Jerry & Sheryl Isenhour, CVC Success Group coaches

CVC Succcess Group coaches Jerry & Sheryl Isenhour

Join Jerry & Sheryl this week on The Chimney & Fireplace Success Network as they share the process of the SWOT meeting and how to put it to work as a tool for your success. 

The Chimney and Fireplace Success Network is a weekly podcast brought to you by the CVC Success Group and hosted by industry expert, Jerry Isenhour. Each week you will find new presentations to assist business owners and managers in turning their business dreams into their business realities.

Video Transcript

Jerry Isenhour.: Well, good evening, and welcome to another episode of the chimney and fireplace success network. Jerry Isenhour here, and my partner tonight again is.

Sheryl Isenhour: Sheryl Isenhour.

Jerry I.: Tonight, we are going to share with you a process that just might be the answer for you to develop strategies and processes for success. It is a system that Sheryl and I have worked with; we have facilitated. We are trained to do it, and we do it quite often out here in the real world. we are going to share a phenomenal process with you tonight called the SWOT.

So, what I would like you to do is stay tuned to us; we will be right back in just a minute. 

We are going to share a phenomenal process with you tonight called the SWOT.

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Jerry I.: Okay. So like I promise you, we’re going to talk about a process called a SWOT meeting tonight. And as you can see, we are actually in our teaching side of our broadcast studio here, where we teach classes from.

And the reason is we’re not using a green screen; we don’t have a virtual background tonight. If you’re looking at the video presentation. What we have tonight is we have our trusty flip chart here, don’t we, Sheryl.

Sheryl: Our first-class flip chart.

Jerry I.: Our first-class flip chart that I bought many years ago from the used office supply store. That’s probably been one of the best ten dollars I ever spent was for this high-dollar, professional-type flip chart. So appreciate you joining me. So, the first thing is, let us tell them a little bit about what a SWOT is, Sheryl.

SWOT is broken into four quads.

Sheryl: Okay. SWOT is broken into four quads. It is your strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Two are internal; two are external. These will if you go through the process and look at all the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Then you know kind of exactly where your business stands, and we do it with every member of the team. It’s not just the business owner. So everybody gets their two cents worth in, and it’s amazing what you can learn just from your crew members because you don’t see through the same eyes that they do. And so, when we put them all together, then they become a pattern for you to work on for the next year.

Jerry I.: Now, last year some tragic things happened in our country. And what happened was we went under COVID, which was it really wrecked America apart and the entire world, and we’re still reeling from the effects of this.

So last year, as I was doing SWOTs, I added a fifth ingredient to this, and it is called the F stands for fears, okay. Because this is what I found over the last year, is fears drive a lot of things. Fears drive our passion, and fears stop us from doing what we really need to do in this world. So, when we talk about this, like Sheryl said, we got strengths, and we got weaknesses.

What are the strengths?

And the strengths and the weaknesses, those are going to be interior issues that are involved in your company. What are the strengths? What are the weaknesses that you have in your company? And what’s really making you set yourself apart.

Now, we also have the weaknesses, and weaknesses is where we spend a lot of time in the SWOT process going through the weaknesses. Because as we go through the weaknesses, we’re going to develop something called a strategy.

And the strategy is going to be a problem-solving way to take care of this weakness. The opportunities and the threats, these are both exterior issues. So when we look at the opportunities, what are the opportunities out there in the real world that you have, that’s available to you to grow your business?

Is it new products? Is it new services? Is it things that you can offer that you’re not presently doing? Now at the same time, maybe you’re overwhelmed right now. Let us take your business, is your manufacturing business overwhelming right now?

Sheryl: It is getting kind of there. I mean, everybody’s working on the outdoor kitchens now. And so, I am as far behind as I have ever been in business at the time and got just as many employees.

Have a listing of what are the opportunities are out there.

Jerry I.: Correct. So opportunities, here’s what I want you to make aware of. Even though you may be overwhelmed right now, the bull market we are in, economically could cease at any point. So what we always want to do is, have a listing of what are the opportunities are out there, because if the economy were to turn, are you prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that exist?

You may need to make changes. Now, as we come down further, we got this one called threats. And what are the threats? The threats are the things that actually could take us out of business. The threats are, maybe it’s Osha or Osha; people make fun of the way I call it. So it’s whichever your preference is, or is that a problem.

Or could it be government regulations? Could it be that you’re selling gas appliances, and maybe in your particular market area, maybe they’re looking at outlawing gas appliance sales in your market area? Or maybe you’re in the fireplace business, and local regulations are coming to effect to say you can’t use wood. Any number of things could threaten your existence that come from outside. Things that are out of your control. But what you got to remember is you got to develop a strategy for doing this.

Sheryl: So, we will follow the word control, strengths, and weaknesses you have control over. If you’re weak in an area, you can get stronger; you can get weaker. Opportunities and threats you have no control over. That is what happens on the exterior that you literally just must deal with.

Jerry I.: Right. Now down here, remember I put in an F, and the F is for the fears. And as coaches, that is one of the things that we often look at Sheryl, do people call you and they have fears?

Sheryl: They do. I mean, a lot of times, some of them are just within themselves, and they don’t know how to get past it, and it’s a fear.

The thing about it is if you can work your way through the fears, then you go into a new height of direction. So fears can kind of lead either way. They are the fear that holds you back, or there can also be the fear that sends you to a new level.

I also want to go back to the strengths and the weaknesses.

Jerry I.: Right, now I also want to go back to the strengths and the weaknesses because if you do the actual SWOT, and I am going to give you an example of this. You may have something that could be both a strength and it could be a weakness.

And let me give you an example. What if you have this great software, and this software is capable of doing anything in the world that you need to do in your business? That is a significant strength, do you agree?

Sheryl: Very heavily.

Often people are not utilizing all the components of that software.

Jerry I.: But the other side of this is often people are not utilizing all the components of that software. In other words, the software is actually a weakness because we have never put all the software to use. Many of today’s software will have a score on it that will say, hey, this is how much of the system that you’re using.

And even give you a comparison of other users of the same software that are in your industry. So again, you can have something that’s going to be a strength, or it’s going to be a weakness. So you’ll spend some time with this.

Now there’s different ways that we conduct the SWOT. SWOT meetings can be conducted with the leadership team alone, or it can be conducted with the entire team of employees by getting everyone together.

The best route to follow is to bring everybody together.

Now, to be honest with you, the best route to follow is to bring everybody together because this is what we found out from facilitating many SWOT meetings. Do we ever see that people that work on that team have great ideas and solutions for problems?

Sheryl: And they do. And the thing about the SWOT meetings, no one can hold you accountable for what you say. This is a time; if you’ve got something you need to bring in front of the company, it’s a good time to do it.

And it’s amazing when somebody brings something up; you’ll hear somebody say yes, that’s the way I feel too. But they would not say it just in the closed forum of the business day.

They may be holding back.

Jerry I.: Right, they may be holding back. Now one of the things that we also do here within CVC success group is we have clients that actually come here and visit with us in our dreaming room right here that’s located within our campus here.

Our office, our recording studios, our broadcast studio, and all the other things that we have set up here. And the reason we call this the dreaming room is because we want people to completely come outside of their environment, of where they work every day.

So we can deal with these specific things. So, as we have seen people come in here and sit in the dreaming room, are you seeing people that, through this SWOT process, are coming up with solutions to problems?

Sheryl: They are but let us back up just a little. We don’t bring the whole crew here; we just bring the business owners. Then we deal with what we learn at the SWOT meetings.

We deal with what we learn at the SWOT meetings.

Jerry I.: Correct. So from this, it’s going into leadership SWOT, so the leaders can look at what’s going on. Like we have a SWOT to do that I’ll be conducting this week.

And the leadership team for that company spent a day with me last week here, and we went over all their issues, spending an entire day dealing with their fears, their frustrations, their weaknesses, and everything else.

Sheryl: And then you can take that, you go into the SWOT meeting. You know where the leadership stands; now you get a chance to see where the workforce stands.

Jerry I.: So, remember, what do the letters of the SWOT stand for? They stand for your strengths, your weaknesses. Both of these are interior issues. These are things you control; these are things that are going on in the company. From outside, we have our opportunities; we have our threats.

These are the things that could threaten you from outside or the opportunities that you need to move to. Now the neat thing about this process, if you watch myself and Sheryl a lot on our podcast, we just talked about mind mapping a couple of weeks ago or whiteboarding. So what’s happening here is, we are mind dumping the things that are going on.

Like as we go into this, one of the key things to think about is, you’re going to build on your strengths from this, but you’re going to come up with strategies to combat the weaknesses within the company. So as we go out here, we’re going to put weaknesses right here, Sheryl. So, what are some of the weaknesses that people commonly come up with?

A lot of this lack of employees.

Sheryl: A lot of this lack of employees.

Jerry I.: Okay. And I’m going to change that to a different way; I’m going to say lack of capacity, okay. Because what they have is, or in this present bull market that we’re into. They don’t have the capacity to service their clients.

So once we determine this is a problem, what we know is we now have to develop a recruiting program. So we’re going to have to stop this one; we’re going to have to develop a recruiting program, which is going to mean coming out of the box to look for people. Would you agree?

Sheryl: Okay.

We got to onboard these people.

Jerry I.: Not only that, but we also got to onboard this capacity. So again, we go in; now we got to onboard these people. So onboarding comes into play; it’s part of the solution for the weakness. The next thing is that we have to train these people, right? Training is important.

So as you go into this, now the advantage is we are dumping what’s in our minds on this chart. So Sheryl, explain to them our listeners and our watchers what is the benefit of the mind dump? Why do we want to dump our thoughts onto this piece of paper?

Sheryl: Well, you never actually get rid of them. But you get them out of that load where it’s sitting there just eating away at you. You put them on paper, and you can actually see them. They’re not just jumbling up in there.

You’re not going from this thought to this thought, to this thought; you’re doing it in an order. And that is where you want to get it; once you dump your mind and put it on paper, then it is something physical that you can deal with.

Jerry I.: So, dumping is physical. So what we’re doing is, and one of the things that the human mind cannot contain, but so much information. And what happens is, when we try to cycle too much information, we just get overwhelmed and confused. Would you agree with that?

Sheryl: It can contain it; it just cannot process it.

We are doing the mind dump.

Jerry I.: So, it can contain it; it just cannot process it. So what we’re doing here is we’re doing the mind dump. Now we’re doing this on flip chart sheets. Now you may ask why am I doing, what’s there? Donovan, you know my writing is terrible; the F stands for fears, fear. Sorry about my handwriting. But that’s the way Jerry writes, okay.

Get over it, okay. Yes, I’ll make Sheryl write; this is weaknesses. So we come through all of the things that are the weaknesses. We list the opportunities; we list the threats. Now, these flip chart sheets that we use.

So, what we are also doing is we are going to use different colors of markers. I got various colors they’re going to be green, they’re blue, they’re red, they’re black. But what we’re going to do is these are special flip charts, these are not just ordinary flip charts, because what you do with the flip chart is, when you get down to the page, you tear it off like that.

And you stick it to the wall. And what you’re doing here is you’re going through this through the day, up on these walls become all these multi-colored charts with all these different things. And at the end of the day, what’s happened here is, you have gone through, and everybody is speaking to that.

And we’re all coming up with our different ideas, and we’re combining those where we can all sit back and look at them, okay. So, Sheryl, when we have done this, what if you learn about companies from doing this mind dumping, this SWOT meeting, this flip chart exercise everything we are doing?

You see a few problems.

Sheryl: Well, I mean when you go in, and you look at someplace, you see a few differences. You see a few problems, but when each person has put their life there on the wall, then you begin to see a pattern. And once you see the pattern, then you can begin to control.

Jerry I.: Okay. So, since someone complained about my writing, I am going to need you to write the rest of this, okay.

Sheryl: Just cut Donovan off.

Jerry I.: So, cut Donovan off, okay. So anyway, the process we’re explaining to you is not a Jerry and Sheryl process. This is a process used by major corporations. So, what I want you to do, would you write the word Google right there for me.

I want you to research Amazon SWOT.

As in google on the internet. So google, and what I want you to do is I want you to do some research in google of the following. I want you to research Amazon SWOT, write down amazon SWOT. And I want you to go look at Amazon, one of the most successful companies in the world today, that’s moving forward.

And once you go to there, you’re going to see that the strengths of Amazon, the weaknesses of Amazon, the opportunities of Amazon, and the threats to amazon are all listed right there on the internet. And as more examples, as you go further, I want you to go and write down southwest airlines, SWOT. And when you go research the Southwest airline SWOT, it’s going to be a really interesting chart in there.

Because this chart is going to show you where Amazon’s cost of doing business is. You’re going to see what percentage of their income is tied into airport fees. How much is maintenance? And when you look at it? When you look at southwest airlines, I talked a while ago, where something could be a strength, and it can also be a weakness.

The strengths of Southwest Airlines.

So, one of the strengths of Southwest Airlines is, they only use Boeing 737s. So the only type of aircraft that Boeing flies is a Boeing 737. So that’s Southwest, which has its distinct advantages. Which is we only train our pilots to fly one plane. We also only use one kind of parts or Boeing planes. We don’t have airbuses in the fleet.

So, we do not have to train people on Airbus, we do not have to train them on other types of planes. We train them on strictly Boeing 737s, which is a significant strength. But as you read down further, you will also see that the Boeing 737, concentrating only on Boeing 737s, also comes up as a weakness.

Concentrating only on Boeing 737s, also comes up as a weakness.

Because if there is a problem, like there was last year with the Boeing 737 max, what happened was, many of Southwest Airline’s planes got grounded when the 737 max was grounded. So that’s why you want to look at this and see these different companies, and you can go even further. You can go find the SWOT for most major corporations.

And you see, this is part of their strategy planning every single year, that they do this SWOT on the company. Again, let’s list it down again. What does SWOT stand for? Let’s put it stands, right? Strengths I want you to understand every part of this process. The S is for strengths. The W is for weaknesses; the O is for opportunities.

The T is for threats, and like I said, we now conduct what we call a SWOT-F, and the F stands for; Donovan listens closely; it stands for fears. What’s the fears that is holding people back? Let me give you an example; we could have fears coming in because we talked about a problem earlier of lack of capacity, right?

Sheryl: Yes.

Lack of capacity means we have got to make a choice.

Jerry I.: Okay. So lack of capacity means we’ve got to make a choice, are we going to continue to function without the capacity to service our customers? Or are we going to hire more people to put this on? But whenever we hire more people, does this instill fear into our present employees?

Sheryl: It does. Because it’s kind of like, are they replacing me? Or they don’t realize you’re just adding to, and they think you’re replacing them. So they start, oh, you think they would speed up. But a lot of times, they back down just out of fear.

Jerry I.: Right. Because there are many things come into play. Because some of these people may have been through past life experiences, because the economy dropped, and suddenly, people got laid off at their companies. So fears come into play, so this is what you’re doing. Whenever you’re doing a swap meeting, you’re going to be examining the strengths, the weaknesses, the opportunities, and the threats.

And I also suggest that you dig into those fears that may exist within your workforce. Because fears are going to hold us back, fears are going to be problems. Fears are going to be walls. So what you got to do is be able to get past these problems.

And by doing this, what we found out is many of our clients, once they understand and they can see the advantage of the SWOT, what do they do now, Sheryl? They want to SWOT once a year.

Sheryl: Yes, everybody is going back for the second, third.

You got to get out of your office.

Jerry I.: Yes. Now once we do it, now where do you do a SWOT? You got to get out of your office; you got to get outside of that familiar territory. Why? It’s your turf. The place to do a SWOT is an independent meeting room, a restaurant meeting room. We have got them in restaurants.

Sheryl: Restaurant’s, outside.

Jerry I.: We’ve done them in hotels. And just the other week, I actually did a SWOT meeting for a client, and we did that in the outdoor area. Because there was a concern of COVID, so they wanted to air it out and not have people in close quarters in the meeting room.

So you got to take this stuff into consideration. This is also some of the first time we are seeing so many remote employees working, and there’s been SWOTS I have done this year, that this is the first time that the office staff and the field staff have been together in one place, since the last time I did a SWOT over a year ago at that same exact location.

Sheryl: But that is saying the employees, and the employer thinks it is that important to bring everybody back together.

Jerry I.: It’s that important. And what do we also see? Let me give you some examples. The other week I did a SWOT meeting; as we came out of the SWOT meeting, the business owner the next day sent me an email that one of his employees had sent him about how the SWOT meeting told him what he needed to do to help the company grow.

This is opening the communication between you and your workforce.

What this is doing is this is opening the communication between you and your workforce. It’s getting everything out on the table. As Sheryl shared with you when we started this, this is no holes’ barb. We tell everybody when we start with this; we want your opinions, we want you to share your thinking with us in the SWOT, we want to dig deep, we want to come up with the answers.

There are a couple of things to do this right. Number one, like I said, it’s got to be in a remote location. It cannot be in your office, it is on your turf, and you’ll not get as much accomplished. You’re going to need to plan to have lunch together, never go to a restaurant. What happens when we go to a restaurant, Sheryl?

Sheryl: Everybody kind of gets lost. It is kind of like the momentum that you have been kicking up for the past three to four hours is gone.

And what it does, it disrupts the whole process.

Jerry I.: Right. And what it does, it disrupts the whole process. So what we have several rules that we follow, and we encourage all the clients to do this whenever we are setting up a SWOT; these are the things that we need to do.

We need to provide lunch; we need to provide refreshments for our people. We need to provide them an ink pen, a pad, the right on. We need comfortable seating; we need tables, we need chairs, we need flip charts, we need to put it all together.

And once we do this, what happens is we come up with this enormous strategy; it’s often by the end of the day, what we found out is, stick that on the wall on your side. At the end of the day, from this mind dumping process, we may have 20 to 30 sheets of paper on the wall.

Now at the end of the day, what do we do? We photograph every one of these pages, and then we put them into a document, which is the record of everything that brought up at that. And Donovan, saying since my handwriting is so bad, I usually appoint someone to write the flip charts for me. But in case there’s anything, we write underneath it, we type it in, and we fill out the information of what’s on that flip chart. But from this, we compare this year to year.

We pull up the records of the last SWOT.

So, when I go back to do a SWOT the next year, we pull up the records of the last SWOT, we look at it. I also have clients that will take these flip chart sheets, and they will hang them in their warehouse and their training room to remind everyone of the discussions we’ve had about the company, about the strategy.

Help keep everybody focused all the warmth, okay. Donovan says it was just one word, and I came in late. Okay, I understand brother, I got you covered. So anyway, this is the SWOT process. We have done it at CVC success group, with a number of our clients every year.

We suggest it as an annual process.

We suggest it as an annual process, and many people, when they have this done, they are going to request it to be done every year. If you need to set it up and plan for it, but right now, I’ve got SWOT scheduled, believe it or not, all the way into August this year.

We do this a lot with our existing clientele. So again, it’s all about mind dumping. It’s all about taking what’s in your head. It’s all about employee buy-in, team member buy-in. Sheryl, is this beneficial to see people participate in this?

Sheryl: It is. And the thing is the second year, especially when they look at something, they said we did not accomplish this, why didn’t we? And I like to see that because they are questioning what kept them out of the situation that was such a problem the year before.

Jerry I.: That’s it. So here are the thoughts, you can put this to work for you. It will work; it will help you build a strategy. It will help you get buy-in from your employees. And if you think, if somebody says we are just too busy, what would you say?

This is the thing that will take your business to the next level.

Sheryl: If you are too busy to do that, you are too busy to, you are not working on your business. This is the thing that’ll take your business to the next level. And if you are too busy, it is just not right.

Jerry I.: That’s it. So appreciate you joining us. If we can help you, if you need someone to help you put together the process, then reach out to us here at We will be glad to set up a call; we will take you through the process.

If you would like us to facilitate your SWOT.

If you would like us to facilitate your SWOT. Just give us a call; we do a lot of these; it is a very big area of expertise. And we can get your people all on the same wavelength; we can bring the problems forward, we can put them into the open.

And from that point, we can come up as a team and come up with solutions. And you see this happen, right?

Sheryl: I do. And I just want to inject; it’s not near as productive if you try to facilitate your own. You need an outsider to do this.

Jerry I.: Correct. And that’s the part I didn’t mention, but definitely, if you’re going to do a SWOT, you need to bring in an outside facilitator. And here’s the reason why, because you’re going to have an emotional attachment to these problems.

You’re not going to be able to dig down into them. Your employees are not going to be wanting to share this with you if you’re operating as the facilitator. So you need to make sure to really do this effectively, that you get an outside facilitator, whether it’s us or it’s another coaching firm, consulting firm, to conduct this for you.

So with that, this has been our presentation of this evening over how you implement the SWOT process into your business. My name is Jerry Isenhour once again, and you are?

Sheryl: I am Sheryl.

Jerry I.: And we are Jerry and Sheryl Isenhour. Our company is CVC success group. And we are a team of subject matter experts. It’s not just Jerry and Sheryl; we’ve got other significant people that we would classify as subject matter experts on our team.

So if we can help you get to those business streams, reach out to us; we’d love to have a conversation with you. And with that, I want you to know it’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege, and it’s been a pleasure as always to be able to speak to you in this manner tonight.

And with that, we will see you next time on another episode of the chimney and fireplace success network.

Outro: Thanks for joining us here each week at the chimney and fireplace success network, sponsored by CVC success group. Providing you the coaching and educational outreach services you need to move to your dream destination in business and in life.