How to Build People and Processes in Your Business: Podcast Interview with Mick Donahue

April 9, 2019

Mick Donahue, one of our owners, was interviewed for Crop Talk–The Podcast for Agricultural Leaders.

The first of two episodes is live! Click through to listen. This may be some of the most valuable business advice you’ll ever get.

Click Here to Listen to the Episode

Or Find It on the iTunes Store Here


From the Mission Field to the Farm: Principles for Building People and Processes

People want to belong to something that matters. And you can’t pay your way out of that. You’ve got to inspire them to commit themselves to something that’s bigger than them.

Mick Donahue


Charlie: “Why do you think people and processes are so important?”

Mick: “When you look at sole proprietorship, you have one guy wearing all the hats. But as the business expands and changes, if you don’t change your leadership style, you’ll eventually hit the wall. In sole proprietorship, CEO stands for Chief Everything Officer. Our leadership models [over the years] hadn’t changed. All the major decisions went through [one person]…

“When you’re making all the decisions, you’re not able to focus on important things. You need to focus on people and systems to bring them up to where you are. You need to decentralize and raise up leaders that are able to make those decisions for you…

“Develop layers of leadership below you. Systems come naturally. One really important question to ask the leaders is this: ‘What are the major constraints that you face in your key result area?’ The job of the leader is to try to make a strategic plan to fix those problems…”


Charlie: “Tell us about your unique methodology to team building–your inspiration.”

Mick: “[In missions work] everybody is rooted in this mission that is central, that is well stated and bigger than yourself. You have a very clear idea of why you are going–church planting, digging wells, etc. In business, we just assume that people are there to get a paycheck…

“We created a mission statement: ‘We exist to grow our customers’ businesses.’ That means quality plants, good prices, coaching, educational materials. All of that is a downflow of ‘We exist to grow…’

“When that customer opens that box, there’s hope inside. They are going to feed their families, beautify their communities. If you can grab hold of that, you can sleep well at night. I’m doing something that’s valuable. And that’s something that missionaries have intrinsically. In small business, we have to remind ourselves of that. We say it at every meeting… It’s the first slide on every luncheon [presentation]…”

In business, I don’t see that sense of urgency to develop people. I see the sense of urgency to get something done. That’s the principle of addition, not multiplication.

Mick Donahue

“Missionaries are also motivated by a small time window. We don’t expect to go to one city and plan to live there the rest of our lives. We don’t dig one well and then live in that city. We have a start date and end date. In our training, from the very first day, you start to work yourself out of a job. You’re raising leaders before you even think they are ready. You want people to immediately understand the mission of this project or church. You want to grow by multiplication, not addition.

As you think about developing your business, you have to think about developing people. Giving up all your free time is ok for a season, but it’s not a way of life. People need to think about how to replace themselves from day one…”

Here’s the secret. You will leave your company. You will quit, sell, or die. Your legacy is tied to whether or not you replicated yourself.

Mick Donahue

“Create measurable goals. Create a safety net. People will fail. You want them to. Let them make little mistakes and see that’s not a deal breaker for you. You don’t want them to be robots out there. You want them to replicate your values, then make the decisions from those things… They will ultimately make close to the same decision.”

Charlie: “You are empowering them to not be Mick, Jr. They can think on their own. They can go back and measure themselves.”

Mick: “Right. The first part of our annual review is that you evaluate yourself.”

Don’t miss the rest of this game-changing interview. Make time to click the links above and listen to it in its entirety.