The Power of Persistence: Ben Wolf’s Journey from Introvert to Successful Fractional COO

How do you help overworked business owners achieve their big dreams?

 

In this episode, Ben Wolf, founder and CEO of Wolf’s Edge Integrators, shares his journey from “late onset entrepreneurship” as a bankruptcy attorney to running one of the world’s largest fractional COO firms.

 

After being laid off from his law firm, Ben took a leap into the entrepreneurial world, eventually becoming COO of a fast-growing startup. But when a subsequent COO role turned toxic, he hung up his own shingle as a fractional executive.

 

Ben discusses the power of persistence in business development as an introvert. He set measurable goals like 30 reach-outs per week and focused on providing value to build trust over time.

 

As the author of “Fractional Leadership,” Ben aims to educate business owners on how fractional executives with real-world experience can help them break through growth barriers.

 

Ben sees a bright future for the fractional executive model. His goal is for Wolf’s Edge Integrators to positively impact thousands of companies and employees within the next few years.

 

Mentors that Inspired Ben:

  • Marcus Sheridan (author of They Ask, You Answer) – appeared on Ben’s podcast after a stimulating LinkedIn debate

  • Mark O’Donnell (Visionary at EOS Worldwide) – shared insights on Ben’s podcast

  • Joshua Sprague (creator of the 30-Day Writing Challenge) – his step-by-step course helped Ben write his book in just 8 weeks

Tune in for insights on overcoming introversion in business development, navigating leadership crises, and the rising demand for fractional executives.

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE

Transcript

Intro  

Welcome to another edition of inspired stories where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity, and explore current challenges they’re facing.

 

Anthony Codispoti 13:34

Great. Welcome to another edition of the Inspired Stories podcast, where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity and explore current challenges they’re facing. My name is Anthony Cotisbody, and today’s guest is Ben Wolf, founder and CEO of Wolf’s Edge integrators, one of the world’s largest fractional coo firms. All of their fractional coos need to have previously run companies, have a founder’s spark, and know how to help visionaries execute the details of their business. Ben also wrote the first best selling book explaining what fractional executive leadership is, how it works, and how to take advantage of the model. It’s called fractional leadership, landing executive talent you thought was out of reach. He also hosts his own podcast called Win Win, which you should definitely check out. This is a place where successful business people share information, knowledge, and tools that members of the entrepreneurial community can immediately use in their businesses and in their lives. And before we get into the good stuff today, today’s episode is brought to you by my company add back benefits agency, where we offer very specific and unique employee benefits that are both great for your team and fiscally optimized for your bottom line. One recent client was able to save over $900 per employee per year by implementing one of our proprietary programs. Another client is going to save over $1,200 per employee per year by implementing a patented construct that we offer. Results vary for each company, and some organizations may not be eligible. To find out if your company qualifies, contact us today@addbackbenefitsagency.com. Dot okay, now back to our guest today, the CEO of Wolf’s Edge Integrators. Ben, I appreciate you making the time to share your story today.

Ben Wolf 15:22

Thank you, Anthony. Great to be here.

Anthony Codispoti 15:24

Yeah. So let’s just start out basic. Tell us in your own words. What does Wolf’s edge integrators do?

Ben Wolf 15:32

So Wolfsedge integrators. We’re a team of, as you said before, executives who’ve owned or run businesses before will come in and take over that number two spot in the business as the partner, strategic partner to the visionary or founder head of the company to lead their leadership team and take them somewhere where our team members have been before. People are hitting the ceiling, trying things again and again, hitting a plateau in their business because they haven’t been there. You know, they haven’t done this sort of thing before. They grew up in the business. They, you know, got, got here, haven’t, they’re not serial entrepreneurs. So, you know, or simply people who come in and who’ve done, who’ve grown businesses like theirs before, you know, and take them to where they want to go because they’ve done it before. And

Anthony Codispoti 16:25

so a lot of the people who come to you, they’re, I’m guessing they’re probably at a point of frustration, right, where it’s like, listen, things have kind of gone well, where we’ve got a certain amount of growth. But I feel like I’m hitting my head against the ceiling and I don’t know what. I don’t know. I don’t know how to move past this. Would that be accurate?

Ben Wolf 16:43

Yeah, absolutely. People are at 5 million and, like, stuck there for a few years. Like, they, they grew, grew, grew, and then they hit like 5 million or they had 10 million, hit 13 million, and they’re just like, hitting the ceiling. And it’s not, not getting past that point. As you said, they don’t know what they don’t know. And so we need to bring in somebody that actually has seen a business to 1020, 30, 40, 50 million, and can, you know, and can lead them and their team, you know, up level their team very often. Also, people on the team, people on their leadership team or their executive team, whatever they call it, need, need help. Right. They’ve also, they’ve never ran a business the size that theirs is now before these or their department that the size that their company or their department is now before. And so help elevate those people or where appropriate, replace some of those people and help. And help move those people to a seat where they can excel. And, and so, yeah, help them achieve. Help them achieve what they want because, yeah, as you said, they haven’t done it before. And so bring in somebody who has on a fractional basis, which they may not be able to afford, someone full time of that caliber.

Anthony Codispoti 17:54

So it’s sort of a two pronged benefit that they get by working with you. They get the experience and the knowledge of somebody who’s been there, done that before. They’ve helped other companies level up, and they get to do it, you know, at a fraction of the price. Right. Because

Ben Wolf 18:11

they’re fractional. Right,

Anthony Codispoti 18:12

right. That’s where the name comes from.

Ben Wolf 18:14

Exactly.

Anthony Codispoti 18:15

And the time commitment from. From the coo, too. So they get to tap into this wealth of knowledge and experience, and they get to save money by not having to hire somebody full time, which I’m guessing a lot of these companies can’t afford to do.

Ben Wolf 18:27

Yeah. Yeah. Not least. At least not have someone of the caliber that they actually need. And then the goal is we look to pass the baton, you know, typically between nine and 18 months, and help them upload leadership team, accomplish some major things that they were stuck on, and then pass the baton. Either elevate someone internally into that role to replace us, or help them hire someone from the outside. And who better to pick their next coo or their next integrator or whatever the title is going to be than someone who is great at that? Rather than have people have the business owner or other members of the leadership team try to fill that role when they’re also not sure what. What a great candidate for that role looks like. Cause they haven’t seen it before. I

Anthony Codispoti 19:11

think one of the interesting things about your background, Ben, is that you didn’t start out as an entrepreneur. This wasn’t something you were kind of dreaming about in junior high and high school and college. You came from a corporate background as a bankruptcy restructuring attorney.

Ben Wolf 19:26

Yes. And you kind

Anthony Codispoti 19:27

of found the entrepreneurial bug a little bit later in life. Talk us through that path a little bit.

Ben Wolf 19:32

Yes. I recently thought of the term late onset entrepreneurship as to describe my background. And actually, the corporate bankruptcy attorney thing was not even the first thing. I mean, it’s been a long and winding road, as they say. But the last one before entrepreneurship was. The last stop on that road was corporate restructuring attorney, a big firm in New York City. And I, after about five years at that firm, I was laid off. I mean, it was a bad time for bankruptcy. My billable hours were particularly low within our department. A very successful department, successful firm, but overall, but it was a tough time. And we. And I had spent. I spent about five months unemployed, which is a very scary time. And I was looking at exploring all different options, say, divine pro. I mean, it’s a long story of, like, how it even happened, but uh, it’s a divine providence was there and ended up at this entrepreneurial business like a startup and very idealistic, also very tech oriented. I know background and like running small companies or like startups, but this was pre launch, pre revenue, and I had the opportunity and the privilege of building most of the company. And as the first full time employee joining the founder and built most of that aspects of the business, got involved in literally every aspect of the business. I just learned huge, huge amounts just from doing, even though that was not my prior background. By the time I left that company, we were 130 people and over 100 million gross annual revenue at that point. So I just got to see it at like a handful of people in a tiny little office. The five people to 50 people to over 100 people when I left, learned a huge amount. We got exposed to EOS, the entrepreneurial operating system, which we, we got the help of an EOS implementer to help us run that sort of management framework within the business. So I got a lot of experience with that, learned huge amounts of things. And that’s, you know, that’s, you know, but even then I was an employee. I mean, I was full, I was in the entrepreneurial world, but I was still employee, not my own business. And, and it was only later on after I left, I became COo at another place. It turned out to be a very unhealthy environment with some of the stuff going on there and that I didn’t know about before I joined. And as I left after not too long of a time and sort of a choice, should I go back to looking for a full time job again? And I had heard about this concept of a fractional integrator or coo. I’d heard about it. I was like, you know what, let me just take the leap. So I just hung up my shingle, set up a website, LinkedIn, started doing 18 calls a week, look like, you know, look at doing business development, you know, and just asked around, tried to learn how to do business development because I didn’t have a background on that either. And, you know, slowly that. So that’s sort of my entrance into the entrepreneurial world. Starting as a solo practitioner, as a fractional coo, and then ultimately got a couple, couple years later, got other people to join. Now I’ve got this great firm, I think of the honestly the greatest, the greatest, you know, fractional coos out there. I mean, again, like I said before, all people that have owned or run businesses before

Ben Wolf 23:25

just truly privileged to work with these people. But

Anthony Codispoti 23:28

a couple of threads I want to pull out there. Let’s go back to when you were unemployed for five months. This is something that a lot of people have gone through. Maybe some people listening are going through now. Maybe they’ve had the safety and security of their own company for a while and they’ve exited or something happened or the safety and security of a salary job. And now with the economy kind of in flux, you know, now they’re in a position, maybe an unfamiliar position, where they’re looking for something. What, what is the next thing? Somebody who went through that for five months there, you know, if you had gone into it knowing that it was going to be five months and you were going to come out and know exactly what was on the other side, there would have been some level of comfort and assurance there. Maybe

Ben Wolf 24:11

you

Anthony Codispoti 24:11

didn’t love the idea it was going to be five months,

Ben Wolf 24:13

but

Anthony Codispoti 24:13

when you’re in the middle of it, you have no idea.

Ben Wolf 24:16

It’s

Anthony Codispoti 24:16

the

Ben Wolf 24:16

uncertainty. I don’t know when or if it’s going to end at all.

Anthony Codispoti 24:18

It’s the uncertainty of it. What are some things that help to get you through that difficult period?

Ben Wolf 24:26

That’s a good question. I would say the number one thing that helped get me through that, relatively sane, was, was my wife. I think that if she had, you know, not been as supportive or had, like, sort of fallen apart, like, emotionally, like, you know, just from the worry, because she’s, like, depending on me, and that’s incredibly scary for her, at least me. Like, I’m the one who could, like, I could take actions and I could be extremely busy looking to get to the next thing. She’s, like, depending on someone else, me to do that. Right. So very, very understandable to just to be scared, like, to freak out, to maybe lose confidence in her husband. Right. And so the fact that she was, like, supportive and confident and, or at least expressed confidence, like, I know you could do it and, you know you’re doing great. And. And just, like, supporting me in that, I would say, is the biggest thing that helped me get through. There’s other, you know, other things, but I was. That’s the biggest one that it would have been as hard as it was, it would have been, and as scary as it was, would have been much scarier and much harder without a partner who was not only loving but also, like, supportive and even more most importantly, had beliefs and belief in me. And that’s. That’s very strengthening.

Anthony Codispoti 26:00

That’s awesome. I’ll raise my hand as another person who’s really fortunate to have a loving and supporting partner that has really meant the world through some of the, you know, natural ups and downs that have come along so great to hear

Ben Wolf 26:14

that song. You know, that song from the greatest showman with Hugh Jackman and his wife. He plays PT Barnum. I

Anthony Codispoti 26:24

don’t think I do.

Ben Wolf 26:25

What is it? It’s like. It’s something like a tightrope walking the tightrope with you. Okay. Things were not working out with him, and he had all these big dreams and big ideas of what he wanted to do with the circus and all these things. And in the musical, his wife has a song where, like, walking the tightrope with you that we were, like, playing that song at that time because it was just a song of, like, that.

Anthony Codispoti 26:50

Was your theme song.

Ben Wolf 26:51

Supporting him. Yeah, it really was. It was like, just like the wife, like, supporting him, believing in him. Like, you know, just the thrill of, like, she came from a wealthy home, but then now she’s, like, out walking a tightrope. Like, you could fall either way. But

Anthony Codispoti 27:05

it was a

Ben Wolf 27:05

really nice song.

Anthony Codispoti 27:06

We’re gonna find that song and put it in the show notes. I’m curious to hear it now myself.

Ben Wolf 27:10

Yeah,

Anthony Codispoti 27:11

my wife. And listen to it together tonight. So the next interesting thread I want to pull out here is. So you eventually found a job. So you’re coming out of that scary unemployment time, five months of the uncertainty, and there has to be this sense of relief. Okay, thank goodness. Now I found something and get my hands dirty again. I got a steady paycheck coming in. But then you found yourself in this situation where, I don’t know the specifics, but it was a toxic environment. It wasn’t what you thought it was. And now you’re in a position where you decide that rather than stay and take that steady paycheck, you’re going to go back out into the unknown again, the scary place that you’ve just come from. Talk me through the thought process there, Trey.

Ben Wolf 28:03

Well, I think anybody that is thinking of taking that entrepreneurial leap, you know, I think needs to. Needs to have some kind of plan, you know, in terms of a Runway, because, again, like, with my job, like, I had no choice. Like, it was, you know, the job disappeared here. Like, I made the election to cause the job to disappear. And. And so it, you know, we. We had. One thing I could say is that

Ben Wolf 28:47

I was there from the beginning of that prior company. I was there from the beginning, and I just had so much. I mean, I did everything I could to facilitate a smooth transition when I left the business I was in that I’d helped build, but, uh, it was

Ben Wolf 29:04

everything, smooth transition, but I had a lot of institutional knowledge. Let’s say I built up most of the company, and so I just had a lot of knowledge about a lot of things and they still needed me. So I was able to, while I was building up my business, I was able to do some consulting work and help facilitate and accomplish and work on a bunch of projects and just help with a bunch of things with the company that I had previously left and helped build. So I was able to get some extra income from that. Even while I was working at the job, I had done one really big consulting project that I had some money in the bank from. And so obviously it’s still a risk, and you don’t know how long it’s going to take to get to a full client load or a full income again. But I think you have to have a plan. You know, it’s not responsible to go with, like, nothing. Like, you know, like, if you need it, like, if you need money now or this month, and then, like, to, you know, to put yourself in an environment where you don’t know when that’s coming, maybe not the most responsible thing. And I, you know, I probably also wasn’t completely responsible. Like, I was probably a little overly optimistic because it did take, it took, I was able to do that consulting work for a long time, and I had other client work that came in, but not quite a full load at the very beginning, but I would say it took me about 15 months to get to what I consider to be a full client load for the first time.

Anthony Codispoti 30:33

And I’m realizing I may have gotten the chronology a little mixed up because you came out of the unemployment and that’s where you started in a positive experience, where you were in that. Yeah,

Ben Wolf 30:42

that was positive experience, but it was like, so after a few years there, that’s when I, you know, then I joined another company as a COo, and that’s when I voluntarily left. Got

Anthony Codispoti 30:51

  1. And so you’re deciding to voluntarily leave, go back into the unknown abyss. Now, you were doing a little bit of work on the side. You were kind of getting ready for this, um, this, this new direction in your life. And then one point you just said, okay, enough’s enough. I’m going to make the leap. And you start out, you, as you said, you sort of hung up your shingle. You lined up 18 calls a week. How did you do that? Where were these calls coming from, how were you getting these leads?

Ben Wolf 31:20

  1. I can’t remember. I just, you know, I. So long ago, I just reached out to. I just reached out to people, like, anybody. Oh, I. I mean, I made one thing. One thing I did. One thing I did was I just made a list of, like, everybody I knew who could possibly know, like, who either might need what I did or could possibly know somebody who might need what I did. And. And I just made a list of, I don’t know, 100, 110. I don’t remember exactly how many it was. People I just, like, emailed, called, texted, reached out to, reached out to all these people to set up a call. I reached out to. I figured I could probably get business or I could probably get referrals from Eos implementers who I didn’t think I knew that many at the time, but, you know, I just reached out to a ton of them and all the ones in my area, and I don’t even remember how. I didn’t even remember. I just reached out to a ton of them and a bunch of them took my calls. I mean, some didn’t. Some did. And I just, I just had, you know, I don’t know, 1218 calls a week at the, you know, the first few months. And, like, you know, you talk to some people and they’d be like, oh, you know what? I think you should talk to so and so. And then that would, like, add somebody to the list. And I would talk to somebody and they’re like, it would be sort of a dead end. So cross them off. And I just built on the list and took off from the list, and I set up measurables for myself. I was like, okay, you got to have 30 reach outs a week. And I would count them and I kept a scorecard. Minimum of 30 reach outs a week. I made another measurable. You have to make minimum of two outgoing referrals per week. Like, referring things to someone else, not to myself, just to, like, build my wallet, to build goodwill, to help people, to always keep my mind thinking about anybody that I’m speaking with. Not just, hey, how can I get a referral? But, like, what do they need? Like, just, like, listening. Like, what do they need? Even if it’s a floor, it’s nothing to do with business. I mean, just anything, anything that I can help people with just to get myself in the habit of that. So I just had a minimum of two per week. I mean, sometimes out of six per week, outgoing referrals that I would do, but I just tried to do at least two per week, try to have at least six calls per week. I mean, sometimes more. But I just set up measurables for myself to create accountability that I was at least taking the right actions to, you know, to be responsible towards building this business.

Anthony Codispoti 33:50

This is really great. I’m glad that this came up because this is a position that I think a lot of new, even long time business owners find themselves in. They’re like, how do I grow my business? You know, should I run Google Ads? Should I run Facebook ads? You know, what do I put a billboard up? And what I love about what you did is you were on the phone, you’re calling, you’re talking to people, you’re probably setting up Zoom calls, and you’re like, who do I know in my network?

Ben Wolf 34:17

It was actually, it was actually mostly on the phone at the time. Now all my calls are on

Anthony Codispoti 34:21

Zoom,

Ben Wolf 34:22

even though COVID’s like, you know, over or whatever, but whatever. But, yeah, it was just, yeah. Getting on the phone mostly.

Anthony Codispoti 34:28

Yeah. And so. And how were you coming up with this list? I want to talk about this a little bit because I think there’s going to be a lot of business owners that are listening to this, and then they’re like, hey, I want to grow my business, or I’m just getting started with something. How do I, how do I get that first snowball rolling down the

Ben Wolf 34:44

hill?

Anthony Codispoti 34:45

And I think what you did was great. You put in these accountability measures for yourself. I got to reach out to so many people I loved, loved the, and I’m going to give, I’m going to give referrals to so many people a week. So I’m sort of paying it forward. I’m putting that good energy out there. But talk a little bit more about how you made all this happen, how you were finding these initial people to have the conversations with.

Ben Wolf 35:10

Well, first of all, I would recommend people to read the book power Connector by Judy Robinette. That is something I was referred to early ish on, and I thought it was a helpful framework. So it’s power connector. I mean, there’s a subtitle, but it’s something. Or how to be a power connector or something like that by Judy Robinette. And that’s a good resource. But how did I get that initial list of 100 is I just, like, I’m jewish. I just, like, thought through everybody in my synagogue, okay, like, who has a business or who, like, who has a business or who’s not just an employee, but, like, somebody that might know people who have businesses. Right. And I just listed there. I, you know, I looked at the EOS implementers that I knew. I thought about. I don’t remember, how did I come up with that? And I just, like, I look through my LinkedIn and just, I don’t know, I just, like, looked through all my connections to see, like, okay, who’s, who’s, like, who’s a possible person to reach out to. Like, you know, all the people I was connected to on LinkedIn, I just thought through, I don’t know, I just thought through every place that I ever know anybody and had any connection and, and just put them all on a list. I just put it on a Google Doc. How to be a person.

Anthony Codispoti 36:29

Yeah, we’re showing the book here on screen now. How to be a power connector. Yeah. By Judy Robinette. So that’s how you brainstorm the list, right? Like, okay, think about people I

Ben Wolf 36:42

know. So I just reached out, like, hey, I launched this business. Yeah, just, just reached out to people. You know, look, you know, just launch this business doing a fractional coo, you know, practice and, you know, would you mind? I’d love to, like, you know, learn about your business, you know, how I can be helpful to you and, you know, and see, you know, see if you know, anybody that I could be helpful to. Whatever. I don’t know. Just, like, I really don’t even remember what I said, but I just reached out to people and, you know, just said, like, you know, can we get on a call? And, you know, some people ignored it. Some people said yes, even though, like, you know, it really was not that relevant in terms of, like, for that purpose, but just, you know, just had calls with people. I definitely recommend if you record, like, log all your calls somewhere, like, if you can get a CRM or something. Like, HubSpot is a free version. Just put everything in HubSpot free version. Now we’re using Zoho, but I’ve been in my business and a lot of users, but because it’s so meaningful to people when you can remember what you spoke about or if you reach out to them the next month and like, hey, how was your daughter’s graduation last month? Or whatever, you know, you, like, you, you remember things about people. So I definitely recommend, like, writing down and, like, logging all your calls so you know what you spoke about with people so you could make things much more personal and you could remember people. And that makes an impact, that makes people feel good. But, but, yeah, just do these calls. I mean, there’s more that I would say if somebody’s starting off on their own, there’s some other pieces of advice I always give people in that position, but which I could share if you want, but I mean, I don’t know what direction you want the conversation to go, but

Anthony Codispoti 38:14

I think this is a. Great thread for us to pull that, because I talk to a lot of business owners. I’ve got a lot of friends who are business owners, and they sort of get stuck in this place of how do I grow this business? How do I let people know what I’m doing? I feel weird reaching out to my friends or the guy I haven’t talked to in 15 years that we used to work together. It feels sort of needy or something to kind of reach out. How did you work through that? Or were those even feelings that you experienced?

Ben Wolf 38:42

Yeah, well, I’m more of an introvert, so I just had to make the choice. I just had to make the choice early on. Do I want to get a job or do I want to just, like, bite the bullet and just embrace whatever is required for business development? And I just decided that among the decisions available to me at the time, I thought, you know, I’d rather go through the discomfort of doing this and embrace that rather than go back to the risk of having all your eggs in one basket by working for one employer and not always the most stable basket. It depends on the situation. But

Ben Wolf 39:28

I think what anybody on their own needs to understand is that any solopreneurs business, whether you’re a fractional executive of some kind, or a consultant or a coach, or like whatever, or a graphic designer, anything like whatever you are, if you’re an independent freelancer or fractional or any kind of independent consultant or any kind of solopreneurship, business development is part of your job description. It just is. Uh, if you think that you will just get referrals from your current clients and you could just like, do some big push at the beginning when you launch and then get a bunch of clients, and then you’ll just do such a good job for them that you’ll just live on referrals forever and never have to do business development work again. Uh, you are fooling yourself, and, uh, you’re, you’re going to find eventually those initial clients will run out. They will not have a sufficient number of referrals, even if you do have them to, uh, you know, to keep you going full time, you know, full time, however full time you want to be. Uh, so you’ll end up, uh, in a state of famine and having to, like, do this big, giant push again like you did at the beginning, and you’ll have a whole period of time where you’re not making enough money. Maybe you had a certain period of time where you’re making more money than you needed, and then now you’re not making enough, uh, for however long that goes. And then you finally get full again, and you stop doing business development again, and the cycle repeats as feast or famine roller coaster, I call it, uh, and it’s. That’s not, I presume, like, that kind of life. It’s not happy and, uh, most of the time, and it’s not. Not what you want out on your own to. To live like that. So I just. I think anybody who wants to go out on their own, or is that on their own, needs to understand that business development is a long term line item in your job description. And if you’re. If you either love that or you’re willing to embrace it, like I was, which I didn’t love it, but I was willing to embrace it, then you could be successful. And if you’re not willing to do that and embrace it long term, then you should get a job, because it’s not going to work. If you think you can outsource it, oh, I’ll just get Google Ads or Facebook ads, or one of the 50,000 people that emails me or texts me every day on LinkedIn that, oh, I’ll get you 50 client calls a week, or five client calls a week with my algorithm on LinkedIn or whatever. Like, it’s. It’s. It’s. It’s fantasy and preying on people’s desire not to do business development, which is understandable, but it. It doesn’t work. You can’t outsource it. I don’t believe. And so, whatever, it’s a little bit of a rant, but, like, I think it’s something that anybody who’s either on their own or is thinking of being on their own needs to understand that that is part of your job description, and it will always be part of your job description if you either love that or are willing to embrace it, you can be successful in your solopreneurship business. But if you’re not, then you won’t.

Anthony Codispoti 42:31

This has been a really good rant, Ben, because there are a lot of people who get stuck on this. And I think one of the best things you said is you raised your hand. You said, I am an introvert. Because most people, they. They look at a guy like you, and they hear you tell that story about how you just reached out to your network and, you know, 18 calls a week, you’re like, oh, well, that guy’s wired for that. He’s a natural salesman. He’s an introvert. He’s an extrovert. He loves doing this. And you’re like, no, I’m an introvert. I hated this. This was really uncomfortable for me, and I did it anyways. And not only did I do it in the beginning to get things started, but I continue to do it. It is part of my ongoing job description. Right. So what does that business development look like for you? Now that you’re several years into this and you’ve got an established client base and you are getting some referrals, what is it that you do to kind of keep that funnel full?

Ben Wolf 43:24

Well, yeah, definitely different now because I am now the visionary in the business. Like, you know, and

Ben Wolf 43:35

I, I mean, now it’s a little different. It’s. Well, first of all, I hired a fractional CRO, a higher fractional chief revenue officer for the business and great guy heading up marketing and sales. And we’ve got a staff of three people in mostly, and mostly, mostly related to marketing activities, not full time, but like three part time admin people that are working on marketing activities, social media, graphic design, whatever, these types of things, editing on the podcast, these types of areas. And they report to him, not me. So that stuff is getting done. He’s sort of leading the charge, ensuring that all of the activities that we’re doing are coordinated and related to a strategy. And so, so in terms of what I’m doing,

Ben Wolf 44:37

a lot of my business development activities are related to continuing to nurture relationships, some of which now I’ve had for the last four years or whenever I started. Right. So continuing to nurture relationships with these referral sources during speaking or podcast like I’m speaking with you right now, that’s another activity, sort of being a, you know, I don’t know, trying to, trying to be like, I wrote this book trying to be like, you know, be a, be a thought leader, quote unquote as that, to use the pretentious term, in the fractional executive space. And, and so that’s a lot of what I’m doing. I am still, I am still a salesperson at this point, although, you know, I’m selling not my own services, but I’m selling the services of the members of my team. So we set up a sales process. We’re always iterating that sales process I was iterated again when our new CRO started in January. I mean, it was, you know, transforming it again, like always trying to learn, always trying to improve, do it better, and some doing, you know, getting, you know, getting good number of referrals from, you know, from, from a lot of people. And just by persisting at these activities that I mentioned initially it was the relationship and the book and all these things and social media and the podcast and whatever. Over time, it’s meant that I’ve developed a name within the world that I live in. I’m a pretty well known name. And that’s, again, not because I’m a natural extrovert like you pointed out, but it’s just because of persistence at trying to do to the best of what I understood at the time to be the right activities of business development. And so long as you keep doing with persistence, the right activities are. And when I say right, I mean like, you know, the right to the best of your ability to learn and know what the right activities are. I mean, there’s no like perfect, you know, perfect thing. Uh, then you do that with persistence. Eventually it pays off. I mean, I would say when I got, when I got fully booked after 15 months, it was very sudden. Uh, it was just like, I just got tons of leads. Like in a relatively short time, I just started getting a lot like, it just, the volume went way up. Um, after about, you know, 13 or 14 months in. And I think it was, there’s a term I would use, critical mass. I mean, I think just like, you just keep putting stuff out there, you just keep doing activities and people just, people get to know you and they don’t make referrals the first time, the fourth time, the fifth time, the 6th time, but after seven, eight, nine contacts and connections and like, they really know who you are, they really remember who you are and like it just starts to stick. And there’s just at some point all those activities which is like you said with unemployment before, usually worry, is this ever going to end? Am I ever going to get a job again? But it’s the same thing with business development. Like, you know, you feel like, you know, there’s no results, nothing, it’s not working, is it? Is anything, is anything happening here? But I think that has a cumulative effect. Like they say about bamboo, you know, you water it for like a year and then like in one day it grows 3ft, you know, and that’s, it definitely was, my experience is that it was sort of like not like nothing, nothing, nothing. Very little. Very little. Very little. And then, like, after a long time, like, a lot of activity and a lot of results,

Anthony Codispoti 48:08

you had planted the. Seeds, you had watered them, you’d cultivated them, and then, yes, suddenly, so many things came into bloom all at once. What did those additional contact, those touch points look like for you? So you reached out the first time. Hey, I’m starting this fractional coo business. Is there anything we can do for each other? Okay, great. Thank you. Let’s stay in touch. But like, you’re saying, you kept in touch second time, third time, 7th time, 8th time before, you know, they finally send somebody your way. What does that look like for you to keep in touch with that person in a way that is helpful but not annoying to them?

Ben Wolf 48:45

Yeah. Well, I mentioned before one of my measurables was 30 reach outs a week. So I would say that goes into that, that, you know, a minimum of 30 reach outs a week. So, I mean, you. Yeah, you. Like, once you have that first call with somebody, put it, you know, again, you have, let’s say you have that free version of HubSpot, right? Set up a task. Right. That, you know, set up your tasks in 30 days. I’m going to reach out to so and so look back, you know, you know, do some by email. See, now, and these are not 30 reach outs. Like, I copy paste the same message and send it 30 times. Like, when I say 30 reach outs, whether it’s a LinkedIn message or an email, it’s something that is thoughtful. It’s something that is supposed to be a value add. So, like I mentioned, you log your call last month with somebody, and they talked about such and such. And, you know, so you, like, look up an article about that topic and, you know, well, here’s, you know, I saw this article here. I thought of you, you know, and then say, why? Like, you know, just say something specific. Or. Or you make a referral. Make that referral, or you, whatever. You just find some way to add value, you know, connect them to somebody. Just anything. Even, like, ask again. Ask about something that, you know, you guys spoke about the month before and, you know, thinking about. You hope that. Hope that thing went, you know, hope that they. I had a call with somebody who was a prospect, but ended up, like, what? They weren’t really a target market client for us last week. And he said that, you know, but he said that he was supposed to close on a business he was acquiring within a couple of days. So it was like, you know, that was last week. I emailed him today, you know, hey, did that, you know, did that business and, you know, did not being able to close last week, how’d that go? Whatever. But just that kind of thing, like, you know, just show people that you remember them, you thought about them and, and it’s just, you know, one thing after another. They see you on social media, maybe you come up in their LinkedIn feed, whatever, just like, you know, the no, like trust cycle in sales.

Anthony Codispoti 50:48

I don’t now can you explain that?

Ben Wolf 50:50

Well, in sales there’s a concept that there’s a no, like trust cycle. If you want people to buy your product or you, if you’re a consultant or whatever, that you, that if someone’s going to make referrals to you, they’ve got to or buy from you, they’ve got to first of all know who you are. They just remember, just at the most basic level, just remember that you exist. Like what your name is, just like remember that you exist. And it takes a certain amount of repetition, like, you know, to, you know, maybe reach out to somebody, have a call with them, maybe email them the next month, maybe have a second call with them and eventually they’ll like remember who you are. Like they’ll just know. They’ll know who you are. And then after a few repetitions, 3456 repetitions, whatever, then at some point they start to like you. Hopefully they’re like, oh, you know what? That Ben guy, I like him. You know, like I have a good feeling, a positive feeling about you, but like I don’t know enough about him necessarily to like risk my reputation on referring to him, but you know, but it seems like a good guy, you know, like, and then ultimately again, you have another couple calls over the next six months, you know, send them another resource, refer somebody to him or to her. And eventually we get to the point where, you know, or maybe they hear about you from somebody else, whatever. They just, you have enough contacts. Then after 1012 13 1415 contacts over the course of a year, like, you know what? I trust Ben. And then if you’ve talked about what you do and who your ideal client is during that time, then hopefully they’ll be like, okay, when that comes up, they’re like, oh, Ben’s the guy I think of, when I think of that, when I think of that need because we’ve talked about it a few times now and at this point I trust him. I’ve known him for a year now. He’s not like a brand new person that just reached out to me. And so they just, you know, for referral sources, just like for customers, there’s that no like trust cycle that you have to go through. And it just takes a certain number of repetitions to get there. You meet somebody at a networking event, at your local networking event, or at an online networking event. Just talk to somebody once I get perfectly pointless. Like you

Anthony Codispoti 52:58

need your ideal client. Ben

Ben Wolf 53:02

Ideal client is business owners, ten to 250 people, typically between five and 50 million, who, who have big dreams about what they want to accomplish. And they’re just frustrated that they’re hitting the ceiling on that because they don’t know and they, you know, they need, they need somebody who’s done it before, like to like help lead them and their team, like, to actually accomplish what they want and not, not keep hitting the ceiling anymore. But what I would say about ideal client is that before you reach out to all these people, these hundred people that you in the list that you put together, you have to know who your target, I mean, you or your listeners, I mean, have to know who their target market client is. Because if you don’t have a clear idea of if you don’t have a clear idea of who your target market is, then you’re going to waste your time talking to people whose clients are not your target market. And you’re going to think that you’re doing a lot of good activities, you’re doing a lot of good networking, you’re doing a lot of good relationship nurturing. But if the people you’re, if the people you’re talking to are not your target market client, or they’re not, or they’re not potential referral sources, whose clients are your target market client, then you are, you’re wasting time and energy that you can’t afford to waste. And so that’s always that. You have to be clear on what your target market client is before you do any of this, because otherwise you’re going to end up just spinning your wheels and think that you’re very busy, but you’re not going to see results.

Anthony Codispoti 54:33

Robert and so your ideal client, you described to people within a certain revenue range, they’re in a place where they’re frustrated that they’re sort of stuck in their growth. Is there any particular industries that you specialize in or try to stay away from?

Ben Wolf 54:48

No, no. You know, I mean, it’s as a. Kind

Anthony Codispoti 54:50

of agnostic

Ben Wolf 54:51

integrator. Yeah, it’s pretty agnostic. You can, you know, 80% of businesses are the same regardless of what their industry is or whether it’s professional services or sewer cleaning out sewers. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s the same. You know, most of the, most of the principles are the same. And, and, but we do have members of the team, some, you know, who tend to focus on manufacturing businesses or who tend to focus on professional services businesses and technology businesses, et cetera.

Anthony Codispoti 55:26

And so when a customer chooses to work with you, obviously, this is a pretty big decision. They’ve probably had conversations with other folks. You’re not the only ones that they’ve talked to when they decide to work with Wolsedge integrators. Why do they make that decision? What is it about you guys that sets you apart from others?

Ben Wolf 55:46

I mean, I would say the biggest thing is that been there, done that experience. I mean, you have a lot of people out there that maybe come from more of a project management or a manager background, or maybe they’re good at meeting facilitation and running meetings. But those who retain us are those who need, like, actual been there, done that experience, like, actually somebody who’s run a company, who’s, who’s been as big as we are, bigger than we are, was like, done what we need to do on where we need to go before. So they can help me get there and not just facilitate my ideas or facilitate our meetings, but actually, have that been there, done that experience, I would say, is the biggest differentiator from anybody similar to us. When you have some great solo practitioners, I think, in this space, that are similar to that. But, but it’s, you know, that’s probably the biggest unique.

Anthony Codispoti 56:48

Let’s talk about your book for a second. I’m going to bring it up on screen here. What was the inspiration behind starting this, writing this book?

Ben Wolf 56:56

Well, the inspiration, interestingly, was I had a guest on my podcast about writing a book, and I was thinking, like, what would I write a book about? Like, what, what, you know, what do I have? What do I have to write about? And I couldn’t think of anything. Then I thought of this idea, fractional leadership, and then I thought, oh, you know what? It’s such a basic concept. It’s like so many fractional executives out there. I don’t know how many books there are already on this topic. But let me just check. Let me google it. Let me look on Amazon. Let me look at, and I just started searching fractional executive, fractional leadership, and there’s no other book. There’s fractional CFO, fractional COO, fractional CMO, fractional CTO, fractional CIO, and I just like church, you know, or like outsource, coO, outsource, CFO. I just started searching every possible term I could think of because I wasn’t finding anything. I was like, what? There’s no books. I mean, there’s tons of, like, you know, web articles out there, a few, a few mainstream media articles here and there, but very little actually got. Guys got featured a few months ago in the New York Times myself. But it was, you know, it’s. I just realized there’s. Nobody had written about that. Like, nobody had written a book on this topic before, like, introduce business owners to this concept. So it’s like, okay, you know, nobody else did it. I’ll do it. I wrote the book.

Anthony Codispoti 58:32

And here’s the. I don’t have a New York Times account here, but here’s the article that they read about you in the New York Times. That’s pretty cool. So fractional leadership, landing executive talent you thought was out of reach, quite a few ratings, all very positive. It’s like a great book. If this is a space that you’re interested in. Yeah.

Ben Wolf 58:56

Tried to make it a good introduction for any business owner. It’s geared towards a business owner to lay out. Hey, what is it? What are all the objections that you probably have in your mind about it? How does it work? How much does it cost? How long does it last? What are the objections? Whos it for? Whos it not for? And then I have chapters in the second part on. Okay, now lets go to CFO. How does fractional CFO work? How much does it cost? How does it work? What should you look for? Fractional CMO, fractional sales officer or vp of sales or whatever. Fractional COO, fractional integrator, CFO, CIO, CTO, COO, and lay out each one kind of how does it work? And try to tell a bunch of stories. Interviewed a bunch of people, share their stories and tried to. Yeah, I tried to. Tried to be the best introduction I could make it to those who want to understand whether they could utilize a fractional executive to, like, solve their problem or their gap on their leadership gap in their company.

Anthony Codispoti 1:00:02

What was something you learned about yourself writing that book, Ben?

Ben Wolf 1:00:14

I like to be told how to do something, and then I could just do it. I found a course called the 30 day writing challenge by a guy named Joshua Sprague. I don’t know if you want to put that on the thing. Also, it’s a good resource. Joshua, have you seen this? Joshua Sprague, 30 day writing challenge. Just like sends you sign up for it, it’s like $100. You send. Sends you once a day for five days a week for 30 days, which is about six weeks. Sends you an email, like, what do you do that day, like, towards writing your book? And, yeah, there you go. There. It’s on the screen. But, you know, and so I just got the email every day. I just did exactly what it said. I set aside a certain amount of time every day. Did what? Did what the email said. I gave myself a couple extra weeks at the end and then finished the book in eight weeks.

Anthony Codispoti 1:01:09

I mean, that’s terrific. So you followed Joshua’s script to a t, and

Ben Wolf 1:01:13

I just walked you

Anthony Codispoti 1:01:14

through the whole process. I

Ben Wolf 1:01:15

just followed it. You know, I like, I like that. I like, you know, just, like, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Like, someone figured out how to do this. Like, let me just do it, like, with business development also, like, I just asked around. I asked people, how do you do business development? How do you get clients? What are, like, you know, all the stuff I shared. I mean, it’s sort of an amalgam of just asking a lot of people, you know, what do you do? How do you do this? And. And then just to the best of my knowledge about what it takes to succeed, I just tried to do it.

Anthony Codispoti 1:01:42

And. Let’s talk about your podcast for a second. Was this also an idea for business development? How did this idea come

Ben Wolf 1:01:49

about? Yeah, not directly. Like, not like I thought, hey, someone’s gonna listen to my podcast, and I call me up, hey, can I hire you? But the. But it was, I guess the two main things that I wanted to do with the podcast are. The two main things I wanted to do with the podcast are, number one, give me something that I could give people to give back to them

Ben Wolf 1:02:19

so that I could, like, oh, I want to talk to this person who might be a potential referral source for me. Well, let me give something to give them. I’m not just asking for referrals. I want to give something, like, let me promote you. Let me give something to help me connect to those people by having me be able to have something to give at them in return. And so I would say that’s. That’s one thing. And the other element is just to, like, just to give me an excuse. Like, if there’s somebody that, like, maybe wouldn’t have a reason to talk with me, but, like, I would. I would like to learn from or I would like to be connected to, and then it just, again, allows me to like, hey, let me get your message out there. And it just gives, gives them a reason to talk with me. Like Marcus Sheridan from, they ask, you answer, like, you know, you know, would he have gotten on a call with me, like, if I just said, hey, I want to talk to you about your book. And, you know, in your teachings that they ask, you answer, like, no, I like, you know, but whatever he said, he was saying something on LinkedIn, and I argued with him and I said, you know, but, like, I’d love to hash it out with you. Let me have you on my podcast. Like, talk it over, you know, or, you know, I had Mark O’Donnell, the visionary of the US worldwide. Or was it Jonathan Schenkeman, who wrote faster than Normal, a book about ADHD and entrepreneurs and came on the podcast, whatever. It’s a nice way to get connected to people and learn from them. Who, I wouldn’t have necessarily had a reason to talk with me if I had just said that I was interested in talking with them.

Anthony Codispoti 1:03:55

And for people listening to the podcast, what can they expect gain from it? What do you kind of dive into?

Ben Wolf 1:04:01

Well, everything. Every episode is a target market audience of people who have a business. Like, you know, again, ten to 250 person business, not like a solo, not really geared towards solopreneurs, and not. Not geared towards big corporate businesses, not geared towards personal stuff. Like, just like people with entrepreneurial businesses. Almost any topic that would be immediately useful to them. Them. And we just have, like, usable information. That is the. That is sort of the theme, sort of a very broad theme, but that’s the. That’s the theme of the show. And try to. Try to, you know, try to create a win. A win win for people.

Anthony Codispoti 1:04:40

That’s the name. Win win. Well, win win. The win win podcast. An entrepreneurial community. You can find it on Apple podcasts. Several ratings, all five stars. Very practical for an entrepreneur or a business owner. Lots of hands on advice that they can take from the episodes. Ben, I want to shift gears now and talk about something that’s oftentimes a bit difficult for most people to talk about. But I think this is where some of the real meat on the bone comes from, is that people look at us as business owners, as leaders, and they think, oh, that guy, he was born to do that. He was born to lead. He’s just got success running through his vein. I could never do that. I’m not built like that. What they don’t see are sort of the hard times that are going on behind the scenes of these successful enterprises that we run, I’m curious to hear one or more of your stories. A real challenge that you’ve gone through professionally that you thought was just going to tear things apart and how you overcame it.

Ben Wolf 1:05:47

Well, I did have one very hard time that that went on where I

Ben Wolf 1:05:57

lost my whole leadership team in one day.

Anthony Codispoti 1:06:02

Wow.

Ben Wolf 1:06:04

How many

Anthony Codispoti 1:06:05

people was that?

Ben Wolf 1:06:06

Two people.

Anthony Codispoti 1:06:07

Two people.

Ben Wolf 1:06:08

It wasn’t like one person, right, but one person left in one day, but the two people in one day. And it was a very scary time. Like, you know, could make the whole team feel like a feeling of instability and just very scary, you know, and feeling bad, you know, or just, like, self doubt about myself, like, is something wrong with me, or is something wrong with what we’re doing here? And so very scary. And I just, you know, I mean, I only did was I just took, like, an immediate approach of. Of action. Like, you know, what. What are the. What are the next right actions that I could focus on? I just focus on those actions. You know, I think that. I think that, you know, what it came down to, what I learned from it, is the concept of alignment, and that there had been some different alignment that had developed with those two individuals who were, you know, like, I guess I did, like, a different sort of developed over time, a different philosophy about the direction the business should go in. That was, you know, starting to get different from my own. And so I think, ultimately, it was a very healthy thing that they, you know, that they. That they chose to leave and. But just try to take the right actions. I actually, we considered. I talked to an interviewed and had the team meet a number of fractional CROs or, you know, potential people to take over the marketing and sales role. And. But the one that we ended up hiring, I actually had a call with, like, that same day. Like, I texted him, like, I had, you know, known for a couple of years. I texted him, and, uh, I had texted him, and we had a call. I. I was, like, flying off. I was, like, flying off the strategic coach workshop at Chicago. I talked to him in the airport, like, you know, that same day, and he continued the process, whatever. It ended up working out eventually, and, uh, and then ended up elevating another member of my team to become integrator, to become coo of our own business internally. Um, and

Ben Wolf 1:08:28

we’re still growing. We’re still working. But I would just say that it feels like the team and the leadership team are just so much more aligned and just so much more laser focused on, I guess, who we are. And where we’re going than what we were before. And there’s been transformations also that we’ve been doing on the sales and marketing side that, that just from that fresh perspective, I think that was, that I’m very, very grateful for. If things hadn’t changed, we wouldn’t be doing now that we are doing because of that change. And just like with losing that job however many years ago, sometimes we don’t have the guts to change things because they’re, you know, even with some discomfort, there’s still too much comfort, you know, and too much risk in making a big change. Uh, and sometimes it’s only when we’re torn, you know, when, when the old was forced away from us, was torn away from us, and we have no choice but to figure out what to do next. Then we end up, you know, and I’ve. I’ve seen multiple times, I’ve ended up in a much better place, uh, than where I would have just continued for years like it was before, uh, if that change hadn’t been, you know, forced upon me.

Anthony Codispoti 1:09:48

But you can look back now and say, wow, that’s a good

Ben Wolf 1:09:51

retrospect.

Anthony Codispoti 1:09:52

We’re in a better place. And how long ago was that? That those two folks?

Ben Wolf 1:09:56

That was. That was that. That was last fall.

Anthony Codispoti 1:09:59

Okay. This is still pretty recent. This is less than a year ago.

Ben Wolf 1:10:02

Yeah.

Anthony Codispoti 1:10:03

And for you to kind of come through the dark tunnel already and be able to look back and say, man, we’re in a better place now that that was forced upon us, that that happened. But talk me through those first days and weeks where it looks like the. It’s got to feel like the sky is falling, right?

Ben Wolf 1:10:21

Like, I feel like I got punched in the gut. I just feel, you know, I feel. I feel I’m a person who feels tension in my stomach. I just had, like, a negative. Like, I just had, like, a bad feeling in my stomach all the time. And, you know, I think I, you know, not, not the best moment, but I just would just say to myself from time to time, like, I don’t want this. Like, I don’t want this to be happening, you know, but it did. And

Anthony Codispoti 1:10:57

how do you work through that? What were some of the coping skills that you learned that you leaned on?

Ben Wolf 1:11:02

  1. Like I said before, I think it’s just about taking action. You just say, like, all I could do is, like, focus on what’s the next right action and just do the next right action and just focus on that. Like, what’s the alternative? You can roll up in a ball and, like, just do nothing. Like, you know, that’s not. That’s not a life. So you just gotta ask what, you know, what’s the next right action? I, you know, I use a notepad, you know, like, wrote down. I just asked my, you know, I would sit down for, like, an hour and, like, write down questions, like, you know, you know, like, why does happening what I learned from this, you know, and then I had to, like, immediately, like, go and, like, talk to everybody in the team, because I want to, like, I have to. I want to be the one to tell everybody myself and also, you know, you know, and also reassure and, you know, like, what’s happening next? And whatever, just, like, kind of stabilize and. And so just, like, taking notes. Okay. What do I tell people? Like, what do I want to talk about? I just, like, I don’t know. I use a notepad to try to clarify thoughts and, you know, clarify what the right next steps are, and then just take those next right steps and rinse and repeat. You know, just. Just always focus on the next right thing.

Anthony Codispoti 1:12:13

Well, I think you hit upon something really powerful there, because I think that in so many aspects of our lives where we get stuck on something where something bad has just happened to us, and I think it is sort of a natural reaction to just want to, like, curl up in a ball and suck your thumb and lay under the covers and hide from it all and hope it just, you know, you wake up and it has just all changed on its own and gone away. And we’ve all lived long enough to know that that’s not how the world works, right? And so you sat down with your notebook, and you were like, okay, what are some things I can do here? Like, let’s make the list, let’s brainstorm the list, let’s prioritize it, and then let’s just take action. It’s 1ft in front of the other, right. It’s. It’s baby steps to start with. It is always just, what is that? Next right action. That’s exactly how you played it out.

Ben Wolf 1:13:01

Next right action. That’s it.

Anthony Codispoti 1:13:03

Wow. Um, tell me about personal interests. What kind of passions do you have outside of work?

Ben Wolf 1:13:11

Ah, well, um, I guess outside of work right now, uh, the biggest things are, I just started trying out cycling, so experimenting with that. I did, like,

Anthony Codispoti 1:13:23

in a racing kind of environment, or just, like,

Ben Wolf 1:13:25

racing, but form

Anthony Codispoti 1:13:26

of exercise.

Ben Wolf 1:13:27

Athletic. Yeah, but athletic. Not just leisurely.

Anthony Codispoti 1:13:31

Okay.

Ben Wolf 1:13:31

And, uh, and so, yes, I’ve been doing a nordic track bike five days a week in the mornings. And then, uh, recently started going out in real life on a bike. Recently, uh, did my, my longest ride so far. Just not very impressive for people in the, in that world, but got up to 24 miles yesterday, so that

Anthony Codispoti 1:13:49

was

Ben Wolf 1:13:50

a good one. Getting, you know, getting up, you know, slowly. Slowly. I also, I also been writing books for. Writing, writing books for the rabbi of the synagogue that I belong to. So I’ve, I’ve published so far five books for him that, you know, I completely wrote the first few, and then now I’ve started to get other volunteer writers, and now I focus on more the editing and publishing and a little bit of writing, but mostly editing and publishing.

Anthony Codispoti 1:14:22

Are these religious oriented books

Ben Wolf 1:14:24

that you’re. Right.

Anthony Codispoti 1:14:27

And you’re using that same framework that

Ben Wolf 1:14:29

you

Anthony Codispoti 1:14:29

showed before?

Ben Wolf 1:14:30

No, no, it’s very different. Those are not my ideas. So, very different, but sort of based on lectures and turning things into book form in a format that makes sense. But that’s, that’s another. Yeah, working on the 6th one now. But that’s

Anthony Codispoti 1:14:50

literally, your faith is very

Ben Wolf 1:14:51

important

Anthony Codispoti 1:14:51

to you. That’s come up multiple times. You’re writing books for your rabbi. You know, did a lot of networking at your synagogue. Your faith is an important part of.

Ben Wolf 1:14:59

Yeah, I mean, like, you have to think, where do you know people, right. Just like, wherever. Wherever you happen to know, like, wherever you know people. That’s, that’s. I think when you start off in the entrepreneurial world, you have to start off wherever you happen to know people. You know, whatever that is.

Anthony Codispoti 1:15:17

What’s something you wish you could teach a younger version of yourself? Maybe the 20 year old version of Ben.

Ben Wolf 1:15:26

The. Well, the fact that life is. Life is a winding road. Talk about when you’re going through something hard, how we talked about before, how the focus just has to be on the next right thing or the next right action. And, you know, I would just say that

Ben Wolf 1:15:48

all you could do as a young person trying to find your way is like, try to listen to yourself and where your interests are and what you, what you’re good at and what you’re interested in, and follow that, whether it’s in school or in jobs, and just try to do the best you candidate. But there is likely not going to be any direct line between whatever you start doing and wherever you end up, because it certainly was not with me. I majored in psychology in college. I wanted to do social work therapy, and then ended up wanting to become a rabbi and worked, you know, and studied for another three years after college and then went and got a. Got a job at jewish educational organization in Des Moines, Iowa for three years, and did that, then came back to New York, decided, I want to try real estate, try to find a way to make money without having to go back to school. So I tried doing industrial real estate brokerage for a few years, and then went to law school at night, worked full time during the day at the beginning in real estate, then in like, law firms, as I worked full time, went to law school at night, thank God, did well in law school, got this great law job for a few years and a few years as an attorney. Then after five years, we talked about this unemployment period and got in the entrepreneurial world, which, who would have ever thought that? But, you know, but the, but the background of teaching and the background of legal analysis and writing and attention to detail and just that whole legal perspective on business and being GC, the truth is that guy probably would not have hired me at that business that I helped build if I hadn’t been an attorney. It’s part of the interesting story, but the, you know, and then, now, but then, now I built a business and now I’ve got this entrepreneurial background and, and then that leads to something else. So, like, now here I am all these years later with, you know, what does that have to do with psychology or social work or real estate, you know, and you just never know where your path is going to take you. But I believe that providence is going to set it up. That even if you’ve done things that seem completely unrelated to each other, that there’s some unique combination that nobody else is going to have because they didn’t go through that weird, winding journey that is going to serve you very well and put you uniquely placed in the world to do something and make a very unique contribution that would not have been possible if you hadn’t gone through that path that made absolutely no sense and nobody would have ever planned in advance. Um, and so, like, all you could do as a young person, I think, is like, just listen to what you’re interested in and listen to what you’re good at, try to be mindful of that and choose a path based on that. Uh, and then just have faith that it’s all going to work out. And even if there’s some major changes along the way, that cumulatively, somehow is going to, uh, is going to. Is going to put you in a very unique place that you could have never imagined in advance.

Anthony Codispoti 1:19:10

A long and winding road indeed. Certainly, if you’re any example to be learned from there. I’ve just got one more question for you, Ben, but before I ask it, I want to make sure people know how to get in touch with you. I’ve got your website up on the screen here, wolfsedgeintegrators.com. Is this the preferred method for people to find you?

Ben Wolf 1:19:31

Yes. Yes, definitely check that out. You can also get some good resources there. If you go to wolfsedgeintegrative.com resources, there is a. You can get a free chapter of my book, by the way, which is more than what you can get on Amazon. I can get a free chapter of the book there. Chapter one of fractional leadership landing executive talent you thought was out of reach. Yeah, there it is. If you’re looking at the screen, it’s there. On the screen. There’s a roadmap that is a variation on what our own coos do in our firm, that you could get to use that roadmap in your own business with a video guide. It’s one of the other resources there. But wolfsedgeintegrators.com resources, and hopefully there’s something there that can be useful to you.

Anthony Codispoti 1:20:13

That’s terrific. Well,

Ben Wolf 1:20:14

there’s also a contact us page, or you could book a discovery call if you might need a fractional coo. But one way or another, you could definitely get in touch with us through the website or through my

Anthony Codispoti 1:20:23

links. A lot of great free and helpful resources here on the site. Definitely check it out, folks. Okay, last question for you, Ben. Curious where you see your industry, or maybe your business in particular, evolving in the next five years, where do you see it going?

Ben Wolf 1:20:41

I mean, business in general, there’s five. As of 2019, there’s 5.38 million businesses just in the United States, with between ten and 250 people in them. 5.38 million businesses. If you assume there’s probably 100 million people, at least 140 million people, at least in those businesses, again, just in the United States. Not even considering the fact that those businesses, similarly, all over the world, that you know, that most of whom, 90% of people who start businesses, are not surreal entrepreneurs. It’s their first business or it’s their only business that they’ve gotten to that scale before. So I think that the need for fractional coos who actually have experience and can help three or four businesses at a time, right, not limited to only working in one place, I think is only going to grow more and more as people become more aware of this kind of solution. I think it’s going to grow hugely. My goal is to be, I mean, within three years, to be 50 people and 140 companies that we’re helping at a time. If we are helping 140 companies at a time, that’s about, that’s about 5600 employees in those 140 companies. 5600 people. Like 5600 mortgages, 5600 sets of kids and spouses and partners and parents whose lives can be touched by having people that are in a healthy business and that are not miserable and not like, all stressed out because things are not working well. And so I think we can touch a lot of lives. And that’s just in three years, I think. I mean, obviously five years, ten years. I mean, I think we could do another ten x of that. You know, we do 500, 500 team members and, and 14,000 companies, but, I don’t know, 1400 companies, I guess that would be. Sorry.

Anthony Codispoti 1:22:42

Lots of fun stuff to look forward to. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Ben. I really appreciate it.

Ben Wolf 1:22:49

Thank you, Anthony. I appreciate the opportunity.

Anthony Codispoti 1:22:52

That’s a wrap on another episode of the Inspired Stories podcast. Thanks for learning with us today. 

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