Stories&Work: Bryan Clifton
Give us your full name.
Share the kind of work you do.
I work with entrepreneurs and family businesses at the crossroads of business and psychology. I come alongside entrepreneurs and help them deal with the challenges of running a business while trying to be a good husband, wife, mother, father and friend. Depending on the needs of the client, I may act as an advisor, investor, broker, counselor, consultant, therapist, or merely as a sounding board to talk through ideas. At the end of the day, I help entrepreneurs live lives of fulfillment. Your business or idea will either take you further from or closer to the life you want to live. It is my job to help them ensure their business can act as a glue to bring greater relationship depth to their life instead of acting as a wedge that drives them apart from those people who mean the most to them.
How did you come to do this type of work? What were you doing before you started your current work?
The work found me. I had entrepreneurs and members of family businesses who were constantly telling me about the challenges they were facing. They were struggling with where to look for solutions to their problems. I saw an opportunity to blend my backgrounds as an entrepreneur and my professional education to help them solve their problems.
Before I started Myriad Insight, I worked for Strata Leadership. My official title was VP of Leadership Development, but my actual responsibility could better be described as Entrepreneur-in-Residence. I was tasked with turning ideas into reality. Each day was different and the work was amazing.
Can you share the risk in pursuing doing the work you love?
Being an entrepreneur is lonely. In today’s world, entrepreneurs are the new rock stars. You see faces of entrepreneurs on the cover of magazines. Because of this, I feel like the world has an unrealistic view of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Many people say they want to be one, but few understand the reality both emotionally and financially of taking the risk to step out on your own. Is it rewarding, of course, but it also comes at the risk of creating distance between you and those you care about the most. It is an odd journey, because the more success you have, the more isolated your life can become.
What’s the biggest way your business has changed since you started it?
When I started Myriad Insight, I thought I was starting a family business consulting firm that would assist families in times of transition. What I realized over time is that if I only focused on this area, I would starve. A family business might transition once every 15-20 years. Mathematically, it didn’t make sense for that to be my only area of focus. What I discovered is I have a knack for working with entrepreneurs and helping them create, grow and transition their business. Most entrepreneurs are great at starting businesses but horrible at maintaining them. After a few years (or sometimes months), they have a new idea they want to pursue. I help them discover what the best option is for them at this time. It could be selling the current business, installing a management team or sometimes closing the doors.
Tell us a few things you have to be consistent in to do your best work.
My business is built on high levels of trust with my clients. I’m working with other business owners who are running at a very fast pace. I must be able to keep pace with them and ensure our relational trust continues to grow. I’m asking them to make changes in their lives that will likely cause them temporary pain, but we both know it is the best thing for them long term. If they are going to listen to me, they must respect and trust my perspective.