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The Sharpest Tool™

Howard Partridge Part 1 | From Welfare to Multi-Millionaire

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
Howard Partridge is an internationally recognized business coach, bestselling author, and experienced business owner. Originally from Mobile, AL where he grew up on welfare with six siblings, Howard tells a story with lessons of hard work and intentional action. In this episode, he highlights the turning points that led him to build a predictable, profitable business so that you can, too.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello. And welcome back to the sharpest tool road. We take the sting out of marketing. My name is Josh Smith. I am your host and I'm fired up because in the booth today, we have an international business coach, a number one, amazon.com bestselling author, and a conference speaker. He started his first business out of the trunk of his car and turned it into a multimillion dollar turnkey enterprise. He's owned nine small businesses and helped other business owners for over two decades. Howard Partridge. Welcome to the show. Yay.

Howard Partridge (00:34):

Glad to be here. Thanks

Josh Smith (00:36):

Josh. It's so good to see you, man. Welcome

Howard Partridge (00:38):

In. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Josh Smith (00:41):

I appreciate you coming in. It's a pleasure to have you in the booth. I know a lot of people are going to get a lot out of what you have to say today and on the topic today. But before we do for those that don't know who you are, what you do, what's your about? You've got quite the backstory. So why don't you take a few minutes and let's give the listener the thousand foot summary of your journey up until this point.

Howard Partridge (01:01):

So I'll start with a confession. Is that okay? Absolutely. All right. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I am happy to be on the sharpest tool, right? So I'm originally, I'm from LA lower Alabama and my wife does a laugh at my jokes either, so that's okay. But uh, actually grew up on welfare and mobile Alabama. There were seven kids crammed in a little 600 square foot shack on the roof on that house was so bad that every time it rained, we had to get out all the pots and pans to catch the leaks. My mother fed us on a a hundred dollars a month from the welfare department. I don't care when that was. It just wasn't a lot of money. Well, so when you grow up in an environment like that, what are you likely to turn out? Like for me, it was rebellious teenager.

Howard Partridge (01:44):

I was 18 years old, got kicked out of the house. I deserved it, got on a Greyhound bus to go to Houston, Texas, to live with my real dad that I only met twice in my life. When I arrived there, I had 25 cents in my pocket. I became a waiter. I worked in these really high-end restaurants, but I always wanted to have my own business just at that point only made enough money really to pay the rent. And then I met my wife, Denise cadet, Antoinette Panella. Now that's Italian, who's from New Jersey and I'm from Alabama. This is going to be a good match here. So I got a New Jersey to get married to my wife. And when you marry into an Italian family, you don't get wedding presents, you get cash. And we've got $3,000 cash in wedding money. That was a friend of the family, same age as me, 23 at the time.

Howard Partridge (02:26):

And he's touring around a little red Mercedes convertible. And I said, I want to know what that guy does. And I want to know if it's legal. Well, he had an in-home services business. And so as soon as I got back to Houston from our honeymoon, I spent that entire amount of money starting my service business out of the trunk of my car, fast forward, 35 years later. And it's a multimillion dollar business. It's a turnkey. I don't know how to be there. I have a great staff, great systems in place. And as you mentioned, about 22 years ago, I started other business owners started helping them learn my systems and became the exclusive small business coach for Ziglar and just had a very storied career. I've written a few books and things like that. So what I do is I simply help small business owners stop being a slave to their business and transform it into what I call a predictable, profitable, turnkey operation. And it's really because of people like Ellen, Rohr, yourself, and people that have given me opportunities to get my message out. Yeah. That's the reason I'm here. Absolutely.

Josh Smith (03:33):

You have a new book coming out soon to correct. What's the title ones.

Howard Partridge (03:38):

The state, the title is FTI. That stands for failure to implement the number. One reason that small businesses don't grow or do as well as they could. And by the way, frankly, the number one reason that people at general don't reach their biggest dreams and goals is because of what I call FTI failure to implement. I want to ask the audience a couple of questions. Let me ask you a few questions. You know, in home services, uh, business owners, people have service companies. So my question to you and to them would be, are there things right now that you know that you should be doing that you're not doing? Absolutely. And sometimes it's because we're too busy. We're working in the business instead of in the business, as my friend, Michael Gerber likes to say, you're overwhelmed. Maybe don't think that you can do it, or you should do it. Maybe don't think that the juice is worth the squeeze or that somebody else has stopped me. There's lots of different reasons. And so in this book, FTI, I drilled down to the real reason that people don't implement the things that they know are going to get them to where they really want to go.

Josh Smith (04:48):

Yeah. For a business owner, who's in that position, failure, temple Mount, what does the topic today? So I'm really excited that you wrote a book on

Howard Partridge (04:54):

It, right? Absolutely. For

Josh Smith (04:56):

Business owners who are in that, oftentimes I think they get overwhelmed by the amount of things that they need to implement. What are some recommendations that you have found when you dive into some of these business cultures and the operations, how to draw clarity in terms of exactly what someone needs to place their focus on an implement right away, prioritization of things. What's your,

Howard Partridge (05:15):

Well, my philosophy on that is first of all, you got to take some time to think about where you are right now, where you want to go and then what you need to do. And it usually requires a coach or someone to really bounce all this off of. But what you needed to determine is what is the biggest challenge or obstacle in your business right now, what's really keeping you from getting traction. And what's the biggest opportunities. So the way to prioritize, because you could make a list right now, you could spend the next hour, there'd be just a thousand different things that you could work on or do what's hurting you the most right now is that we always like to start with the profit. And that's why Ellen Rohr is one of my partners, because at one point in time, I had my service company and a lot of debt.

Howard Partridge (06:04):

We had great service. We had great people, everybody loved us, but we weren't making any money. We were losing money. And so I installed Ellen roars financial system. So if you're not making a profit or you don't know if you're making a profit start there, right? So then it goes to either marketing. I need more business marketing and sales, or it goes to, we've got plenty of income, but we have to streamline be more efficient. Maybe you need to hire some people. The process of going from being a slave to your business, to having a predictable, profitable, at least business, and maybe even turnkey business is to replace yourself step by step, by step, every layer you start with the technician level, then you move to the manager level and then you move to the director level. And maybe one of these days, you become turnkey. If that's your goal, but every step you have to start replacing yourself on every level in the business.

Josh Smith (07:08):

The number one reason why people don't grow to the next level in their lives, their career, their businesses is FTI failure to implement it. Right. What does that mean for a home service professional listening to this episode right now? What do you find that means to them?

Howard Partridge (07:22):

I know I should, mark. Uh, I wish I could find somebody to do this for me. So many business owners live in some fantasy world that I wish someone would come along. That would just do all this for me. It's not going to happen. You have to do it. Right. So what it looks like, as I know I should go out and market, but I don't, I know I should hire somebody, but I don't. I know I should be a better leader, but I'm not, I know I should track my numbers, but I don't. And so the key is, is drilling down to the why behind MTI and then what to do about it from that point.

Josh Smith (08:01):

Yeah. So when it comes to the book in particular, I'm curious to know, who would you say it's most for who should be picking this up? When it comes to this,

Howard Partridge (08:09):

I'm going to break the ultimate marketing role and say it's for everybody because it is my niche. Target market is small business owners. I have a passion to help small business owners. That's why I appreciate what you guys are doing because I was there. I was a slave to my business and I had bad habits. My issue was, I would love to go on vacation, but I just was at being responsible with my finances. I was at being responsible with the people that I had on my team, great marketing, great customer service, but the leadership, the management and financial piece, all of that was lacking because I just, my business to provide a great lifestyle for me. But it caught up with me after awhile, when you were running your business, what was one of the kind of turning points for that realization? Maybe with something you heard a bookkeeper talk to you it's as clear as day I had had my business for 13, long years was a slave to that business, worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Howard Partridge (09:20):

And I started going to some seminars and I started hearing about systems and a little book called the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. And I read that book and I got a vision. There's a clue. I got a vision. And I was like, wait, you mean, I can have a business that runs without me. This is what I've wanted all along the beads. So I read that book. I went to Dustin, Florida, my favorite place in the world and had a pile of notebooks and just start, uh, rewriting my vision, rewriting my plan. I got back to Houston. I invited a couple of my colleagues to join up with me and become partners. And we said, we're going to bill like the ultimate company and our industry. And we're going to just take this thing to the next level. And we did. And so the two lessons that I learned from Michael was that first, the one and only reason your business exists is to be a vehicle to help you achieve your life goals.

Howard Partridge (10:19):

Ellen mentioned a little bit differently a while ago, but that's okay. Second one is in order to do that, you got to have systems. So that's what a vehicle is, is it's a set of systems to help you get to where it is you want to go. Well, obviously you have to have a vision for your life, right? The one and only reason your business exists is to be a vehicle to help you achieve your life goals. You gotta be clear on your life goals. What do you want? It was real simple for me. I want to be at the beach. You guys run the business. I want to be at the beach. So there was a lot of hard work and a lot more lessons to come after that partnership being one of them, leadership being another one. But I had these really great marketing processes and other people wanted to know about them.

Howard Partridge (11:04):

And once we got that business flowing the way it needed to, then I started doing coaching and consulting and training and things like that. I got to know Michael, and he became a great friend. He's been on my stage many times and we've shared the stage on a number of occasions. And I haven't got to come over here to San Diego down the road. We're in Valencia right now. So I got to introduce him at his 80th birthday party and half the request of his wife, personal requests. So it was great. Yeah. That's how I got a vision. I got a new vision and really that's where it starts for to overcome FTI. Yeah. Uh, my, uh, mentor, the late Zig Ziegler said that the secret ingredient of success is desire and desire comes from a vision. Well, wanted to dig down and say, you know, one of the things I learned about you earlier as you really love the psychology and the human behavior part.

Howard Partridge (12:02):

And what I realized is that people don't have a vision because they don't believe. Yeah. They don't believe that they can find great employees. They don't believe that they can be prosperous or maybe like Ellen said on one of the earlier episodes that they see rich people and they sell it. They must be doing something wrong. Know they don't see themselves reaching that goal. So therefore they don't have the vision because they don't believe. And since the vision is not there, there's no desire there. And who gets inspired by just getting through the day. So one of the things that I share in my book is that the inspired person is the one that performs at a phenomenal level. Yeah.

Josh Smith (12:46):

You've obviously been doing this for a number of years, 22 years. You've written several books. Why this book now?

Howard Partridge (12:53):

Well, so this book is really a culmination of my previous seven books. I've written on business systems. I've written on personal development. I've written on dreams. I've written on leadership. You can learn all you want to learn about leadership. You can learn all you want to learn about marketing and systems and even dreams. But if you don't take action, you know, one of my favorite quotes is vision without action is just a daydream action. Without vision is a nightmare. And that's where most people live as they get up every day, man, I got to go to work. I got to do this. I got to do that. And they just barely get through the day. There's no inspiration there at all. And they end up in a place that they never dreamed that they would be unhealthy, broke in debt. I can't stand my employees.

Howard Partridge (13:44):

As a matter of fact, I had a great experience at Ellen roars plays is zoom drain and her partner that she was talking about Jim chronicity, he told me a story. I put it in one of my books. I put it in my leadership book, I think the power of community. And he said, you know, I used to hate my employees. He said, I would get here after they got their trucks and went out in the field and he said leave before they cap. But as I grew up and you're telling people this, you know, and I said, so what changed? And he said, I heard their stories is that I started finding out about who they were as human beings. And he said, and it inspired me to help them even more. Yeah. So this book is, you know, you could know everything that there is about systems and marketing and dreams and leadership and all of that. But if you don't take action, if you don't wake up every day with that desire, that inspiration with a vision, then it's action with no vision. Yeah. You know,

Josh Smith (14:46):

Very early in the book you state, we need four things to consistently implement.

Howard Partridge (14:51):

Yup. Inspiration organization, training and community. Yep. How do those work for a home service professional? I'm going to bring some roll meat and kind of practicality. Sure, sure. So inspiration comes from when you evaluate your life and you finally realized that you can do this. And that's what happened to me is like, wow, I can do this. And so that's the first principle in the book is what I call the potential principle and your understanding, your potential impacts phenomenal performance. It's all about phenomenal performance because we got to understand that in order to have something different, we have to do something different. Right? So, and that's what Mr. Ziegler always said. He said, you gotta be before you can do. And you gotta do before. You can have, so you have to believe that you can do this. So you have to wake up with a vision that's inspiration.

Howard Partridge (15:42):

So you look at your life and we have this little wheel of life assessment where you can look at all seven spokes of the wheel at Ziglar, and you evaluate those. And you say, you know, I'm not as healthy as I want to be. I'm not as financially successful as I want to be my family relationships. Aren't maybe what they should be. And when you understand one of the things that I share with people as being the executive vice president of training operations at Ziegler, I've studied Mr. Ziglar's materials backwards Ford for years and years and years. And what I asked people, as you know, in those seven core areas of lives, spiritual, mental, physical, financial family career, and personal, which one of those areas are you supposed to be unsuccessful in? And everybody says, well, none of them. Yeah. And on a scale of one to 10, what level should you perform?

Howard Partridge (16:34):

What level should you be out on all seven of those areas? And they always say, well, 10. So we know it intellectually. It's just not in us yet. Right? So you're not going to do the hard work on taking your business to the next level. If you don't have a vision for your life, if you don't make the connection that my business is all messed up and that's why my life is messed up. Right? So I like to ask business owners, how many of you would agree that your business can have a dramatic impact on your personal life? Oh, yo. You know, but Hey, let's look at it the other way. And that happened to me. Let's look at the other way, your business can have a dramatic, positive impact on your life. That's predictable, profitable and turn key, and you can go travel and do whatever you want and be prosperous and make a difference in the lives of the people that work at your company and your customers and your vendors.

Howard Partridge (17:31):

And I mean, life is phenomenal. So you got to get that first. That's how that works to realize that if I can do it, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, so to speak, uh, so if I can do it, you can do it avail and Rory can do it. You can do it. And if you look at all the people that you respect and admire and Zig Ziglar could do it, you can do it. So you have to believe for, so that's inspiration. Number two, we got to get organized because there's a lot of stuff to do. So one of the things I started doing many, many years ago that helped me so much in my business. This is the organization. Key is to take a little bit of time. Every day I call it my daily time capsule, Gary Keller calls it strategic thought time.

Howard Partridge (18:20):

Some people call it quiet time, whatever you call it, business, planning, time, whatever you want to call it. But just carving out a little bit of time every single day, to think about your projects, your priority projects, and what those things are that we've talked about earlier, what are the projects that are gonna take my business to the next level? You know, what's the next step. But again, you may want to get some coaching and that'll come up here in just a minute. So the second one is organization. I got to get myself organized. I got to get my time organized. I gotta get my business organized. Number three is training. If I'm not a good leader, which I was not, I had to learn how to lead. I was good marketer, good customer service, but what am I finance? This needs to look like, you know, I got Ellen Maura system, right?

Howard Partridge (19:11):

So get someone else's system, listen to podcasts like the sharpest tool, right? Because you can learn from people who have already been there. And that's my greatest life lesson. I think that I've learned is get around people who not only have already done what you want to do, but that know how to help you get there. Right? So some people might be successful and you say, well, Hey, how'd you do that? I don't know. I just said just, they don't know what the pattern was. Right? Success leaves clues. So what are those systems? And ELAM was able to show me a system in the financial area, maybe in health. I need to be trained on how to look at nutrition and health. I was terribly unhealthy and I got a certified nutritionist to help me get healthy. I didn't know I was I'm from Alabama, man.

Howard Partridge (20:01):

I was like, w when you look at my diet, you're like that Alabama barbecue. And they're going to figure this out too, if I mean any dummy. Okay? Right. So you don't even have to be that smart to know that the way you're eating, ain't good. So I needed to be trained. And then finally, the fourth one is what I call community. You need people around you that will support you. That will encourage you. And that will hold you accountable. You really want to reach that goal. Is this what you really want? Is this what you wanted? And this is why Ellen so good. Just like she will get in your face, that what you really want. I went through that with her and it's like, no whining. What do you want? Let's get busy. Yeah. And so some people need that kick in the pants. Some people need the encouragement. Some people just need to just show me what to do. Just support me and show me what to do and I'll go do it. And so we need that community. We need that community of coaches and peers around us. And that's really what I do is I've created a community. Ellen is one of our coaches that we're there to support, encourage and help business owners be the best version of themselves, both personally and professionally. So that's what those four keys are all about.

Josh Smith (21:18):

That's incredible. Yeah. Well, you know what? I think we're going to have to break this into two episodes. Okay. If you're game with that. Absolutely. We're covering a lot of ground here with you, Howard. So we're going to break it here, but for those listening to this episode, where can we find out more about you?

Howard Partridge (21:33):

You can just search Howard partridge.com and you'll probably find out more than you want to know, but you'll learn what we do, how we do it. And there's some great free stuff. You can get Howard partners.com. That's where you find me

Josh Smith (21:47):

And for everybody listening stay tuned for next week. We're going to have Howard back in on the podcast. Continue this awesome discussion. We're going to dive into the 10 principles in his book that you do not want to miss out on. So definitely stay tuned. Howard, thank you so much for hanging with us in the booth and sharing all your knowledge. My

Howard Partridge (22:05):

Pleasure. Thank you for having me for everybody.

Josh Smith (22:07):

Listening. Definitely hit that subscribe button wherever you might be at seek and get more of this awesome content. And from all of us here at the sharpest tool, we'll catch you next time. Thanks.

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