Meet Howard Shore; Author and CEO, of Activate Group, Inc

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Howard Shore, bestselling author and CEO of Activate Group, Inc.

Howard Shore is a bestselling author and successful serial entrepreneur. He specializes in taking out the barriers, both professionally and personally, that hold back C-suite teams. Howard also founded, and is the CEO, of Activate Group, Inc.

Before starting Activate Group, Howard Shore has owned and then sold several companies. He has also built a reputation after working with many Fortune 500 companies, as well as training with organizations like Gazelles and Scaling Up. Due to his extensive experience and expertise, many businesses seek the opportunity to work with Howard, as a business mentor, executive coach, and keynote speaker.

Howard Shore boasts of a diverse range of clientele in family-owned, multi-national, public and private companies that make revenues of $1 million to over $1 billion every year. As a keynote speaker, Howard has shared his knowledge with companies on such topics as empowering employees, enhancing cash flow, managing human capital, freeing entrepreneurs, and growing businesses.

As a veteran of 30 years, Howard Shore owns a successful record that can guarantee stability, scalability, and profitability to any company wise enough to seek his services.

Before Activate Group, Howard Shore was Vice President, Director of Operations, and Senior Manager of Strategic Planning at several companies. He also wrote the bestselling book titled “Your Business Is a Leaky Bucket.”

If you want to read more interviews with business experts and leaders, check out this page. You can also know more about Howard Shore through this video.  

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Howard Shore: Throughout childhood and most of my career, people failed to see my potential and tap into it. Growing up, I had ADHD, Sleep Apnea, Dyslexia, and coke bottle glasses. My teachers could not see beyond these issues and wanted to put me into special education. Only my mom recognized the potential in me, and she challenged the school system. Had I been down that track, God knows where I would be today.

My mom also challenged me to raise my expectations of myself and see I could achieve so much more. Thanks to that advice, instead of special education, I went on to receive my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, passed the CPA exam the first time, and continued my education at Harvard and the University of Chicago. By age 18, I owned my first company and sold it when I was 21. I later advanced in three highly-regarded Fortune 500 companies. To all outward appearances, I was highly successful.

If I am honest with myself, the book did not match the cover. When looking back, I cringe at how horrible of a leader I was. Truthfully, there was a problem. I think the only reason I was successful was that I worked three times harder than anyone else to compensate. This caused me to miss critical moments with family, some of my relationships were starting to fray, taking a toll on my mindset. Like my teachers, I could not see, nor was I unlocking, the true potential in myself or my people. Worse, I lacked fulfillment from my work.

I also realized that my fellow leaders were not doing much better. I was confident that companies’ biggest asset was people, and most leaders were failing to maximize the value of their biggest asset. After realizing this, I wanted to find a solution. I knew this issue was solvable. This led to the creation of a framework I called the Business Acceleration System ©. It helps leaders create an ecosystem that requires master systems: culture, team cohesiveness, human capital management, strategy, execution, and cash. I realized that most companies were truly great at one or two of them. I have never met a company that has mastered all six. I am now on a mission to impact at least 500,000 lives.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Howard Shore: When I owned my first business, I was eighteen years old. I purchased 50% of a company where the owner knew the product and service but could not grow his business. I believed in my salesmanship and grit. I could cover the growth side of the company. After we started working together, I learned why he was struggling. He had a little work ethic, lots of personal problems, and had little ambition. We very quickly determined that this was a lousy partnership and I bought him out. Now I was eighteen years old, had never run a business, and knew little about the business I owned. I lacked the skills and knowledge about the product and services and the needs of the customers.

Giving up is not part of my DNA. I look at our life journey as a series of pivots. When one thing does not work, learn from the situation and pivot.

With that said, there are moments of frustration where you question your sanity. To help me through those moments, I found mentors and advisors willing to help me along. It is important to talk to other people who have been through your journey and are like-minded. I have to say, I have some great mentors and peers who keep me focused on the right things. The mind can be a dangerous place. We must keep our thoughts on the right things.

For me, staying motivated starts with finding a meaningful destination for which I am passionate. I learned early in my career that “why” is more important to me than “what” and “how much!” If I get too focused on the numbers, I am never happy. This is a vicious cycle because then the numbers always move up. Whatever I do, I think about how it helps others and the impact I want to have on them.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Howard Shore: I am having trouble with the word funny. Too often, I spoke before thinking something through. While it was not intentional, I was very direct and could be abrasive in delivering what I had to say. I remember when I worked for KPMG, the hours were long. One challenge they had in our regional office of 300 professionals was staff logistics and deployment. I had no perspective on how hard a job it was to allocate team members to different assignments across three counties spanning more than a 100-mile radius. In the beginning, I got a few assignments that I felt were much closer to other people’s homes, and I was putting serious miles on my car, and in South Florida, traffic is brutal. I was frustrated because if you add two hours of driving to 10 hours (or more) a day working, it took its toll. So I decided to voice my opinion to colleagues on how stupid I thought this was. As I expressed my not-so-subtle opinion, standing next to me was the Senior Manager in charge of making these decisions. He was one of the most influential people in the firm and eventually became the managing partner. My relationship was never right with that person from that point on, and giving that first impression hurt my reputation. I learned an important lesson: to be more empathetic to other people’s points of view and be more diplomatic in addressing my concerns.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

Howard Shore:

  1. Clear vision on what to delegate.
  2. Selecting the individual or team to delegate.
  3. Clear vision on goals and objectives, not tasks.
  4. Understand what is appropriate to delegate.
  5. What is the deadline?

I hired an outside marketing firm to help me achieve best-seller status on my latest book. The challenge was that I don’t have the experience and knowledge to achieve the outcome I wanted. I could write a book, but after that, I needed help. So I found the right team and shared with them my goals and how much I was willing to spend to achieve them. I also shared why I wanted to achieve that goal and how it fit in our company strategy. With that knowledge, they asked me lots of crucial questions and took me through the framework toward success. We were a great team as they reached to me when they needed my input (rarely) to make decisions and I left most of the decisions and steps off to them. My second book far outperformed the first book because I allowed the team to show me the way. We achieved best-seller status on Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Barnes and Nobles, and Amazon best-seller list in numerous categories. We moved far more books than I ever imagined. I would never have gotten there if I tried to captain the ship.

Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

Howard Shore: It is mostly false. It is somewhat of a murky issue. While it may be true, you might be able to do it better and faster than the person available. It may not matter. Most deadlines are falsely created and expectations are higher than they need to be. Perfection is not needed and proper deadlines can be achieved by many. And if no one else can ever do it, then you will always be limited to your contributions to the organization.

When the outcome requires a certain amount of deep knowledge, resources, and experience, you may have limitations on what can be achieved by others. If this is a repeatable occurrence, you better address it. If you can’t delegate, you are failing to develop your team and the organization is worse because of it.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Howard Shore: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and they can go to our website and sign up for our newsletter.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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