#4: Improving Lives In Healthcare, Servant Leadership, and Scaling His Company To Over A Thousand People Ft. Axiom CEO & Owner Chance Becnel

Hello! I’m Julian and I’m a Gen Z entrepreneur, software engineer, and podcaster. I am the fusion of an ambitious entrepreneur, a tech whiz, a futurist, a productivity aficionado, and a self-improvement junkie.
I am currently a Software Engineer at Facebook and the Co-Founder & CTO at a startup named Vize. Previously, I have interned with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goldman Sachs. Learn about me at www.julianalvarez.me

You can also find the transcript on this page by scrolling down

Get up, show up, and lift up. Chance Becnel is the 8-year CEO and Owner of Axiom Healthcare Services, a company that is revolutionizing senior care. They employ over a thousand people and gross $50-60 million annually. By exuding servant leadership, Axiom has thrived since 2008 on a vision of exponential growth. Chance has accumulated 30+ years in management experience and 25+ years in senior care.

So, what is the PROBLEM that Axiom is solving?

“How do we provide high-quality, world-class service for seniors in the disease management and sick care space?” Normally, this problem has been institutionalized. “Healthcare” promotes healthiness, whereas “sick care” is a risk mitigator for the ill. Despite the reinvestment incentives in disease management, Chance believes personalized prevention is key. Adventuring into other “sand boxes,” Chance has guided his company into the vitality and life span business. By transitioning from traditional sick care to future-forward healthcare, he’s skating to where the “puck” is going, instead of skating to where it has been. 

What is Axiom’s SOLUTION?

Radically, Chance professes that culture is the vital cornerstone to success, not strategy. As CEO, he ingrains autonomy, mastery, and individual sense of purpose into his mid-sized organization. Axiom applies exponential organization concepts and lean startup principles with the guidance of an Accelerator named Untapped Ventures. By internally developing mental toughness and polarity mapping models, Chance is launching companies to curate healthy coping mechanisms for compassion fatigue and empathy burn-out. Traditionally, Axiom has been in the “sick care” space with their legacy company’s service to senior care but they are now looking to improve the vitality of the body and mind for individuals around the world.

Axioms mission originated from executive leadership training 101—led by none other than Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh. Axiom’s resultant “north star”? Improve lives and exceed expectations.

“If you take a culture of entrepreneurial spirit…and you also sprinkle in training, techniques, and tools to get better at creativity and innovation…if you put all those in a sandbox, with questions and problems in the mix, it’s pretty damn amazing what could come out sometimes.”

What is Axiom’s VISION?

To make a dent on people’s sense of vitality. If Axiom’s vision was fulfilled, people would go from “How the hell am I going to survive today?” to “What the hell is possible today?” The goal is to set people free from these mental restraints, by transforming their NARRATIVE. Numerous companies offer solutions for those at the higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, due to larger margins. However, for the underserved billions at the bottom of the hierarchy, unbelievable suffering persists. Chance thinks there are endless opportunities to derive cost effective solutions to help those people move up a level. Axiom aspires to provide a lifeline for people at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy. 

What are his ENTREPRENEURIAL PRINCIPLES? 

Unconventionally, he denounces hierarchical structures. Concerning a business’s grass roots, never violate the human need for autonomy. As an executive, you must attract and attach. His mantra? “We serve, you succeed.” That culture shift from command-and-control to true service was their driving force for success. Breed masters out of your employees. The dream is a phenomenal culture, not an adequate one. As far as occupying the C-Suite, the journey is hard and you never arrive. Dumbstruck by basic “human goodness,” or the potential of humanity, his CEO role has amplified his humility, awe, and courage. 

3 Value Bombs

  1. When you serve others, you are also serving yourself. “It’s very powerful what we’re capable of getting ourselves to do when our purpose is on a higher level.” 
  2. If you don’t disrupt yourself, someone else will disrupt you. If you can’t define the curve, follow its trajectory. Axiom’s transition from “sick care” to “health care” exemplifies this concept.
  3. What “sandboxes” or niche markets are you playing in? Life presents you with a multitude of opportunities to proliferate your impact towards many.

Discussed in this episode…

  • [3:45] Why did Chance decide he wanted to become a CEO?
  • [5:27] How can I put myself in a position where I’m continually increasing the scope of my impact?
  • [7:35] What is Axiom?
  • [8:54] What is the mission of Axiom?
  • [9:58] Where does that vision come from and how has it lived out?
  • [11:53] The Importance of your personal MTP (Massively Transformative Purpose)
  • [15:50] What is the problem that you are aiming to solve?
  • [25:08] How are you solving these different problems?
  • [26:19] The importance of culture in Axiom’s success
  • [32:46] If Axiom was to achieve its ultimate destiny, what do you think the world would look like?
  • [39:22] Why is culture important and what are the pitfalls of getting it wrong?
  • [42:42] What is an exponential organization and how do you build one? 
TRANSCRIPT

Julian Alvarez: Welcome back, everyone, to the Inventing The Future podcast, where our mission is to inspire and empower entrepreneurs to solve the world’s biggest problems. Today, I have a very special guest with me, Mr. Chance Becnel. And I actually met Chance in a book club of a community called Abundance Digital. And by the way, I want to emphasize that as a point on just finding the communities in which you can find like-minded people because that’s really where you can find the best connections, where you can learn from and collaborate with others. So, book clubs are a great place for that. And Chance and I have learned a lot from being in that community together. So, with Chance today, we’ll be going over his company, Axiom. A brief outline for the conversation today is that I’ll start off with a little intro on Chance; will go into what Axiom is; what they do; explore the problem space that they’re trying to solve; and then, dive a little deeper into the solution for Axiom. And then finally, go into some startup and entrepreneurial lessons that Chance has learned along the way. So, cool. Does that sound good? How are you doing today, Chance? Welcome onto the show.

Chance Becnel: Well, thank you, Julian. I’ll tell you, I’m humbled, I’m honored, and more than anything else, I’m excited to see where this conversation goes. And I love what you’re trying to do. I’ve listened to every one of your podcasts and I think you’re brilliant. I think you’re a blessing to the entrepreneurial world and anything I can do to help. Again, I’m really excited.

Julian: Awesome. Thank you so much for that Chance, it means a lot. Yeah, I’m always excited where any conversation can go because that’s the beauty of life, is the spontaneity in which direction things can go. So, awesome! Let’s start off. I’ll start briefly with a quick bio on Chance to get to know him a little better and then we’ll dive further into his journey in Axiom. So, Chance graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and with a major in management from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. And he’s a native to New Orleans. He has 30 plus years of experience in management and executive leadership and has 25 plus years experience in senior care, which is what Axiom is based on. And he is, of course, also a business owner. Chance has worked with senior care communities in over thirteen states across the country. That’s his bread and butter. And currently, Chance sits as the CEO and owner of Axiom Health Services and has had this position for over eight years now. And apart from that, Chance is an adamant reader and searcher of wisdom, which I can attest to because I met him at a book club. He’s a searcher of knowledge and truth. When he’s not working, he spends his free time with his wife, Samantha, and two kids, Andy and Tristan. And apart from that, he likes to saddle up and ride mountain bikes all over the country and rock climbing. So, I love that. We’ve got to balance all the great stuff out. Cool, Chance. So, yeah, great bio. And I’d love to start off just with the why question. I’m curious. You’re the CEO of Axiom. Why did you decide you wanted to become a CEO? And I ask this because I know it’s not easy, as I’m sure you know as well. We could have easily settled for an easier job, easier position. So, what was it about becoming a CEO that really drew your attention and led you to be on this path?

Chance: Julian, I wish I could say that on this date, in this place, at this time in my history, there was some major epiphany that all of a sudden I knew that I wanted to one day grow up and be a CEO. It really didn’t happen that way. In my experience, it’s been a bit of a process or a journey. I knew I liked leadership and management principles, and so I’ve been in some type of leadership role my entire career. And what I noticed, especially looking back at each proverbial wrong in the quote-unquote, leadership ladder, I notice some things. One was, could I rise to the level of that challenge? And then, later in my career, when the next rung, can I rise to that challenge? And I was very curious about that, especially as it related to my capacity to grow and reach whatever my potential is. That’s always been a motivating factor for me, for my career. And more importantly than any of those things though, at each rung, what really drove me was this notion, “Wow!” I mean, I now have the opportunity to potentially and positively affect more people in a meaningful way. That’s really has been the underpin, the fuel if you will driving my career, the gift, the humbled-opportunity to potentially and hopefully positively affect more and more people.

Julian: I love that. It’s very powerful what we’re capable of getting ourselves to do when our purpose is on a higher level, right? On wanting to serve as many people as possible. And I think when that’s your North Star, I feel the same way. It’s like, how can I put myself in a position where I’m continually increasing the scope of my impact. And sounds like that purpose to serve on a greater level is really what led you to becoming the CEO and continuing to ascend.

Chance: Yeah, the only thing I would add to that, which also interesting, and I’m not sure if this is an ‘aha’ for me or not, but if I look back, my career has taken a few twists and turns. But what I’ve noticed is, the sandboxes that I’ve played in in my leadership career have changed. But some of those principles have always been there driving me. The first sandbox that I applied these principles was in the hospitality business and running restaurants. And there’s an opportunity there to make a difference in people’s lives. But I wanted an opportunity to do something bigger. And so that led me into senior health care. And now as we get later in the podcast and some of the other questions, I’m beginning to ask myself the question, what’re the right sandboxes for me to be playing in to apply these principles of how can I be the most helpful to the most number of people? And what’s crazy is that life does not shy from presenting lots of opportunities to do so.

Julian: I love that. And I love how you said beginning to ask the question of what sandboxes. Because I think those questions are so fundamental that we need to constantly be asking ourselves, what is that sandbox? Where am I going to play? Because we can only really play in one sandbox at a time and there’s so many we could play in. So, if you constantly ask yourself that, you’re opening your mind to opportunities that could help you scale that impact. So, I love that, very interesting way to look at things. Cool, Chance. So, thanks for that quick intro. Let’s dive into Axiom. So, just quickly getting started here. How would you describe Axiom? What do you guys do? And what the high-level mission is of why you do what you do?

Chance: So, the ‘what’ of Axiom is we’re in the senior health care space and our portfolio consists of the Axiom company, which is the service part of the organization, the back office, accounting and operational support, and financial and clinical support. So, we have the Axiom entity and it works with 14 of our facilities in the senior health care space. And those product lines include high-end skilled nursing and rehab facilities, very high-end assisted living facilities. There’s a particular product line in the state of Kansas that’s unique to Kansas called the Home Plus. I think, a 12-bed house for seniors who need additional assistance. And we also have senior behavioral health hospitals in our portfolio. We have about a thousand employees. And our annual revenue is in the 50 to 60 million dollars a year. So, kind of a midsized company. The ‘where’ of the company is based out of Wichita, Kansas. But we have our footprints kind of in the Midwest. And more important than anything else, the ‘why.’ Why do we do what we do? And our ‘why,’ our purpose, our massive transformative purpose is to improve lives and exceed expectations. To improve lives and exceed expectations and if you take the first letters of those four words, it forms the acronym ILEE. And so it’s been a very powerful North Star for us because it becomes very applicable in a lot of circumstances. And we can discuss that later as we get into some of the other categories. So, that’s kind of the what, the where, and the why.

Julian: Cool, I love that. And I always think it’s so fascinating to look at a mission and almost kind of question its formation and how it came to about and how it’s lived. So, yeah, maybe that’s something we can dive into. But I think that’s something very important for the audience to kind of question constantly on how they can define a purpose that really helps guide the entire organization. Let’s do a quick 30 seconds to a minute on like, where does that vision come from and how is it lived out? I think that’s interesting.

Chance: Yeah, and so we believe these things are internal, and they have to be discovered. They have to be revealed and not necessarily just randomly chosen. Very early in the history of our organization, we want an inspiration to figure out our ‘how’ and our ‘why’. And so we actually went and spent time with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. So, we went to Las Vegas, I know it was hard, but we went to Las Vegas and spent several days with his leadership team. And then, through his leadership team’s coaching, we were able to discover and articulate our ‘why.’ There are lots of resources out on the market. They help a young organization. Ask the right questions to probe what is your why? And there’s no more important question than answering that for a young entrepreneur in order to set their company on the right path.

Julian: And really quick on that, is there one or two questions that stood out to you that would be helpful for people to think about in discovering that purpose or it’s a whole process? Or do you have any resources you would recommend for that?

Chance: The one resource that I would recommend that comes to mind and it’s a very timely question and that is Steven Kotler who just put out a brand new book called “The Art of Impossible.” And it is very systematic on a process that he vouches for, that helps individuals figure out their purpose, their MTP. I can never do it justice and so I would recommend that resource. I think that would be very helpful for any new entrepreneur trying to discover their ‘why.’

Julian: Absolutely. Yeah, and MTP is the massively transformative purpose and it’s important to discover not only the purpose for yourself but for your organization. And the value of figuring out what that MTP is for yourself is that it more clearly gives you a direction as to whether the company that you’re founding or the company that you want to join is in alignment with your personal MTP. So, all of that alignment helps to maximize your level of passion and ambition towards them.

Chance: Yeah, one other quick thing, Axiom’s purpose is to improve lives and exceed expectations, ILEE for short. My personal MTP is ‘serviam’. Get up, show up, lift up. So, this notion of “I will serve,” serviam, and to be even more clear is that I will get up and I will lift up. “I will serve” is my personal MTP and it really aligns very nicely with the company’s MTP as well.

Julian: I love that. Yeah, I know. It’s very evident that service is very core to who you are and what Axiom does as a company. When I was reading through Axiom, one of the things that stood out is that you went from Axiom Management to Axiom Service, right? You shifted to the company’s mindset from that of management to service. And I’m sure that has been a key contributor to the success of the company and it’s also true to who you are as a human. One additional footnote mentioned here for the audience is that service is so important because when you serve others, you’re serving yourself in the process. And it’s that process in which helps you grow as an individual, helps you live a more fulfilling life. In the end, the more you grow, the more you have to give, the more you’re able to serve. So, it’s all a cycle that feeds on itself and is very powerful.

Chance: Yeah, there’s an enormous amount of work out there about self-compassion and self-empathy. We all have narratives in our mind, the Woody Allen, the inner critic that’s going 90 to nothing. That narrative is normally driven by survival instincts and that has evolved in our history of humanity. It’s diligently looking for where is the next threat and that narrative is often very negative towards self. Self-doubt, limiting self-beliefs are often generated in the narrative in our heads. The beautiful thing is that we are not the narrative. We can take the narrative and put it out here and we can observe it. We can ask, is that narrative serving me? And if the answer is yes, then we celebrate. But if the answer is no, we can rewrite the narrative. And if we can rewrite the narrative in a way that’s compassionate towards ourselves, what I have found is that it increases our capacity to serve others.

Julian: Wow, that’s super interesting. Yeah, because if something serves you, it’ll help you become better, which helps you serve others. And if something serves you, it’s likely to serve others as well. So, wow! Yeah, that’s a really interesting way to think about service. Cool! I love this. This is core to who you are in your company’s mission and it shows. I would like to explore the problem space a little bit related to Axiom. So, you told us a little bit about what you do, but how would you describe the problem that you’re trying to solve? And I’m sure it’s changed over time and you can probably touch on that. But yeah, what is the problem at large? And then, we can go into how you’re solving it more profoundly.

Chance: Yes, so I’ve given this question a lot of thought. And in order for me to be able to communicate it in the most concise way possible, it really boils down to three things. The first problem is more of a historical problem, looking back in our history of the company. When the company was formed, the problem that we were trying to solve is how do we provide high-quality, world-class quality for seniors in the disease management and sick care space, which has historically been very institutionalized. So, how do we provide high-quality, world-class service for seniors in a non-institutional setting? And some additional things that make solving that problem more difficult is, the senior health care profession is extremely difficult and challenging in and of itself. So, there are reimbursement constraints in our space. Because most of the reimbursement for senior health care companies or government funding, Medicare, Medicaid, it’s the second most regulated profession in the country other than nuclear power plants. You’re really constrained on what you can and can’t do regulation-wise. There’s an epic staffing crisis in the health care space today. Most markets are hugely overbed. So, the supply and demands are way out of whack. And then, to make things even worse, it’s one of the most capital-intensive professions. You know, if you want to go build a building, expand your portfolio, you either have to spend untold millions of dollars to build something new or millions of dollars to acquire something. So, it’s a very capital-intensive market. And we talked about sandboxes early, I will tell you that this space, senior health care spaces, it’s not always a fun sandbox to play in. So, that leads me into the second problem space and that is, what’s the future of our organization potentially look like and what other sandboxes might we want to also play in? Leading it to 2020, we created a 2020 and beyond vision. This was even pre-COVID. Some things that we knew at our core is we wanted to figure out how do we expand ILEE ten times, not just 10% but ten times. How do we transform into an exponential organization? And then, we knew part of the sandbox that we wanted to play in is we want it to be in the not just management of diseases and sick care for seniors, but we want it to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. And that is we want it to be in the vitality business and the lifespan and healthspan business. We know that we want to be, as a subset, either the vitality of the mind, vitality of the body, or vitality of giving a person an increased sense of meaning and purpose. And so, how do you take an organization like Axiom, which is the third problem? So, we have our core business, which one can say now is almost like a legacy business. We’re 12 years old and we’re entrenched. How do you take core business and transform it at the same time into an edge business and exponential business? How do you balance that? Those are three things; historically, what we tried to solve; future, what we tried to solve; and then, how do you balance the two during the process? Three massive problems.

Julian: Yeah, man, that’s massive. One thing to point out here is that I can tell you’re making the conscious effort to disrupt yourself because you have your legacy business, which is working really well. But it’s evident that you see that the future, as it relates to health, has more to do with health care than it does with sick care, which is what you’re currently doing with the nursing homes. So, the core concept here is that if you don’t disrupt yourself, someone else will disrupt you. That’s what I think you are aiming for, right?

Chance: Yeah, we’ve seen lessons of the past, Blockbuster and Netflix, the story of Kodak. There are so many stories of core companies like mine, legacy companies if you will, that are just so set in their ways. They’re not willing to look at alternate ways of doing business. When it’s all said and done, if we do what we’re trying to do perfectly, then there’s a real chance that we will cannibalize the existing business because hopefully in some vision of the future people will not need to be congregated in centralized buildings for senior care, even if those buildings are architecturally beautiful. We’re trying to go where we think the puck is going, not to where it is or where it has been.

Julian: I love that. One last thing I want to double-click on here in the problem space is, what does it mean to make the transition from sick care to health care? What’s the difference and what’s kind of the problem here with sick care in the way health care has traditionally been?

Chance: There’s a lot of people that are a lot smarter than me that could probably give you much more profound answers. I think at the core is what does the individual person really want? I’m pretty convinced that what the average person does not want is to be sick or diseased, right? And if they are sick or disease, they would prefer not to be in a centralized facility. Again, no matter how beautiful. We think the future of health care is prevention and wellness to the nth degree. And we also think it’s in the home. It’s away from institutionalized congregations, centralized. We group people who have similar diseases and illnesses and sicknesses to where we get better at helping prevent some of that. And we do that in the home. That, to me is a fundamental difference. I know, I, as a human being, want the one and not the other. I don’t think I’m unique in that. I think there’s a universal desire for the one and not the other. And so, to me, that’s the biggest difference.

Julian: Gotcha! I love that. Yeah, and the way I’ve heard it described as well is that traditionally you don’t go to a hospital or go see a doctor until you feel sick or until something’s wrong. But the problem with that is that sometimes it might be too late. The disease might have already advanced too much. There’s not much you can do about it. So, that’s why they call it ‘sick care’ because you go get care after you’re already sick. But health care has to do more with prevention. How can you have vitality, right? Like your three types of vitality, of mind, of body, and also, of purpose. So, the goal here is how can we basically ensure the vitality of individuals to prevent sickness. And that maybe you go to a doctor to learn how you can be healthier, not you don’t go there and because you’re sick and you need help. So, that’s kind of the idea and I love how you’re playing towards that direction because I think that’s where we need to go and that’s the future. And we’re all of the potential lies as it relates to health care.

Chance: Yeah, and I agree with that. One of the major constraints that’s in the way of that progress, and I think over time it will be solved, is the reimbursement philosophy that’s in place in the United States. There are lots of incentives for practitioners to be in the disease management business, to be in sick care because that’s where the incentives and the reimbursement is. As there’s a growing consciousness about humanity’s desire to be much more preventative and investing in that, eventually, it’s my hope that our politicians will change the reimbursement to incentivize the one and not the other. Because until they do so, it’s going to be really difficult to have a massive transition across the country.

Julian: Yeah, it’s so hard to make the changes you need if you don’t have the right incentives in place. So, hopefully, that’s something that the government goes on board, similar to how they have with green energy over time, building those incentive structures to promote the chain. Awesome! So, Chance, cool! Very interesting to learn about the problem. I’d like to go a little deeper into a solution and how you’re solving these different problems. I know you mentioned three different main problems. Feel free to pick whichever solution or approach you’re currently taking that you think is the most interesting and how that solving the problem that you describe?

Chance: Yeah, so I’ll talk to each of them quickly and then you can double-click on whatever one you want. Historically, there are four elements that we implemented to solve those problems. The first is, one of the founders, Fred Hermes, is by trade in architecture, he created an innovative design for a senior health care facility. That instead of having like for 80 beds, too long hallways of 40 beds each and there’re 20 residents on one side and there’re 20 residents on the other side, and it’s duplicated on both sides, he created pods or neighborhoods or homes where those 80 patients now would be one of 20 distinct neighborhoods or pods. And when you walked into this space, it looked like a large home. It’s very home-like that has been huge. We know that that strategy works because it has been duplicated by almost everybody in the market since we first introduced it over a decade ago. The other thing that we’ve done for the world-class quality piece of the problem is we talked about purpose and its significance in driving because this profession is hard and you need a purpose to get you on point. The third thing is culture. I really believe culture is really, really important, even more important than strategy. And I’ll just mention, we have four elements of our culture at the highest level, and that’s entrepreneurial. All of the leaders at every one of our buildings, we tell them we want you to run it like you own it, like it was your money, your investment, your employees, your customers. We have a very entrepreneurial culture. And then, we also try to infuse the three major motivations that science has proven time and time again, and that is autonomy, mastery, and giving employees an individual sense of purpose. Entrepreneurship autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and then, the fourth thing historically is we’ve had multiple different operating models that help clarify what’s strategically important. And how do you make sure using those models that there is alignment? So, those are the four things historically. Future, we’re solving the problem by first: perspective, expanding, training. We’ve had to expand our perspective way the hell out outside of our little sandbox. And so, how do we do that? Our organization has gotten involved in some pretty nifty communities. You mentioned some of them earlier. So, the first is Peter Diamandis’ abundance community. The second is Salim Ismail’s exponential community. The third is Steven Kotler. And I’m not exactly sure why he does not like the word community. His group is called the Flow Research Collective. I and my organization are involved in all of these. And then, the fourth person that I think is worth mentioning is a guy by the name of Peter Crone, and he’s kind of a personal growth person. We had to expand our perspectives. We’ve done that through these communities. Second, we are learning and applying lean startup principles and playbooks, and we’re doing that in partnership with a company called Untapped, which is an expert and they’re an innovation studio and they’re an expert in the lean startup principles, which we are not. And so, we’re partnering with them to learn those concepts. We’re beginning to start vetting, what are the problems in the new sandbox that we might want to solve? Here’s one that we’re really wrestling with that I think you might find interesting in, how do we provide health care employers like us? How do we help their staff with healthy coping mechanisms, very important, tied to this epidemic of compassion fatigue and empathy burnout? Our solution, we think, has something to do with mental toughness. So, how can we bring in mental toughness model that’s geared to help health care workers better deal with compassion fatigue and empathy burnout? Our goal under this second challenge about the future is to launch a handful of companies over the next 12 to 18 months, like something regarding mental toughness. And then, the third challenge, which is the core versus the edge. We’ve adopted something called a polarity mapping model, which is how do you manage and balance two equally but important things at the same time? And I’ll leave it there and let you go whatever you want with any of that.

Julian: Very interesting. I love the uniqueness of a lot of these approaches. One thing I will quickly point out is that for these problems, it’s really interesting to know how so much of the solution has to do with how you’re managing things internally, right? Because the way in which you’re operating in the culture of the company and the entrepreneurial principles with which to operate is in turn what results in the solutions that you give to your end-users and customers. So, I think many times we think that the solution is external. And sure, it may be external, but I think it really starts and grows from within. The systems that you have in place internally are what’s going to end up helping you, increase your capability to solve these problems and challenges. So, I love that. That’s a huge focus.

Chance: Yeah, so if you take a culture of, like, entrepreneurial spirit and there’s autonomy, and you’re investing in your employees so that they have a sense of, “Man, I’m pretty damn good at what I do. I have some bit of mastery.” And then, you also sprinkle in training and techniques and tools on how do we get better at creativity and innovation? You put all those in a sandbox and you start throwing questions and problems in the mix. Pretty damn amazing what can come out sometimes.

Julian: When you create the right space and environment and culture that really creates the right state of mind for those brilliant ideas to come out. I love what Steve Jobs says. He’s like, “We hire smart people so that they can tell us what to do.” And when you create an environment for them to actually thrive, then really they’re the ones that are going to collectively drive the vision and the execution of the company forward. So, I love that. Let me touch on this really quick Chance. I mean, it sounds like you’re starting a lot of different companies, as you mentioned, and there’re different directions to go in with what you’re currently doing, the legacy side, but also with the vitality space. So, I’m curious from a vision perspective, if Axiom was to achieve its ultimate destiny, if it got to the point where it fulfilled its vision, what do you think the world would look like?

Chance: Yeah, what a profound question. I’m humble enough to know that we’ll probably never get there, but it sure is a whole hell of a lot of fun taking the journey. If we could somehow make a dent, more and more people’s sense of vitality, that instead of waking up and asking themselves, “How the hell am I going to survive the day?” How can we replace that with, “What the hell’s possible today?” If we could have some small part in, quote-unquote, setting more people free from the constraints of that narrative that we talked about earlier, whoo wow! I mean, the ripple effect, the cascading effect of that is just endless. It’s almost too humbling to even contemplate the potential of that ripple effect. Do you know what I mean?

Julian: Yeah, I love that. That’s a very concise and beautiful vision because it literally consists of taking people from scarcity to abundance. It’s taking people from a survival state of mind to a state of mind in which you’re thriving. They’re no longer surviving, they’re thriving. And that’s in which, when you’re no longer worried about how you’re going to get by or what’s going on and you instead have a focus on the possibility, as you mentioned, then that’s where all of the opportunities come into your awareness and you start to see light and abundance where others see scarcity. Yeah, I love that, because that’s really, I think, one of the biggest mindsets and lifestyle shifts that you could experience as a human.

Chance: And what’s interesting Julian, is that there are a lot of companies that are offering a lot of solutions towards the higher parts of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, because that’s where typically larger margins are.

Julian: Yup, the money.

Chance: That’s where the money is, right? And listen, more power to them, I think humanity, no matter where they are in the hierarchy of needs, any upward movement by anyone, anywhere on the hierarchy is good. And so, I applaud it. There’s no judgment on my part. I just think, in my personal opinion, that there are huge unmet needs tied to companies targeting the individuals on the lower part of the hierarchy of needs. Again, there’re countless people around the world, not to mention just in the country of the United States who have unbelievable suffering, just trying to figure out how to survive the day. And they don’t have tons of resources. They can’t spend hundreds of dollars on products or services. But their life is just a grind, and if we could come up with cost-effective solutions that maybe help move them up just a little to the next rung, and then, maybe there’s another solution there. It’s almost like trying to provide a lifeline. That’s kind of the grand vision in my head. The higher we can pull more people up, the more options that they have, the higher they go. And so, we want to provide a lifeline as for down on the hierarchy of needs as humanly possible.

Julian: Oh, man! I love that so much. I never considered thinking about the solution and what part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that solution and what you’re trying to do fits into. And you’re right, most people, most solutions and companies that more on the higher end of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And the thing is that, sure, the people at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may not have as much money or may not be as profitable, but it’s important to consider that that’s for the grand majority of people live around the world. Most people are in the very bottom pillar, just trying to get by day-to-day. Because it’s the same with my startup, right? I want to help low-income workers find better jobs. And sure, they may not have the most money, but that’s where most of them are. For me, one of the things that pain me the most is to live a life with so much privilege and opportunity and realizing that there are millions, billions of people that don’t have the same opportunities that I have. Have dreams the same dreams that I may have but they just don’t have the opportunities, the mindsets, the tools, the wisdom, whatever it is to be able to achieve that. So, thank you for focusing on the people at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I think more people are needed in that space because that’s where most people are crying for help. So, I love that Chance.

Chance: Well, thank you. It really fills me for sure. It’s definitely a sandbox that I want to be in. I would be remiss, there’s a side where a little while ago, I kind of gave some credit and kudos to Peter Diamandis, Steven Kotler, Peter Crone, and Celine. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also give some kudos to Scott Barry Kaufman. He recently released his newest book called “Transcendence.” He spends a lot of time talking about Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. He’s got a fresh perspective on a reinterpretation of some of that. That has been very helpful in forming some of my perspectives. And I could not recommend him or his book enough to your audience.

Julian: Amazing! Thank you for that recommendation. We’ll be sure to include that in the show notes. And I’m also excited to check it out myself. So, I love that. Cool, Chance. So, we have a couple of minutes, but I quickly want to touch on a bit of entrepreneurial lessons here as part of this last segment. So, you talked a lot about how culture is such a fundamental part of Axiom. When I was looking into Axiom with the resources you sent me, it really seems that most of the changes that you made when you took on the position of CEO were cultural changes, right? As I remember it, Axiom, the legacy company has found a great avenue, a great idea and they found that it was working. In other words, they went from zero to one. They found product-market fit. And now, they wanted to scale that, to go from one to end. And they brought you on board. One of the changes that you made is the culture of the company. So, I’m curious if you could talk for a minute about culture and its importance. Maybe, what are the pitfalls of getting it wrong? And probably more importantly from a practical standpoint, let’s say you have a new company or I started a new company, how do I even approach building the culture of company? How do I think about that?

Chance: Yeah, wow! Why don’t you just ask me an easy question, won’t you? So, for our company, if I look back in my history and look at the work we did on our culture, we took a pretty big gamble. Traditional health care companies have a very systematic hierarchical command and control. The direction and the authority definitely come from on high. And by the time it eventually gets down to the grassroots where the work is really being done, that approach, in my opinion, violates the motivating factors that drive human behavior, including the employees and that is a sense of autonomy. I mean, I don’t need to be told what to do. Why don’t you trust me that I instinctively know what the right thing to do is and I will do it. So, that sense of autonomy and instead of telling me what to do, why don’t you share what the purpose is, the why, and the vision so that maybe I can attract, I can attach to that and use that to drive me because I want to be something a part of something bigger than myself. So, at the core of my culture, our culture, way back in the beginning was how do we change the culture from command and control to one of service? We had the mantra at the time, we serve you, the facility succeeds. And if you’re not succeeding, then we’re not serving correctly or effectively. We serve, you succeed. And I think that that culture shift from command and control to true service was one of the driving forces behind our success. And your question about entrepreneurs who are kind of getting into the game now, how do you approach this topic of culture? Yeah, those same three things come to mind. How do we create a culture that creates autonomy from our employees, that they’re free to experiment and to be their best selves, to be human, to be flawed? How do we make sure that whatever skills that they’re responsible for doing, that we invest so they can become masters at what they do? That’s probably an important piece. And how do we discover and uncover what motivates them? What’s their purpose? And how do we make sure we double-click and support their purpose? If we do those three things well, my experience is that you’ll have a pretty phenomenal culture.

Julian: Yeah, I love that. I think with that last point of figuring out what the purpose is, is like, if you can figure out why they want to serve, why they want to give, then you’re able to more strongly embed that into the culture of the company. But I love those high-level ideas. It’s really important to keep them in line because that helps guide how the mission is going to be a higher level derivative of those actions and behaviors you want the culture to really act out. And it’s also a manner for the values to be created, like ownership or whatever values you think are important. That’s where they really enact themselves on a daily basis within the culture. So, I love that. Cool! One last question here on entrepreneurial lessons. I want to quickly touch on something you mentioned behind an exponential organization. So, this is a concept from Salim and I’m curious just to learn, what is an exponential organization and how you build one? Why is it important to have one?

Chance: Yeah, quickly, an exponential organization, by its definition, is an organization that’s ten times better than its peers in the same space. And it’s a completely different way of doing business. It’s a completely new business model. It has at the top, an MTP for the company, and then, it has 10 attributes. We can’t go into details now. But there are five attributes that are internally driven for the company, and then there are five attributes that are externally driven. Salim has a book and a workbook out under the title, “Exponential Organizations.” Maybe you can link that in the notes as well. Those are really, really, really great resources. What he did is he looked over the last decade or so at these successful uniformed companies and figured out what’s their secret sauce? What allowed them to be so nimble and agile and so successful? And he captured all of that in his attributes in the model. We’ve been students of his work for quite some time. We’re fumbling as we learned this stuff. It’s a completely different way to do business compared to what we have done, which is the fallacy that, if we invest millions and build it, they will come.

Julian: As powerful. Yeah, Salim has a great book on that. I’ll link that. And by the way, this isn’t just for big companies like Chance’s, this can be also as well for startups. The important thing about culture is that if you get it wrong in the beginning, it’s really hard to shift it. It’s kind of like you’re turning a huge titanic ship like 180 degrees. It can be done, but it’s really, really, really freaking hard. So, if you can get a good culture from the beginning and design it in a proper way, that’s invaluable. And the concept of exponential organizations, I think, is to help to get that right from the beginning.

Chance: In addition to that, I’ve mentioned some names and some resources. The other huge help, I think, for an entrepreneur trying to get started is these lean startup principles. And I would recommend Ash Maurya , as an author of a couple of books, Ash, the title is “Lean Startup.” Those principles have been very, very helpful for us. That’s what Untapped, our partner, is helping teach us. Between lean startup and exponential principles put together, they’re very, very powerful and I couldn’t recommend it to your audience, both of those highly enough.

Julian: Awesome! I’ll be sure to reference those. And I appreciate the shoutout on the resources. Cool, Chance! So, this has been awesome. One final question before we close up here. Just kind of wrapping it all together. I’m curious for you, what has being a CEO and its glorifying and agonizing moments taught you about life, not just business, but life? How has that experience changed the way that you look at the world?

Chance: Three things come to mind. The first is humility. The journey is hard, but it’s definitely a journey well worth taking and you never arrive. It’s not like you wake up one morning and like, you now conquered the world, there’s nothing else to do. So, it’s a never-ending journey and it has helped increase my sense of humility. The second thing is the sense of awe. I am just dumbstruck time and time again about the basic human goodness and the basic potential of humanity. I’m amazed almost at every turn what we’re capable of. So, all would be the second thing. And the last thing would be courage. And to have the courage to not be afraid to love, the courage to love boldly. That would be the third thing that comes to mind.

Julian: Those are all invaluable lessons. Awesome Chance! Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your insights, and for telling us about Axiom and what amazing work that you guys are doing there. So, with that, we’ll go ahead and wrap it up for this episode. And yeah, I’ll go ahead and include links to connect with Chance and for Axiom in the show notes. But yeah, thank you all for listening and we’ll catch you on the next episode!

People & Resources Mentioned

  • Peter Diamandis
  • Steven Cutler
  • Peter Crone
  • Scott Barry Kaufman: his newest book, Transcendence, touches on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Chance mentioned he has been very helpful in forming some of his perspectives.
  • Salim Ismail & his book Exponential Organizations
  • Lean Startup

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