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Cliff McDonald is Co-founder and Managing Partner of Brainheart Growth, a consulting firm oriented toward advising lower mid-market businesses on revenue growth. He also serves as the Chief Growth Officer and chairman of the advisory board at RehabPath, overseeing its expansion from a small team to an enterprise with over 55 staff members. Cliff firmly believes in compassionate business strategies and advocates for the intrinsic worth of core values and human-centric approaches within organizations.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:28] The core mission of Brainheart Growth
  • [05:04] A childhood encounter with Muhammad Ali
  • [09:08] Impactful life lessons Cliff learned from his father
  • [12:09] How core values influenced Cliff’s approach to football
  • [17:05] Understanding the cascade from core values to sales performance
  • [21:26] Early steps in a lower mid-market company’s journey
  • [33:40] Why HubSpot is the chosen CRM at Brainheart Growth
  • [37:39] The critical role of revenue generation in expanding RehabPath
  • [40:36] Transforming commercial painting with core values and specialization
  • [43:39] Working with Brainheart Growth: the initial client onboarding process

In this episode…

It’s no secret that the lack of a common vision amongst employees and an inconsistent set of core values can sink any company. Cliff McDonald shares the valuable life lessons and core values passed on by his father, which shaped his perspective on leadership, compassion, and diversity.

Cliff brings that perspective into the core mission of Brainheart Growth while emphasizing the challenges of promoting revenue in companies that lack brand awareness. He highlights the use of technology, like CRM systems, as a way to create competitive advantages in company growth and culture implementation.

In this episode of Inspired Insider Podcast, join host Dr. Jeremy Weisz and Cliff McDonald, co-founder and Managing Partner of Brainheart Growth, as he delves into the systemic issues within lower mid-market companies related to revenue generation, poor training, and lack of strategy.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “Driving revenue is hard — we focus on the top line of a P&L and moving that up and to the right.”
  • “My dad taught me work ethic and the importance of respecting everyone; you never know their story.”
  • “Culture eats strategy for breakfast. When you change the culture, it can open up winning possibilities.”
  • “The best companies hold themselves accountable from the top down, saying, ‘it’s on me.'”
  • “Today, a $5 million company can have a technology stack just as good as a Fortune 100 company.”

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Cliff McDonald, of And Cliff before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out some other episodes people should check out of the podcast.

Kevin Hundal because I had Kevin on he introduced Cliff. So Thanks, Kevin. He’s an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience. That episode was great, because he talks about building scaling, pivoting multiple companies and he’s been using EOS. It is various companies, he helps people implement EOS.

Also Gino Wickman, check that episode out. He’s the author of traction who started EOS and Mark Winters. He co authored Rocket Fuel with Gino Wickman, so check that episode out. I know Cliff you You like that one too. The visionary and the integrator. And then Tony G. Tony, Grebmeier, founder of ShipOffers, they ship out over a million orders per year. But what’s interesting about that, as Tony is really open about howling he almost lost it all because of addiction stuff. And we may cover that on this particular episode as well. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that we help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do the accountability, the strategy and the full execution.

Cliff we call ourselves to the kind of the magic elves that work in the background and make it look easy for the hosts in the company so they could just create great content, develop relationships and run their business. So the number one thing in my life is relationships. And I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire on this planet and share with the world what they’re working on.

So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should, if you have questions, go to or email us at support@rise25. I’m really excited to introduce Cliff McDonald. He’s co-founder Managing Partner of Brainheart Growth, their growth advisory consulting firm for lower mid market businesses. And he’s also the author,  by the time people watch us Cliff, it will be out I’m sure. And so a rev., generally, short for revenue generation mastery. Sales can have a bad connotation for people. So you know, Cliff doesn’t like necessarily use always the term sales training. It’s just revenue generation. That’s what it’s about.

And Cliff’s early professional career was in corporate sales, he did business development roles in Wall Street and high tech. And since 2004. He’s been an entrepreneur. He’s Chairman of the Board at RehabPath, which has been a client of theirs for many years. And they’ve grown from four staff to 55 staff. And Cliff, thanks for joining me.

Cliff McDonald  3:15

Thank you, Jeremy. I’m excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with you

Jeremy Weisz  3:21

Talk about just start with Brainheart Growth and what you do.

Cliff McDonald  3:28

Yeah, Brainheart Growth, relatively new organization, Jeremy, just about four years old. And, as you mentioned, a growth advisory consulting firm. So we’re very focused on driving revenue. So anyone who works in business knows the top line of a profit and loss statement is called revenue. And we want to make that go up into the right. And it’s hard to do. So we are specifically focused on that part of the business.

It lower market businesses, lower mid market businesses, early stage companies, you know, getting a stranger, Jeremy to work with you and to spend money with you. And most of these companies do not have brand awareness. So it’s a lot more challenging, actually, in many ways to be a revenue generator in a lower mid market company than it is in an established fortune 2000 company. And really at heart, we want to help people, and we want to help people who need the most help. And that’s why we’re focused on this part of the market.

Jeremy Weisz  4:43

Yeah, and we’re gonna dig into how you help people. But I just wanted to Cliff, bring this up for a second and talk about what we’re seeing here. And if you’re watching the or if you’re listening to the audio version, we’re seeing a picture here, and I’ll let Cliff describe what we’re looking at.

Cliff McDonald  5:04

Oh, that’s funny, Jeremy, you did your homework for sure. That’s an iconic picture that you know, all of our family and friends are familiar with. So I am a two and a half year old young boy, and I am scared because Muhammad Ali is holding me. And he’s this is you right here at? That’s correct. Okay. And the man in the right part of the screen is my dad, the only person looking at the camera and smiling.

So my father Jeremy, is from South Boston, grew up in South Boston Southie as you may know, from Goodwill Hunting and Whitey Bulger fame working class, Irish Catholic neighbourhood. My dad was a tremendous and gifted athlete and went to the University of New Hampshire on a football scholarship, where he had a great career as an All American. I think they want to Yankee conference championships. My dad was captain of the team graduated, he met my mom there, they miss the family planning class because they had not one but two kids when they were an undergrad.

So my dad got a job as a teacher, he was a Phys Ed teacher in the Boston Public School District. And he loved teaching in coaching. My mom stayed at home with the kids. So my dad wanted to get a second job to make some extra money to support the family. And instead of you know, bagging groceries or doing some landscaping or something like that someone presented an opportunity for him to become a professional boxer.

And my father had never had an amateur fight, which is odd. In boxing, most people have long amateur careers before they turned pro. But my dad estimates that growing up in Southie, he had a couple of 100 streetfights. And that was just part of the culture. My grandfather was 82nd airborne World War II veteran, three Purple Hearts as tough as they come in. My grandfather learned how to box in the military, and I guess taught my dad how to defend himself.

So my dad had pretty quick success, and ended up becoming New England heavyweight champion. I don’t know how much you know about boxing, Jeremy. But Ali lost his titles because he was a conscientious objector in Vietnam. So he was stripped of his titles, I think, for five years. And then he was reinstated. This was part of a PR tour when we got back in the game. So they did a tour probably nationally and stopped in big markets. One of them was Boston, where he did an exhibition match with the New England heavyweight champion at the time, my father. And for my dad that this was, you know, he looked up to Ali.

Jeremy Weisz  8:07

Did your dad box Muhammad Ali?

Cliff McDonald  8:09

Muhammad Ali. Yeah, well, exhibition exit.

Jeremy Weisz  8:11

Well, whatever.

Cliff McDonald  8:13

Yeah. So Jeremy

Jeremy Weisz  8:14

I’m not stepping in a ring with Muhammad Ali. So

Cliff McDonald  8:16

Right. And you know how, you know, oral lore is right, if you are from South Boston, Massachusetts, and, you know, the year the New England heavyweight champ, you know, it became for me, all I heard was your father fought Muhammad Ali. Which was wonderful, but it also was challenging.

Right, because early on, I remember realizing that there is no way I can be like this guy. And he’s special. He’s gifted. So that presented some challenges too. But yeah, my dad was a very, very special guy. He passed away, unfortunately, in 2004. missing him every day here. Right. Yeah. Thanks for digging this up. This brings back some great memories.

Jeremy Weisz  9:03

Talking about some of the lessons you learn from your dad.

Cliff McDonald  9:08

My dad had an unbelievable work ethic. As I mentioned, you know, that was his second job. And he did that for a few years. And then he ended up going back to school and became a master plumber. So my dad’s routine, Jeremy was, you know, every day during the week when I got up, he was gone. So I think he left the house at 5:00 or 5:30.

He was the first one to school and we ended up living in a suburb of Boston called Melrose about seven miles north of downtown. The last step on Orange Line, my dad worked for Boston public schools in their city. And then he would go in and I think he had it structured where he always had last period off.

So he would leave school and then he would put on his plumbing uniform. And he would go work and do his plumbing work and he would come home late. And, you know, either late dinner and fall asleep in his chair, go up to bed and do it again. And he would work on the weekends too. So I learned great work ethic from my father. My dad was also he was a really interesting guy.

So, you know, growing up in South Boston, you know, in emphasis on being physically tough, and resilient, and a lot of violence. And also, a lot of, I would say alcoholism, that maybe wasn’t even perceived as alcoholism, in substance use. And then he went away, you know, first want to go to college in the late 60s, which was a very interesting time, right? Vietnam, hippies civil rights. And that had a real positive influence on my dad, I think my dad became very open minded. And I think my dad realized that he was a peaceful person. And he was a compassionate, kind, loving person.

Socially, he also, he really embraced diversity, too. And my dad was friends with so many different people. And I think because of the way he grew up in the culture, you know, and kind of the rules of where you grew up, is that you have to respect everyone. And you never know, right? where someone’s come from, or their story, you’ve never walked the day in their shoes. So my dad exhibited that, as well as anyone I know. And I’m really thankful for that.

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