux.

Listen to the Podcast

Great leaders transform people from the inside into the people they are trying to become but may not become if someone didn't call it out. @TreyTaylorCEO on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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