Effort and Commitment with Chris Thomson

Chris Thomson is the Co-owner and head coach of the Student Works Management Program, a prestigious entrepreneurial training program for University students in Canada. The program aims to help young aspiring entrepreneurs develop necessary skills to become future business leaders. In this episode, we talked about the importance of setting up your goals, committing to complete them, and developing habits that will truly help you reach success.

Let’s dive right into this episode and learn how we can achieve success by committing to our goals and striving to be better.h

[00:01 – 06:14] Opening Segment

Have you ever had a college or a summer job that you just hated? That you learned nothing at? Where you were under-appreciated so you just walked away with that bitter awful taste in your mouth?

Today’s guest, Chris, is helping College students who aspire to be entrepreneurs experience the exact opposite of that. Essentially what they’re doing in their program is recruiting kids who have entrepreneurial drive and want to get some business experience. They then train these kids over the summer vacation to develop all the skills they need to start their own summer businesses. They teach them skills like learning how to door knock, how to close deals, how to deliver the goods, do customer service accounting, and so much more!

At present, they’re doing $30 million worth of services across Canada. In this episode, Chris will share with us some of the lessons that they teach their students that helped them reach this success.

[06:15 – 14:44] Coaching and Managing

If you’re wondering how Chris started his business, he shares with us that he actually wasn’t the one who started it and was actually part of the program as a student, over 30 years ago.  The Student Works Management Program actually has a franchise type business model where Chris first started working as an owner-operator of a franchise, and then as a district manager, and coach, and eventually, buying in his area, four years later.

Christ shares that he has always really admired entrepreneurs who create ideas but also shares his thoughts about buying into an existing model vs starting your own thing: there are always going to be lots of existing businesses that we need to continue to run, and for Chris, that’s actually an opportunity to be a part of something bigger. In addition, Chris shares that if you look entrepreneurship as a whole, there will always be a spot for a good operator. He also adds that what he really thinks he is—a really good business operator. He shares this because at present, everyone wants to be the next Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos, but in reality, we don’t really need to think that that’s the only way to becoming a successful and accomplished entrepreneur.

With the current generation of College kids having a different culture of being very attracted to instant gratification, Chris also shares techniques they use to coach and manage students who enter their program. They teach them the right mindset, and that successful people succeed because they know they need to wait months before they’re really profitable. They teach them that it’s all about making the best choice that you can make, every step of your journey as an entrepreneur.

[14:45 – 20:38] The Evolution of the Program

Business environments have changed significantly over the past recent years. The economy has changed. Global leaders have changed. Right now, we’re also in a pandemic. Since Student Works Management Program is entering their 40th year next year, Chris also shares with us how the program has evolved over the last four decades.

Chris shares that at the beginning, the founders really started the program with this goal in mind: to make money. However, as things change, their core purpose actually became clearer and clearer to them. It is their purpose to develop leaders and that they won’t be commoditized in the world of painting or window cleaning contractors. When the students get hired by clients, they also make their clients feel that they’re also part of that bigger purpose too. That they’re not just buying painting services, they’re also supporting the dreams of this young entrepreneur and helping the local students to go to school.

With the challenge of customers asking why they would hire inexperienced college kids to paint their house, Chris shares that it’s actually their first goal to prove that they can actually do a great job even without that several years of experience. For him, it’s all about showing up on time, doing what they say they would do, and being very polite. Chris shares that they really teach the importance of these things to their young entrepreneurs. So if you’re a young entrepreneur yourself, Chris also has this advice to share to help you set yourself apart from others, even if they have more experience.

  1. Show up for all your meetings on time.
  2. Do all that you say. Finish all that you started.
  3. Most importantly, treat people with respect. This will help you earn referrals too.

[20:39 – 30:55] The Essence of Time in Business

For Chris, there are actually only two things in life that really matter when you’re talking about business. You need to ask yourself two things. First, “Am I setting up a schedule and doing it?” Second, “How well am I doing what I’m doing?”

In addition, for Chris, it’s always the basic stuff that we need to focus on. To help us focus and commit to our tasks and goals amidst all the distractions, Chris has three simple recommendations:

  1. Set a reminder.
  2. Work on your integrity.
  3. Work on your habits. Focus on just ONE habit each month that you can work on, not three or four, five, six.

Of course, none of this would be possible if you don’t put in the hours. Showing up every day to get better and committing to do things better today than yesterday are the keys that will truly help you succeed.

With regards to the success of their business, Chris shares that one of the reasons their program works is because they have coaches who are totally committed to helping their students. They are focused on understanding why you did the things you did and why you did not do the things you didn’t. They help their students understand what stands on their way to reaching their goals and help them live up to their commitments. Lastly, they also teach them tips to further improve their skills. Listening to podcasts is one of those tips.

After all, listening to podcasts allow us to learn from people who are doing the same things and experiencing the same challenges we’re experiencing. We can truly learn a lot from listening to how they overcame those challenges.

[30:56 – 36:48] The FOCUS FIVE Segment

The FOCUS FIVE are five questions I ask every guest on my show. Keep on listening to find out what book Chris gifts most often; who would he talk to if he can get an hour of any person living or dead, from the past or the present, and why; that one thing he believes but most people will disagree with; his morning routine; and lastly, where are the best places we can connect with him online. (See the links below for Chris’ social media links!) 

Tweetable Quotes: 

“Just because I know something, I’ve read lots of books. It doesn’t really mean anything unless I’m actually using it in the real world and creating results.” – Chris Thomson

“There’s only two things in life that matter in life. First, set up a schedule and do it. Check how well you’re doing it.” – Chris Thomson

Resources mentioned in the episode:

You can connect with Chris Thomson by following him on LinkedIn or visit their website https://studentworks.com/ . Also, check out his podcast here.

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