Ep3 Ross Paterson – A Bike Rider’s Journey to Building a Business

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The third episode of LIFT Speaks, we talk with LIFT Office member, Ross Paterson, Founder and CEO of XM Performance and Global Fusion.

Ross Paterson is intentional about creating freedom to live life well. Through his business and non-profit, he coaches and inspires others to do the same. And, yes, Ross is passionate about riding bikes. He wakes up in the morning thinking about the day’s ride.  Most days he commutes to the LIFT Office on his bike.

Ross uses his gifts and experiences to create vision, purpose and executable plans for both the business owners he coaches, as well as, the young men he mentors in Afghanistan through Global Fusion.

Be inspired to live life intentionally, to create freedom to live well, and to expand your borders of influence and impact with Ross Paterson . . . and you might just be inspired to go ride your bike!


Catherine Miller: Welcome to Lift, stories of what people do and their impact on the world. Today, I’m visiting with Ross Paterson of XM Performance and Global Fusion. Welcome.

Ross Paterson: Thank you. Proud to be here.

Catherine Miller: Good. Ross.

Ross Paterson: Yes.

Catherine Miller: Tell us a little bit about XM Performance and Global Fusion. Global Confusion. Maybe that is the right title.

Ross Paterson: I think I wrote that on some documents one time, Global Confusion.

Catherine Miller: Really?

Ross Paterson: No. We do that paperwork. So my passion is really around unlocking potential in people. And so, Global Fusion actually came first. It was the first thing I started. I left Corporate America and I started Global Fusion version 1 under a different name. And really, I wanted to work on something that was more significant than just growing a business and making money.

And I working for a big corporation at the time and I kind of have this soul-stealing feeling of working there. And I just felt like it was calling me to do something bigger, had a better purpose to do things. And I went on a trip to Afghanistan of all places in 2002 and Global Fusion was born.

Catherine Miller: OK. So what took you to Afghanistan in 2002?

Ross Paterson: It’s really a long story. But I was wrestling with what I wanted to be when I grow up and hope that God use me in the things I’m good at and do some prayer and searching. I got invited to go on this trip to Afghanistan.

And in 2002, we landed in Quetta, Pakistan and we drove across the border and went to Kandahar, Afghanistan. And the need was so overwhelming when we were there. There’s nothing left to do about the big picture but there was just this one little thing. I said, “Well, I can’t do anything about all of this but I can do something about this.” And so, I went for it.

Catherine Miller: OK. So that started Global Fusion.

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: And then how did you move from that to also having XM Performance?

Ross Paterson: So, the nonprofit world is kind of a tough place to work. And so you have to raise money for everything. It’s kind of like the marketing and sales of nonprofit. There’s communication and fund development. So I got to the point where I felt like I had to raise so much money to cover Texas-based overheard for work we were trying to get done in Afghanistan. I kind of felt convicted about what it I could create a business here, they left me the freedom to work on both things but also create enough income to pay Team Paterson.

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Ross Paterson: And then continue – be able to continue to work in Afghanistan. So the first version of XM Performance was actually a franchise, a coaching franchise. And we moved away from that in 2009 and XM Performance was born in 2009-ish.

Catherine Miller: Oh wow!

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: So it’s still pretty new.  

Ross Paterson: Yeah, it’s still pretty new.

Catherine Miller: So the driving force then behind your two ventures?

Ross Paterson: Freedom to do what I want to do. Yeah. Freedom to work on the things that I think are important and to control my time and to use my gifts and passions where I think have the greatest impacts.

Catherine Miller: Cool.

Ross Paterson: So I think every entrepreneur has that at some level in their creation of their business is to be free, to work on he things that they have a passion for.

Catherine Miller: Yeah, I would agree with that. I see that a lot.

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: So then what wakes you up in the morning? Like what energizes you and says, “Man, I can’t wait to get to this today?” What is it kind of overarching?

Ross Paterson: I like to ride bikes. So …

Catherine Miller: We have hope for less traffic.

Ross Paterson: So we like to keep a few bikes around wherever I am just in case a bike ride breaks out.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Ross Paterson: And I think I really – I want to inspire people. I want to train them. I want to show them that they can be so much more than they can even imagine. We all have that hidden potential inside of us where we’re only half awake. William James used to say, “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake.”

And imagine if I could be the catalyst for helping people really unlock their full potential in their business, in their nonprofit, with their life? Whatever. That’s kind of …

Catherine Miller: So what’s one of your favorite stories that you love to share that’s like, “If I could do this, this is the story of the person that …” I’m sure to varying degrees of success on your business, right? So what’s one of your favorite stories?

Ross Paterson: Well, not by intentionality, we’ve picked up a number of clients where we’re helping, one generation hand the business off to the next generation. And I was working with this young woman in Texas and she was 30-ish, taken over a large business, a $50 million business for her family. And I said to her, the day I started with her, I said, “Hey, how do you know what to work on every day?” And she said, “It just comes at me.” And I said, “You know, that’s a really bad way to run a $60 million business.” And she says, “I know. It’s kicking my ass and I need some help with this.”

And so, it’s fun three years later to watch her leading a growing business, leading through an executive team, getting things down very profitably in Texas and expanding into Colorado and Pennsylvania now.

Catherine Miller: Oh cool!

Ross Paterson: So those are like the biggest reward we get. We really do find that person that’s – and we unlock their potential to do more.

Wisdom for the Growing Business

Catherine Miller: So what’s your big idea? One of the things that Ross does for us at Lift is he hosts a monthly meeting called Lift Off where a different member shares his or her big idea on doing business. But what’s you big idea? What’s your kind of foundational thing that you stand on?

Ross Paterson: So I talk about – this is kind of my big idea. Leadership matters. Focus matters. Offense matters. And so, an organization can’t get anywhere unless somebody is leading it there. So the leaders got to have vision and purpose and values and culture to be able to drive and inspire people to join them in the journey.

Focus is a different part of that. Focus is not going to turn all that kind of foggy out there in the way of future stuff into what are we going to work on today? What’s the plan for this week? Who is going to do what? And breaking all that down. You need the execution and then just stay on the offense.

We’re kind of time optimist in our heart. We think, “Oh well, I’ll get to that eventually.” And it might be the most important thing your business needs. And I would say don’t be a time optimist. Clear your calendar. Make time to do the most important things. Make time to do the most important things on Monday every week and you’ll be surprised what that will do for accelerating your results.

Catherine Miller: Cool. So clearly, one of your brightest joys is helping people excel to do really well and excel. What’s the one thing in your business that you think, “Dang! I do not want to do this but I have to because it’s part of my business.”

Ross Paterson: I don’t know. I’m just ultimately curious about everything that makes business organizations work. So I’m not afraid to try new things. I hate the administrative side of bookkeeping and tax reporting and all those kind of things. So hey, if you build your business right, you don’t have to do that.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Ross Paterson: And I haven’t done that for 8 years. So there you go.

Catherine Miller: So there you go. You haven’t had a hard time coming up with it because you don’t have to do any of that.

Ross Paterson: I don’t have to do the things I don’t – I really don’t like to do. Yeah.

Catherine Miller: Cool.

Ross Paterson: Occasionally though, I think the hardest things business owners struggle with is the whole dealing with employee conflict. And we have an underperforming employee and part of that might be the owner’s fault for not creating that clarity, about creating that focus. And I’ve lost a lot of money in a couple of different occasions, experimented with things but what I really lose sleep over or what I really hate doing is handling tough employee issue. And I have to do that. I’m the owner, right?

Catherine Miller: Right.

Ross Paterson: Luckily, I have good employees.

Catherine Miller: Yeah, you do.

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: I’ll vouch for that.

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: One more question.

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: Success. How would you, for Ross Paterson, define success?

Ross Paterson: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this. So it’s bigger than one thing. If you just talk about money then it’s easy to be successful at the expense of everything else. But what if you had to balance success in the four areas, right? One, I’m happy and I love what I do. Two, I’m successful in my career and I’m making progress on getting better year after year. Three, the people around me are getting better. And four, I’m leaving a legacy. It’s going to outlive me, their success. We have to kind of put all four together.

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: Cool. You would think I have prepped him on that one and I did not at all. OK. Now, we come to the fun part.

Ross Paterson: The fun part. Are we going to ride bikes?

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Ross Paterson: We’re going to ride bikes.

Catherine Miller: Yeah. I mean it. I mean it. No, these are the rapid-fire questions.

Ross Paterson: Rapid fire questions.

Catherine Miller: Just off the top, give me your quick answer to these. Are you ready?

Ross Paterson: I’m ready.

Catherine Miller: Describe your best day. Sorry, it’s not true or false. Describe your best day.

Ross Paterson: Long bike rides and cool weather with my bride.

Catherine Miller: But she doesn’t like to ride bikes, does she?

Ross Paterson: She can be there to cook dinner and massage my legs when I’m done.

Catherine Miller: OK. That’s not good. OK. I would not tell Shannon that you said that. OK. What’s your key to productivity?

Ross Paterson: Put it in writing. If you don’t have your plan in writing, you’ll get distracted by everything else.

Catherine Miller: Yeah, that’s a good one. OK. Here’s a scenario. A young person gets on an elevator with you in for a 30-second ride and he looks at you and he says, “I want to own my own business.” What would you tell him?

Ross Paterson: I tell him the most important thing a business owner has to master is marketing and sales. If you don’t want to learn how to do marketing and sales, go work for somebody else.

Catherine Miller: Do you remember him saying he didn’t like to do marketing and sales this morning?

Ross Paterson: I didn’t say that.

Catherine Miller: Oh, you just said Hannah did a lot of it.

Ross Paterson: Well, again, I do it and Hannah does it. That’s a team.

Catherine Miller: Yup.

Ross Paterson: We’re a team.

Catherine Miller: Do it as a team. Got you.

Ross Paterson: I don’t like to do the bookkeeping.

Catherine Miller: OK. What impact do you hope your business has beyond making money?

Ross Paterson: Yeah. I think those things we talked about success earlier, I want my clients, the business owners, not to be overwhelmed and underpaid as a business owner. So when they enjoy their business, when they’re taking great care of their employees and their clients and have time to really think about what could I do to really make a difference in the world then we’re having some – we’re making some progress, right?

Catherine Miller: Yeah. This is a good one. Favorite thing about working at the Lift Office and how it has benefited you and/or your business.

Ross Paterson: Without a doubt, the best thing about working at the Lift Office is the community of other smart people. Owners struggle with this is what I call accidental isolation and if we can’t be somewhere where we can get – share great ideas, share big ideas and learn from people that are in the battle with us then we’re making a huge mistake. And I think when you get to an executive office and you go in and you close your door, it’s like prison, you miss out on the community that a place like a Lift Office provides.

Catherine Miller: Yeah, I agree. I think our members are best asset. OK. Number 6, where in the world would you like to travel and why?

Ross Paterson: I think the next thing on the empty nest Paterson’s travel list is Scotland, England, UK. And we spend a long time in Germany in early ‘90s and never went that direction. You think it would be easy place to go next. But I’ve been blessed to really travel a lot. That’s one of the next things on my list.

Catherine Miller: Cool.

Ross Paterson: And then maybe Jerusalem. That would be cool.

Catherine Miller: Oh yeah.

Ross Paterson: Those two, top two.

Catherine Miller: Cool. OK. Last question. Picture yourself old.

Ross Paterson: I would come here and brush my teeth every day.

Catherine Miller: You just finished an Ironman. Your kids are grown. Your grandkids are grown. But you made it through the Ironman without getting swept off the course, right?

Ross Paterson: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: And now, you’re happy and you’re sitting on your front porch, rocking in a rocking chair. You’re looking back over your life and you think, “I left this world a better place because …”

Ross Paterson: I think you leave the world a better place when you do things with a sense of love instead of money. And as businessman, remember, we have to deal with these two truths, right? It can’t be all about the money but it’s all about the money. And they’re both true every day.

But in the end, it’s about the people and the great clients you got to work with and the stories you could tell after that. So I think we need to do things in a spirit of love even in business. And you leave the world a better place. So, there’s my rapid fire 7 questions.

Catherine Miller: There’s your rapid fire 7 questions.

Ross Paterson: And we forgot to ask the most important question.

Catherine Miller: What’s that?

Ross Paterson: What kind of bike do you have? You should ask everybody that question. Yeah, I think it should be a part of the interview process when they come in.

Catherine Miller: Well, I should have just said, “Why don’t you bring your bike? Why don’t you ride your bike in for the interview?”

Ross Paterson: I’ve done that for a presentation before.

Catherine Miller: Or better yet, we could have just put them side by side, put GoPro cameras on our head and we could have gone on a bike ride for the interview.

Ross Paterson: Wow! There is you are …

Catherine Miller: There is your next one.

Ross Paterson: There is your video technical challenge for the love of bike ride. Forget the car scene. That’s overdone now. Let’s go for the bike ride.

Catherine Miller: Hey, most sincerely, I love having you at the Lift Office and I really appreciate that you let us be a part of your story.

Ross Paterson: Cool. Pleasure.

Catherine Miller: Thank you.

Ross Paterson: Thank you.

Catherine Miller: Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for more interviews with amazing people who are impacting the world. Or better yet, come on by. I’d love to introduce you to them. I’ll have the coffee hot and I’ll be happy to take you on a tour. See you soon.

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