Nate Joens - Be Better Transcript
4:14PM Nov 9, 2021
Welcome back, everybody. We are on our fourth session already of fire tech fest. We're joined now by Greg Bailey, Chief Product Officer and President at denim social, who will be talking about how to be better hiring and scaling in the new normal. Welcome, Greg, really appreciate you being here.
Thank you, Nate. Thank you, everyone. I'm Gregory Bailey, as Nate's just said, I'll do a very brief introduction and quick overview of denim social, and then you jump right into the topic at hand. I've got my handy counter here so that I know I keep the 20 minutes or so right on point. And I want to just tee up for everyone that, I'll make sure I leave a little bit of time for q&a at the end as well, if that's appropriate, anybody has a question or two they'd like to jump in with. But in Nate or Pete, I might need your assistance on that q&a session is operating from a single screen at the moment and just see my own slides. So nonetheless, I'm Gregory Bailey. I'm President and Chief Product Officer of denim social. We're a technology company that's a social media software management solution for regulated industries. And what does that look like? Well, the majority of our customer base comes from the financial services space, highly regulated industries, like banking, credit unions, insurance companies, mortgage companies, and wealth management. And so we do this across the country. Then I'm social was created earlier this year, after the merger of a company I founded back in 2015, called denim. And denim was a Des Moines Iowa based tech startup raised about just shy of $2 million in capital. And, and then earlier this year, as I just indicated, merged with a St. Louis based and another great flyover City, St. Louis based Gremlin social as the result of that merger, we're now called denim social. And so today, I want to talk a little bit about how to be better in this new normal. We're, you know, over the last six or so months, though, the world has changed drastically. And in my point of view, it's straight, it's changed quite for the permanent. I don't think consumers, I don't think businesses are going back to the way that we obviously that fundamentally means that as leaders and tech startups as leaders in businesses, we have to think differently, and operate and be better in this new normal that we're operating in specifically on my topic today around how to hire and scale a team, and how to hire and scale your business. So let's jump right in. By the way, before I do you see my Twitter handle on the slide there love to chat with you on Twitter. At the end on the last slide, I've also got an email address if you're more of a one to one communication type person, happy to connect that way as well. So let's jump right in. Let me let me go back in time, just a short bit before I talk about being better. And so going back in time to us looks like q4 of this past year, I won't go all the way back to 2015. There's not enough time today to do that. But just q4 of last year, then my company that I founded in 2015, we were competing just like structurally or just like any other tech startup around the Midwest. We were in downtown Des Moines, Iowa in our office, and we were competing to find talent in this market. And our team members simultaneously had a strong desire or kind of an increasing desire for more flexibility in work location, whether that meant some days working from home other days working from a coffee shop, or a co working space, etc. In some days, of course, working in our dedicated office in Des Moines. So fast forward through the holidays, and into January. And in January, I began a conversation with our landlord around how might we in fact in that lease, so that we could transition to be an entirely remote business and buy in as luck would have it. By the end of January, the landlord had found a replacement tenant for our office space, and on March 6 of this year. And if you do the math, that's about one week exactly before the who the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. And the entire world especially the entire United States went to 100% remote big businesses, small businesses, everyone transitioned to working from home. And we were we had the good fortune and just luck, quite honestly, that we had ended our office lease one week before that all occurred. So we had a one week head start on working from home and you know, in advance of most businesses across the country. So now, as we got through kind of the initial shock of the pandemic and getting used to working from home and working remotely. We we've continued to be a 100% Fully remote team, even in the midst of merging our businesses raising a $4 million Series A round of capital and scaling the organization in the midst of merging two teams into one. So today, we're a team with density of employees across St. Louis and Des Moines, in Chicago, in Birmingham, and San Antonio in Tucson. And so you can see that just over a short window of time of about six months, we've hired and scaled our remote team. And that continues today, we continue in this environment to hire with plenty of openings and opportunities. So that's a little bit of context on how we're operating in this new normal. So let's dive into the topic and talk about well, what does it mean? What's it mean to me to be better than I would submit to you that, you know, as business leaders, we have to revisit and refine the company's hiring value proposition? What does that look like? Well, it's really hard questions that we must wrestle with, we have to really come to grips with, why does the company exist? What are the company's values? What do we stand for? What are the behaviors that we expect? When we're hiring? And in scaling a business? What are the behaviors that we expect that of our team? What's the brand promise that we were making to the market to our customers? Why did the Why did customers buy our product and our value? Why? Why do we? Why do we exist at the end of the day? And why will your company win? At the end of the day, I like to say that great people, and that's what we're talking about today is hiring and then ultimately scaling. But great people, they want to work for companies they realize that they buy into and that they know will win. This is oftentimes in my mindset, I harken back to the childhood days long ago for me. But I harken back to those childhood days of thinking about the sports teams that I played on those little league baseball teams, or those middle school basketball teams. And ultimately, those golf teams. For me Golf was kind of my sport back in the high school and college days. And so all of those teams, there was this notion and this camaraderie in this invisible glue that I like to refer to that Bond's the team together, the people together. And so ultimately, those strongest teams, right, we're in the midst now of the NBA Finals, that started last night. And so those strongest teams are those that will win. People looking at your business and want to come to work for your business. They want to know, they want to realize they want to feel it and hear it in your voice, that in fact, your business will win. So important questions to wrestle with just to refine and rethink and use this time that we're all remote, that we're all working from home. Later, I'm going to be tweeting what my setup is here, you can't see behind me. I'm actually sitting in our home gym. And I'm going to be tweeting that out. So you can see actually what my setup here is, it is likely the ugliest setup of anybody presenting today, I would guess. And so we'll find out but on Twitter later. Anyway. So let's talk specifically about hiring. So what does it look like in the new normal to be better related to hiring. And this for me begins with a creation in the maintaining of momentum, the big Mo, as I like to call it, and I'm originally from Missouri, Missouri as mo for the abbreviation. And so I oftentimes think about this as the big mo momentum. So what does this look like? Well, if you're if you're in a position in your career, as I am, I'm in my mid, actually kind of graduating into my later side of my 40s. But I've had a 20 plus year career nearly 25 year career prior to founding denim back five years ago. And so I built a vast network over time. And that network can look like any number of different things. Maybe you have a personal CRM that you've kept all of your personal or professional contacts in over the years, or maybe LinkedIn has become your place to have a great network or whatever that might look like for you. But make sure to lean in. And to spread the word within your own existing network, whatever size and shape that might look like, ask for referrals. This is a marketing game, getting the word out and having a proposition that you can talk to and a brand promise that you can put out into the market is just as important related to hiring, as it is for selling your own products. And so spread the word and ask for referrals. Don't be afraid to ask for help when it comes to hiring. Right now we're talking about how do we best fill the funnel, right? This is a sales kind of effort if you want to think of it that marketing and sales type of effort. But when it comes to hiring, it's just as much about how do we fill the funnel to get enough candidates interested in whatever the opportunities that your company has. I've got next use an applicant tracking system. And for us this is equally important that we use an applicant tracking system to just maintain it's kind of like the CRM for recruiting and hiring. Just make sure that you've got organization around how you do all of this. And you'll notice a common theme that I'll just say this one time, but it's at the bottom of every slide coming over the course of the next couple of slides, communicate, communicate, communicate. I almost feel like Balmer saying, developers, developers, developers, but instead it's Communicate, communicate, communicate. And you'll see this across the entire theme. It's more important than ever right now that we just communicate whatever mechanism or means that is, so care about the conversation, right, Nate? So All right, next up on hiring, and I'm going to breeze through the next couple of slides. successful onboarding really matters. You know, I am in the process right now, today, yesterday, and today of onboarding, my newest hire at denim social, they started yesterday. And I happen to meet them on an outdoor patio of a Des Moines area coffee shop yesterday morning, for their very first meeting on their first day. With them social, it matters to be able to connect when it's appropriate. And when it's safe, to be able to connect in person, I believe, now, create an on ramp through the calendar, I'm a big believer of for the first two, four or five days, whatever that feels like to your business, but for the first couple of days, at minimum, create some structure and create an on ramp for that new hire. So that they don't kind of wrestle around with well, what am I doing now I'm sitting at home. And I'm wondering in a vacuum, what I'm supposed to be doing next. So keep a consistent calendar kind of force fed over that those first few days. And details matter. Look, because we're all remote, it's more important than ever, that your new hires that their their technology in their applications work. And so spend extra time and emphasis on those details to make sure and of course, communicate. Let's talk next about scaling. So as you build a team, Denham, social now is in the mid 20s, soon approaching the 30 mark of total, total team members across these different markets that I referenced earlier. And so now that we have some 250 customers around the United States. Now, it's really all about how do we continue to scale the team and scale the business, ultimately, culture matters more than you think. And so your your employees, your team members, really will either a buy into the culture of your business or be they won't buy into the culture of your business, it's kind of a light switch, it's either on or off. And so you want them obviously to buy in to have retention, you want to retain your best people and all of those things. So invest in it, set aside the time, have the conversations with your leadership team, with your with all of your employees, for that matter, about building your company culture, invest in your brand, I referenced it earlier, that the brand is not only important to your customers and prospects looking to buy your product or service brand is equally important to your new hires in the hiring phase, but also to your existing employees that are already on your team. So invest in continuing to build that brand. And then focus on connecting that team, right connect them for, you know, zoom, happy hours, which are now more than ever old news, I think, right? We're done with that. But find unique and creative ways to professionally in kind of that water cooler, chat type approach, find ways to professionally and personally connect with various teams and people around your organization. Last, nothing creates scale, like the money that customers pay us. And this is a philosophical kind of just really something we believe. And I think it's important to kind of emphasize this, in particular, Nate referred to it in his opening comments today. But this is an ethos that Midwestern or flyover country, tech startups tend to have. We focus innately on the market, we focus hugely on the customers and their pains, and what in fact will work for them, and why they would in fact, buy our products. And so nothing scales, and nothing creates the big mo the momentum, quite like the money we receive from our customers, you know, people at the end of the day are those that scale businesses. So your team, your customers, your investors, yes, I get it. I lead a software company, and I'm sure many of you do too. But at the end of the day, and so software has to be built in such a way that can easily scale right. I get that. But at the end of the day, I fervently believe that it's the people that scale businesses. There are many, and multiple ways to scale, right? Organically going out and selling marketing and selling is fantastic. There are also other ways to scale. And inorganic growth is just as important. I've referred to it within my own journey. And so raising venture capital is a way that I believe is kind of an inorganic way to scale to get a leg up or to boost and put more rocket fuel behind the effort. Just the same m&a activity, which I've recently been through m&a activity is an additional way to scale and get kind of that effect of one plus one equals three, four or five, rather than just two. And then finally, be proud. Whatever you do, it's Life's too short, right? And, and in startups are too hard, quite frankly, be proud of the way that your business scales. This is just something that kind of goes deep to the heart, right? That as a founder, or as a leader at a tech company, just be proud of the brand. Be proud of the people. Be proud of the company and be proud of the way your business scales. And finally, communicate, communicate, just overly communicate, especially in the era that we're living in right now. So I'm going to wrap it up right there. You see my Twitter handle and my email address is on here, g at G Bailey calm. And just at G Bailey calm on Twitter. So I'll wrap it up there with three or four minutes, I think left in the time that I've got and Nate or Pete, if you're on happy to take any questions if they're already.
Yeah, absolutely. Greg, can you hear me? Fine?
I got you. Right.
Yeah, I love I love hearing about this. I appreciate the the shout outs to caring about the conversation and communicate, communicate, communicate just another way to say conversation, right. I think that one, you know, one, q&a, that we've been thinking through a little bit is, you know, it's really interesting, when you're talking about hiring someone right now, who's pretty much, you know, not pretty much but entirely remote first, you know, structurally, we're going through, we just made a couple hires yesterday, and starting to thinking of think about onboarding, how how can you be sure that your entire team, you know, you know, you're probably the owner of onboarding this particular person, but how can you involve an entire team that's remote, to getting this person up to speed or future people up to speed?
It's part of that on ramp through the calendar that I referred to a few slides ago. That's how we, we structure it. And so first off, about a week before the new hire starts, we sent out a company wide communication, giving us a brief bio about the new hire, you know, their name, what their job is going to be what they're going to be responsible for in the company, if it's a new role, in this case, and and you know, kind of a history about who that person is, and what their experiences and where they're coming from, that experience is both kind of a twist on professional experience, but oftentimes kind of a tidbit about what their profession, their personal aspects are, as well, you know, just based on their background, and then on the day of the day of, it's like a Slack party. And so just really kind of a takeover of slack to welcome every team members involved in that process. It's part of the culture of the company. And so yeah, it's not, it's not as good as everybody in one office location, all getting around and welcoming the new hire, but it's probably, you know, in some kind of a second place, a Slack takeover to do something like that. And then, you know, a Zoom sessions on the opening day, the first day of the new hire, so that everybody on the team can can put, you know, visually on a screen, I call it the Brady Bunch screen, can see that new hire, in that new hire, just as importantly, can see everybody else and put a name with a face. Another step of this is just scheduling out the calendar in such a way as I talked about, so it's incumbent upon the hiring manager in our situation, to schedule 30 minute or one hour meet and greets. And oftentimes by day two, or day three, it's more than just a meet and greet right now we're starting to get into the actual what I call the meat and potatoes of the role of the job. And so yeah, in that case, it's oftentimes just having that schedule for the new hire already scheduled out with various team members and various types of conversations, even before their start date.
Mm hmm. I love that. I love the reference to meat and potatoes, too. That's very Iowa view. Very good western view. Yeah, I really appreciate it. Love the insights here. Greg, thank you so much for joining us. I can't wait to dissect this recording afterwards, and let our audience dissect it further as we get into this more remote first, remote, remote friendly world. Hiring scaling, so important. Even more important today. Thank you so much, Greg. Really appreciate it.
Have a great day. Thank you Take care.
Yeah, we are. We will be back here shortly with Jason Mars, Dr. Jason Mars talking about shifting gears a little bit more towards the product and tech side, a place that we're really excited about. Dr. Jason Mars will be back here at 1105 talking about a new voice from a strange place in the AI revolution. See you soon