Gov. Kristi Noem has revived a cross-border rivalry to recruit businesses from Minnesota, and one entrepreneurial coach doing business in both the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls believes South Dakota has the advantage.
Jaime Taets started her coaching business, Keystone Group International, in the Twin Cities, but she has developed a significant Sioux Falls clientele.
“My friends and neighbors have noticed your governor’s TV ads luring Minnesota firms over the border, and I tell them I experience the South Dakota advantage every time I work in Sioux Falls.”
Taets’ clients include:
She finds a cohesiveness among the Sioux Falls businesses that she doesn’t find elsewhere. Taets believes her Sioux Falls clients, at times, take their close-knit community for granted.
“They’re too close to it. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to call it out.” Taets said. “I tell my husband all the time that I love working in Sioux Falls because it’s like seeing family.”
Taets coaches her Sioux Falls clients on the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). It’s a set of simple concepts and tools leadership teams use to improve growth through accountability and clarity around their vision. The practice is outlined in the book Traction by Gino Wickman.
SDN’s leadership team read the book and started the EOS® process on its own, but Vice President of Marketing Vernon Brown said the team struggled to implement it.
“We needed to make our EOS practice more effective. I had friends in leadership at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, who gave their coach high marks, so I reached out to see who it was, and that’s how we connected with Jaime,” Brown said.
None of Taets’ clients are competitors. One other commonality: Almost all her Sioux Falls clients are SDN Communications broadband customers.
SDN CEO Mark Shlanta says his company and its customers using the same EOS coach creates a synergy.
“When we bump into each other in community meetings, we compare notes and talk about what Jaime has us working on,” Shlanta said. “It also demonstrates to SDN’s customers how we’re on a similar, strategic growth plan. I see a day where, if we’re implementing new technologies for one of these customers, we could use EOS – the process and its language – to mutually and successfully launch projects together.”
Taets’ EOS coaching is all about getting things done.
The methodology is a fast-growing business model used for setting organizational goals, what the program calls “Rocks.” It brings leadership around the table to set three to seven company Rocks per quarter, which compound into achieving the corporate one-, three-, and ten-year goals. The ten-year strategic plan is essentially run off two sheets of paper called a Vision/Traction OrganizerTM (V/TO).
Taets works with each company at the beginning of each quarter to set the 90-day Rocks.
“It’s about taking one day to focus entirely on the Rocks that will move the needle, and then leadership helping and holding each other accountable through the 90 days to achieve them,” Taets said. “The beauty of it is that it’s a simple toolset that encourages problem-solving by all at the table.”
Chris Ekstrum, CEO of The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, finds that unifying for leadership.
“Having everyone aligned and working on the same priorities helps us achieve success,” Ekstrum said. “Most importantly, Jaime and EOS have helped us simplify our business, narrow our focus, provide us with tools to keep us disciplined, and a process to increase accountability throughout the organization. That’s been the biggest benefit we’ve experienced.”
Brown, who facilitates SDN’s accountability meetings, called Level 10 MeetingsTM, says the method has created transparency and positive vulnerability among leaders to talk about challenges and to ask peers for input on solutions.
“I think it’s generated some of the best discussions we’ve had as a leadership team. The standard agenda requires everyone at the top of the meeting to tell what is going right for them personally and professionally,” Brown said. “At SDN, we call that our UPTIME. That sharing at the start helps us get to know each other better and sets a positive tone for the harder problem solving we do deeper in the meeting.”
TSP Inc. signed up for EOS coaching with Taets at about the same time as SDN. TSP CEO Jared Nesje points to the accountability of the process and Taets, which have propelled them forward.
“She’s not afraid to tell us what we need to hear, not necessarily what we want to hear,” Nesje said. “It makes you uncomfortable, but it moves you and motivates us to move it.”
TSP is a 90-year-old company, so processes and procedures are engrained.
“We have a room of procedural manuals. We’ve always been tweaking, but it was time to clean it up in a new way, and that’s what EOS and Jaime motivate us to do,” Nesje said.
The Sioux Falls spirit for improvement has a magnetism for Taets. So much so that she intends to open a Sioux Falls office in the next year.
“I’m doing it because of the community culture but, as your governor points out, there are also some advantages for me to do more business in South Dakota,” she said.
SDN is a leader in providing business internet, private networking and cloud connectivity to businesses and organizations in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, and the surrounding areas.