As part of my series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike “C-Roc” Ciorrocco, CEO of People Building, Inc., and the powerhouse behind the “What Are You Made Of?” movement.
He is a performance coach, author, dynamic public speaker, visionary and thought leader. He has been featured by Yahoo! Finance as one of the Top Business Leaders to Follow in 2020 and is on a mission to build people. He is driven to inspire others and he measures his success on how he is able to help others achieve greatness. C-Roc had a fire lit in him at an early age. That fire has ignited him with a fierce desire to compel people to see the greatness inside themselves using past life events to fuel their fire.
C-Roc has mastered the ability to zero in on the linchpin of an organization and has helped many businesses exceed their initial goals and expectations. He’s consumed with the passion to help people break free from the confines of complacency and propel to untapped levels of success.
No stranger to setbacks himself, C-Roc has built a highly successful mortgage division with his best friends, twice! In 2020 he was named #1 on the list of Top Mortgage Professionals by Yahoo! Finance. Whether it is his business partners, employees, clients or anyone looking to excel at their business, personal life or develop a winner’s mentality, C-Roc is ready for the challenge.
C-Roc currently resides in Ocean City, MD with his wife Jennifer, of 17 years, and their two children, Nicolas and Sophia.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. 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?
You know when people have setbacks, difficulties, or letdowns, and they get stuck or paralyzed in it? I am the guy that teaches people to proactively avoid that. Not just avoid it, but to convert it into ROCKET FUEL for their future.
This stems from coming from a broken home. When I was eleven years old, after experiencing emotional and psychological abuse, I decided to move from my Dad’s back to my Mom’s.
My Dad, my hero, was hurt by me leaving. He always carried a rolled-up wad of hundred dollar bills in his pocket from his masonry business that he had. I always looked up to him for that. Well, when I confirmed that I wanted to leave, he took that roll of hundreds out, peeled one off, crumpled up and threw it at me. He said “Well, here! You are going to need this when you are living on the streets with your mother.”
At that moment, my stubbornness kicked in. I thought to myself, “You are not determining my destiny. I will show you!” I also thought about others that may have been given up on and I wanted to show them what that you could not only rebound from it but EXCEL!
So, for 30 years, I have been focused on creating an awesome future for myself and my family by lifting others up and helping them be successful.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The only thing that I can think of would be a time where I was talking to a lady that I thought was a particular person. I was going on an on and she had a weird look on her face. It ended up being the lady’s twin. A take away from that would be to start a conversation by saying, “Hi SO and SO.” So at least if it isn’t the person that you think it is you will know sooner.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Believe it or not, I am thankful for my Dad who basically unintentionally challenged me to be great by throwing in the towel on me. I also am thankful to my Mom and Stepfather. My mom was always encouraging me and letting me know that I could do anything in life. My Stepfather, who has passed recently, stepped in when I was at a very impressionable age and showed me how important commitment, reliability, and dedication was.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
I know what it feels like to have a setback, difficulties, or have negative unencouraging people around you. It is a bad feeling. I just decided to find a way to limit the time of having that feeling. When I found proactive resiliency, it changed my life and I want to help others rebound quicker and excel after setbacks.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
COVID is a great example of how we handled an uncertain/difficult time. When you started to hear about the virus in the news, I had many meetings with my team to start the day talking about how this was going to be a reason that we were successful, not a reason that we weren’t. I told my team that I did not know exactly what was going to come from COVID on the outside. All I knew was we were going to have to raise our game, our activity levels, and our intensity so that we came out the other side victorious. Having a relentless attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes will always get you through uncertain and difficult times; because as long as you don’t quit, you can’t fail.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Of course, I’ve thought about giving up many times, but I always drive off the story of my dad of giving up on me. I always think to myself that he is watching, and I need to keep driving. The other thing that really helps me, is writing my goals down every day. There is something magical about it and I learned it from my mentor, Grant Cardone. When I write my goals down every day I get clarity and confidence which makes me feel better.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
I think there is more than one critical role, but I would say the most critical one is having a clear big vision for the team, followed by knowing the Individual’s goals and making sure they align with the teams goals. From there, it’s making sure that there is an accountability system in place and those on the team that aren’t keeping up to standards have to be let go.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Creating big, exciting targets to shoot for, things that move the needle, will always boost morale for an engaged team. Most of the time when people aren’t engaged it’s because they are living paycheck to paycheck and do not know something about finances. Educating your team on why money is important, how to make it, how to keep it, and how to multiply it is imperative to developing an engaged inspired team.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Fast. I believe in delivering any kind of news as quickly as possible with full transparency. Proper communication can solve any issue.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
The best way for a leader to make plans is to plan the future themselves; not putting the future in anyone else’s hands. Taking 100% responsibility for creating your future gives you predictability unlike being held prisoner to things like the economy or outside influences.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
My rule number one is to turn all setbacks, letdowns, and negativity into rocket fuel for your future. The most important part about this is to understand this concept ahead of time, proactively, because it is not the wins, successes and encouraging people that stop you from reaching goals, it is the negativity, the difficulties, and the setbacks. If you can convert those into rocket fuel for your future, you will not only survive downturns, but you will excel out of them.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
I would say one of the biggest mistakes is not taking 100% responsibility for things and looking for reasons that you’re not going to be successful so that you can take it easy, rather than finding — ways no matter what the circumstances are — to be successful. Another big mistake is that leaders do not hold their team members accountable. The third, I would say, is that people underestimate the effort, the resources, the setbacks, and the time it will take to accomplish something.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Measuring your KPI’s is always imperative in business especially during turbulent times. Watching your graphs for all important areas will allow you to stay ahead of any downturns.
We also, make it a nonnegotiable priority to promote our business and prospect relentlessly.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
My favorite answer to this question would be from one of my mentors, Brandon Dawson, and it’s from his example of the lifeboat.
If a ship were sinking and everyone needed to get into a lifeboat to survive and the lifeboat had water coming into it, all members of the team would need to help fill the holes in the boat.
So, number one would be inspiration — this would be explaining the situation that is happening. What is really going on? In this case, as in the lifeboat, I would share with the team that we are sinking and we need all hands-on deck getting water out of the boat and filling holes. If everybody does that then everybody stays in the boat and everybody survives.
Number 2 would be discipline — which would be how are we going to do it. How are we going to fill the holes and shovel the water out consistently?
Number 3 would be accountability — which is what happens if we do not? Those that are not filling holes and getting water out of the boat cannot stay in the boat.
Number 4 would be alignment — how we win together. In this case, when we all plug the holes and shovel water out of the boat, we all survive and live another day to share the story.
For Number 5 I am going to combine transparency and results. Transparency is what the waterline looks like in the boat. Results are what needs to be done on a granular level to make it happen.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is “Success is my duty and obligation”.
How can our readers further follow your work?
My new book ROCKET FUEL is up for presale right now at www.mikecroc.com/book Also you can follow me on any social media platform by searching my name including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.