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Here’s your program.
Hi everyone, my name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. Home of the ambitious upstart and the place where you come to learn directly from proven entrepreneurs who teach you what they’re especially good at. Big question for this interview, and you know that I like to focus each interview on one specific topic that we’ll dig deep into. And so for this interview the topic is, how do you recruit and develop a rockstar team? Johnny Chan is the co-founder of eBoost learning, a digital consultancy that does an especially good job of developing its team. Johnny, welcome.
Johnny: Thank you, thanks for having me.
Andrew: All right. Before we get into the good stuff that you’ve done and teach how you do it, you weren’t always this good. And you had an experience with a guy named, can I say his name? Or I’ll give you his first initial, T. Can you tell the audience about that?
Johnny: You’re talking about Trevor. And Trevor’s a really important person in my life. And I guess to talk about how good we’ve become at developing a rockstar team. I think the genesis of it really came down to, I was really excellent at letting people go at a certain point in our lives. And I really, it became apparent that to develop a rock star team I actually needed to suck at letting people go, if that makes any sense. So Trevor was a person that had worked in my first startup, regarding my first exit. And Trevor was an ex-D1 football player. And he was part of our sales team and I was working in Lee Generation Space at the time. And over the course of that year as we were building out six different verticals, building up the valuation of our company for an exit, I let probably over a hundred people go in that course of that year. And I had become desensitized to it. I remember when my first time when I first let somebody go I thought, my goodness, like how, I’m not sure if anybody else could feel this way, but I didn’t know how to do it. And then over the course of a hundred repetitions I got really good at letting people go.
I remember when I was going to let Trevor go. I brought him over to the room and I had totally anticipated him to go very aggressive. And to throw things across the wall. I mean, I’d seen it all before. And instead what had happened was that, when I told Trevor that he was let go, Trevor started crying. And he looked directly at me and said, well why didn’t you just tell me how you wanted me to grow, and grow into that role? And here was this football player, you know, he was he played D-end at a D1 football, and he was talking more about his girlfriend and a baby on the way and he was crying. And he just left the room so slowly and he just left so quietly. And that moment absolutely changed my life. I remember I was, I had the habit of twirling my pen. And so I remember the light shining through behind me, I know there was a bunch of sunlight that was coming up behind me. By the time I actually looked up, it was pitch dark outside. And I knew at that moment that my life had changed, but I didn’t know how much. But I knew that for me to really, for me to make business feel right, for me to be happy, for me to really create a lot more growth for entrepreneurial start-ups, I needed to develop people like Trevor. I never wanted that to happen again. So essentially how we started to develop great talent was to really sensitize ourselves again to letting people go.
Andrew: You know what? I’ve been in that situation too where I’m letting somebody go and in my body and in my mind I feel this is a brilliant person who wanted to work hard who had a lot of potential who should’ve been a good fit. It’s not his fault, it’s not her fault, it’s my own fault for not knowing how to tap that. If I would’ve known how to tap their brilliance I would’ve been able to make their lives better, make my like better. Instead of suffering for weeks or months thinking how do I let this person go, I would’ve been enjoying a great working experience.
It’s not as easy to figure out how to do that. Most people think, how do I recruit great talent? They don’t even talk about or spend enough time thinking about how do I make sure that once I’ve got this great person that we’re working well together, that I get the brilliance out of them. You said that your life was changed. We’re going to learn some of what you’ve learned, but give me an after-story. There was another guy, Nick. How long after did you meet Nick and tell the audience the story with Nick if you would.
Johnny: Yeah, absolutely. Nick is probably one of the closest people in my life at this point, but I remember when we were starting up and he was consulting 6 years ago or so. I remember meeting Nick and it’s all a funny story and I’m going to bust Nick out over here on this side. I remember walking up the stairs and I remember this, really I don’t know a better way to describe it other than like this kid. He was 19, but he looked like he was 15.
He was walking up the stairs in his G shorts and coming in for class like he wanted to obviously develop himself and I just saw somebody that was really hungry. I remember leaving the office that day and I think that the business model had shifted so much since then, but what I really remember out of that moment was remembering Nick. Again, he had all the same characteristics as Trevor. Really driven, willing to work hard. He came from a background and we said if we can tap into this potential then we have something special here. I thought with Nick, if he was consulting, even if it didn’t work out at the end of the day, if it doesn’t necessarily work . . .
Andrew: You mean if the business fails?
Johnny: Yeah, if the business fails, the one thing I didn’t want to leave on the table was the unlimited potential of Nick. Fast forward to 5 years later, so this was a couple of years ago, he moved up the leadership pipeline, which I’ll talk about in a little bit, from an intern to an associate to a consultant and became managing director of business development and he was consulting.
He opened up through his network, he saw a tremendous opportunity to infuse organizations, start-ups with capabilities. The start-ups would say, how can we start infusing our management consulting model into start-ups and helping them scale rapidly. Once we combined those two things and he was able to identify that opportunity it opened up a whole new world for us. Now we’re scaling up companies from $5 million to $100 million in the course of a year and a half and that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the development of Nick and it all came down from that moment of meeting him up the stairwell.
Andrew: This one guy, you meet him when he’s 19, he looks like 15, he ends up opening you guys up to a business that starts out as $5 million and then you grow those businesses to $100 million?
Andrew: All right. So, one of the first things that you say we need to as entrepreneurs and as hiring professionals is manage ourselves first. What do you mean by manage ourselves first? What do I need to do to manage myself?
Johnny: Good question. So managing yourself and what that particularly means is a lot of people start learning how to manage others at an early age and I think this is all part of the entrepreneurial generation that we’re a part of, that we’re absolutely obsessed with right? So we’ve got people like you and I and we’re Gen Y or even millennial and we come in and we have these great start-up ideas and from day one we start managing others.
The problem is that we don’t know how to manage ourselves first. I had a good friend who used to say back in the day, he used to say to me, everyone wants to change the world, but nobody wants to clean up their room first. That really stuck with me and I think that’s one of the first steps to do it is how to manage yourself. That was one of the first things that I taught Nick in particular, which is how to really start managing and prioritizing your time as a person that is wearing many hats in any company and you are in a fast growth environment where everything is coming at you at 100 miles per hour, how do you start prioritizing and getting high impact things done? He was having these problems and then I really came about with an old Andrew Carnegie model which is, I had Nick write down the five most high-impact items every day. So before he closed his desk every day I’d have him write on a Post-It, what are the five things that he needs to accomplish the next day? And from that he learned how to start developing himself and he was able to transfer this over to start developing others. And now he’s managing over 40 employees with a $7 million P&L.
Andrew: I see. So if he wasn’t getting the five most impactful things done every day, then how was he ever going to find time to manage anyone else or have the credibility and wherewithal to make sure that they got the five most impactful things done?
Andrew: First clean up your room, clean up your to-do list, clean up your activities, and then you are ready to help other people.
Andrew: The other thing you say is you need to adopt the leadership pipeline. Now, I see how you did that with Nick. How do you do it in a more formal way? I don’t want to have to count on bumping into a Nick in my life. I want to have a pipeline where guys like Nick come into my life, and even stronger, more developed people than Nick come into my life, and then my system, as you’ll show me later, will develop them further. But, how do I get them into the top of the pipeline?
Johnny: Leadership Pipeline is actually a book from Ram Charan. It’s a whole concept of talent development. It came out to it from essentially another problem that we had, which was, I was finding that it was — obviously it was a personal problem — I was finding it very difficult for me not to say “no”, not to say “yes” actually, when somebody wanted to get promoted. And the reason why was that I thought that I was managing my friends, I was managing my peers, and I wanted them to succeed as well. And I thought to myself, well, I really want to do what’s best for them, and what’s best for them is for me to actually get them up something, either managing or managing others before they go ahead and manage a whole business function, or what have you. And I stumbled on this book called the Leadership Pipeline, and it absolutely became my obsession.
The reason why it was so impactful was that it leads you up very formally the steps you need to develop a really complete business leader or really complete entrepreneur. The first step is to manage yourself, and if you can’t manage yourself you can’t move on to the next stage of the leadership pipeline, which is managing others. And if you can’t manage others and you can’t manage laterally, then you can’t move up to the next stage, which is managing managers. Now you’re thinking more strategically, you’re thinking about how to manage people that are managing scope time cost resources. And then after you manage managers, you’re able to manage a whole function. Now you’re able to work your way up, you’re able to manage laterally, you’re also able to manage downward as well. And then finally, at that point, once you’re able to become a functional manager and understand the impact of that, then that that point you graduate to becoming a complete business manager, and that essentially is a whole business leader. So we have criteria on each one of those different levels, and each organization, really and each startup …
Andrew: Can you give me an example? I see, so Leadership Pipeline is not waiting for somebody to come in and say, “Johnny Chan, we’ve been friends for a long time. I’ve been working here for a long time. My friend just got a promotion. Can I get a promotion? Because I’ve been reading a lot of self-help books and watching a lot of Mixergy interviews, I’m ready for the next step.” No, it’s having a clear set of criteria for what it takes to go from where you start to the next step and so on until you’re managing other people. Give me an example of some of the criteria that you use to evaluate whether somebody’s an appropriate fit for the next step.
Johnny: That’s a good question. We look at three things. Every single level is really based on three categories. The first is work skills, second is work values, and third is time application. It’s very simple, and the reason why I love the model is that it’s just brutally simple, something that somebody like me can understand. Work skills is what’s appropriate for that level. So if you’re managing yourself, are you just getting your work done? Are your work skills applicable in whatever you do? In our case, it’s digital marketing, and are they able to do the work effectively and efficiently. In terms of work values …
Andrew: I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’re saying, if they are currently ad buyers, are they mastering ad buying? Before you even talk about managing people or moving up the ladder here, are they managing ad buys? Are they getting the ads cheaper than the value of the people who are coming in as a result of those ads? That’s the sense … that’s what it is in your business, at e-Boost, right?
Johnny: And in work values, it’s very similar to that, but it’s, what do they value? Do they value getting a really great job done? Do they value the integrity of their work? Do they value getting the best deal for the particular ad buy that they’re getting into? That’s their work value at that level. And then in terms of time application …
Andrew: I’m sorry, before you move on to time application, I want to make sure that I fully understand this, because a lot of people pay lip service to work values, and many people who don’t pay lip service don’t fully understand it. So I want to make sure that I understand it so that I could then apply it. Give me a specific example. Maybe that will help me understand it. Can you illustrate with an example of let’s say this ad buyer. What kind of work values would you expect from him and how would you know whether he has them or not?
Johnny: Sure, first is effectiveness of work. So is that persons in terms of, something that is quantifiable. Are they achieving it in their work values, through their work values. Or are they getting results through others, are they achieving more work in less time. Are they becoming more efficient in their work? Those are the things that would be for in this person who is doing media buys or ad buys.
Andrew: I see. So in my business it might be I introduce the ad buyer with a system that we use for buying ads. And then I see, is he just going through the systems step by step or is he simplifying the system? Is he improving the process for buying ads? Is he thinking creatively and coming up with new ad design so he could buy better ads? I see, that’s what you’re looking for.
Andrew: And, okay. And that’s the kind of thing you can measure and you can observe by looking over their shoulder, by looking at the results. What about, to go back to one of my earlier interviews with Tony Hsieh of Zappos. What about those values that don’t express themselves so neatly? Things like, is he someone who really cares about our mission? Is he someone who really cares about our employees? You can’t measure whether someone’s on the phone the proper amount of time with a customer to show that he really loves a customer. Is there a way to do that or are you saying, are you talking about something else when you speak of workplace values?
Johnny: We actually think that there is a way to go ahead and do that. So we use a 360 review process. So people that come on board and they get a quarterly, at least in terms of three months, six months, a year review. And that’s a 360 review with the whole team. And we actually have the team score them on their, their teammates, up down laterally, score them on a scale from one to five in terms of care, and actually care is one of the core values of e-Boost consulting. So do they care for others? So we use that score from the whole team, an aggregate score, to show how much that person cares for others. And then we use obviously interviewing to make sure how that person demonstrates that. And so that gives that person feedback and it’s very transparent towards what type of values we value at e-Boost consulting.
Andrew: Oh, okay cool. I can see then. Trying to think of a smaller business like mine where we don’t necessarily have enough people to do a 360 degree evaluation but when we interact with a customer maybe we have some kind of link in the footer, in the sigline of our e-mail that asks people to take a survey about what they think of the interaction. Alright. So there are ways to take the fuzzier, warmer values and put numbers on them so we can figure out if our people are moving up. Alright, let’s talk about time application. What do you mean by that? And if you could illustrate with your own example that will help us understand it.
Johnny: Yeah, so, we don’t believe in time based work. So what I mean by that is it’s not just a 40 hour work week that generates results. We understand that you know, I guess it’s, we want to be led the way that, we lead the way we want to be lead. Which is we want that type of freedom and responsibility, things that like even Tony Shay talks about right. He talks about, you know, how do we develop that type of culture which is particularly really important for us. So the type of application we see is we have our team members whether it be they work 35 hours a week, whether they work 50 or so whatever it may be. We have (?) metrics that we measure them on in terms of how they apply their time. So within those 35 hours how much are they applying their time in client work. How much are they applying their time in coming up with new ideas? How much are they applying their time in learning. It’s actually one of the most critical mistakes that an associate can make over here at e-Boost is that they don’t think that learning is a work skill. We actually cultivate that as a work skill. And we value learning in our organization…
Andrew: How do you cultivate learning as a work skill?
Johnny: Yeah, so, we cultivate learning as a work skill. I’m not sure if this is really backwards. I think that everybody that’s listening to Mixergy really get this. Is that 15% of our time as tracked by our time tracker has to be allocated to learning. So, what we do is we take a look at the learning portion that they put in their time tracker and look at that specifically. We also have learning days at e-Boost. We have people present on topics that they may be unfamiliar with. So giving them some ambiguity. Letting them become as quickly as possible thought leaders in that space. And we try to cultivate that collaboratively throughout the organization as well. And on a weekly basis we also have a powwow, a learning session, where we can learn from each other, and actually one of our examples today is going to be Chris, who’s going to be talking a little bit about marketing strategy and additional marketing strategies today, a little bit later on.
Andrew: Can you tell me how you guys teach each other, or is that something that’s going to come up later in our outline, and I know that we’re both working off of an outline, to make sure that we don’t just hang out in this conversation, that we really pound out tactics that our audience can use. Is that something that we’re going to be talking about later?
Johnny: Yeah, that’s something that we’re going to be talking about, when we talk about [??].
Andrew: Alright. I got a note here, and I’m going to come back to learning from each other. You know at this point, can you tell us a little bit about e-boost consulting? Give me a typical client, or an understanding of what your client’s do, and what you do for them.
Johnny: So, to the outside world we are a digital marketing consulting firm, that scales hybro-entrepreneurial firms faster and better than anybody else and that’s our promise as an entrepreneurial community. On the other side of the people piece, is our team and that’s our internal value proposition, that we actually talk to with our clients as well. And the internal value proposition is that we are a leadership development platform for entrepreneurs, so we take brilliant people that are hungry, that are driven, that are absolutely intelligent, and we bring them in, and we say that we are going to make you the most complete entrepreneur faster and better than anybody else. So, on both sides of the coin you are looking at our clients and we’re saying that we can scale your impact, so whether it’d be creating an exit for you, valuate, increase your valuation or create a sustainable business model, we’ll do that better and faster than anybody else.
Over here, on this end look at our talent and we say that we’ll be able to develop you and develop your talents quicker and faster than anybody else. So, when you have both sides of the equation, our [??] senses are fully in line and a lot of our work has to do with performance. So, we actually act as investors ourselves, so we take a look an entrepreneurial startup that may be, let’s just say, $1 million-$3 million right now, in terms of how much revenue they’re generating in course of the year. And we take a look at four different criteria. First we have scalable business model. Second, how’s the management [??] on our team; third are they a great [??] that we call for 2AM tests, that are we willing to take a phone call from this person at 2AM in the morning, and then finally which is very [??] to begin with, we assign a scale of 1 to 5 on it. Does this company matter? Are they looking to make a dent in the world like we are? And if they have 4 of those criteria met, and you check those off, then you have something that our team is really going to back for on a day-to-day basis. So we infuse our resources into their office, 2 to 3 times a week, so we take our team members, and they will actually go to that person’s office, the team member that’s client’s office 2 days a week to become dedicated resources to help them scale their marketing. We powwow back here on Wednesday’s, much like today, we exchange knowledge and collaborate with one another with all of the main expertise and if we take that back to our client’s side and help them scale that much faster a little bit later on.
Andrew: What kind of marketing do you help them do?
Johnny: We take any type of digital marketing, we find ourselves the most effective way for us to scale an organization, and any type of tool that fits their strategy which we define, then we’ll use it. So we’re not tied to one particular tool, we’re not just a firm that’s focused on one thing and that’s our only solution to it. Everyone here, if they have a title of consultant, means that they’re fully cross-functional across the whole digital domain.
Andrew: OK. Like the way you put that. Alright, so let’s go back to the tactics here we talked about managing yourself first, we talked about adapting the leadership, adopting the leadership pipeline. Next is developing an interview process and I’ll ask you after that how do we get people to go through the process, how do we find the right people, but can you tell me about the interview process?
Johnny: Yeah. So, I guess like any interview we use different tactics. It came from us hitting our hands against the wall, doing something else that was wrong, so in the beginning stages of e-boost, and you know we were in our early 20s and we were starting this company out and we really thought that we needed some parental supervision and the way we thought about that was that we need somebody with some experience in the space, to teach us how to do things and perhaps it wasn’t by a perfect execution that we were getting to the place that we were, we felt that for us to get to the next level, we need some parental supervision, we need our own type of Eric Schmidt that’s be able to come in and help us out here. And, when they came in, that person came in, they are able to infuse us with some ideas, in terms of interviewing, that this is the way that things have always been done. And, we actually said that it didn’t really fit and like hitting our gut we realized that this is not something that we think would be of value if we were from the other side of the interview table.
Andrew: You mean, you were looking at the interview process that you had in place for finding this guy that was going to be your Eric Schmidt, your adult supervisor, the guy who is going to help you run the company, because of the experience he has, and you said whoa, we’re really not giving this guy enough value, this whole process really stinks and you’re really being honest with yourself, OK? Now, what did that make you do?
Johnny: Well, going through that experience made us understand well what fit us and what fit our style. And our interview process from there was using the leadership pipeline as our guide and essentially saying, well if we look for people with great work skills, work values and time application, well why don’t we go ahead and actually test that out? And we thought, well what’s a really great way? Our values are built on having a collegiate atmosphere which means learning and also teaching. We have a very collaborative culture and it’s based, we call it the four I’s. You have to have integrity of work, you have to have intelligence, you have to have initiatives and you have to have integrity. So, those four things, how can we test them in a real time situation using work skills, work values, time application?
And then what we started to do was starting to interview based off of that. So, instead of saying, I’m not sure if you’ve ever felt this way Andrew, but I’ve been in interviews before with other people that you know one of, or somebody else, even based on the handshake you say, oh I’m not sure if I like this person. Or they may say this person’s great. And you really can’t say why other than just feel. And we really wanted to be able to scale our interview process because we had this global visioning from the first few years of our business.
And so we started to test in terms of work values. And say, okay, work skills, work values and time application. And the first interview was actually a work skills interview. Where we say okay, not do you only say that you do really great on your resume in let’s just say affiliate marketing or SCO or social media. We say, okay, you think you have really great experience. Well let’s see you go ahead and apply on it. So we’ll put them in front of a computer and we’ll give them a work example, real business case, and give them five minutes to go ahead and solve that using the digital tool that they thought that they were really excellent at. And so developing that process allows us to remove, we call it remove the polish. I think that’s a job in the interview process is to remove the polish so we can see what’s wrong and what’s real, and get to that quicker and get it faster than anybody else. And that’s the value of our interview process.
Andrew: I see. I’ve actually heard lots of entrepreneurs do this, that they say, we don’t want to process where we ask you questions. We want to process where you show us what you’re telling us you can do. And I adopted that when I was looking for a pre-interviewer. You met Jeremy who pre-interviewed you. And I said, Jeremy I’ll show you the process, but I’m going to show it to multiple people and I’m going to ask multiple people to actually do a pre-interview, series of pre-interviews, so that we can see how well you do as a pre-interviewer. I’ve heard people say that they do this before the person even gets in the door. That they want them to go through some kind of obstacle, I think Noah Kagan calls it, or put some work in their way so they can prove themselves before they even get to talk to you. Do you do that or do you want until they come in the door and then you put them in front of a computer and say, show me how you buy ads or show me how you use this program that you said you were good at?
Johnny: So, yeah, we do use that. We call that the knock-out round. And we use that in an initial phone screen. So a lot of our work, if we have to get to a most critical business problem faster and better than anybody else. And assuming that’s our client promise. One of the most telling things is actually what questions they ask in that initial knock out round. So interviewing is obviously very important in the things that we do. So we’ll ask them a series of questions through an initial five minute phone screen. And in that five minute phone screen we’ll determine whether they asked the particular questions that would be the most insightful in that situation. We also give them a case in that phone screen as well to see if they can get past the initial screen. If they’re able to do that then we further test that work skill in that first interview. And if they make it past that, then the next one is a work values interview, that’s behavioral based. And then finally a 360 interview where they meet with the whole thing and actually try to solve a real business case with their future team members.
Andrew: How do you do a work values test?
Johnny: It’s behavioral. So we take a look at historic performance and we’ll have them rate themselves and also people that they managed up, laterally and downward. In terms of, we test them in terms of their strengths and also the places that they can improve. So we call them the plus and deltas. So things that they do really well, that they thought their manager did very well, and also the deltas. The things that through previous experience perhaps their manager or somebody else that they looked up to could have improved on. And then we flip it over to somebody that’s lateral. So we say, what’s the plus and deltas of the people that work beside you? And then the plus and deltas of the people underneath you. And then we ask them, the second half of that interview is, well what would they say about you? So obviously that’s the plus and deltas from the person working underneath them, laterally and them upward. And then shore that up with their references.
Andrew: Johnny, this seems like a lot of work. What do you say to the person who’s listening to this right now and says, boy I’ve just been listening to half an hour. I’m more tired listening to this then I would be going through my current process and then they would run back to do one of two things. If they’re a new entrepreneur then they just hire their friends and say, “Hey I know this guy is really good. I’ll work with him to smooth out the parts he’s not great at.” Or if they’re more advanced they’ll go, “Look I don’t have this kind of time. I’m going to hire a head hunter. I’ll pay a few thousand bucks, and I’ll get them to do the work for me. But I think I’ll do this. This is a really tough process. There are multiple steps involving each one of these simple tactics.” What do you say to them?
Johnny: I say you can’t afford not to do it. And not only that, but it’s not necessarily time intensive at all. Initial phone screen is going to take 5 minutes, and you ask all specific questions in the five minute phone screen to determine whether or not you move to the second stage.
The work skills interview is a 20 minute work skills interview. A work values interview is a 30 minute work values interview. And a 360 one is an hour. Obviously, not everyone makes each round. So your resources for each are going to go ahead and scale downwards. So you can not afford to make a bad hire.
I think in our business if you miss hire that going to cost us about 2.7 times that person’s salary in terms of how much that burden is going to cost us. We can’t afford to make that mistake. I think a lot of entrepreneurs when they’re gaining the speed. We work with a lot of these entrepreneurial firms that are [??] to scale. Their game is really a game of speed. How can they get there quicker and faster than anyone else? If you’re going to compromise this, then you’re compromising [??]. That 2.7 in your investment could have been used to scale your marketing or to scale you’re impacting that much further. You can’t afford not to make that.
Andrew: I see. I’m also learning that it doesn’t take as much time as it seems as we where going through this. We’re talking about not more time, but more regime to process. Not hey do I like this guy. Do I want to go with him? But, no, a process that let’s you know if he’s going to be a good fit or not.
Before we go on to the next item on our list, how do you get people of the top of the pipeline? How do you find people who are worthy of even going through a knockout round? Or, how do you get anyone to be even be interested in coming and working for you?
Johnny: So there’s a few different ways we go ahead and do that. We, one, reach out to our different networks that are able to do that. Obviously we use social recruiting to bring people in as well …
Andrew: What do you mean by social recruiting?
Johnny: So using just LinkedIn, and connect with people. There’s different ways to use social recruiting. A lot of people are attracted to our culture. Just from the different nuances through our blog or through our interns work as well. So there’s that. We also do a lot of outreach out to entrepreneurial companies. And something that again we just kind of fell on is working with a lot of universities as well.
And it’s something that we fell on because again we’re just trying to provide the experience that we would have wanted for ourselves; putting ourselves in a 19 year old shoes. I remember one day we were going around the office talking about entrepreneurship, and we were just saying this one comment that really became crystal clear to us.
We said, “Well entrepreneurship is really the greatest untapped and misused resource out there.” And I really feel that we don’t have the smartest people working on the hardest problems. Listening to Robert Hurst, who recently had mentioned to me, and became humanly crystallized in that moment. And then something that we fell on and said, “How can we go ahead and actually do this?” We’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs that were in their mid to late 20s, and because they weren’t developed correctly or they weren’t recruited or didn’t get the correct training that they just lost that motivation. They lost that energy. They lost that spark.
So we wanted to go ahead and inspire this new generation of entrepreneurs at the high school level and also at the college level. And say, “This at least, even if you don’t work with us, these are the types of experiences that are great for you.” Based on giving those talks about our own story and entrepreneurship and inspiring others to go ahead and pursue their route to entrepreneurship, we started to create this ground swell of people that wanted to become part of the E-boost team.
That’s how we did it. We created relationships with SDSU over here in San Diego, UCSD here in San Diego as well. We’re expanding our network over to northern California in Stamford, the GSB.
Andrew: So you in and you speak to these university students. You talk to them about entrepreneurship. You talk to them about the rest of the business world, and if they’re not interested in starting their own company. And their interested in learning about business by working in your company they come in either as interns or they come in as full time employees.
Andrew: I see. By the way if anyone wants to do this they go to E-boostConsulting.com/careers if they want to check out the careers you guys have available.
Johnny: Yeah. Absolutely, Andrew.
Andrew: And of course right on there there’s also a internship link it looks like and right under the internship link is the speak in link. I guess that’s were you guys talk about were you guys can be seen. Right?
Andrew: Alright, it’s all part of the process. I actually have a guy here on my floor, who has an office on the same floor as me, who does that. He goes and speaks to universities. Speaks about journalism in the new world. And I guess he hires people from the audience or he talks about how he has positions open and he ends up finding great interns that way.
Andrew: I see it working for others. Next big tactic is, test drive the talent with an internship program. So does everyone start off with an internship program working for free?
Johnny: Oh my goodness. I think at a certain point we all work for free. That’s how we all got our start. But in all seriousness, I think the internship program, really, we consider it the lifeblood of our organization. Because you have these young, hungry, entrepreneurial minded people that said, okay, removing the money even outside of it, what can we really do to make an impact on others and on ourselves? And that’s what our internship program is really all about. And just seeing them and their work really inspires me to take everything else to the next level.
Our internship program actually began, again, hitting a wall and then going through some other route. Our internship program really began because we wanted to one, just test drive an internship program out. We thought it was a really excellent way for us to cultivate our collegiate atmosphere and our culture as we started to grow our company and were hitting this inflection point with that. And we started assigning people mentors and starting to work it that way. After one and a half years of running things the same way, an intern dropped out of the program. And we had this group, we’d typically hire our interns in groups, and there were five of them and it dropped down to four. And another one dropped out and it dropped down to three, and another one dropped out and it dropped down to two. And we said, well, what’s really wrong with this picture? And it was really out of, really those three interns, Ruthie, Trong and Ashmina, they got so angry because they were the ones left in the internship program and they just said, well, why did our team really abandon us? And they called a meeting, a players only meeting, and they said, well what can we do to fix this? And then they brought me on after their initial finding and they said, hey, we want to be able to create a intern culture in which we start interviewing each other. Then they said, no offense Johnny, but you’ve never been an intern here at e-Boost consulting because you’re one of the co-founders of e-Boost consulting. So you don’t know how it feels to be in our shoes. I think that for us to build an internship program, we need to be the ones that are interviewing ourselves, and build that out ourselves. And it just made so much sense to me. And I said, yeah, let’s go ahead and do that.
So from that moment on, our e-Boost internship actually became its own mini-firm within the organization. And now our internship program again lives the values that we portray at e-Boost consulting which is working with companies that really want to matter. And they work with two to three non profits for each intern group. And they work in it to solve their most critical business problem and help scale their impact in whatever ways that may be.
Andrew: When you say test drive the intern. And test drive a person with the internship program. How long do you test drive them for?
Johnny: So, I, it’s typically about 240 hours, the internship program. And I actually have a really good story about that. One of our associates now, Matt, he came in as, he wanted to go ahead and interview as an associate. And through the work skills interview. He came in with an excellent resume, excellent cover letter. He came from an excellent reference, actually from Nick himself, to go ahead and interview as an associate. Within the first five minutes of the work skills interview it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be a correct fit. And I can see him probably squirming as I tell this story nowadays. And I said, well probably underneath, you’re a talented individual, that’s probably going to be underneath no shortage of offers that there are out there. But I think what you need is or you to build your skills in these areas. And I think a really great place for that would be the internship program. I just tossed that out there for him.
You know, so he had a few other offers that were on the table. And I guess I shouldn’t say surprised, because I know him very well now, he’s one of my closest friends now. But he eschewed the other, he said no to the other offers, and he came in as an intern through e-Boost interns and developed his skills without even a promise of an interview as an associate on the other end of the internship. After that internship he really demonstrated his ability to handle ambiguity, great business acumen. He showed exactly how well he could pick up a specific work skills. And then he got brought on through the interview process again as an associate and now he’s one of our top performing individuals at our firm.
Andrew: I see. Now when you say 240 hours, he would have gone through 240 hours which is the equivalent of 6 weeks of 40 hour work weeks.
Andrew: Got it. All right. And what percentage of your people start off in the internship process?
Johnny: You know we have four that we’ve brought on board that have been part of our internship process and they’re part of our core team. So then outside of that through the placements we’ve had at E-Boost consulting, we’ve been able to bring in I think roughly around 60% of our team members, of our 34 team members, have been through the internship program.
Andrew: 30% alright. Alright so you got the person on board. Whether it’s as an intern or as a full time employee, you want to keep training them. How do you do it? Where does the training start? Do you start the first week or do you let them get started on, actually, I’m going to cut that question short and ask you. Tell me about training. Sometimes I get wrapped up in questions. You know one of the things I learned by listening to NPR is, I used to think, boy these guys are so polished in their questioning. They’re just, every time they ask a question it’s just seven words and they’re the exact seven words in the exact same order, and everything sounds perfectly clean. They’re so friggin’ smart. And then NPR’s on the media at a piece where they talked about how they edit. And they showed how much editing goes into each one of their questions, or, not necessarily each one, but many of their questions, to come up with this very polished sharp question that we hear on the radio. But the person who they’re interviewing doesn’t get that and it doesn’t start off that way. Maybe some point in the future I’ll have an NPR type editing process here at Mixergy. And I’ll sound so friggin’ smart people will be intimidated. Until then I sometimes have to cut my questions short and just say, tell me about the training process.
Johnny: All right. I’m going to tell you about the training process at e-Boost consulting. So it was a, it really started with this one sentence in this organizational behavior book that really made the most sense to me. Which was saying that a person’s first five weeks at your company is equivalent to the first five years of your life. So I’m sure everyone has heard in one way, shape or form that things that you’ve learned in your first five years of life affect us now today. And that’s why we have, we’re made a certain way or we’re nurtured a certain way. So the first five weeks of an organization develops the behaviors, motivations and it sets a tone for what’s an expectation of them later on. So no matter what, training is an ongoing thing, and learning is an ongoing thing at e-Boost. But the first thing that we want to recommend to every entrepreneur out there, and we can’t stress this enough, is to have a killer first five weeks. You’ve got to get the first five weeks right. Even if your training lags on a little bit later on, your first five weeks makes or breaks that persons experience and expectations with your organization.
So the way that first five weeks builds out is, we look at three different competencies that we want to establish in that person. As one, an expectation and two to really start breeding this type of behavior that we want out of them. The first is strategic competence. So understanding how do they go into any type of situation, any type of startup, that’s out there. Again in real time this is what we live in. How can they go in and step into any room, make the right partnerships, get the right piece of information faster and better than anybody else. That’s what we call strategic competence. We also have tactical competence, and that’s number two. How quickly and effectively can they do the work. So how can we always build a technical competence in them that they use in the digital (?) in the right way? And then finally we look at leadership competence. We understand that frameworks don’t run businesses, people do. So we want to make sure that they’re able to work in an interpersonal dynamic where they’re able to coax the best performance not only out of themselves, but get their people that they work with, whether that be the CEO of a startup or anybody else, to really get on the same page, speaking the same language, telling the same story as quickly and fast as possible.
So those are the things that we build out in the first five weeks. How that looks like is, the strategic competence, the tactical competence, is actually tested out in the first two weeks of intense (?) training. By week three they’re working on client work already. So they’re already thrown right in there. And we supplement that with interpersonal dynamics. So leadership competence and we use business cases for that to help build that model for them. And at the end of those five weeks we tie up all those three components in a real time environment where we invite different entrepreneurs, investors, board members, people that are all part of the entrepreneurial value chain, into the office that are people that they never met before, and we actually simulate in the full day all the different business situations that they’re going to go through, and we’ll be calling it the executive challenge. So we do this entrepreneurial and executive challenge at the end of that five weeks, and at that point, they’re able to obviously end the formalized training on a high. And now, they’re going ahead and rock-and-rolling, and now they’ve seen almost every other situation within those five weeks and have gained the strategic and tactical competence to succeed in their work.
Andrew: It’s like going through school. You’re saying the last day is them actually going through a dry run with investors, where they’re presenting to investors. They, potentially, are dealing with the kinds of issues that they have on the job in that one day. They’re doing it all. I see.
Johnny: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s really cool, because we’re able to see… Again, a lot of people, entrepreneurs, they may hear this outside of it, and they may say there’s a lot of hard work, and believe me, I’ve felt the same way too. But what I’ve found is that you can’t afford not to go ahead and do something like this. And we actually see it nowadays too. You know, to be transparent, it took me a couple years over in eBoost Consulting to really find my sweet spot, and to even work on deliverables for a client, or be able to pitch and land a client, at a certain point.
Now we have people like Chris. On his first, after he went through the training program, first training program, he’s an associate. Within the first few weeks, he goes ahead and lands a client, that would have been the largest client if he was in the first two years of our business. So he landed the client in his first real week as an associate here, first try, that we took us over two years to land. We have Janie [SP] over here as well, who’s working on deliverables for our client that is valued at over $30 million. Again, things that we wouldn’t be prepared for in our first three years, let alone our first three weeks as an associate. And this is what our associates are doing nowadays, and it continues to blow me away, the impact of these first five weeks of an organization.
Andrew: What do you, how do you use case studies to teach? … How do you use case studies to teach?
Johnny: So, case studies is probably the best way for us to teach. When you have 60 years of doing this type of work and seeing every type of entrepreneurial start-up that there is, you’re under no shortage of business cases. What we actually do, is we use… We like acronyms over here. We call it PCF. So what we do is, again, in the most quickest scenario we can, how can we provide them a more real-life case?
So what we do in these training situations is that we give them a one-page sheet, and we call that prep. That’s the P of the PCF. And we give them a one-page prep about what they’re walking into: what room they’re walking into and what stakeholders are in that room. Then we give them an allotted amount of time, whether that be 15 minutes or 20 minutes to work on that case together to achieve the desired outcome. And then finally, we wrap that in with a 10-minute block of feedback. And so that feedback is, presumably: what they did right, what they did wrong, what are the things they can improve on, the pluses and deltas of that business case, and what are the things they need to transfer over to their daily work.
So that whole process right there takes less than an hour, and we do that weekly with our team members. And then, from that, again they’re working in high-intensity situations where it requires them to experience and build the right partnerships and to get the right pieces of information faster and quicker than anybody else.
Andrew: I get so much out of learning through case studies. I mean, the basic idea here, [??] used to use case studies and I hunted for that piece of information, because I wanted to know how else can we use these, the case studies and the lessons that we’ve got through people’s experiences in the interviews. Alright, final tactic: create self-policing structure for your company. Can you tell me about that?
Johnny: Yeah, so I think everybody’s been in a situation where… I’m not sure if you’ve felt the same way, Andrew, and I’m sure a lot of the different founders of all these entrepreneurial companies out there have felt this before too, and it’s a moment in which you realize that you just can’t do it all yourself. And it’s an overwhelming feeling, and I know it was for me. And what I found was that, for me to really get past hitting that wall, which is this feeling of being overwhelmed, we needed to create something that lived beyond us. So, we liken it to getting hit by a truck. So if, all of a sudden, Johnny Chan was hit by a truck, what dies with Johnny Chan? Those are the things that we need to create a structure for, so that it lives on without it.
Everyone we bring on as an associate, we ask one ultimate question at the end of all the interviews: can this person take our position at the end of the day? So there are no claw-outs[??]. So can this person become the CMO of eBoost Consulting? And at a certain point, can this person become CEO of eBoost Consulting? Is this person going to be starting different ventures through the private equity firm that we have, that is going to be able to do this at a certain point, two, three years down the road. If we say ‘yes,’ then we bring that person on. So how we create that self-fulfilling, that self-policing structure, is that it’s woven in every part of the way. Our interns interview other interns. Our training module is actually our associates teach the next group of associates that training module. And now we have something in which it transfers on and it also breeds that culture of teaching others the things that you yourself were taught. So how that works is I believe in not giving criticism. I believe in giving context. So what that means is, that you hear that all the time over here in the office and on client sites is provide contacts. So everyone understands what’s going on, not just what they did wrong. And the self policing structure is that leading by example that somebody would understand what they did wrong and how they can fix that. So it’s like a GPS tells you where to go and what to do in that situation.
I remember this one case in which Nick was being, he was in a meeting, and he cancelled a meeting within 24 hours of it being met. And it was with six board members and a bunch of investors that were part of this startup with this client. And he changed it because he himself was feeling overwhelmed. And it was with myself and Misha, the co-founders of eBoost as well. So I remember just getting angry and I didn’t understand why I was feeling angry. But I just realized, do you realize the extent of cancelling this meeting under such short time duration. Because you have essentially about ten team members in there, that, stakeholders that are part of this meeting that were affected by this decision. So instead of criticizing him and writing, hey don’t do that again, I decided to take a difference approach which was just to write him an e-mail and say, this is the context of what that represents. So because of that this is the person gets, you know this board member gets paid this much per hour. And this is how much time that they were invested into this. And scheduling, this is how much. This is how much, we, Misha and myself and yourself look at it per hour in terms of how much we bill out. These are how much the CEO is per hour. And we found out that the changing that one meeting caused in effect, an opportunity cost of really 23,000 dollars to be reallocated in some way, shape or form. So that, by making that decision it affected really 23,000 dollars in terms of opportunity costs. That next week we actually, we saw Nick actually teach somebody else that. He went to the orange rooms were interns were. And somebody there had cancelled a meeting. And he had, I saw it him on the white board using the same diagram saying, do you know how much time you cost and what the opportunity cost was for that? And he drew it out and you could see these interns saying, absolutely, you’re so right.
And we at that point knew we had a self-policing structure. And you know that self-policing structure goes along in every single way. I mean, even taking a look at Chris when he was brought on board. I actually said no to him in the interview process. And I thought that, this guy, he is absolutely not an eBoost material. And the interns they used the veto power that they had. And they said, Johnny, you don’t know what it feels like to be an intern. And this is, we feel that he is eBoost material. So we’re actually going to override your decision. Because we are the ones hiring on the next class. And I said, well fine. He got brought on board and it was one of the best misjudgments I’ve ever had in my life. Because now Chris is fast on his way to becoming a consultant over here at eBoost, cross functional in every aspect of the digital domain. And he’s just kicking butt for every single client that he’s worked with.
Andrew: Alright. Final note there that I have. Actually, I’ve got more so I won’t call this the final. But go back to that learning process. I’ve been thinking of doing some kind of weekly or regular meeting here with the team at Mixergy and I’m trying to learn from other people how they do it. What do you do at your meetings where people teach each other?
Johnny: So, we call it powwows. And the way that we actually started to do it was, as a small team we started to work on different areas. And we didn’t want to become a siloed firm so we wanted to transfer knowledge as quickly as possible. We thought that was the best way for us to transfer information towards one another. And so we started this weekly thing as a powwow. And I think every company out there has a good intention towards you know, starting something like this. And they say, well, we’re going to start a weekly meeting, we’ll all get in touch. And they have no structure to it. And especially the structure that we have is a really quick hour. Thirty minutes or an hour. And we begin with it by talking about wins. So we have something over here and when I moved the screen over here you probably saw it. It’s Rock Stars Only Know How to Win. And we write down what were the specifics wins that everybody had that past week and we’d talk about that and we also… how did you achieve that win? And so we transferred that information and then at that point we set up a schedule where each team member teaches something on every week.
Andrew: So ahead of time they know they know that they are going to teach something and they decide what it’s going to be ahead of time, they also tell you what it’s going to be.
Johnny: They know specifically what that’s going to be and what they’re going to be teaching and they have to come prepared. Because now they’re presenting to the team, trying to provide value to the team they have to come fully prepared. We’ve actually seen that no one really mails it in during those weekly learning sessions and the reason why is because once somebody starts it off and gives a phenomenal presentation you can see it in the eyes of everybody else. When you have really talented people that really want to do a really great job and have pride in their work, when they see somebody do really well they feel compelled to match that level of excellence if not exceed it. So on a week to week basis we see the level of excellence in each one of these presentations and collaborations to be extremely high.
Andrew: OK. So, wins, then they teach, is there anything else?
Johnny: Yeah, then finally we talk about the company, the metrics of the companies. What’s everyone measured on and what’s the ultimate values that we provide to our clients. We have two to three metrics that we typically go on and we review that on a weekly basis so now we’re able to talk about individual contributions So first wins, second learning; another value of ours, how do we transfer information quickly over and again what’s the overall impact of our individual contribution and of learning? We’ll it’s making an impact with the people that we work with, so how do we measure that organizationally? How are our contributions and our learning effecting two to three business drivers of our organization and again ever since we started implementing that type of individual learning and organization structure every week those two to three metrics go up.
Andrew: All right, let me thank someone in the audience, a premium member and then I’m going to ask you one final question that I was starting to ask you before the interview started but we didn’t get to really talk about it. So, here’s who I want to thank, I want to thank Charu Ancastri [sp] of FundsOn.com they’re premium members, they took me and my wife out to brunch this past Saturday, great couple, I had such a good time with them. He also gave me a copy of this book they didn’t just say, ‘Andrew, you should read the Diamond Cutter’, they gave me a copy of it and I’m halfway through the book right now. It’s about a monk who decides to get into business and how he brings his Buddhist training into the business world and what he learns from the business world from his Buddhist perspective. Anyway, I learned so much from them and also from this book and I had to say thank you. He also told me something interesting, how they, I of course asked him how do you guys use your Mixergy premium program, what have you learned, what have you gotten out of it? They said they took Dane Maxwell’s copywriting course, and you know Dane of course John, he introduced us and not only did their click through rate go from 2% to 27% after they took the course from him but they did something kind of interesting.
They went into a meeting and they said, in this meeting we want to be more persuasive, let’s take the notes that Dane put together for how to write effective persuasive copy and let’s just have it in front of us and when we’re having this conversation with someone, we’re trying to persuade them. Let’s look at what we can use from this to persuade them instead of just pounding away at our bullet points of why they should do business with us. So what Dane said in the notes, something like, no exactly he said ‘Have social proof’. So she said how do we find social proof to bring that into the conversation and be persuasive? Anyway that’s how they’re using what they’re learning from mixergy.com/premium. If you are a premium member Dane’s course is in there for you as well as dozens of other courses by proven entrepreneurs many of whom I’ve interviewed here on Mixergy. They’re there to teach you and just like Charu Ancastri maybe you’ll find a clever way to use it beyond what we originally imagined. If you do, come back and let me know how you used it. If you’re not a Mixergy premium member notice that I keep giving you both the names and often the website of the people who are members. I don’t want to just give you testimonials of Steve B., you know? A lot of people online will give you first name last initial they’ll say, ‘Oh, this guy thinks we’re great go trust him’. No, I give you the exact name so if you want to follow up you can email them and say hey is this real what Andrew just said or is he just BS-ing us or maybe you can just get to know them also and get to see the kinds of businesses that are being built by people who are Mixergy premium members.
So, Charu Ancastri thank you for brunch, thank you for the book and also thank you for adding credibility and social proof to this little plug that I have for mixergy.com/premium. By the way Johnny our friend Dane I think he’s told me that he, I could charge something like $500 a month for this program. I think he charges $500 for a similar program and he’s paid hundreds for it and I can’t bring myself to charge quite that much, but at some point I’ve got to raise it, because it is so valuable. And because I’m hearing so much about other people who charge more. At some point I will. If you sign up right now I will not raise the prices on you. You’ll have it for life and other people might be paying 4 or 5, I don’t know how many hundreds of dollars in the future. You’ll pay whatever it is there now. Johnny, I’m trying to learn from the sales tactics by the way, before I ask you the final question. I’m trying to learn from the sales tactics of the people who I interview. How did I do there? Was it a little bit long? Give me honest feedback. Don’t soft peddle it. Give me the hard feedback on this.
Johnny: So in terms of feedback, assume you ask five questions and it’s always first is what’s missing. Second is what was overemphasized, third is what under emphasized, fourth is did it meet the, what would it take to succeed, and the final, did it hit anything that, landmines to be identified, what it would take to fail. So I’ll go down each one of those if you don’t mind, and I’ll give feedback that way.
Andrew: Absolutely. By the way, I love how you have a framework for everything. You’re not just going to come up with one quick statement. You’ve got a framework. Alright, alright, yeah hit me, this is great. Some people, by the way, at first didn’t like when I asked the guest for feedback. I’ve got to learn. I want to hear the negative stuff on. I don’t have to project this, I’ve got everything right attitude. I want to learn, yes, please I’m real excited to hear this.
Johnny: Exactly. I mean, like people like you and I, we understand the value of feedback. Because we don’t want to be the, we don’t necessarily need to be right. We just necessarily, we want to be smarter, we want to be better, we want to get there faster than anybody else. So I understand your need for feedback as well. And I’m going to ask you for feedback on this end right after this.
What was missing for me was, not necessarily anything. It was, went to a great, I met Jeremy and Jeremy did really excellent in terms of prepping me for this. And hopefully the audience feels the same way too. And in terms of what was missing in this interview, nothing was particularly missing. I think what was overemphasized was perhaps the initial training. And I think that I was a part of that obviously as you and I are co-creating this interview, I think I overemphasized what that training was. And I also overemphasized specific steps of the interview process. And I think that might have seemed a little bit too heavy for the listeners out there, skills work, time (?) interviews.
Andrew: Oh you mean that, you’re saying that we spent too much time talking about the training you give your people and not enough about the questions that you use to hire them?
Johnny: Yeah, it turns out the training and the interviews, I think that I could have done a better job and then you and I could have done a better job of providing specific examples. So, you know.
Andrew: Wait, I’m sorry, I’m not following. Specific examples of….
Johnny: Questions that we would even ask in that interview.
Andrew: Oh I see. I didn’t get into that, okay. I see.
Johnny: So that’s something that we could have done. And to really, I mean to give that answer to everybody right now. In terms of work skills, let me give that answer because I don’t think that you and I did a good job of that. In terms of a work skill, find the one skill that is most paramount in your, whatever your company is all about, and develop a case around it. If you just do that one thing, you will make your interviews exponentially better in your work skills. Just do one case that is absolutely fool proof and do that and your interviews will be that much better.
Andrew: You mean my Mixergy interviews or my hiring interviews.
Johnny: The hiring interviews.
Andrew: Hiring. So can you repeat that with the hiring in mind?
Johnny: Yeah, so with hiring in mind, find one ultimate case that you can test the most ultimate work skill that’s part of your company and do that. Much like you, Andrew, have used the pre-screening interview as a case for it. And the way that we use and put people in front of the computer and find out what exactly that is. Find the one thing and that’s the best thing. I think that’s something that you and I overemphasized is the particular methodology. And I think that might have gone over everybody’s head, so. In terms of what was underemphasized. I think the self-policing structure. I think we could have talked a little bit more about how we create a self-policing structure in place. Particularly with a lot of companies out there that are three, four, five people. How do you breathe that in? Because if you do that well then when you are twenty to thirty, like our size, then it’s going to be that much easier for it to self-police.
So I think that something that we underemphasized was timing and size of organizations that these policies should go into effect.
Andrew: Oh, good point. Right. That if you are a company with just two people, you’re going to hire your first and fifth person differently then if you’re a company with thirty plus people. And of course when you get to a hundred plus you’re going to have a whole other structure. Alright, we could have done more with that.
Johnny: I think in terms of what it would take to succeed, I think that’s really depending upon the audience. And the audience will tell us whether or not it succeeds and in terms of its failure, I don’t think we necessarily hit on anything. I think that to hire and develop a rock star team we talked all about the different things that we should do with the leadership pipeline: interviewing, training, and also creating a self-policing structure.
Andrew: I see. Alright, one more before I give you feedback.
Johnny: Yeah, sure.
Andrew: What about the sales process? The way that I sold Mixergy Premium, how did I do with that? That’s where I would like you to hit me hard.
Johnny: Okay so the way that you sold the Mixergy Premium, I think the transition to that was a little bit rough. I think that we could’ve done a better job identifying a conflict. You might have even asked me because we’ve all experienced it before as entrepreneurs. What’s the greatest self-investment you’ve made in your learning? Talk about the qualities that that gave you. Even as you were talking about the premium membership, I remember thinking about the first time when we were boot-strapping the company, I would go ahead and take the weirdest road trips to learn all these different seminars from all these different people. I remember our first blogging convention that we went to. It was a room of 15 people in this room in San Francisco by Rohit Bhargava who wrote all these different books on social media marketing because nobody understood specifically what social media was about. That was the investment that we made, that we made drove all these miles to get to San Francisco and learn. These 15 people before Rohit was giving keynote presentations. It was just us 15 bullshitting over a glass of wine and then coming back to San Diego and saying, let’s go ahead and do this because it makes sense. That was the greatest investment that we ever made was to seek outside of us. I think that if you would have asked that, that would’ve provided a better segue into selling Mixergy Premium.
Andrew: Okay. That’s a great point. Here’s my feedback: one of the things that I loved about you, and I don’t think I could get this from other guests unfortunately, but the specifics. When you give an example of someone you didn’t hire, if you were just to say, ‘you know, we have people we don’t hire sometimes. We have this one guy’, it wouldn’t be as powerful as saying, ‘this guy Chris. I talked to him. I didn’t hire him. There was something about him.’ When you’re that specific, when you talk about Chris, when you talk about Treavor, using their names, telling specific examples of what happened with them, I think creates a story that people remember.
I remember when I went through Dale Carnegie training, one of the first things that we learned was if you want to give a presentation, or you want to train a new person to give a presentation, teach them to tell a story with a message at the end. In fact, they kept talking about Tide detergent. They said, ‘look, Tide is terrific.’ It’s selling us. How do they do that? They don’t just say Tide has all these great benefits. They tell you a story of a kid sliding into second base. Then his pants get all dirty and his mom, you see her holding up the dirty pants, she wants to make this all better. So what does she do? She puts it in the laundry with a little bit of Tide and boom. She’s the hero and the next shot you see the kid walking back to all his friends with a clean uniform so she can be proud and he can be proud of his uniform. Then they give the message: Tide can even clean the toughest dirt. When you’re that specific, people remember it. That’s what you did really well. The one thing we didn’t do well with you was pulling out that over-arching message. What’s that one message that if you don’t understand the details but you get that one message, you’re going to be able to re-create much of the rest of this process.
For example with Napoleon Hill, whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Even if you don’t remember every chapter of his book, if you understand that one big message which is thoughts are things. What you believe in, you can create. You understand and you can use the rest of his message. I don’t know how to do that yet. Finally, this is something that’s also hard for me to do with other guests, but you did it really well. You had a structure to what you’re teaching. It’s tough when I’m interviewing a guest and I say, ‘so what do you ask on an interview when you’re trying to hire someone?’ and they say ‘Andrew, you know, you just have to feel it.’ Well, how am I going to benefit from feeling it? How is the audience going to get benefit from feeling it? We could clap for you. congratulations for having the feeling but what the hell are we supposed to do Monday morning when we’re in a meeting with someone? It’s a framework and I really appreciate how you have frameworks for things.
Johnny: Thank you. Thank you very much for that feedback Andrew. I think you’re right. What’s a really good take-home message? I guess the take-home message that came up in my mind and it really fits with what you’re hearing on your end as you’re listening to all this: to recruit, to train, and to develop the way that you, in the perfect world, would have wanted to be developed, trained, and recruited yourself. I think that if everybody uses that module of saying ‘if I was in that person’s shoes at this gauge, what are all the things that would be necessary to recruit me, to train me, to develop me? The things that I need.’ Then everybody else in terms of any organization, any company, any start-up, and even yourself, and all the listeners out there would be developed even that much quicker and that much better.
Andrew: That makes a lot of sense. What would I want when I first got on the job? It’s not to sit in front of the computer and figure it out myself. I would want a training program. What would I want if I were working for a company over time? I wouldn’t want to be surprised about whether I’m doing a good job or a bad job. I want to know specifically where do I stand. I want to know what do I need to do to get to the next level. That’s a great message. That really does capture everything that we’ve got here in our notes. For the audience, two things: first of all, if you got anything out of this interview, come back. Find a way to let Johnny Chan know. In fact, it’s easy. You don’t even have to hunt it down. It’s eboostconsulting.com. There’s contact information all over the place there. We mentioned it before. How about we say this: if you’re looking to go through this process, if you want to learn from a company that breeds success, you can go to eboostconsulting.com/careers. How about I give them that as a link to go to?
Johnny: Absolutely. Please do.
Andrew: Thank you all for watching. Johnny, thank you for doing this interview.
Johnny: Andrew, thank you so much. Thanks to everybody else out there.
Andrew: You bet. Bye.