Who's Your Data? (How to Properly Use Business Metrics. With analytics growing, it's so easy to let the numbers get you thrown off of working on what counts...but what is it again that counts? OH YEAH...Investing in your people!

Who’s Your Data? (How to Properly Use Business Metrics)

So a few weekends ago I was hanging out with my dad, and he said to me…

“I have so much to do today, I don’t even know where to start.”

So you know what he did? He ignored it all and went to a garden show with my son and I instead!

So did he finish his to-do list that day?

Probably not. But you know what he DID do? Spent time with his son and grandson. That’s way more valuable and important than cutting the grass! PLUS we both bought some SWEET plants too 🙂

Now how does this apply to business?

Stick with me here…running a business involves a lot of NUMBERS; metrics, KPIs, and the like…and man can it be overwhelming.

You can get paralysis by analysis and start to feel like my dad on that Saturday when we ended up at the Garden Show.


Now the question you have to ask is this; with all that data at your fingertips, do you USE it to accomplish something REAL and VALUABLE, or do you get distracted by it, wasting time dwelling on a stupid number?

Or worse yet, do you find empty distractions to avoid the flood of metrics? (Enter Snapchat and Facebook)

In this post I’m going to clarify just WHAT to do with all these numbers, why they exist, and just exactly how you can use them to WIN. And it doesn’t matter what numbers your business keeps track of and holds you accountable for. It all applies here!

So the logical place to start then would be…

So What’s with all the Numbers Anyway?

We all WANT to win. We mean the best with the actions that we take, but so many of those actions actually lack serious focus because they are about a damn number, and not about WHAT IS REAL.

The overall POINT to business is to win. No one goes into business to break even, and certainly no one goes in to lose (money).

Save your money laundering comments plz!

So with making money as the goal, things quickly move to tracking numbers to measure success. Metrics. Stats.

These numbers mean a lot because they can show you of an area of weakness, or strength, or opportunity. Analytics are important because they tell you the story that your eyes can’t see.

BUT…Data, organized into what generally becomes a spreadsheet or PowerPoint, really only does one thing…

What Exactly is Your Job Anyway, Data?

To INFORM. That’s it.

Analytics tell the story that your eyes can’t see.

Data will tell you more of the story, and shed light in areas that you previously didn’t know existed, but the impact stops there. Numbers don’t do anything…

As in: Don’t DO anything.

They are merely the results.

Measure any number you want.
Make beautifully designed spreadsheets.
Use some new system or app.
Compose yet another PowerPoint…

And nothing happens except people know more numbers. And you can probably vouch for us all in saying that the last thing we need to do is memorize more numbers!


There’s REALLY Only 2 Goals in Business Anyway (read more about that HERE)

Goal #1 Sell to more customers (Conversion)
Goal #2 Sell more product to the existing customers (Dollars per Transaction)

Those two things can be said many different ways, but the principles stay the same: Increase number of customers that make a purchase, and/or increase the amount of items/money that the customer purchases/spends.

OK, so what can you ACTUALLY do to cause more of each of these two things?

Hint: Numbers ain’t it.

The True Secret to Winning

So there is ONE thing, that if you get more in tune with, will cause winning. Lots of winning. That is, if you really devote attention to it.

This thing isn’t actually a thing.

It can’t be looked up, can’t be researched, and it’s NOT any sort of data. And, its different with YOU than it is with me….

What is it??? What’s the thing that transcends all the supposed precious data?

It’s easy…THEM.


This group is far more powerful than you’ll ever know, and the impact that your words has on others cannot be understated.

And the words that you choose with your team will be different than the words I choose with my team.


When those words are YOURS, and you are having fun, and loving the things that you do, WATCH what happens! Oooo it’s like magic. All these numbers…all this “DATA”… it starts to turn THE COLOR OF MONEY 🙂

Ok so let’s get to it…

So how do you tap into this TRUE secret to winning? For starters…

Data should RARELY be the topic of conversation.

Any kind of data. Leave it out of the next conversation that you have with a teammate and instead talk about the things that matter (we’ll get to the specifics of that in a sec).

What to do with the Mountain of Data

The numbers, metrics and stats truly are EXTREMELY important…

I know, I know… I have been bashing them this whole time right? But it’s only so I can make THIS POINT:

We just use numbers as a tool that they weren’t intended to be.

Numbers don’t lead people.
Numbers don’t inspire people.
Numbers don’t motivate people.

Leaders do all those things…Its the Leader’s job to find self-motivated people.

“If you want motivated people, you have to find them, not motivate them.”

Leadership is sparking change in results by changing attitude, adding inspiration, holding accountable…in short, it’s changing how a situation occurs to them.

You can’t do that by “reporting the news” and just telling them numbers. The more numbers you report, the more they will; fall asleep…roll their eyes…nod their head to get you to stop talking.

In short…

The more numbers you report, the more they stop following you.

Ok so leave the metrics and KPIs out of the conversation, got that…so what should I do with them all then?

Simple. Use data for what it was intended to do in the first place, to inform you.

Study the data to the point where you know the key metrics off the top of your head. Again, these numbers ARE very important!

You need to know them because they tell you the things that you can’t see. The things that go on in your absence. The things that you do but don’t realize that you do. The things that you need to start doing, or the actions that you need to adjust.

They matter because they measure the things that you do. But that’s just the thing, they MEASURE. They don’t DO. They don’t inspire. They don’t lead.

So Let’s Get to What it is That You Actually Do

RECAP: So the true secret to wining is your team, and the numbers ARE actually important, but you shouldn’t talk about them because they are designed inform.

Got it.

OK so what do you talk about?

Can’t talk about numbers, so instead, talk about what YOU want to talk about?


Maybe you should talk about what THEY want to talk about.


In order for you to improve their performance, you first need to know how they perceive their performance.

This is going to sound CRAZY, but it’s true…

The more you listen to your team, the more they tell you.

So, as you allow them to talk, they will TELL you the area that they need your guidance in. The area that your expertise is needed, the thing that they got lazy with, or the behavior that they weren’t taught.

They don’t come straight out and TELL YOU, but they tell you clear enough to catch every time, as long as you allow them to.

Story Time

So let me tell you a story to illustrate this point.

I was in a phone conversation with a member of my team, and he had just talked for about 2 minutes straight. Drawing off the things that he had said, I had five or six areas that I could use to teach.

I actually started my side of the conversation with a long pause, and something to the tune of, “Ok dude, hang on here, I’ve got a ton of things I can teach you, but I need to find my place to play…”

Then another long pause while I thought.  He started talking to fill up the silence, and about five seconds into that, it hit me like a ton of bricks!

I interrupted him and I said…

“Hang on, man. Hang on…I actually have a question for you. I have a question that I actually have never asked you for as long as you’ve worked for me. And it’s a question that actually starts with an apology…”

He says, “Apology? For what?”

I replied, “An apology because it was probably the first question that I should’ve asked you when I shook your hand after you got realigned to work on our team. But I never asked it.”

Confused, he just says, “…OK?”

Then I asked the question, and it may come as a shock to you…

I asked, “Did anyone ever train you for the job that you have?”

Mind you, I had just FINALLY figured out that he hadn’t been trained properly after about 2.5 months of working together. But I wasn’t exactly sure the full extent.

He was hesitant to answer the question. Naturally.

So what did I do? Tell him that he can trust me? Or worse, rattle off a ton of numbers that “prove” why I asked the question?


I apologized.

I apologized for the fact that it took nearly three months for me to ASK him, and for me to REALIZE it. I owned the fact that he was untrained and thrown to the wolves over a year before he started to even report to me!

Was it ALL my fault? WHO CARES! He’s a member of my team and he was NOT TRAINED.

Then what happens next is where the magic is. This is what it’s all about!

He paused, and then he did the most important thing that a person in a business relationship can do. He opened up to me.

He said simply, “No.”

From there you know what happened? We began to build a connection. We had a REAL conversation as business partners that started like this…

Alright, I’m Going In!

Real quick, we traced back his lineage in the company, and I found the area that I had gotten confused about with his training (or lack-there-of), and I apologized again.

I had some things on my mind from his rant earlier (the one where there was 5-6 things I wanted to teach him), but first I asked him if he had anything left on his mind.

He said “No not really…” in a way that was vulnerable, and unsure of where this was going.

I replied, standing up from my office chair, “Alright dude, then I’m going in!”

From that point I did the talking, and I was passionate. Heated. Not AT him, but in general. I was fucking pissed!

At what we’d done to him.
At the fact that I missed it for almost 3 months.
For not having asked him about his training on day onw.
And…at some of the things that he had said earlier (his excuses).

When I say I went in, I mean I WENT IN.

It was amazing. It was inspiring. It was LEADERSHIP.

The reason I describe my side of the conversation like that is not because of ego. I don’t think I’m great, trust me. I say that because of the result of the conversation.

What is that result?

That we now have the chance to…

Build Something Beautiful (Major Event Creation)

The relationship between two human beings is such an interesting thing to be apart of. Some people you CLICK with as soon as you meet them. With most others (for me anyway), it’s awkward conversation about the weather at first.

The thing that I want to talk about is how a major event can happen, and then people are different around each other. It’s often expressed as “It actually brought us closer together.

As a leader, creating these major events is how the relationship (partnership) grows. It’s how to improve things!

All those NUMBERS we were talking about earlier, they inform you as to where there is a possibility to create this major event.

I had now created that major event with this person, and he went from “employee” to “partner”.

I went from “boss” to “leader”.

We started the journey to building something together…

Something beautiful. A badass business relationship that will lead to a ton of winning.

Mind you that even though this feels HUGE, it’s really not. This is THE START. This is where the work begins.

Also needs to be pointed out that we didn’t talk about a single number this whole conversation, except at the very beginning of the conversation. I asked him about a number that he didn’t know. I DID know them though, and when I asked him about them, I was able to use the #1 Leadership Tool: Slower is Faster with People, to see that he wasn’t trained!

The Moral (People Fix it All)

This will be short…

The numbers don’t move the numbers, so don’t WORRY about the numbers.

Actions move the numbers, so pay attention to the actions.


People take the actions, so spend the most time here…with your team.

Invest in the people, the numbers will start to take care of themselves. As things improve, you can lead the team from good numbers to great numbers.

Wrap It Up (and put a bow on it)

This post covered a wide range of topics and concepts. Let me stack them up and put a bow right on top!

  1. There’s probably too much data – We have it because we want to win!
  2. We then get distracted by the data – We think it’s the point
  3. We then try to work on the data…unsuccessfully (because it’s not the point)
  4. Data is really just there to inform…it tells you things your eyes can’t see
  5. Know the data! – It IS actually important
  6. Don’t talk about the data – Reporting the news bores people
  7. Build a connection with your team
  8. Listen more than you talk – 2 ears, 1 mouth
  9. When you do talk, don’t talk about data – It’s in there twice I know
  10. Find an area to make an impact by creating a “major event”
  11. Go slow, because SLOWER IS FASTER WITH PEOPLE
  12. People fix it all – Add value to them, and they change numbers and metrics

Keep working on being you. Not a better you, not a different you…the perfect you that you already are. Have fun, work hard, and TEACH!