Annette Walter is a trusted advisor and savvy company strategist who has built her career managing business operations and development, marketing, and financial analysis for both private and public companies.
Her dedication to providing excellence in everything she does started early in her career, when she was ranked in the top one percent in customer service nationally and as a top producer for SunTrust Mortgage. Prior to acquiring Timber, she was the Chief Operating Officer and co-founding partner of The Strata Group, a full-service residential real estate firm.
From its inception in 2007, Annette steered the company growth from a staff of 35 to 300, expanded to 17 locations, and quickly reached the $20 million mark. Ultimately, the company sold merging pieces five years later to Prudential Home Realty, which was later, acquired by Berkshire Hathaway.
- Always be relevant to your audience
- Build a process then continually improve it
- Always create value for your clients
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:37
So today I have the privilege of interviewing Annette Walter, the big enchilada at iEvolve Consulting. Love the name. Why did you pick iEvolve?
Annette Walter 0:46
Oh, wow. Okay. Well, thank you. First of all, good morning, thank you so much for having me. I'm so honored. I, I am so excited about iEvolve. The concept and the name and the brand of iEvolve, was birthed in 2011, after I had sold my former company, and exited from that. And I someone had reached out to me on Facebook, a dear friend that said that they needed some operational help. And they didn't want to hire a full time Director of Operations or a Chief Operating Officer. And I told him that basically, I would sit down and help him and basically look at what his day was and help him delegate.
Umar Hameed 1:34
So wanted to go from like a normal car to a race car.
Annette Walter 1:36
Yes, yes, absolutely. Right. I've heard analogy there. Yes. And just to kind of get out of the weeds get out of his own way. And we really looked at who was in front of him and what that looked like, and really how he could grow. Because sometimes you just can't see it. So I remember coming home and actually talking to my husband and saying, I think this is really something because A. I feel so excited and like juiced and passionate about the work I did and what I helped to do. And I was like he's he really evolved just in that session, I was like, I love that word evolve. And I looked through, you know, when you kind of start a business or scratch out everything and get all excited about a name. And iEvolve just really happened. And instantly, I pictured the logo with the eye and the circle around the A. Because we're all on an evolution, right?
Umar Hameed 2:24
Absolutely. So what's kind of curious is, when we help other people, the insights we get on the craft on ourselves. So as we help them we evolve at the same time, right?
Annette Walter 2:37
Mm hmm. Absolutely.
Umar Hameed 2:38
And we and we get paid for it?
Annette Walter 2:41
Well, you know, it's interesting. And I, I also run a national business alongside iEvolve Consulting called Timber Industries. So I really feel so in it with my clients. And that's that's I think what is a big differentiator is that I'm living these sleepless nights, I'm having the same aches and pains that they are, and of when to hire, who to hire, how to hire. So you always have to study the market, because the fun that we get to have in business is really that everything's changing, whether economy or technology or new ways of doing things. That's the fun part. And to be a constant learner, like you are, is really what makes us grow.
Umar Hameed 3:30
So here are some of the most important words, I think ever thought of. One is Relevance. And since the world is changing continually, it's so easy for companies and for people to lose sight of what is relevant now. And they're stuck in the past. So I think one of the things we do as great leaders is keep your finger on the pulse so you can stay relevant with your audience.
Annette Walter 3:56
Right and humble.
Umar Hameed 3:57
Yeah, and the other part is integrity. And integrity is such a cliché. But I think when you have really know who you are and what you stand for
Annette Walter 4:09
Umar Hameed 4:09
Annette Walter 4:10
Umar Hameed 4:11
And but you need to know what that is.
Annette Walter 4:13
Umar Hameed 4:13
And I think if you've got integrity for yourself, and the business that you have grown, that is really important in the last word, I think is focus.
Annette Walter 4:21
Umar Hameed 4:22
Because it's so easy to get distracted, or get caught up in ego, right? And all kinds of pitfalls, but if you can do those three things, stay relevant, keep your integrity and keep your focus. You can do amazing things. And that's what you help leaders do, right?
Annette Walter 4:37
Yes, I do. And, you know, each of them are such important parts and I loved how you just sum that up, and it's, so the integrity piece, I think, is just the most important. They're all very, very igly, but and it does sound like one of those platitudes, but it is, it is it's something that lives in you.
Umar Hameed 5:00
Annette Walter 5:00
And if you always want to do good and serve good and really feel that, then you know, nothing really else matters. Everything else will follow will follow. And I know that sounds so cliché, but it's true.
Umar Hameed 5:12
It's true. But also, if let's say, integrity is all about being who you are. And if it is, I'm here to make a shit ton of money. And then you say,
Annette Walter 5:12
I though you told me not to cut.
Umar Hameed 5:13
Your stuff out myself saying yeah, but if you bring on this veneer of, I'm here to do good and social change. And that isn't you, then you're being inauthentic. We have friends in our lives right now that have flaws. So we can do one of two things about it. One, we can continue to complain about it, too, we can not be friends with them. Or three, what we do many times is we accept that. I love all this other stuff. And that's not so much but I happily tolerate it because I am a better person when I'm in this person's presence. And I think the same thing is true once we get who we are and what we want to build and why I think it's so critical to stay true to that and not be seduced into "Well, this is what I'm supposed to say", and "This is what I'm supposed to do".
Annette Walter 6:08
Umar Hameed 6:08
And anyway, interesting.
Annette Walter 6:10
Absolutely. Well, and I think to get to that point, to spin it around the flip side, oftentimes clients out there, and businesses out there, they are looking for a magic wand or quick fix.
Umar Hameed 6:25
Annette Walter 6:25
Or they think they need a vendor for the wrong reasons. So oftentimes, they aren't fully committed or fully understand that engagement, whatever it is, whether they're looking at SEO, Vendors, or they're looking to hire a business development person, they think they need that. Because that's what they are sensing, but they really don't do that deeper work to really understand what it is. And that's where you can really save a ton of money and time and be more efficient. And that's really what the work is that I do that focuses on it's like, wait a minute, wait a minute, don't just say, okay, there's they're they, accept, they're saying exactly what I need.
Umar Hameed 7:08
Annette Walter 7:09
Right. Do you agree?
Umar Hameed 7:10
Absolutely. And I think very much what it's what we need to pay attention to, I think, is our, our minds are so incredible. And the number one thing that we are gifted at as a species is rationalizing. And I think our body tells us the truth. And when we go to do something, when fear comes up, we're so trained that if fear comes up anxiety comes up that we shy away from it, when the very answer is on the other side of that, but we rationalize that I'm shying away from it. Oh, so I need a business development person, they're going to solve this magical problem, where the problem might be, am I connecting with the right people with the right way? Because if I get somebody else that's good at connecting with they don't connect with the right people? How many people do you know as you're leading leaders of companies that they hire that bizdev person, only to be reluctant to fire them six months later, when they should have done it after month? One?
Annette Walter 8:12
Yes, I've seen it happen too frequently. Absolutely. And it and there, they are actually approaching it in the traditional way.
Umar Hameed 8:21
Annette Walter 8:21
And sometimes you just have to mix it all up and go at it at a non traditional way. You know, at Timber Industries, we outsource our sales to to San Salvador. So I know exactly what type of client we target with one particular product at timber industry.
Annette Walter 8:40
And exactly what the message is.
Annette Walter 8:41
And exactly the message is. So we have one dedicated person who is hyper focused on, geo targeted, and just making productive calls for us, and it works for us. But I wasn't about to go and hire a high paid salesperson for them to produce maybe a year and a half from then. I really knew exactly what I needed and wanted. So I broke down that piece.
Umar Hameed 9:12
Annette Walter 9:12
And, and and segmented it and sometimes when you just speak with a business owner about what that true date is, and you get smart about it. And you really just clear your head of the traditional ways of doing things. There's so many resources out there.
Umar Hameed 9:27
Brilliant. And I want to just backtrack a little bit, because I think you said something fundamentally important for life and for business, is you figured out what was needed and you broke down the components. And even though you're brilliant, I'm sure some of the things that you figured out were wrong, because you made that process and broke it down is the only way to figure out what's broken, right. We tend to shoot from the hip. And then when the thing doesn't work, the whole thing doesn't work and we try different things blindly. But when you have that process in place, right? And a lot of people say no, no, but I'm creative. I imagine No, yeah, even art is a science.
Annette Walter 10:04
Umar Hameed 10:05
And so I think, yeah, breaking down that problem. Yeah. And then you can test each segment to figure out, oh, a lot of times when I do workshops, sometimes in my brilliance, things don't work out, well over here,.
Annette Walter 10:17
Umar Hameed 10:17
And then I go, Okay, I need to introduce this idea, maybe over here and see if that makes a difference over there. So is it the idea here? Or is it because I didn't actually do an introduction up there? And then I try that, and either it works well, or it doesn't. But because there's a process in place, I have a hope of figuring it out.
Annette Walter 10:38
Right? Absolutely. Absolutely.
Umar Hameed 10:41
So as how many business owners have you worked with in the last couple of years?
Annette Walter 10:47
Oh, wow. It has been a healthy number in various industries and across the United States.
Umar Hameed 10:55
So a bunch?
Annette Walter 10:56
Yes, yes. And various sized businesses, male, female, and various industries. It's been great.
Umar Hameed 11:04
Earlier on, we were just chatting about one of your children. How old?
Annette Walter 11:09
He is now nine? Yes, my oldest is nine.
Umar Hameed 11:11
And his name?
Annette Walter 11:12
Umar Hameed 11:13
So Wyatt. When Wyatt is let's say, 20, something and he goes, I want to start a business. If they were five keys, you would say okay, because oftentimes, you know, as leaders we talked about, these are the things you need to know. But if somebody that we truly love dearly, we go, Okay, this is what you really need to know.
Annette Walter 11:31
Umar Hameed 11:32
So what would be the wisdom that you would impart on Wyatt to say, if you want to build a successful business, here are the critical elements you need to know.
Annette Walter 11:40
Well, that's a great question and why I don't think why it's gonna wait until he's 20 to start a business.
Umar Hameed 11:45
Annette Walter 11:46
He's, he's already got a lot of great stuff going, which is really fun. We involve them in every aspect of building this company, whether they want it one day or not, but they really see what we're building and growing. In fact, they have their own business cards, and they're, they're part of the team. So. But my advice would be to make sure that you are truly tied to the work you do.
Umar Hameed 12:10
Annette Walter 12:11
And, you know, so he has a supreme purpose right now with what he's going through in his life. Personally, he was just diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. So his brain is just running 24/7 about how to make the technology better, faster, easier for kids. It's wild.
Umar Hameed 12:30
That is crazy.
Annette Walter 12:32
I don't want to take us off the rails, I know.
Annette Walter 12:33
No, no. I mean it's all interconnected. Right? So go deeper into that, that you're connected with the business. What do you specifically mean about that?
Annette Walter 12:40
Well,I really see entrepreneurs struggle with two things, mainly. Number one, they are so highly creative, and have so many business ideas that are constantly coming to them, that they either don't have enough space to create and the team around them to do what they do well, or it's becoming that they're, so cluttered and can't even think straight to build the team around them. And then the other side of that, number two of that is that they're practitioners who put on the business hat, so experts in their field, and they organically think that the next step is to become business owners. And that again, takes them away from their trade, their expertise, and then at the end that their true passion. And they're putting on a different hat altogether. And that makes them miserable.
Umar Hameed 13:36
I was watching the show, like a million years ago, cuz I'm going to talk about something called Lotus 123. Okay, he's like the granddaddy of spreadsheets.
Annette Walter 13:44
I mean, yes. Oh, yes, I do remember that.
Umar Hameed 13:46
And so the guy that developed it, when it became a real company and started to grow, I believe that he stepped aside and brought in another CEO to take over because it was like, I don't enjoy that stuff. I want to be creating. And so he had the wisdom of bringing somebody in that was good at managing as a different skill set. And you don't see that all that often. When people say, Hey, this is the lane I want to play. And this is where I had the highest value. Yes. And so that's number one, being connected with what you're doing.
Annette Walter 14:15
Umar Hameed 14:16
What else should people know?
Annette Walter 14:18
I would say something that scares you enough and excite you enough that you want to make an impact in that field, and in that market in that space, but also drives you enough to to get past that fear.
Umar Hameed 14:33
Annette Walter 14:35
And that would be number two, which is kind of I guess, a little bit like number one.
Umar Hameed 14:38
It is but it's the same. It's you know, really being connected to what you're doing.
Annette Walter 14:41
Yes, connected. Yeah. So yeah.
Umar Hameed 14:43
But having enough passion that allows you to overcome the fear and move forward. And that's called called courage, right?
Annette Walter 14:49
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Umar Hameed 14:51
I got tripped up there for a second.
Annette Walter 14:54
We know that too well, right? So and I think the third thing would be being able to have a space where you are humble. Especially when I see this in both men and women. We have this tough armor on.
Umar Hameed 15:10
Annette Walter 15:11
And we think that we need to know it all, do it all, be it all, you know, in I felt this way, in my early banking days, I felt like I had to kind of play the part and be all, you know, corporate and everything. And now being on the flip side of things where it is truly where I belong. I appreciate my path and everything that it taught me and I wouldn't change any on my path.
Umar Hameed 15:13
It gotcha here today, right?
Annette Walter 15:37
Yeah, because of everything that I learned. But who I am today is so different than who I thought I had to be.
Umar Hameed 15:44
So just to kind of add to that, I think we all have three phases. We have this face that we show the outside world, and I call that the illusion. And sometimes this what you described, we have this armor on, I am strong, powerful, sophisticated, sexy, whatever that thing is. But also, there's other people that have this illusion, they show the outside world, look at me, I'm broken, I'm tragic, I won't amount to anything, then we have something worse. I think it's called the I call it the delusion. This is who I think I am. And oftentimes, it's quite different than what we portray to the outside world.
Annette Walter 16:21
Umar Hameed 16:22
And it takes a lot of effort to balance the two. And then we have this third spot. That's the authentic self.
Annette Walter 16:29
Umar Hameed 16:30
And I think leaders when they achieve true power, is when they uncover who they are, and then they can just be and then there is no more delusion of this, who I think I am, they're brave enough, then it becomes that.
Annette Walter 16:44
Umar Hameed 16:45
And if they become braver, still, this is what they show the outside world. When you do that, people around you feel so comfortable in your presence, because there isn't that angst of trying to balance the three. They may not know what it is, but they can just sense I feel comfortable in your presence. And we also feel comfortable in our presence. And that allows us to do spectacular things.
Annette Walter 17:07
Absolutely. Right. And, and no one wants to feel the end of the week, like they were on all week and that they're exhausted that when they get home and families then they're just spent. And I really, there's so much power in fully understanding, being open to growing towards that and really showing up in all aspects of your life as your fun, authentic self, because.
Umar Hameed 17:32
And you may not be fun. You may not make fun, But what's your authentic self? Yeah, absolutely. Because, for me, that's important too. Like, for me, as I look at my values, the highest value is learning cool stuff. Brings me no end of joy,
Annette Walter 17:54
Umar Hameed 17:56
Also, having fun is important. And one thing that was missing from my list that I am purposely putting in there is money. Because it just wasn't that important. Like there's always been enough money. But it just wasn't on that list. And this year consciously. I'm saying, Okay, put that in the values, because it's one thing to have. But when you do that, you get to be yourself. Also, when you're yourself, there's going to be some people out there that think you're an idiot. But when you're pretending to be somebody else, and people like you, then they don't really like you. And they're still going to be people that you're an idiot. So be yourself and find that authentic connection. So we've just met. And I'm not sure about you, but I really get this sense of kindred spirit. And it feels like we've known each other for a good long while.
Annette Walter 18:48
Absolutely, absolutely. It was it was. You know, it's interesting when you do really connect with people, and I really care about the work that you're doing and about, you know, what you're going through and and your path and I'm so happy we have the opportunity to do this. I want to just go back to what the about, you know, the money thing?
Umar Hameed 18:48
Annette Walter 18:48
I think that that's interesting. And I, I have shifted my mindset, I hope it's okay, if we talk about this.
Umar Hameed 19:03
Annette Walter 19:04
And so, I have shifted my mindset into really the value. I think it's more about value of feeling and delivering and, and translating the value of the work that you do. And I don't know how that is different than money.
Umar Hameed 19:45
So let me pause you right there. So that's actually that actually. So when somebody has. Hold that thought, if we go to a roomful of salespeople, 100 salespeople In the room from all different companies, large companies, small companies independence, and you ask them this question, please complete this sentence for me money is, and then someone will say, powerful, sexy, amazing. And then someone else will say, root of all evil causes fights, makes you sleazy. Guess which list ends up being larger?
Annette Walter 20:26
I would say the latter, I think.
Umar Hameed 20:27
By two or three times. And these are sales people that you know, money is really important to them.
Annette Walter 20:31
Right? I'm picturing like the wolf on wall street right now.
Umar Hameed 20:34
Yeah. And so there are the beliefs in society around money, and we absorb those. And so when we don't have a good relationship with money, and somebody says something crazy, like what you're talking about, you should sell on value, you know what happens? Those people cave in on price all the time. But when you have a good relationship with money, you can attentively sell on value. Because when you don't have a good relationship with money, then you're basically trying to be a salesperson, and.
Annette Walter 21:02
Survive, and right, yeah.
Umar Hameed 21:03
So we've all seen this, well, you're getting this much for this program that's $10,000 in this and you see that stacking up, that's done, which is inauthentic. But when you're authentic and you feel comfortable with money, you can say, you know, how much is this problem costing you? I can help you solve it quickly. If I help you solve it quickly, what's that worth for you? And most people will say that's worth a lot. And it's better to sell on value, then discount what you're worth. But you can only do that if you feel comfortable in your skin. And you have a good relationship with money. Because if you don't have that, then the value conversation doesn't go in the right direction. Because a person can sense. I'm picking up a vibe that's not real or this something makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm gonna hold back. So they're related. And I think the highest manifestation of you having a good relationship with money is you can authentically sell on value. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, that's what it's where someone asks you one last question before we parted company.
Annette Walter 22:05
That was that?
Umar Hameed 22:06
Yeah, I forget the name of the drug manufacturer, they have a cure for Hep C. Okay. So if you have diabetes, this is a lifelong condition that you need to take drugs fibrous to your life. And you go for a really long time. So this company comes in and say, Look, we are going to cure Hep C, I'm not sure whether it's 30 days, or 90 days, one of the two, but it's going to cost you $90,000 to cure it. And there is such an uproar in society that How could you charge that much money for this? And they're saying, look, we are curing this for you. And so that really is an interesting thing to look at. Right? Because you and I are talking about value? And in the business sense, but does your thinking change? Because then you go from a business sense to go to a mom. Or a human being and it's about medicine. Does that value system change? Do you think there's a different set of rules?
Annette Walter 23:04
Well, I, I, I love where you're going with this. And I think it's so interesting, you know, as a mother, who has a child going through type one Diabetes, you know, the first thing that my husband and I said is can we give him our pancreas? You know, can we? What can we do? So I think that and I always come from the mindset of we will figure it out, we will do whatever we can to make this better for our children to make a better life for our children. So and I don't get scared or have fear about that. Because I trust and believe that much in us to always, you know, always hustle and always work and get through that. And you know, but that was one of the first things that we said was will Can Can we have this and not him had to take this away from him. But after we realize that it's an autoimmune that would attack another pancreas, in his body, or that's why artificial pancreas is haven't come so far, because the actual autoimmune within his body that would probably shut it down again. And that's when we go to resilience and heart and his purpose. And, you know, he he was chosen for a reason God chooses his his soldiers very carefully. And I think that he really has his moments of upset, but he really is persevering through this and it's going to make a difference. It's pretty cool to watch.
Umar Hameed 24:30
Hi five for him. And this is where I'd like to depart our conversation is that when we uncover a purpose, every single human being on planet Earth has a purpose why they here, when we uncover that, like this is quote from Mark Twain that if people kind of banty about the two most important days in your life, the day you're born, and the day you figure out why.
Annette Walter 24:51
Yeah, I just read that the other day.
Umar Hameed 24:53
I come at it from a very authentic fashion. And I know this is whole big movement. You know, what's your wife, your company doesn't have a wall. Once a vide, from my point of view, what a bunch of bullshit. Because a lot of times people come in and they come in with this artificial wire what they should be doing. And I think life is all about being authentic. If you can uncover your authentic, why is your company make that the mission for the company? Absolutely 100% hallelujah. But when you have a consultant coming in and you take a look at, we're going to talk to your customers and your employees and I'm a futurist and it's like, excuse the hand gesture, but it's just such a waste of time. Annette, the time flew by. It was such a joy, chatting with you, I know. And what I want to do is to get people to come find you and have a short installment where we have this conversation. Okay, so how can people come connect with you?
Annette Walter 25:49
Oh, absolutely. So if they want to email me, they can email me at yourock@ievolveconsulting.
Annette Walter 25:54
Oh, give me another high five. I love it.
Annette Walter 25:57
Because people out there do rock and they deserve to really find their purpose. And it's pretty cool.
Umar Hameed 26:03
It's so Flintstones. I love it.
Annette Walter 26:06
And on Instagram I am at iEvolve daily. And I'm also on LinkedIn under net Walter, www.iEvolveconsulting.com. We've got a great Facebook group called Masters Of Entrepreneurship, that it's a private closed book, but we we posted that pretty often I go live in there and it's a great platform. I think that social media is just so fun and a great way to hang out with people. So it's, it's great, but thank you so much, honestly, thank you for this conversation. And I'm just I'm just so grateful.
Umar Hameed 26:41
I'm gonna ask you one last question and it is so weird question. Okay, so feel free not to answer it.
Annette Walter 26:47
Oh gosh. You're making e nervous.
Umar Hameed 26:50
So as a businesswoman and a leader, what is your biggest fear?
Annette Walter 26:54
My biggest fear?
Umar Hameed 26:56
Other than the spiders?
Annette Walter 27:03
Wow, my biggest fear? I would have to say I just feel though as I don't even know I don't think I have a lot of fears. I but if I guess I had to pick one um I fear honestly, that I won't be able to serve enough people that my message and my purpose once I once I do the work it's such an on iEvolve consulting, obviously Timbers more of a commodity based. But iEvolve consulting, I know the work that I do, and I know I'm only one person. So I can't clone myself but I'm working on ways to clone myself to get out there to serve more people. So I'm.
Umar Hameed 27:49
To serving a bigger audience.
Annette Walter 27:50
Yes, yeah. I just I I fear that more people need this and i and i just want to be able to get to them. So I don't know if it's a fear or
Umar Hameed 27:58
No, that's a that is a fear is a good word for it so might be labeled something else but I think thank you for sharing.
Annette Walter 28:04
Yes, yes. I mean, I don't I'm not really that much afraid.
Umar Hameed 28:07
You just let me.
Annette Walter 28:08
Right? Am I? Oh no, I'm afraid of.
Umar Hameed 28:16
if you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.