Rob Hallstrand – LIFE Founder
Posted by Orrin Woodward on December 5, 2011
Today, I would like to start a series on each of the LIFE Founders. The first on my list is the CEO of LIFE, Rob Hallstrand. His story is a beautiful example of learning through the dreams, struggles, and victories in life.
I have known Rob since 1995, when he joined Chris Brady in our first community building business. When the TEAM took off in 1999, it was only natural to look for someone with his skill sets – accounting, character, work ethic, etc – to lead the TEAM. Rob led the office through our first wave of stellar growth, taking TEAM from a home business to a national leadership organization.
His leadership victory helped many people. However, what I am going to share next, is the reason Rob is one of the LIFE Founders.
It’s less in your victories that character is revealed and more in your failures. In 2004, the organization grew faster than Rob’s ability to lead it effectively. One of the most painful days of my life was having to sit down with Rob and explain that I was moving another leader in as CEO of TEAM, bumping him back to CFO – Chief Financial Officer.
In truth, few people would have handled a transition like this with the honor, dignity, and class Rob did. For not only did he do a first class job on the accounting side, but he also worked admirably with the new group of leaders running the TEAM office. Rob’s personal growth in this period was amazing. He started a personal development program through reading books, listening to CDs, and confronting areas of weakness in order to improve his leadership skills. He revolutionized his leadership capacity and the entire TEAM went through another growth surge, thanks to all the leaders of TEAM, both in the office and field.
With the TEAM’s continued growth, many other leaders within our old networking company requested to join TEAM. In retrospect, I should have gone slower in adding groups because I have learned how valuable the culture is to a company. Nonetheless, the TEAM plowed ahead, merging several organizations into TEAM which maxed leadership lids for many at the TEAM office.
Disaster struck in late 2007. I have studied the data from the years 2006-2009 extensively, seeking to learn the invaluable leadership lessons that failure teaches. In other words, don’t run from failures; learn from them. And boy, did I ever learn a ton.
There are probably only a handful of leaders in the country that could have handled the ridiculous leadership challenge (lawsuits, leaving our former company, etc) that hit the TEAM late 2007 through 2009, so I am thankful for everyone’s efforts to handle the task. However, when in 2009 the office cost-per-field-revenue was five times higher than previous benchmarks, I realized I needed to act fast or the TEAM would capsize. Many of our field leaders had lost 2/3’s of their income and as the leader of TEAM, both the office and the field, it was ultimately my responsibility to fix it.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I sat down with the Policy Council (PC) leaders and asked for each of them to pick an area at the office to help transform. I tapped Rob Hallstrand on the shoulder and asked him to take over the TEAM office as COO – Chief Operating Officer. I knew this was a “bet the company” move. Either the TEAM turned around its cost-to-revenue margins or the company would bankrupt itself.
The first thing Rob did was take the TEAM staff from 40 employees down to 20. I am sure this brought hardship to many former employees, but when the ship is sinking, dropping off 20 passengers to shore as quickly as possible was the only humane choice. Without drastic reductions, everyone in the TEAM office and field would have been out of business.
I am happy to report that our “bet the company” move was a success. In fact, this year the TEAM hit its all-time best monthly operating margin. This placed us in a position to launch LIFE. The TEAM has more than doubled its profits without increasing office expenses – a nearly impossible feat! Rob Hallstrand worked tirelessly with all the PC in each area at the office to streamline systems and cost. Someday I hope to write the book on this amazing leadership turnaround engineered by Rob Hallstrand and the PC. I am very proud of them all.
Along with surpassing every major benchmark in 2011, Rob also took the lead in launching LIFE. How he accomplished this task with only one additional employee is a true testament to Rob’s new leadership capacity. LIFE is going to be life-changing for so many, and it all goes back to the day when Rob Hallstrand confronted a temporary failure in his life. Instead of getting bitter, Rob chose to get better, thus growing into the leader necessary to run the LIFE business as its new CEO.
Congratulations Rob for a job well done and here is to a great future together! Sincerely, Orrin Woodward