For the past 25 years, Carl J Cox has been an executive leader and board member with multiple organizations with operations in four continents. Here we find out about how his company 40 Strategy plans to positively impact over a million people by 2030.

It’s often said that in business that you can’t have it all. Entrepreneurs may reap the profits of their hard work, but it comes at a cost, with many experiencing family issues, burnout and even long-term health problems as a result. And even then, having a great idea isn’t necessarily a golden ticket to success – in fact, more than 90% of strategic plans fail and over 20% of small businesses fold within their first year. Often, this is because CEOs are too tied up in the day-to-day operations to think about how to make the most of their resources or create processes that work for them. Seasoned business guru and podcast host Carl J Cox has dedicated his career to helping CEOs find a better way.

Over the past three decades, Oregon based Carl J Cox has worked as an executive, creating strategic plans that have helped organisations see sustainable growth from between 2x and 7x. His CV includes some of the world’s biggest organisations across a range of industries including manufacturing, automation and software, but the majority of his career has been spent supporting smaller businesses achieve the kind of growth that would have previously seemed impossible.

Carl’s work isn’t just about showing business leaders how to scale, it’s about showing them how to create a healthy work/life balance. His initiative 40 Strategy is all about creating a life that allows more family time and shorter working weeks – without compromising on profits. Carl has taken everything he’s learned throughout his years at the top to help small to mid-sized business owners streamline processes, become more productive and reclaim the parts of life that matter most to them.

40 Strategy…what’s in a name?

40 Strategy was named because most organisations spend just 2% of their time on strategy, which equates to 40 hours a year. Carl has learned that there is a better alternative to traditional strategic planning methods, which time after time deliver dismal results. By working closely with business leaders, 40 Strategy acts as an expert mentor throughout the planning process, not only helping businesses deliver winning strategies but also enabling them to finish in the Top 10% compared to their competitors.

Successful growth means changing habits

Carl firmly believes that for a company to truly scale, it needs to first change its habits – many of which will have become deeply ingrained over years. He and the team at 40 Strategy work closely with business leaders to help them tackle core issues low motivation, overwork, burnout and failure to delegate.  They also show leaders how to overcome analysis paralysis, stalled growth and isolation. By facing these challenges head on and developing strategies that foster long term, achievable growth, 40 Strategy equips partners with the tools, knowledge and habits required to scale up to $40M and beyond. 

A three-pronged approach to successful strategies

40 Strategy is based on a three-pronged approach: People, Processes and Systems. It’s a tried and tested formula which has transformed stressed CEOs experiencing severe burnout into healthy, happy leaders whose lives no longer revolve around work. Unlike some business development programs that focus on short-term hyper-growth, the 40 Strategy way sets organisations up for long-term, sustainable success with highly effective strategic plans and the accountability to stick to them. 

Best practices in strategic planning

Carl recommends a number of best practices for building a successful strategic plan, the top three of which are:

  1. Focus on initiatives that will create the most value. Leaders should list all potential strategic initiatives, then rank them according to feasibility and organisational impact. For the best chance of success, he recommends focusing on no more than three strategic initiatives at once.
  2. Choose KPIs that are leading indicators (not lagging). Instead of focusing on the outcome, Carl says leaders should focus on the behaviours that lead to them. A successful strategic plan should measure behaviours and actions that can be controlled and monitored regularly, rather than focusing on things that have already happened. 
  3. Make accountability a core part of the business strategy – leaders often take their eye off the ball because they get too busy and fall back into old habits. By setting clear deadlines, establishing roles and ensuring regular check-ins take place, everyone can stay on track and feel more accountable for their work. 

Those who partner with 40 Strategy have access to a special 8-hour program aimed at small-to-medium business owners. The program is based on Carl’s CAPTAIN strategy:

C – Compass [Alignment System] which teaches participants how to get buy-in from their whole team and craft a vision that everyone wants to get behind. 

A – Aspire [Goal System] which defines the “what”: which big, audacious (but achievable) goals their organisations want to chase.

P – Plan [Strategy System] Defining the milestones and action steps needed for success.

T – Trim [Focus System] Scaling businesses by cutting the fat and shifting focus to the most high-value activities. 

A – Act [Launch System] Setting clear deadlines for each step of the strategic plan, then helping teams generate quick wins.

 I – Illuminate [Measuring System] According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that focus on the right leading indicators can triple their success, so this section focuses on which elements to measure and why.

N – Navigate [Learning System] This part evaluates what’s working and not working, and uses the insights to iterate on strategy. 

40 Strategy 2030 Vision

Between now and 2030, 40 Strategy plans to positively impact over a million people, ten thousand organisations indirectly and one hundred organisations directly. The first 10% of all revenues will be given to charity, and the goal is to give over $1 million in donations. The company works with multiple charities, including gang rehabilitation program Homeboy Industries and Opportunity International, which aims to break the cycle of poverty. 

To find out more about 40 Strategy, visit Carl J Cox also hosts the Measure Success Podcast, which can be subscribed to here, and he is the author of the forthcoming book, Lost at CEO: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Strategy.