The Entrepreneur Podcast
The Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

27. Feedback: How to give it, take it, and when to ignore it with David Ciccarelli, Co-Founder of Voices.com

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

David Ciccarelli started his entrepreneurial journey when he opened his own independent studio. He ended up partnering with his first customer (now his wife), and building the world's largest library of voice talent: Voices.com.

Voices.com has grown exponentially since raising $18M USD from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and the organization is continuing on an aggressive growth trajectory with everyone rowing in the same direction.

In this episode, David does a deep dive into the importance of setting clear goals, how to write a one-sentence job description, how he sets up employees for success (and keeps them on track), and the specific process that Voices.com uses for performance reviews.

This is a playbook for onboarding new employees, and setting them up for success in a high-growth company.

You're listening to the IVIONTFRERNERpodcast from the Pierre L, Morriset Institute, forrnt Preneurship at theIby business school. In this series I be entrepreneur and ivfaculty memberEric Canson will anchor t the session all right here with David Sili fromvoices docom David thanks for her being on the Pakcast. So heyor thanks forhaving me great to be here, yeah, it's interesting still doing these podcastsrremote. I always prefer to do them in person, but actually it's been sort ofeasier to schedule around a little bit more flexibility getting to schedule,people when they're at home so well, and I'm sure you got a glenpse intoeveryone's homes as well too. That's probably pretty fun. I do yeah, I getto see everybody's Home Office. So a few reasons why I I thought it would bereally interesting to chat with you one. I want to hear your founding story Oshare with the audience. ofounding story of voices, dotcom and two wantedto do a deeper dive into feedback, specifically how you set people up inthe right way, hire the right people and then give them feedback to courseadjust as you need to, because I really you have a really interesting systemfor doing that. So I want to dig into that with you. Our audience, however,is super interested in people's founding stories and generally hearthat people you know start businesses to either scratch their own age. Theyhave a super deep doemain expertise or sort of stumble into entrepreneurshipand your stories an interesting combination of almost of all three andthen some. So I thought I'd turned over to you just to share a little bit aboutyour founding story. Yeah. I sure love to you. Thank you. I mean T's, it's myown story, so I I feel like I I can tell it well, you know growing up. Iwas always fascinating with sound and music production. You Know Mom and DadPult me through music, lessons and e even helped out actually at the localchurch for a while doing sound with the youth group. So there was that kind ofthreat weaving through my life. When I graduated from High School, I lookedfor a audio engineering or some kind of recording production program and andcame across want actually here in London, Ontario called the OntarioInstitute of audiorecording technology and it's there, where I learned torecord and at it and produce really sound for everything, from music tosound for film and and TV commercials, and when I graduated, I actually openedup a small recording studio of my own and got my name in the local newspaperon my birthday and that's when I met Stephanie Stephanie's now, of course,my wife and cofounder in voices at the time she was at classically. She was inthe music major at Western University. She was a classically train singer andshe actually came into the studio to record her singing rapitsir and weended up hitting it off. But because of that same newspaper article, there wereother small businesses locally that wanted a female voice, talent to recordsome commercials and some phone system greetings, and I only knew one personin the city that would fulfil that Gig and that was Stephanie. So I gave her acall, I said my pitch to her actually was: Do you think you could record thispage of copy I'll, be the engineer and you be the vocal talent and she agreed,and we were in business together and pursued that for a while, and you knowwe're pretty successful. You know I in a modest way here, ou know in London,and I should insert that of course, one thing led to another. We we dated gotmarried and now have four kids, so I sometimes jokingly say that I I marriedmy first costomer, which is which is not meria advice whatsoever, butnonetheless T it's how it actually all happened. We did pursue that for quitea while. You know for the next kind of year or so again, myself is theengineer. S Stephane is the. Is he voice talent and we put up a a very youknow: Pretty Primitive website we actually went down to the local publiclibrary took out web design for dummies and hack together, our own brochurestyle website that really just promoted the recording studio and it wasn't longbefore other freelancers. That hey do you need somebody who speaks French orsomebody who can speak Spanish or do need somebody just character, voices ornarrates, those long documentaries or porpoo training, and always just saidyes, we're like as Sur. We can list your name and here's a link to were alittle audio player. You could click play and listen to them andconcurrently, there were clients at ad agencies and all businesses that werejust loogoing to get a voice overdone for number of different, really usecases, but they would find the website and say how do I get in touch with thatperson? And so that was the you know the proverbial Aha moment right of likeOwell, what if we get out of the production business ourselves andinstead, let's be that facilitator? Let's connect the buyer and serviceprovided together and really build whas, now known as a marketplace. These arevery popular business models, they're, frankly pretty hard to pull off. We didsomewhat KN. We were pursuing a passion both of us as Tephan en kind of T, eArts and Performing Arts and music and myself on the more TEC, an engineeringside, and yet what we didn't realize, what there was this global demand thatthere was so many freelancers out there that didn't know how to either enterinto the space and then likewise, not every production. Let's call it whetherit's an advertisement, it didn't need a...

...celebrity. It didn't need so many partof the screen, actor's Gill, the big union in the United States. They justwanted somebody with a great voice who had a excellent home, recording studiothat they could go on to a website and hire them, and so this was one of theearlier freelance websites and that's really what voices dcom is it's afrelance website, it's a marketplace that connects the voice, buying client,as e said, AD agencies, video producers and so forth. With that voice, sellingtalent- and these are people who of a background and arts- maybe in radiosome kind of you know theater or live performance and they're looking topursue that as a career in voice acting, so that's kind of how it all came aboutso way way back the first step that you took opening your own studio you'dalways been interested in this. Why Open your own and not go work forsomebody else right away. 'cause like there wasn't like an entrepreneurialdecision down the road where this, eventually it grew, but in thebeginning you chose right away to do your own thing. So why not work forsomebody else? I think that was partly my dad to be honest with you. Heactually encouraged me. I debate actually at the time that we werehaving. As you know, father and son was do I go to business school or because Iwanted to compliment the engineering in business. I felt equally intrigued byboth and he actually encouraged me to say: Look you can K W. You can take outALOAN and go to business school and learn that way or you can you K, ow,take more of the street carts approach and just go figure it out and you'regoing to you know, learn a ton either way and for whatever reason I mean Iwas a bit more of A. I guess you know if I daresay so a bit more kind of likethe Hustler, like I'm going to just grind this thing out. You know andthere's just lots of instiments in my pass, where that was kind of more my, Iguess more my personality. I H stories of like selling pop out of my locker inhigh school for like a dollar apiece, and I was always the guy accoordinatinglike the hockey and baseball card, shows and selling tables for tendollars. A piece like I'd, coordinate or show or participatin show the garagesales with mom and dad when we were really much younger. So I kindof alwayshad that not intuition, but I I guess, like self motivation, Jogicco well,this seems like it's an opportunity. Let's just go, pursue it so there therewasn't a whole lot of ds. You're right I mean I did think about joining on Lie cruise line, actually at one point to become like an audio engeer andsomething more adventurous. But I suppose there's very few things that Ilike the fact thathere was no like real rule book. To be perfectly honest withyou, I'm like you know what you can start your business. If you think thatthere's an opportunity there, you know as long as Yhoure's you're abiding bythe laws- and you know it's- you can't really get it wrong in a lot of ways.It's often more about timing and Kno. Maybe maybe there wasn't as big of aneed in the market but day to day you can't. You know you just need to go,spend your time and energy in the best place that you see fet right. So wasyour your dad pushed you bat. Was He an entrepreneur? Did he have his ownbusiness? He in a lot of ways. I'd say: Yes, he actually workd as an investmentadvisor for a investors group for years and an you know a they say in a lot ofways: that's you're your you'R, your own, you know, boss, your own manager,yeah you're, flying a flag of a larger kind of investment company. Yet at thesame time you have to manage your own book at clients. You have to market tothem, develop the relationships like I learn, Aton, including you know,stuffing elvelopes for ten cents apiece and sending up mailors. So you justdevelop a great work ethic. We always had ideas of JUSTF. You know et necessarily Ternantobusinesses, but we often just I guess, noodled on ideas. My parents were veryadverse to us having Thi skateboard when we were younger, so we actuallyinvented what we called the blockboard, which was basically a skateboard withlike blocks instead of wheel. So it didn't go an still t K. do all thetricks and stuff it like kick clip. It was pretty cool and, of course, all theother mothers thought these were like just genius because, like no kids werebreaking their arms, but you still got to do all the tricks and like just inthe driveway and stuff, so we always had ideas like that that we pursued anddidn't see it necessarily as encheprenership, but I can looking backnow. I know it as it was pretty rewarding to be able to have. You know,come from an environment like that that a family tdid encourage their kids totake risks. Okay, fast forward to where you're at today 'cause a very differentbusiness from you and Stephanie running a sound studio and even beginning days,ot. The marketplace I want to set the context for wifyback is importantbecause his is a very different business than it was when you first gotit going. So where are things aut today with voices DOT COM yeah? Just in thelast couple of years we were successful in raising our series a rounds ofcapital, and so you know up to that point. You know Y E you're reallygetting every business is going to GE cash,fror Hem to survive. Rigtitff referred to as like the oxygen they just like.You need it to keep u pushing forward and cash is either Gonto come fromACFROM customers, which cases you're actually selling something of value andthey're rewarding you with their with their money cash from debt, which casewe actually borrowed financing over the...

...years from various banks andinstitutions, which originally started as a thirty thousand dollar loan, andthere was fifty and then think, ninety one, fifty two fifty fifive hundred andtwo million, and each time of course, you're kind of paying off or paying outthe earlier lenders. But I mean once I reached the two million I realize I'mdoubtful than another institution's going to come in and wend us twomillion dollars to continue. Yet we saw a lot of runway, so we actually endedup. As I say, taking Lonagh is the third source of cash is cash from anECHUII partner where you're you know, of course, selling a portion of yourcompany to them and you're really cot owners together. So we were successfulin raising eighteen million dollars: U S from Organ Stanley expansion capital,so it's Morgan, stanleyis their global investment bank and they have really aprivate equity group. That's based out a San Francisco Silicon Valley and withthem of course, came a board of directors which we had didn't have upto that point and I would say all of the management and governanceprofessionalism that was installed at the same time or you know, suddenlybecame required of us that it was no longer David and Stephanie Owning thecompany. Fifty fifty we now had really professional investors that wanted toupscule our people are reporting, pack and so forth, and so part of the useorproceeds in that was that we were going to be growing our team and so theteam's just north of a hundred full time employees, and so over the yearswe've really learned how important it is to not only find the right peoplebut to have proper performance expectations. Ind The performagemanagement system, but that that's probably the biggest thing that'sthat's changed is- is the need to mature and professionalize O rorganization yeah, and that comes especially when you get a investmentpartner like the one that you brought on theres a certain Rigar that theywould expect with your team. So I want to break down your the feedback.Omponents one of the critical pieces is hiring the right people and you had areally great framework for how to think through, at least on your team. Itseems to be a model that works for you. How do you think through hiring theright people? What's the framework that you used to figure that out? So we callit the three SES and it stands for curious, compatitive and coachable, andI would even go in that order and what we needed to find was something thatwas that I could communicate to other people that might either be doinginitial interviews or even somebody in at that's acually, doing recruiting andwe needed some way to that serves as like a huristic of like Horly,determining whether this person is a quote. Unquote, cultural fit because ifyou just use the term cultural fit frankly too many companies use that asa a way to actually introduce bias into whether they like the person or not,and they can't really pinpoint why it is, and I think that does you're eithermissing out on really talented people that just aren't like you and that'sterrible or the flipside is all you do or hire people who are just like you.They either look like you. They behave like you, they think like you, in whichcase there's literally no diversity of thought, there's no difference ofopinions, there's no willingness to actually have constructive conversation.So, right from the outset, we tried to find some attributes that we felt weredemonstraive of high performing people and wh we landed on were these threeseas, and so first off is curiosity and if someone's curious, you can throw hema problem and they can go solve the problem. They don't they're. Actuallythey ask you know the five wise and they kind of go deep in terms of likerute cause analysis. They might have a framework for trying to understandtheir often would want a reverse engineer, a challenge- or maybe thereverse enginer, like the solution, and to understand why someone else didn'tthere's never this sense of like okay well status quo. Let's just you knowrest on our Laurel, so to speak, be happy with how it is there's thisdesire to constantly improve. So I thought that was. These are all thingsthat we really liked about those who are curious, and that might look likeyou know, asking questions of you know. How do you go about solving a problem.Tell me about a difficult situation, ou Hav to navigate through, and I evenused the words like I'm curious. Why did you decide that or you know well,what was the alternative? Were you weighing three different options? Whydid you go at this one versus the other one and just trying to get to thethought process in journase interviews, then that leads to competitiveness, andso those people are competitive. It's not just that. You have a background insports, although that is a great kun of there's. A lot of analogies betweenbusiness and sports, but even someone who can often be competitive withthemselves. You know, artists or musicians are highly competitive withthemselves. You know, even even on a debate team I mean most people havesome goals that they're setting. So you know I would ask kind o you K ow. Whatis the goal that you have for yourself at the beginning of the year? You know:What have you achieved? What books have you read towards improving that goallike what of t again the tactics that you're actually showing that you'retaking steps and just instead of Ju saying Oh yeah, I'm going to beat thesales record? Well, really w? What have you done in you know in in your life upto this point, where where's the...

...evidence that you are competitive andthat you're a winner and then recognizing that you're not going tomake that all on your own? That somewhere along the way somebodyisgoing to give you some advice, nobody makes it on their own they're, going tobe coached and that coach could be just like. I was menchoning off the top. Youknow early on my father Servis, like a business coach and a mentor butanyone's going to have somebody who's in that that that role of the guidethat can shepherd them to help them make those decisions, and even now,actually one of our board members is in executive coach. For me, I do a weeklyone on one, which I had just a few hours ago and same same story. You knowI present to challenge that I'm facing the week. How did they handle it intheir career? What were the alternatives? What have they seen?That's worked and what hasn't and I'm constantly trying to learn from otherpeople's successes and mistakes, but I think that notion of someone beingculthurable and asking them like who who is who's a coach for you growing up?If you don't have a list of people that you can go like I've learned frommspoks to me, that's either you either. Just? U Really believe that you did itall on your own, which I'm concerned about that 'cause. That means well whenyou're sales managers giving you advice on how things work here and how it chow you can be most effective if you're not receiving that. I think this isjust going to be a really tough relationship going forward, and thisisn't just in sales. I mean that's in every role frankly in in the company,so we looked for those three ses. You got a kind of a handful of questionsaround them, but it's it's not just saying. Are you curious? Yes, no. It'slike I'm looking for the evidence that this has been a lifelong pattern thatyou've exhibited around curiosity, compatativeness and coachability, anddid you have those sees before the your investment partners? ' Not Going to sayforce, but you know introduced a little bit more rigor or you introduced thatrigor with be s parters like. Could you sit down and say all right, we'veraised money now we need to come up with our three CS: Whenid that comeinto the process. We actually had it quite a while beforehand. However, whatI recognized is, I was ongiven. This advice is that the CEO should do well,really it's not just the CEO, it's everyone should do, only that which youcan do and I'll say that again. So for me, the CEO should do only that whichthe CEO can do so that might mean interacting with investors, interactingwith the board, interacting with media or being the leader in the company todeliver a tough message or a celebratory message, and I realizedthat I'm like well. I probably should not be doing the first interview. MaybeI do the second or third interview prior to somebody joining, so I need toequip the rest of the kind, O hiring manager and hiring process peopleinvolved in that I nean to equip them with the framework and perhaps a herric.This is my my engineering bent to me like how do I engineer myself underthis process? How do I give m somebody else, a framework that they can followso that you know we're that's sense, evolved actually into you, know, scorecar, hiring, score cards and so forth. It's definitely gotten a lot more rigid,as I think most things do, but at least having a few attributes, and I wouldencourage those who are building a team. You don't have to pick those three seasyou can have I've heard of you know trust and humility and intellect iskind of being three o like there's, usually some commination of like whatit is that you want to amplify in your culture as it grows. Go I like the theengineering brain how how do I manufacture R engineer myself out ofthis process? Great here's the framework. Now everybody can just do itthat way. Okay, so that's! The first step is getting the right people on thebus and then your the second part is making sure that they are set up in theright way. So we've you've made a decision that these people meet yourcriteria, they're a good fit for t through the team they've gone throughyour enermy process. How do you make sure that they're set up for success?It actually starts with the job description, which is a bit of a stodgyartifact in businesses, but yet, at the same time, there's a lot of freedomthat can be relaid if somebody truly understands where my role starts andstops, and this isn't about having like artificial boundaries where you knowand it kind of invokes tha like that's, not my jobattitude, we're we're nottalking about that we're seeing. Actually within this area you havetotal Freeri and you have total autonomy. You have ownership over theresults within this area, and you know that that could be a phase in thecustomer journey that you're responsible for it could be security.You know so, whatever the area is, I like carving that out by being clear onthe job description, keeping it to one page and then we've actually evenboiled that down to one line or one sentence, job descriptions and there'sa few of them. You know as human...

...resources manager I recruit, I trainand I retain high performing employees or as a ou n as a leader of publicrelations, you know I strategize and leverage relationships andopportunities or visibility in the media and the general public. Sowhatever that might look like, I think you can get from like twenty bulletsinto a single sentence where people really understand this scope of whatthey're responsible for once that job description's in place, then there'skind of like the role. Yes, the responsibilities we usually well. We doidentify, I gan to say two to three objectives and you know really whatthat means is it's it's a metric of some kind. It's often it you know canbe done in terms of deliverables. It could be a score like a customersatisfaction, score or a retention rate for employees if you're in in in humanresources. You know, there's this thre's going to be some type ofquantitative element to that rule, because failing that again, it's notabout you know. As a manager saying you didn't do your job 'cause, you didn'thit the metric. It's actually. I think it's we try to set it up as more of achallenge to say: here's, the objective: here's, how your success is going to bemeasured and then, if we can chart it, that's fantastic. You see changes overtime. It Spurs on other questions, so you know agreeing on how that's goingto be measured and then actually what we do is we create a number of realtime dashboards. They could be. You know, depending on kind of what thesystem is, but there's real time, dashwards that are updated daily orfrankly in real time and then wed go through monthly reporting sessions aswell too. So there is a real strong if you can hear between the words Herere areal, strong emphasis on performance. That is more than just this kind, Owishy washy. I feel like I'm doing well, it's like no, it's it's again. It's theproofpoints with data that really show that performance is happening and doyou or just some does a manager write that one word job description or doesthat employee develop it with the manager? We try to have the employee,develop it on their own, there's a greater sense of ownership over that ifthey need some help, they'e can ask around like to others. If there'speople in a similar role, but yeah, it's the one, you know I it goes bothways, but usually people try to rate it on their own yeah cool all right, sothey you've you've hired the right person. You set them up in the rightway with the one page and then the one word job description and tid o specificmetric or a fewmetrics that are going to let them know that they are eithersuccessful or not successful. In that role. Next piece that I wanted to moveto was how do you see weather? So I guess the METROC could be one way tosee whether they're doing well or not, but I'm thinking, I guess I have a lotof experience with sales roles right or salespeople, and the number might beyou know if you got a annual quota of a million dollars and break it down byquarter. It's you know, quarter million dollars in Kon. Well, if you'd hiredsomeone January one it's soon to take them a certain ramp time to actuallyyou know, get up to speed to be able to hit their number, so you may have somegrace period there. So how do you figure out whether someone is on trackto deliver on? Ultimately what they're at the company to do hm- and I lovethat you use this this term ramptime because I'd actually likewise, I heardthat so much and I go okay. Well, fine, we're going to give somebody. Let'scall it! What do we give them six months for amp time, and then you hearlike oh it takes a year for somebody to get up to speed. I'm, like am I justkind of Holdin my breath for a year to see and like I felt I needed somethingmore concrete, so I realize you know here's here's another one, an hi ekindof rules, the three frameworks which they just they haven't failed meyet so I'll keep h rolling with them, and this one is really in those firstthirty days I mean my goodness somebody applied for to to join your company.You've interviewed them. They fought Tothad nail to get this job. They',probably negotiated hard, you've determined that they're so far, theright fet in those first thirty days, we actually we have everybody righttheir own thirty, sixty ninety day plan in those first thirty days and usuallyin the first thirty days, what an employee is most likely saying theywant to do is just to learn right and kind absorb all this information absorbthe culture understands. You know who the costomers are about. The company,like, what's t e competition like out thee, they're trying to absorb all thisinformation and through that period, what I'm looking for is a greatattitude. So I go first thirty days you need to have like I mean talkabout.First Impressions you're. Probably this is going to be the time we 're going toreally see them that new employee on their absolute best behavior. It's alsoin the middle of a crobationary period. So, like you really better see them ontheir best behavior. So after that kind of attitude that willingness they'rejust getting the confidence to be able to take that next thirty days, so atthe sixty he mark now, I'm looking for effort and really kinda applying thatknowledge that they've learned in the first thirty days into something againsomething to use the term something tangible could be a deliverable, couldbe a presentation. It could be their...

...first. Twenty five sales calls. How arethe the initial situations were thecreating value and adding values to the company? So I look for the effort andusually in that next thirty days, so at the ninety dey mark there's earlyresults, and so we go from attitude to effort that leads to results. If, atany point that an employee is slipping behind getting frustrated, then we justtry to reset that, and this isn't just about the first thirty days ofemployment at a company. You know there might need to be that tough lovedconversation of a performance, improvement plan, type thing and ourperformance and provof friends follow that same ninety day window, where it'slike: Hey, we've, we've missed targets again this is't just amout sales. I Younow you've missed deliverables or deadlines, ind, a consistent manner.The attitude seems to be kind of degrading. Because of that I understandyou're frustrated. Do we want to work this through together? I'm you knowgiving you an opportunity here, you let me know if we W do. We want to work onthis together? Yes, great, we got to start off by resetting the attitude andthen, through that period, Y, U K W, let's, let's put in the effort and thenfinally I know those results are going to come because they've come witheverybody else. Who seems to kind of follow that pattern, and it'scompletely what I love with that is the first Yo are completely in the controlof an employee, whether they're new to the company or they're, strugglingshowing up every day in person or virtually with the right attitude andthen putting in the hard work, which is the effort and the results will bethere. I'm way more lenient and willing to kind of extend the grace, as yousaid, on the ninety days, plus, if those first, you know, if there'sevidence of that attitude and effort, th, that that results that can go outlonger than thirty day. You know that Ninety da plus EIF needed, but the prerAPQUISITES, are shown up with a great attitude an and putting in the effort,Col cool. I Lo E. I love that framework. I remember Y, U You'd shared it with mebefore, and it's something that really stood out and I feel like sometimes I'mon a little bit of a condensed time frame with it. You know like Theie, areemployees. For example, in the summer you bring on a summer student, wherethey're only there with you for four four weeks or so so how do you figuretake the same framework but may be condensd in in Time Crame, but I love.The idea of you know, make sure that they've got the right attitude and thenscreen and make sure that they're putting in the r right effort andultimately, if you do those things right, then the results. You startmeaturing the results after those first to so I love that framework. How do youthen make sure that they get on going feedback, so I Wanta, and you could doit more more generally like what's the framework that you use to make surethat employees are course adjusting as required and then I'd love to dig intoif and how that's changed. Given that we were, you know managing primarily aremote work force N. So I I try to break us into two two streams. One isin. Let's call it group settings and the other one is one o one on one, andthere are certain messages that need to be delivered in a group where you'reeither. You know recognizing a rewarding a great achievement arcelebrating together there's other times where the message just needs tobe given one on one. So actually you know to answer the question. We'veintentionally tried to advoices trid to keep up a lot of the same culturalnorms and practices around giving feedback, and so we have, for instance,a weekly leadership team eating and virtually every kind, ofdgroup ordepartments. Functional area has their own team meetings as well. So that'skind of he the direct team. Once a week we do a company wide all hands hottle,which is fifteen minutes, and that goes over. You know good news and numbersand celebrates winds for the whole company and then also a quarterly rally,which is the longer kind, O typical town hall, revewing results and andseeing and learning what the departments had been working on th theprevious quarter and then what's up for the next quarter. Those are the biggergroup ones, but we compliment that with making one on one meetings routine andI actually hold mine all on Fridays. I batch process them together and it'shalf an hour and I actually open it up by saying this is your time we have ashared documents. We've evolved this over the years, but it's gone from ashered Google dog, which is just at in the talking points. Did you want tocover that week and it's just one long living document? That's moved to Googlekeep which is more of like a task checklist type thing, and we just crossoff. It's not meant to manage projects. This is just where do we want to keepthe talking points and now we're on to Asana, which is more of a projectmanagement system, but we do we literally just call it for discussionand is just talking points so the key there is that, instead of theinterruptions throughout the week of like important, but not necessarilyurgent, if you know what I'm saying, we just try to add em to the talkingpoints list for the upcoming one O one, but I'm very disciplined about holdingthose. I always say this is your time. If you don't want to cover anything,that's on there, then that'fine and...

...sometimes to be honest. Theconversations just go in unexpected areas that someone's really challengingworking from home. Onther, kids, you know a R, you know all over them.Throughout the day, both parents are trying to work. At the same time, homeschooling is not effective. These are the kind of challenges that are realand we're hearing, and so we might come up with a flexible work schedule oflike look. You don't need to beat in front of your computer for nine to five.If really, your kids are young and they're all asleep by eight o'clock,maybe we'd shift a couple of hours into the evening, so we try to come up withsolutions like that, but that's the kind of thing that's going to happen onone on one. You know e we'll cover. I usually just try to cover like ahighlight in lowlight over the last week and kind of what are you lookingforward to next week, the kind of environment where you're going to havethat safe conversation, I'll even say in the safety of this conversation orin the privacy of this conversation you know, is there an? Can I sharesomething with you or you know. Is there anything you want to share y? USometimes have to explicitly sate that just to give the other party a comfort,but whether the one on ones are happening. Weekly or some people kindof buy weekly. The frequency can change. THAT'S H! That's that's important. Ijust think that's flexible. I just think that they need to be consistent,that there's a time in a place and some type of predictability that the Ployethat you're working with they're managing knows when they can bringsomething up the next time, and so those are the one on ones and then themore formal feeback would be a quarterly performance review. We'rereviewing the quarterly objectives. You know if the targets have been mad ornot, you know what's what's working, why didn't that happen? I've actuallygot these five questions that I landed on, but the the first one is, you know,is really what's your target and or what's your gap to target, and how arewe going to close that? So these are the type of questions that I've Tri. Toshare that I find myself asking. It can seem somewhat repetitive of Hey. We, wealready know your targets. I see that we're trailing like what's your gap totarget and what are the mitigating actions that we can in factors whatactions can we take to overcome that it's surprising that now, likesometimes tea members like volunteers like I know, I'm trilling a bit. I'vemade really good progress here on this other area, I'm trailing and here'swhat I've already taken the initiative to take some steps, wor that so thatwhen it comes time to that formal, quarterly performance review, no oneshould be surprised on how they ended the quarter. I mean you're, probablytracking, that all the way through and we actually us a really simple systemwhich is meats expectations, exceeds expectations or does not needexpectations, which is really did you complete the objectives that you hadthat you set out for the quarter and I'm talking like three to five. At most,we try to make them as newmerical as possible. You know smart goals if youwill just so. It's super clear that it's that there's a finish line and ifit, if it's really you know, we mentiond the million dollar annual Cota.Well, then just set the quarterly. You know understand: How are you pacingthis quarter and if it's probably going to be a similar goal for the nextquarter, another two hundred and fifty thousand in sales? Well then, great, ifyou're you're meeting this quarter, just repeat that goal again for the Next the next one, but overall I've actually tried to make a point thatthese are very constructive and I guess encouraging conversations. You knowthere's nothing to be feared here. I actually give the headline at thebeginning. I say you Gad a great quarter, a I have you down on IsnicCEEDS. I see that right off the bacllor's, not like this anxiety, foryou know twenty nine minutes before he an drop it at the end. I've also gonethe other way to say look. This was a really tough one. I unfortunately, Ithink we both would agree and that it's fair to say this, that we didn't meetexpectations this quarter and here's. Why? I think was the case you let meknow if I misunderstood the situation happy to revisit. If you think thatthat's that's but heres, here's what I saw and have that conversation, but theconsistency through all of these, the team eetings, the one on one you knowweekly by weekly and then the quarterly it's getting that frequency right inthe different environments, I think, is what creates a robust performancemanagement. Ind Feeback System you've been really good about keeping at leastyou share with me really good about religious, almost about keeping thoseone on ones I found when I had a larger team, I'd schedule them back to backand then I'd you know you get traveling or client meeting would come up orother priorities, and that would end up. You know you skip a one on one or youbumpl, one on one for one week and then you're two weeks behind and I'd alwaysfelt like I was trying to play catch up when I did them with Mydo. I had toomany direct reports, but how many? How many people do you do that for onFriday, on Friday, it's eight and so it's a pretty full day for sure it'sbeen as high as like. Twelve and you're right at a certain point: it just getsto be, and it's not just you, it could be the other person that's taking aweek off or vacation, or you know how t has to run an airand during the time ordoctor's, appoint what have you so life happens for sure and, frankly, that'swhy I like this talking points approach, because if, in the event that neitherof us can meet, then it can be as...

...simple as like hey I checked, Googlekeep or I checked Asana or I checked her diocument, and I see that the mostimportant thing it looked like that you wanted to cover was x. let me just giveyou a qok couple, one lines about that or let me send you a resource or let meintro you to somebody else. I try to just keep some of that stuff moving andit's okay. If you don't get to everything on that list, it's a list.It's going to stay there. Sometimes reprioritize. We have a section calleddeferred indefinitely, which is just like we talked about it. We don't wantto cross it off like it's done, but like boy, we we don't need to keepseeing it there every single week. So there's there's different ways thatyou'll find. I think it's a real personal approach to how you're goingto run these, but the consistency is, is the Big One? Do you find are a lotof the actions on you or most of the actions out of those one on ones, onthe people that you're doing the one on the one's with, or is it really just abrain dump like a discussion and not yeah? I love that term 'cause. I I usethat allto. I use it as a brain dum, it's actually often in the moment,rather than sending an email, midweek and going like hey, please research.This thing you know like. I think this is a big opportunity and then there'sthis flurry like it's like literally Hat's a distraction midweek. I tend toput it on there, because I I like that it serves as a holding pattern to letboth of us just jell on it. For you know a couple days, til the moment andyou'd actually be surprised, like a lot of enth creners have so many ideas thatthey just need somewhere to cut them and that's cat of what it served, as isthe brain dump ground I'm like who would I need to talk to y from ourcompany that I think could take this further and I'll just take a gass,sometimes it even switches from like one person's list to somebody else'smore often than O. Honestly Eric is like we're like yeah O w. You brought that up three weeksago and like I did like yeah, we've already talked about that and like Ohright or we just go, we determine in the moment go to indefinite 'cause,we're just not. We don't see it or just just cross it off and just cut it outentirely, and at least that way it's like it's almost it's an outlet and foras many as those ideas, there's actually ideas that come up from. Youknow your your direct report, which can be hey. Do you think that this is agood idea? Do you think, there's an opportunity here? Have we donesomething this with this before I juggingand referred to myself as thecompany historian, so I'm often like yeah. We actually did try that threeyears ago here's t worked and what didn't, if you're, going to try to get'em super supportive, but you might want to consider this angle th the nextgo round and I tend to be answering a lot of those questions of like what hashappened in the past. So it's as you said, it's it's just it's it's toprompt a discussion and there's nothing there's Nis in a paragraph. This islike one line like you know, pricing strategies, you know for a subscriptionservice or something like that, and it's like. How would you think aboutthis or like do you have a framework? Do you have some like mental rules orsome mental model? I'm like Oh yeah, there's this thing that I've comeacross and it's just to promp the conversation back and forth yeah. Ilove that idea. Almost like a parking lot. I found so I'm guilty of midweek.I used to be guilty of midweek messaging people on a team and sort ofunaware right the I don't want to say burden, but when a senior executivemessages team member- even if it's just a question in passing, you think wowthat's a priority for them. I'd better get on it. So I'm going to drop whatI'm doing and do this other thing when maybe it was just it was often for me.You know an idea in passing that I just wanted to get out of my brain and putsomewhere else, but then you send people working in ten different, twentydifferent directions. So I, as part of the onboarding I I found itsupereffective to say here's a parking lot. I'm going to put you know myweakly brained up in the parking lot. Let's re, I actually need three or fourdays to to let that sit and let's revisit it and often you'd come back toit three or four days later and go ell. That's a bad idea. Like I'm glad youdidn't get running on it! 'CAUSE! That's like it sounded like a good idea,but it's actually not a good idea. So I'm glad we didn't do anything on it. oEr, the last two days fir sure it's the words of the CEO Weigh eight hundredpounds, and it's just ust, like I think, you're right. It's this burden like wow,I' better, do something with this now, because by the time, if I never askedabout this again, I want to be able to say, like Oh yeah, I looked into it andit 's like next Thi. You know somebody spent an hour R, two, maybe starting adocument. Oh, was that really necessary? I mean I usually want to scope out likehow big of a problem is this ecause? That's what really ideas are solutionsto problem so before you know, I'm careful to l Ke actually try toarticulate these as problems to be solved, as opposed to just jumping tothe solution. 'cause often it's like oh we're, actually solving that similarproblem somewhere else, and so let's try to pull these two problems togather. Maybe there's one solution: Thay can cover both yeah. That'sexactly T it, it's a parking lot and most recently actually ve been loving.We use Gemal and they have this scheduled, send feature. So I can writeemails in the evening and schedule them...

...to be. You know, sent out at eight amthe next morning and same thing with the weekend. I don't want to be. Peopleare already working, approximately twenty to thirty percent more hoursthan they were when they were going into the office because everyone'sworking from home and it's like well, what else am I going to do so? There'sthis? You know the time when someone's not working and they're just trying tospend some time with their kids t their family or Gonoh. You know fresh AirBeit Summer or winter. You need some mental breaktime and so to honor that Iuse this scheduled send and it just sends first thing Monday morning, andeveryone knows that ml, I might have been thinking over the weekend or justwan again get something out whether it's in the parking lot or it's theschedule Senate shows up at Monday a Dtam is just there's a bilest of emails.All from me, I, I think that's gkind of speaks to this back processing ideaagain along the lines of remote, so I've been to your office in London,Beautiful Office, big office, and you I mean invested with the intention ofhaving sort of a homebase for everybody, so the move to remote. Are You wh? Whatare the plans? Are you going to stay primarily remote, or is the plan to getpeople back in the office when you can? What a you? How are you thinkingthrough this? The way Yo were thinking about this is what has once been aapproach to work that I found maybe borderline distasteful of like wecouldn't possibly have a remote work force, mostly, that was because we hadnever done it, and you know there was a degree of ignorance there. I we werevery early, in fact, at least within the community here, to move to amandatory work from home and that there's a couple of keys that weinitiated first off everybody we had. We had a work from homereadinessassessment on the Monday, where everyone met with their team determined.Do you even have the technology at home, chair office, Computer Camera for videocalls, and then, by the end of the week it was mandatory work from homestarting the next Monday. So we were pretty quick to move and since then,we've you know run surveys. Do People like it. DO THEY NOT? A lot of peopledo enjoy working from home. That said, I'm not sure everyone prefers it so togo entirely work from home and like rip up the lease, I think, that's again anextreme so there's somewhere between forty to fifty hours in the office andforty to fifty hours at home. It's some mix between that righ and whetherthat's a day in the office and forties at home or the inverse of that or somecombination thereof, we're going to try to create a flexible work plan forpeople that that kind of suits their their role that suits their their needs.But you know companies. I think at this point you know again, regardless ofsize. This is going to be a competitive advantage for those organizations thatare willing to embrace a remote work option for employees, not that it hasto be everyone. 'cause. A lot of people really enjoy trusthe really enjoycoming together. Their colleagues are actually their closest friends a so wewant. It obviously still facilitate that and there's times I mentioned likebig team meetings or training or quarterly kickoffs. You need to bringpeople together, but to expect that everyone's going to be in all the time,I think that's unlikely and by actually opening up the idea of being able torecruit and employe top performers from around the country around you knowacross North America, maybe even around the world, I think suddenly there's anew cohordof people that are graduating every year that are maybe looking forthe next change in their career that we just didn't have access to before. Sowe're seeing this as as an opportunity currently rethinking of of how we'regoing to work. But I would say the theme is a flexible working environmentand it's not just you get to move your wo desk. You sit in it's a what is bestsuitable for you 'cause. I think that's going to go a long way to actuallydriving the performance and retaining employees over the long run. Yep Laughon before we wrap up has it has the moved to remote change your approach toany of those three areas of feedback, so the hiring of the right people, j, tsetting them up for success in the right way and sort of the ongoing sinkprocess, as as the remote want to say remote first, but the remote mentalitychange any of that for you, it hasn't changed in. In fact, I would say it's.It's actually underscored the importance of having structure, becausewhat you hear that is most challenging for for people who are working remoteis that there can be a bit of a lock of structure of I don't know if I'm doingthe right thing M, it's now even harder to get ahold of my manager, and you know I've read lots of our. So Ithink we've we've gone, maybe on the other side, which is being intentionalabout upholding the cultural norms and and practices that we've always had andin the first couple of weeks honestly,...

...it almost felt like there was just toomany meetings like everything was a video call. You probably lived throughthis yourself and then now we're realizing hey. If you can, why do avideo call, if you can send if you can do a quick audio call? Why do do anaudio call if you can send an email and why send an email if you can just do astatus update on a project management ticket? So we've tried to find theright balance of like what needs a meeting and what doesn't but the thecritical meetings around feedback. I mean we've hired people, you knowremotely and we've run our first kind ofround of performance reviews we wewere halfway through a quarter, so we did the you know: Half Halfway, MarkFerminder of the quarter and revisiting the goals and we're just entering inkind of performance, coarly performance roview season. So these have been goodpractices that have actually created a sense of normalsy and predictability inan environment of uncertainty, yea. What what a great thing to have, ifyou're, suddenly, not if you're, someone who needs or crave structureand you're, suddenly not going into the office every day having your one line,job description like this is the one thing that I'm responsible for, andhere's exactly how I'm going Ta be measured for it. It's like you can ha,you do a million things at home and not have anybody around, but it's almostlike. I would just tape it up on my office wall somewhere like remind her.This is this is the one thing you know this is the one most important thingthink that clarity must be really helpful for people on your team andlasthing on there's one thing we actually did start up since coming. Youknow kind of work from home situation. Was We actuallyereon more dailystandups with the teams where it used to be kind of once, a week hour and ahalf long meeting, we actually felt that the rapetition of meeting dailyfor fifteen minutes was more effective and it's everybody on video and weactually call it our top one and so well. There's that oneline jobdescription we go through around the world in fifteen minutes. Everyone hasbasically sixty seconds to say what was my tap one accomplishment fromyesterday and what is the one thing I'm working on today and that justreadsintense focus for the next twenty four hour period? It's too easy to go! Well,here's all the things a 'r going to do over the next month. It's like we'rejust trying to break things down, andto understanding what my goals are for thequarter, but then what am I doing today to take one more step towards that, soyou can see I've. You know that the th the theme and all of this Os likebreaking feedback and cut of this sometimes seemingly like. When do I doit and how do I do it and just trying to break it into like really simple,like bite size pieces that can be given, often daily or weekly, and that is, Ifind tremendously powerful and effective to actually getting theresults that that you want there's a lot of accountability that goes with it,there's a lot of comfort that goes with it feeling of accomplishment. Every daytalking about yeah yesterday I watched a an email campaign or a newsletterwhatever it is, but there's a lot of a great sense of accomplishment with youknow, moving the whole company forward playing your part moving the companyforward, yeah, that's great, so for a people that are curious, voices, dotcomheck of a domain, so I guess they can find you at voices tcom. That's theeasiest way to again we're on twitter, just at at voices and on facebook thereas well or on Linton. So those are the kind o usual social websites. You canfind us on or follow a company or Reco to me available and all those platformsas well, and is there anything that the community can do for you. So you know agood handful couple thousand regular active listeners. Is there anythingthat we can be helpful to you with right now? Oh goodness, I W. I wasn'texpecting that. Well, I'm a huge fan of PODCASTS and I've always wanted tostart my own, and so I actually just launched podcast called the voicesexperience which is about me telling about my experience in starting thecompany, how Irun it the challenges. Some of it relates to our industry, butmostly it's. The Kun of the business start up story and experience. Sothat's available to everyone wherever you're listening to PODCAST R whereeverYo're listening now go check that at least the first couple of episodes, Ithink, are great from L, Ke, an aunchberner founder story, the voices pthe voices stories ye the voices experience, the voices experience allright to hear a little bit more about the founding story. Well appreciateyour time: You've beet supergenerous! I think the topic of feedback is not onethat we often cover in detail, especially for early stage owners orcompanies, and something that, in my own ENTCR experiences, I wish I wouldhave had at least a simple framework to approach the right way early on. Sothank you for sharing the super tactical bits that I thinkave reallyset: voices up for success, Yer for the next chapter, Al Pleasures Mine. Ilearnd it the hard way and I'm glad to be able to pass that on Um to othersand hopefully youl find it valuable and put it to use perfect thanksabletopreciate it thise guys you've been listening to the Iviongmen or potcastto ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show in yourfavorite podcast player or visit IV dot...

...ca forward, slash entremrenership!Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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