Leaders are Readers Book Review Series – Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

“If you’re not growing, be it internally or externally, you’re dying.”

Leaders are readers traction

Welcome to the Leaders are Readers Book Review Series! In this series, I review business and personal development books with you, sharing my three biggest takeaways. If you have a pile of books right now that you just haven’t gotten to, then this is the blog post for you! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get learning!

This month I am reviewing the book that CHANGED everything for me: Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. In this review, instead of just talking about the literal ways this hard core business book and system can transform your business, I’m also going to be providing a different spin on what this book can teach us about life.

But first — a little history.

This book has been following me around for a year now. A little over a year ago, I started a lead recruiting role for Pathway Vet Alliance in which this book was required reading. I bought the book with every intention of reading it, but of course, learning about a new company and new role got the better of me, and instead it sat on the shelf.

Then flash forward to early February of this year, just two weeks after my life-changing AHA moment (you can read more about that here), I decided to give this book a read while my husband was out of town for the weekend. What transpired was another life-altering couple of days as I consumed and devoured every word in this book. You see, instead of building my loyalty to this great new company I had started working for, it reignited the fire of my lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur. That weekend I took out my journal and furiously started redesigning and dreaming of all the potentials of what I would want out of my life.

Then it seemed everywhere I turned, I met another person or business who had gained massive success from following the principles in this book. From learning the history of how the founders initially grew Pathway (copies of the book are even available when you walk into the main office in Austin), to hearing about how multiple 7 figure bloggers used this book to build their online companies to meeting a previous VP of Operations at Orange Theory Fitness in a women’s entrepreneurial workshop that is now a Professional EOS Implementer™, to even meeting more EOS Implementers in my current coaching program.

I think of all the signs this year from the Universe, utilizing the components in this book was it!

So, for those who are not familiar with the book or it’s components, here’s a brief summary:


Traction is based on the idea that every successful business needs an operating system. Just like a computer has a core operating system, so should your business. Throughout the book the author outlines the six key business components: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction® of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). Through systematizing these key areas you can gain control of your business, operate efficiently, and gain traction as you move your business forward.

Today, I am going to dive right in and discuss my three biggest takeaways from the book as well as offer a BIG idea about connecting business and life. I won’t go into all the 6 components so if you would like a more detailed summary, you can do so here.


“People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.”

How many times have you walked into a hospital or business and had no idea what the company or hospital stands for? How many of you right now could tell me your mission and top core values? Do you know where you see your business going in 10 years?

Most business owners, operations managers, and internal hospital leaders strive for success in their businesses. However, it’s all too easy to get caught up in external growth and not focus on real internal growth.

According to the labor of statistics, about 20% of businesses fail in the first year, 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year, and only 30% of businesses will survive their 10th year in business. The national average default rate of a SBA 7(a) 10-year loan in 2015 was 17.4%. For veterinary services, it was 4.3%. Veterinary businesses rarely fail. That’s good news for those wanting to own their own vet practice. And looking at growth trends, the industry has seen a 6.3% annual growth since 2014.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? So what does the low risk of failing veterinary businesses have to do with gaining clarity on your vision? Because I’ve seen that it is almost too easy not to focus on the internal growth of the business because it’s already exceeding externally. However, as the veterinary industry continues to boom a diminish in overall wellbeing continues.

And what is a way for business leaders to continue to grow their business but also improve employee satisfaction and overall well-being?

My answer is to go inward. Begin with the end in mind. Get clear on what your business means to you and how you can become a leader that helps change this profession for the better.

Gino Wickman in Traction created a brilliant and simple two-page business plan that allows the company’s vision to come to life using 8 questions to define where the company is headed and how they will get there. They are:

What are your core values?

What is your core focus?

What is your 10 year goal?

What is your marketing strategy?

What’s your 3 year vision?

What’s your 1 year plan?

What are your quarterly rocks?

What are the issues?

Gather your leaders for a weekend retreat. Create a team approach to see where your business is going in 10 years and then work down the list. Invite the whole team to a half day workshop and have the team help develop and refine what the company’s vision, mission, and values are currently.

I look at many veterinary hospitals doing well right now and I know they can be even better. By gaining this clarity and allowing the whole team to be a part of this process will create the needed buy-in and renew a sense of loyalty to you as the leader and the hospital as the company.

The EOS system has many free tools and you can download your own Vision/Traction Organizer™ here.


Once you have identified your company’s vision, it’s time to look at your people. As a recruiter, one of my favorite parts of the position was coaching and mentoring hospital leaders to discover how they can create their dream team.

In the book, Gino outlines how to develop this dream team by placing the right people in the right seats. Two simple equations are:

Core Values + People Analyzer = Right People

Unique Ability® + Accountability Chart = Right Seats.

Gino defines the right people are the ones who share the company’s core values, and are operating using their Unique Ability®. A person’s unique ability is their strengths and passions. The EOS system has a tool, The People Analyzer® that can help evaluate your current and future employees and clearly identify if someone fits in your culture and are in the right seat.

You can have the right person in the wrong seat and even the wrong person in the right seat. All too often we hear of the toxic person in the company that is so good that you struggle to get rid of them. But the reality is they are killing your business in the long run.

They either don’t share the same core values or the business is not operating according to its core values, which is all too often the case. In that scenario it’s no wonder why you as the leader are having such a hard time deciding what to do with this toxic employee.

To help determine if you have the right people in the right seats make sure to utilize The People Analyzer® tool and if there is a potential toxic employee, use the three strike rule.

The three strike rule is:

Strike One: Discuss and document the issue or problem and determine what expectations you would like to see followed through. Allow 30 days to see if the issue/problem improves.

Strike Two: If you don’t see improvement, discuss again and give another 30 days.

Strike Three: If you still don’t see improvement, this person must go!!!

Have a transparent system documented so everyone on the team knows that these are the procedures in place and then actually stick to the process.

I’ve seen far to many toxic people hanging around because they are excellent doctors, technicians, etc. First, give them the benefit of the doubt and get clear on the company’s mission and values. Secondly, identify if that person is the right person in the right seat. They may just need a new seat. Thirdly, if needed, follow the three strike rule and if they’ve made it to the third strike, do the daring thing, and let them go. The remainder of your employees will thank you for it, and in the long run, your business will do better.


It’s one thing to do the homework of determining your vision, analyzing your people, developing your processes, but another thing to actually follow through on the execution.

So how do you bring the much needed traction to life?

You need to be utilizing and reviewing your VTO weekly then updating it quarterly and annually. The quarterly rocks you determined need to be where you get laser focused in your business. If you’re a visionary like me and have and abundance mindset, there will always be opportunities or new things to try. Humans have a short attention span so break those big 10 or 5 year dreams into bite-sized chunks.

Well run meetings are essential for accountability and results. The EOS systems outlines a specific way to run meetings for better efficiency call the Meeting Pulse™. You can download the checklist here. The meeting pulse is made up your annual, quarterly, and weekly meetings.

We’ve all sat through our share of meetings with no focus or agenda and these quarterly and weekly meetings follow a structure and processes that can be the real game changer to keep moving the business forward.
By committing to only working through issues and needs that make it to your rocks list and honing in your meeting skills, you can gain massive traction.

Within a year, you can have a totally different looking business.


Now before I end this review I technically have one more takeaway from this book. And more importantly it is my biggest AHA from seeing all these businesses and leaders reach massive success after adopting the principles in this book.

As mentioned earlier, just like a computer has a core operating system, so should your business. And if a business can reach massive success by developing a core operating system, why can’t our lives?

Seriously! What do all of these massively brilliant companies have in common? They did the internal work of going inward to create massive outward transformations in their businesses.

As I am in the process of becoming a core energy coach, this question is one of the main questions on my mind as I develop a transformative coaching program that creates lasting success with my clients. What if business leaders made sure their personal lives were aligned with their business goals? What if all individuals started treating their lives like a successful company? What changes could they see?
Let’s briefly look at the 6 principles from a life perspective:

Vision: Learn to live a principle driven life with your own set of core values and purpose. Dream big and develop a 10 year plan and then figure out what you would need to do in 5 years, 1 year, and the next 90 days to achieve this big dream.

People: Have the right people in the right seats. Start questioning those around you and ask yourself what toxic people are you letting stay in your life instead. It’s time to learn to not let what they say bother you or learn to let them go.

Data: Stop running your life on subjective opinions or impulsive thoughts. Stop breaking the own rules and promises you made to yourself. Instead utilize a tool such as the Wheel of Life to develop your own scorecard to know exactly what areas of your life you would like to see improved.

Issues: The most successful people realize issues and problems are just opportunities. The less time spend ruminating on problems the more satisfied you will be in your life. Working through fear of conflict, lack of focus or discipline and letting go of your ego, can turn any issue into an opportunity.

Process: Developing a unique system and daily routine may seem counter-intuitive to create more freedom for yourself, however the more disciplined you get in your time management process the more freedom you ultimately create.

Traction: Just like a business, if you have any big dream or goal, breaking it up into smaller action sized steps and just putting one foot in front of the other will create massive results. Consistency is what pays off in the end. Building into your schedule 1 hour a week to review your own meeting pulse as well as blocking out time for your own quarterly and annual life meetings can be the game changer to finally achieving that life long goal.

So whether you are a business leader who has yet to adopt part of the Traction system in your business or an individual who’s curious about finally going after a big dream, I hope you enjoyed this book review and analysis.

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