“Excelling at anything requires a laser-focused initiative on the details to unleash brilliance.”


Welcome to the show. Today, I’m going to be talking about why it is absolutely my fault, and how you can learn from my mistakes.


Part of any business that wants to grow is acknowledging that things are ultimately the owner’s fault. We can replace the owner with founder, CEO, partners, and any adjective we want to describe the person in charge. Interestingly, I’m in this beautiful position as the CEO of an incredible company called MIT45. We operate in this obscure space that’s called Kratom. I learned what Kratom was when I got brought in as a consultant in 2018 or 2019. I didn’t understand the industry, didn’t understand the customers, just understood business. As my business progressed, I went from consultant to COO, partner to CEO. I can even go to, I’ll say, a managing partner. I have two other individuals who are part of this company, my partners. We’ve grown this thing to around 85, maybe 90 full-time employees—lots of upward momentum from 2018 until now. The businesses went through what I’ll call four or five Iterations in Life. When I came around, we were conceptually 5 million a year in annualized revenue, had 10 or 15 employees, and it was a different environment. Let’s look at the forecast for this year; we will be north of 100 million in revenue and north of 120 employees. It’s very different.


Think about how long it has taken you to grow your own enterprise, but how rapidly it can all go away.”


But some things remain the same. That’s ultimately the responsibility. That responsibility ultimately falls on my shoulders. Now, this isn’t to be a martyr. I think that’s another part that you and I need to have a conversation about. Just for this moment in time, I am sharing that something is my fault. It isn’t making me a hero or a victim; it’s just how I look at business. If we are falling short of hitting our numbers, it is my fault. If there is confusion inside the landscape of our business, on the direction we’re going, the speed we’re going to run, or where we’re aiming for, it is my fault. If we’re having staffing issues, specifically in the C-suite, and some conversations are inefficient or ineffective, while it is easy for me to point my finger outward, it ultimately gets reflected at me; it is my fault. This is a painful reality. It’s a painful reality as I look at this first month of 2023 in January.


I’ve got two days left for the month. Our forecast has us six and a half million in revenue for this month, maybe slightly north of that. We’re roughly 30% off. Now our business is back of month, heavily weighted in revenue. The customers who buy our product typically buy those last 2, 3, or 4 days of the month. It doesn’t surprise me right now, but it frustrates me. It frustrates me because I want to dominate forecasts. I want to dominate the industry. I want to be the preeminent force in this obscure space that we operate in.

Ryan Niddel Show

 For a business to grow, the owner must take ultimate responsibility for failures.



You have to understand what I’m talking about. If you’re the type of person who’s okay with being second, third, or fourth in your industry, you’re not going to like what I have to say. This show won’t serve you at all. This doesn’t mean we have to have this braggadocious ego that drives us. I call that “The Biggie versus The Smallie.” That big ego that you outwardly project how great you are, how successful you are, how much money you have, the trips you go on, the watches you wear, the cars you drive, that’s that Biggie shouting for people’s attention. That’s the scared child inside of you that needs adulation because he didn’t get enough when you were young.


We could just admit that to one another. But there’s a Smallie, and that Smallie is more internal. That is the ego that drives you and me to achieve the most unfathomable things. It was unfathomable at one point in time to say, “I want to dominate an industry; I want to be the absolute best CEO that our industry has seen.” Then, I want to lift myself into being one of the best CEOs, period. Now I want to suggest that I don’t have that, that I’m not there now. So don’t say the word, “I want to with how I operate my daily life.” It’s what I need to be; I know I am that person, and I simply have to catch up. That’d be a conversation for another day between you and me. At this moment, it is still about that extreme level of ownership. It’s about stating the fact that we’re behind forecasts. While I want to point at my Director of Sales and Chief Revenue Officer, while I want to point at my CMO, while I want to point everywhere else, I can’t. I guess specifically, I could; it just wouldn’t do me any good because leading comes from the front. Leading comes from the determination of how I will choose to show up each day and in each conversation with not only myself but also the people who support our growth initiatives. I’m looking at our financials and how we are trending and tracking towards hitting key objectives. I’m looking at the communication channels that should be optimized for growth but are causing a level of chaos. They’re causing chaos in this interesting place. I’m gonna bring it into the fold of this business at this moment in time.


Holding people to a standard of excellence is the opposite of being a jerk. It’s what is required to help people find their best version.”


We’ve got a truly brilliant staff and some incredible people in the C-suite and below. I adhere to a hybrid version of top grading and differentiation. Top grading is the premise of always running ads and searching for the best talent. Always having that Rolodex of people to backfill positions if, for some reason, someone chooses to leave or is forced to leave. Then, differentiation is the management and staffing style coined by Jack Welch. That conversation of the top 20% gets all the bonuses and accolades, and it gets that big drive. In the middle 70%, you’re coaching, helping, mentoring, and moving them along in the process. That bottom 10% gets moved out every year. They get moved out every year because somewhere inside of them is no different than somewhere inside of me; I understand they’re not the best fit for where we’re going. That’s very true. When you look at 5 million in 2018 and towards 100 million in 2023, the business is different now. The growth is different now. The responsibilities are different now. But that is true for me and the staff.


Have you ever sat and thought about this yourself? Have you ever thought about what it takes for you and your business to hit the numbers you want? It’s probably not another leadership course. It’s probably not some crazy sophisticated financial leverage. It’s probably not the newest sales trend. It’s probably a combination of a multitude of variables that all focus around you. No different than they focus around me. If I don’t have a level of intensity and certainty in how I show up in conversations, that starts to erode the very fiber of a business. If it’s happening inside your business right now, how are you showing up there? How do you show up inside of your life? Are you passive? Are you aggressive? Are you certain? Are you uncertain? These ways of being are showing up in the intricacies of your business. Quite frankly, it’s not just your business; it’s your entire life. If you walk into the gym and are uncertain what you will do, how productive is your workout? If you show up at a restaurant and are uncertain about what you will order, what do you default to? I adhere to the fact that how we do one thing is how we do everything. By that very nature, if we don’t focus on the details, we cannot experience the brilliance of true success. That’s what I’m going through right now.

The “Smallie” is the internal driving force that propels us to achieve the seemingly impossible.



I had a conversation with my partner over the weekend, one of my two partners. He shared with me all these things that he had heard. Now, I live in Columbus, Ohio. The corporate headquarters is in Salt Lake City. I spend a lot of time flying back and forth. I look over the past three months – November, December, and January. I spent as many weeks in Salt Lake City as in Columbus, Ohio. I’m there; I’m present. I just got back from being there last week. I felt really solid. The team’s gelling. We focus on our desired outcome, growth is coming, systems and processes are being enhanced, and communication feels effortless. Have you been in this situation before? We’re like, “Man, this is just great. Business is just moving right along.” This is how it should feel. Easy, effortless, enjoyable. My mentor and friend, Joe Polish, says that he believes businesses should be ELF (Easy, Lucrative, Fun). That’s how it felt.


Then the week of last week comes. On Tuesdays, I have one-to-one meetings with the leadership team to support our initiatives. We have a leadership call between all of us together. For whatever reason, some people can’t make the leadership call. At the highest level, not the end of the world. But then we have the one-to-ones; I’m taking time from my calendar and my schedule, and so are the leadership team to converse exclusively with one another. Three people didn’t make that meeting. I kind of let it go. I’m like, “It’s all right; people are traveling, and issues that were more important came up. There are these things that are going on. It’s no big deal.” Wrong, it is a huge deal. It’s a huge deal because I then allowed it to happen. I didn’t have a corrective conversation about the frustration that I felt that I had allocated three hours on my calendar for important one-to-one conversations that never came to fruition. I didn’t attack it with a center of excellence that is required to hit the numbers we want to hit. I didn’t show up as my best version of myself.


I simply turned a blind eye to it. That blind eye has started to erode that very fiber of our business between Tuesday and today, Monday, in six days. Think about it just for a moment. Think about how long it has taken you to grow your own enterprise, but how rapidly it can all go away. It doesn’t go away; you have built systems and processes. You’ve got oversight, you’ve got controls, you’ve got swimlanes, you’ve got supply chains dialed in; it’s not going to disappear. But in those moments, doesn’t it feel like it? Because that’s how I felt after my conversation on Saturday.


When things feel off-course, act swiftly. If communication is breaking down, correct it. If revenue targets are off, talk to those responsible for revenue attribution.”


I’m speaking to my partner, and he’s telling me all these things that just are factually inaccurate. He’s heard that I’ve deployed two-plus million dollars of capital to various growth initiatives, many of which he doesn’t agree with. He shouldn’t agree with them. It would be asinine to spend two-plus million dollars on what he was sharing, but he heard that I did. $750,000 on a trade show. I’m sitting there scratching my head like, “We’ve got signing metrics in place that wouldn’t even be feasible.” At a certain level, I have to go to the board for approval to spend certain dollar amounts, yet this is still the edict being passed to the organization. Why is it being passed through? Because I have allowed it to be and didn’t nip this in the bud when things weren’t going the right way. This conversation continues for three hours on Saturday. Three hours that I wasn’t at the gym, three hours that I wasn’t with my family, three hours that I wasn’t reading and studying, three hours that I wasn’t taking time for myself. I’m now conversing with a frustrated partner about things he has heard. On one side, it’s beautiful because we’ve created an environment between the three of us where these conversations come to fruition quickly. On the other side, it is incredibly frustrating because I see how it has happened. I see that it’s ultimately my fault for how I showed up. You see, it’s easy to point the finger at the culprit in between because one common thread is tying these pieces together. I know the person in the organization sharing these things from their perspective. I know why this person is doing what they are doing. But it’s ultimately not this person’s fault; it is mine. It is mine for allowing it to be possible. It is mine to allow this individual to remain employed. It is my fault for not communicating clearly with the team and my partners who support me, even if it felt crystal clear until Tuesday.

Ryan Niddel Show

How you show up—passive, aggressive, certain, or uncertain—permeates every aspect of your business and life.


Both you and I have an intuitive nature. We have to have it to be entrepreneurs. I know when things are off versus when they’re on; I can feel it. I can feel when people are trying to sell me something, I can feel how the business is vibrating or expressing itself. I can feel it quite often when I’m having a conversation on the phone with someone that I’ve never met before. I felt that the business was off on Tuesday. But I turned a blind eye and buried my head in the sand. How many times have you done that same thing? Where you knew something was off, you knew something wasn’t exactly as it should be, yet you turned a blind eye. Because, in theory, one small thing is not that large of a deal. That was my Tuesday, “Not everybody’s on the leadership call. It happens, travel happens.” “I couldn’t make the call because another call came up because something went wrong with production. You’re traveling, and it’s not that big of a deal.” Bullshit. It’s a huge deal. It’s a huge deal because it sets the precedent for how the business will function. It doesn’t mean I have to be a jerk. It’s quite the opposite. Holding people to a standard of excellence is the opposite of being a jerk. It’s what is required to help people find the best version of themselves. That center of excellence got eroded; they got eroded by me. There’s a very clear path, and it can be altered. It’s sharing with you right now. Then, it will correct it inside of the company I’m the CEO of, that I’m partners in, and that I have ownership in. It’s a fact of knowing that these things need to be taken care of swiftly but from a place of emotional neutrality.


Ultimately, the lesson I’m learning as I’m sharing this with you is that when I feel something is off, I need to do something about it swiftly. If communication is breaking down, it is my fault to help correct it. If revenue targets are off, I have to jump in not to save the day but to have corrective conversations with those responsible for revenue attribution. I’m not a passive person, and being passive inside of a business now has the business coming towards me instead of me taking the business towards other people. I’m at my best when I’m most certain about the activities and actions I’m taking. I’m sure you’re much the same. We have to look for a moment, don’t we? We have to look at how we’re showing up inside our business. I know I am right now. Am I showing up with certainty? Am I showing up with conviction? Am I showing up with direction? Am I doing that from a space of emotional neutrality where I’m willing to listen to other people’s feedback but still know where we have to end up and help instill that in people? It’s not just in a business conversation. It’s a health and wellness conversation about how I treat my body. When I go out to dinner, do I have a plan formulated on how I’m going to honor this vessel so that I’m putting myself in a position to function as optimally as possible? Or am I allowing the world to come to me? The same conversation ultimately gets out of the gym. Am I just showing up at the gym? Am I just going through the motions? Do I have a predetermined plan for how much cardio, how many calories, what type of workout, and what level of intensity?


Being fully present and focused on the desired outcome is paramount in any situation.”


Then, to put a bow on it, let’s talk about our family for a second. As entrepreneurs, we go through a give-and-take. You can’t be in two places at one time. Typically, we spend more time at the office focusing on our business or travel focusing on business than we do with our family. I’m not going to preach some level of balance because I think balance is bullshit. I don’t think balance happens. It’s a statement from Tim Grover, “The quickest way to zero is balance.” Balance on a scale is a perfect zero. You don’t want to be a zero. I don’t want to be a zero. It’s not what we strive for. What’s incredibly important is to be 100% present and focus on the desired outcome when we are in the environment that we choose to be in at that moment. When I choose to be in a certain place, am I focused on that outcome? Or am I simply going through the motions?


Important Links



15 Minutes to Freedom

Playing to Win – LinkedIn Newsletter


Jack Welch

Joe Polish

ELF (Easy, Lucrative, Fun)

Tim Grover



Director of Sales

Iterations in Life


Social Media



X (Twitter)


TikTok (Ryan Niddel)

TikTok (Ryan Niddel Strategies)

YouTube Channel


Key Takeaways

  1. As a leader, you ultimately take responsibility for the successes and failures of your business. Deflecting blame or making excuses does not serve the company’s growth.
  2. A driven, ambitious mindset (“the Smallie”) is crucial for achieving audacious goals that may initially seem unfathomable.
  3. Leading means showing up intentionally daily, setting the tone, and engaging fully with yourself and your team to drive growth initiatives forward.
  4. How you approach your business reflects how you approach life – with passivity, aggression, certainty or uncertainty. This bleeds into all areas of your life.
  5. Paying attention to details and striving for excellence in everything you do instead of going through the motions leads to brilliance and true success.
  6. Businesses can unravel quickly if leaders allow small issues to fester instead of promptly addressing them.
  7. Holding people to high standards is not about being harsh but helping them become their best selves and maintain a center of excellence.
  8. When you sense something is off, act swiftly to course-correct instead of ignoring it. Nip issues in the bud through clear communication.
  9. In any environment, strive to be fully present and focused on the desired outcome rather than dividing your attention.


Pull Quotes:

  • Part of any business that wants to grow is the acknowledgment that things are ultimately the owner’s fault.
  • Smallie is like our inner drive. It pushes us to achieve the unimaginable.
  • Leading is about showing up every day, setting an example, and engaging with ourselves and those who help us grow.
  • Consider: How do you act in your business? How about in your life? Your approach—passive, aggressive, certain, or uncertain—affects every part of your life, not just your business.
  • How we handle one thing reflects how we handle everything. If we overlook the details, we miss out on the brilliance of real success.
  • Consider the time it took to build your business versus how quickly it can disappear.
  • Holding people to a standard of excellence is the opposite of being a jerk. It’s what is required to help people find the best version of themselves.
  • When something feels wrong, I act fast. If communication falters, I step in to fix it. If revenue targets are missed, I intervene to guide corrective actions.
  • What’s incredibly important is to be 100% present and focus on the desired outcome when we are in the environment that we choose to be in at that moment.


About Ryan Niddel

Ryan Niddel is a dynamic entrepreneur and CEO of MIT45 Inc. and is renowned as Ohio’s foremost business growth specialist. With a lifelong entrepreneurial spirit, Ryan began his journey at 10 with a lawn-mowing business and later gained mentorship that shaped his career. As CEO of two 8-figure companies and a board member of several others, he specializes in rapidly increasing revenue and profitability, culminating in lucrative acquisitions. Passionate about philanthropy, Ryan supports various charities and is launching a foundation focused on youth education in business and capitalism. With over 700 success stories, Ryan is hailed for his innovative thinking, strategic partnerships, and ability to optimize business operations. He freely shares his insights through podcasts, videos, and blog posts, advocating ethical business practices and empowering entrepreneurs worldwide.