Skip to main content

Episode #2

The Clockwork Origin Story

Listen using our player or at your preferred platform:

The Run Like Clockwork Origin Story

How Mike Michalowicz And Adrienne Dorison Partnered Up To Help You Learn To Run An Efficient Business


Let’s rewind all the way back to the birth of the book, Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself. 

The catalyst for the partnership of famed business author, Mike Michalowicz and efficiency expert, Adrienne Dorison. 

You can listen to a podcast about it below, but if you didn’t already know this, Adrienne is the most long-winded efficiency expert, and Mike is the king of tangents…  so there are a lot of twists and turns.



So here’s the cliff notes version.

Mike is the author of cult classics Profit First, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, Pumpkin Plan (and more) who has mastered the skill of taking complex business concepts and making them easy to digest and implement. 

While teaching his entrepreneur readership base how to grow their businesses and increase their profit margins, it became apparent that the most pressing issue was how to actually RUN a business.

Developing the principles that morphed into the Clockwork methodology was a 6-year process for Mike and his publisher, AJ Harper. 

During that research and early writing phase for Clockwork, he often asked his readers this important question: “What challenges are you facing now?” 

And what he found is people who have overcome the profit challenge— which means they have sales coming to the organization and are able to bring out some degree of predictable profit—are faced with an even harder challenge: Removing themselves as the bottleneck to their business growth. 

If this is you, you might be asking yourself questions like: 

Do I really need to work like an animal?
Do I really need to put in these ridiculous hours?
Is there a way to make my business an ATM machine that just spits out money to me?

So after 6 years (and almost 40 iterations of the title alone), he landed on the message that spoke directly to what entrepreneurs have been saying for decades. 

“I want my business to run like clockwork.”

Enter Adrienne Dorison 


She was introduced to Mike as THE expert on operations and one of the rare people who has been able to translate big corporate concepts like Lean Six Sigma and simplify it down to an easy-to-implement system for small businesses. 

In technical terms, she’s trained to identify risks, errors, or defects in a business process and remove them. 

Additionally, she has her Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) designation, which is considered to be the gold standard in improving team management, collaboration, and performance to ensure project work progresses seamlessly and efficiently.

So when we say that Adrienne is an efficiency expert, we aren’t exaggerating.  

It’s all insight gleaned from the trenches of optimizing paper mills with the International Paper Company, to the 100’s of private clients she’s coached, and even her undergrad degree in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation Sciences and Masters of Science in Forestry and Economics.

She even took a beekeeping class one year in grad school. 😂That’s where she learned about the efficiency of bees, which turned into the concept of the Queen Bee Role (QBR).

You can trust that she’s studied efficiency principles from all angles in all types of organizations

So naturally, Mike had to interview her, lots. He says himself there is literally no one else more qualified. 

Then Adrienne’s Entrepreneurial Ego Was Triggered In A Big Way

“We were at Selena Soo’s house and you were presenting some of your concepts for this book after we had already had a few conversations, and some of your concepts were things that we had spoken about.

And I got a little bit triggered. 

I was like, oh, he’s going to write this book. And my things are going to be in it. But no one’s ever going to know me.” 

Deep breath in and out.

While Adrienne knew that the most important objective was getting these principals out in front of the right people… 

And there is no better audience to be in front of than Mike’s… 

The ego can be a dangerous thing when it goes unchecked or gets confused with your purpose. 

Because while your ego is telling you “I need to be important”,  your purpose is the drive to make everyone important.

So the conversation began in earnest about how to partner up to duplicate the success Mike has with Profit First and create a business that helps people take the ideas from the book and put them into action.

Adrienne Came Up With It, Mike Wrote The Book


With her experience in operational efficiency, Adrienne developed a proprietary system that cuts costs, saves time, and expands margins.

As a best-selling author and the founder of multiple multi-million dollar businesses, Mike wanted to show business owners to reclaim their time. So he reached out to the best operational efficiency expert he knew — Adrienne Dorison — to make it happen.

The Clockwork Accelerator was born.

With the success of the book, Clockwork, Mike and Adrienne wanted to do more than impart knowledge; they wanted those business owners to take action. That’s when they decided they needed a way to train and support business owners in the Clockwork method.

She runs the company.
He’s on a permanent vacation.
She takes extended vacations to raise her family.
All while the businesses run like clockwork, without them. 


The Way The Run Like Clockwork Company Runs Itself 


Yeah, #meta… I know. 

We used to get a lot of questions about if Mike would be at Run Like Clockwork events, or if he taught any portions of the program because as the author of the book they assume he is the authority… but he’s really the messenger.

Clockwork was a very collective effort and Mike is more of the announcer at the stadium than the Quarterback on the field.

Most partnerships tend to die in the ideation phase, so what made this one different?

Three Factors That Lead To This Successful Partnership


  1. Adrienne already had a thriving business doing this exact work.
  2. Mike, motivated by his mission to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, was able to come in and use his audience to expand the awareness.
  3. A clear delineation between Mike and Adrienne’s roles. Adrienne is the one who’s matriculating the ideas and is in the field making this a really dynamic framework, and Mike is out there sharing the message. 

And if we’re being honest, the third factor is the most important piece.

Trying to understand what actually IS the most valuable thing for them to do inside their business is incredibly hard for business owners.

But that is paramount to both the success of this partnership, and any business that wants to run like clockwork.


It’s Probably Time To Start Sharing Your Story, Too


Entrepreneurs  don’t share their story or vision for their company enough

This is a massive missed opportunity, and I hope you can feel the power it has after reading our story.

Because what we’ve found to be true here at Run Like Clockwork is that your most engaged client base wants to know your background, and they definitely want to be part of your story.

(It’s actually even part of the first module of the Clockwork Accelerator program because we believe it’s that important.)

Most people don’t start their business for no reason.  They are usually driven by a mission to create change or a passion to improve people’s lives. 

Run Like Clockwork is no different.

Mike Michalowicz and Adrienne Dorison have dedicated their careers to improving the lives and businesses of the millions of small business owners in the world.

And yes, they were both doing a stellar job of it out there on their own. 

But in coming together…
Leveraging their unique strengths…
Amplifying the message and mission…

And, most importantly, parking their egos at the door…

They’ve proven one of Adrienne’s signature math equations.  Sometimes 1+1 doesn’t equal 2… it’s 11.

Looking for your next great beach read?
Check out the Clockwork book — now in an updated second edition!