Micah Berg is the CEO of RealJoy Vacations. Micah Berg is a thought leader, influencer, and a risk taker, and provides the vision and energy that has inspired the creation of RealJoy Vacations. Micah Berg joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has awarded RealJoy Vacations as an Impact Company of 2019, and we are delighted to have Micah join us for our Leader Round Table Interview. The RealJoy Vacations story is very interesting, and we are very excited to not only interview Micah about his very successful business and entrepreneurial spirit, but also put Micah through our popular speed round as well.
Micah, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your passion.
1. Can you describe what the “elevator pitch” for RealJoy Vacations is?
RealJoy Vacations stewards the people and properties entrusted to us with excellence and integrity unmatched in our industry.
2. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give CEO’s just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your company’s success?
One of the biggest things that made RealJoy successful was very early on we created and documented simplified and repeatable processes! Simple is always best because the larger you get the harder it will be to keep everyone consistent. If a process is easy to understand and repeatable in 95% of scenarios then you are doing it right. Then just STICK TO IT! Business done right is usually very boring. Get the excitement from the growth, not the process. I also recommend a saying I learned in the Marine Corps: 'Slow is smooth and smooth is fast". Business is all about making money, so virtually every decision you make should be with a goal to make money as quickly as possible. You can see this often in Shark Tank deals – the sharks always need to know when they are going to get their money back! Playing the long game is great, but if your business or new idea has to lose money for years it is probably not something you should do early on in the growth. You should be taking risks that start making money within a few months and require a little capital as possible. I messed this up a bunch of times and my business (and personal net worth) would be multiples larger (from an EBITDA perspective) had I done it all a little slower and focused on cash and cash flow.
3. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as RealJoy Vacations, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging ?
I've wanted to quit or sell dozens of times. When things get hard you have to remember why you are in business – what is your dream and the end goal. Mine was to create a legacy and wealth that would change my families lives for generations. You have to have something that you can lean on to get through that is bigger than yourself. Communicate this vision often, write it down, and don't forget it! You also need GREAT people around you to remind you about that vision. I have been blessed with a great wife and business partners that always helped worked through issues, but we all lean on our relationship with Jesus and a lot of prayer together and individually when times get really hard…and they do!
4. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at RealJoy Vacations, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
Customer service is EVERYTHING!! We focus on client retention above all else. To make raving fans you have to know exactly who your customer is and WHY they need you. Then build everything you can around serving those people and accomplishing that why for them. Don't be everything to everyone and don't be a generalist here…focus in on ONE specific target or group. For instance, we have over a hundred thousand travelers staying at our properties in a year, but we only have ~600 property owners. While 100% of the money that we generate comes from the travelers, the property OWNER that lets us manage their unit is who we consider our client. We build EVERYTHING around that relationship. We still do a great job for our travelers, but it is because that is a requirement to keep the relationship with our owners in good standing. Whenever we have to choose between making a guest happy and making an owner happy, we always choose the property owner. This narrows our focus from a hundred thousand targets, to a few hundred. Simple, but nearly everyone I meet seems unable to answer EXACTLY who their customer is and why.
5. What is the one overriding belief that RealJoy Vacations has about what it is doing?
We believe that we are excellent at what we do and that it helps people because we are doing a great job. Notice I didn't say we are "THE BEST" – that is impossible to prove and most people ignore those words in marketing anyway. We CAN prove that we are excellent and relay that to our prospects and clients in a way that is tangible for them. Who cares if we are the best if we are solving the needs of everyone depending on us.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, what do you do to keep up with the changes? What do you read to stay abreast of things?
Always put yourself in a position to be innovative and to try new things. This is facilitated by keeping all of your standard process and procedures SIMPLE and REPEATABLE. If the entire company runs smoothly, then you and your top few employees can have the freedom to try new things that take more finesse, experience, and skill than what is the standard. If that new thing doesn't work, only a few people wasted time on it, but when it does work you can then simplify and standardize that and make it the new normal for everyone in the company. This sort of innovation is what causes companies to multiply in size rather than to grow incrementally because your smartest people hand off their efforts to the larger group of regular employees to adopt after it has been refined. Once that handoff is complete you see everyone increase in productivity and your smartest people can move on to figuring out the next new thing.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead RealJoy Vacations?
My why is the people. Our company motto is "Because YOU matter." I love to see the impact that our company has on the employees, clients, vendors, and community. At the end of the day this world can only get better if we are all doing our best to help each other. The fruit of that effort, friends made, lives changed – that is worth more than all the money in the world.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
I love How to Run Your Business by The Book by Dave Anderson. https://www.amazon.com/How-Run-Your-Business-BOOK-ebook/dp/B0052NGH6G He takes all of the various issues in business and breaks them down using the bible as an anchor and common sense as a guide. I can't tell you how many times I've re-read that book before making an important decision in the business. Whether you are a Christian or not, the teachings in The Bible come from endless wisdom and experience…Why not leverage all of that for your own benefit?
9. In one sentence, can you tell us what the most important thing about being a leader is?
Authenticity! You don't have to be a great leader, you just have to actually care about the people around you and they have to know and trust that.
10. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as RealJoy Vacations?
Know your WHY, write it down, and stay true to that through thick and thin – You'll never stick to something unless the WHY is powerful and relevant to you in your heart and soul.
Micah, we would like to have some fun and do our famous “First Reaction” round with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, What makes a successful CEO?
Care about people
2. Describe RealJoy Vacations in one word?
3. Describe RealJoy Vacations customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee for RealJoy Vacations?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about RealJoy Vacations?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at RealJoy Vacations?
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?
Micah Berg, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Impact Player Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others to learn more about your company and what it takes to be a leader. We we wish you, your family, and of course RealJoy Vacations, nothing but the best.
The Micah Berg Roundtable Interview brought to you by DotCom Magazine.