Today we talk about the lessons of growth from the 4th fastest-growing private company. I am talking to the CEO of Velocity Global, Ben Wright. Ben shares his lessons of growth so you can see where his focus has paid off. We talk about the value of vision and values. Ben shares why coaching has been so valuable for his leadership.
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Target Audience: Ben is a proven leader with an exceptionally strong focus on client satisfaction. Significant experience with building and growing organizations, enhancing brand awareness, and capturing market share.
Lessons of Growth: The Transcript
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.
Gene Hammett: Hi, I’m your host. I’m Gene Hammett. I am the host of leaders in the trenches. Got a little tongue tied there. My question for you today is, what are the core factors that drive the growth of your business? Have you really thought about it? Have you ever sat down and really knocked out or defined clearly? What defines your growth? What are those core factors? Well, I do this all the time with the people I interview and today I am honored to share with you the fourth fastest growing company privately held by the INC 5,000 group, 39,817 percent velocity global is, um, you know, someone who’s really impressive, been right as a ceo there. We talked about the core factors of growth. We talked about the culture we talked about. Is it customer first or employee first?
Gene Hammett: We talked about all of the things around that. You’ll learn some very strategic things, but also some very tactical things that they’re doing to actually create rituals inside their company to reinforce that growth. We talked about the importance of values and really we talked about it from two different perspectives and why you want to be really clear about those and you want your employees to be clear about the values of the company. Velocity global is a company that helps companies that are trying to grow into new markets globally in other countries that don’t have a physical presence there and they need to navigate around all the legal issues of having that employee live and that country and do the work in that country. And so they have been doing this and they’ve been growing at an astronomical rate. Very impressive. Fourth Fastest privately held company and inc. 5,000. So we talked today about this with Ben, right?
Ben Wright: Hi Ben. How are you? I’ve been pretty good. It’s good to have you here. Leaders in the trenches. I, everyone knows I’m Fascinated with the fast growth of the inc. 5,000. You happen to be the fourth company. Fourth highest growth of 2018. Uh, which we’re going to talk about today. Some of the things behind that. But I’d love for you to tell our audience a little bit about you and who you serve at velocity global.
Ben Wright: Absolutely. So ceo and founder of a company called philosophy for fastest growing private company in the us, according to a first time entrepreneur, I have some good success so far. what we do as a business is we help companies expand and employ people around the world. Really the core offering just in a nutshell, is if you’re a company, you’re looking to employ someone in a foreign market around the world. You don’t have a local company By wishful employee of yourself. We can employ them for you under our employment. Simple.
Gene Hammett: Well, I’m impressed with the growth of. they run downstairs. I’m going to say those numbers again. 39,817 percent over three year period. Uh, that’s based on revenue and that level of growth has got to come with a certain manner of challenges and chaos. But there’s also some things that you’ve probably learned around this. And I don’t think I knew this first time entrepreneur. Like now I’m being blown away even more.
Ben Wright: You ask if there’s a certain way. Being a first time entrepreneur every day is a new learning, so I get goosebumps even when I hear you kind of talk about our growth. That seems a little surreal. We’re blessed. We’re blessed that I should be also the team that we have a ton of learnings along the way and we just been really fortunate to get a lot of them right, that we’ve certainly had some missteps. We’ve been kind of blessed. We haven’t had any massive.
Gene Hammett: Well, I think that’s just part of the journey in my opinion. And if it was all lazy, they, everyone would do it. 100 employees and a note. It’s probably growing fast. So that’s probably a very dynamic number. Um, I always ask a fast growing companies is one question. So I’m going to start off here. I didn’t tell you this and I’m not sure if I even asked you this before in our precall was his, it company first or employee first? It really drives the business forward.
Ben Wright: Employee First.
Gene Hammett: Why?
Ben Wright: twofold? One, I Believe companies are little more than the collection of the people who were involved in those organizations, right? So without a team, without the people actually doing the work, you don’t really have a company, just doesn’t, doesn’t necessarily exist. Certainly if you Have a technology or investment vehicle that could be different. But in a traditional business like ours, it’s about the people, for me personally and, and second of all this is most important is I want to give our employees the best professional opportunity they ever had in their career. Um, I’m not going to achieve it 100 percent of the time, but if I can get pretty darn close, I’ve achieved my goal. I wanted some point everybody who works here to look back and say that type of velocity level, that was the best time I ever spent.
Gene Hammett: Well, I love it. And you’re in good company because of the research is over 94 percent of fast growing companies would say it’s employee first. Probably not surprised by that, right?
Ben Wright: No, not at all. Bad storIes out there about people who don’t do that.
Gene Hammett: You work with a lot of corporate clients because some of the clients that you have are really big companies right now. I’m not saying it’s, it’s absolutely wrong, but know it doesn’t necessarily growth, but are they focused more on the customer or are they focused on the employees?
Ben Wright: It’s a great question. I think they’re all. I don’t know if I can paint them all with the same brush. We have some large companies, large organizations that truly are focused on the company and we work with some very large organizations that are truly employee forward. We were listened to smaller organizations. We actually had to. We resigned from a small not for profit. We were supporting because they really weren’t people forward today to tanks in our people unpacking some of their people and we just thought we couldn’t really make. I don’t know if you can paint it all at the same brush.
Gene Hammett: Well, I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to draw a line and say, you know, if, if that’s out of alignment with the way we run business, the net customer wasn’t a good fit for you. Right?
Ben Wright: Yeah. We don’t want your blood money.
Gene Hammett: Ben, let’s talk a little bit about some of the key factors that have caused someone to first time entrepreneur to create a company that is growing at nearly 40,000 percent in three years. What’s the first thing that comes to mind that. And I say, why are you growing so fast?
Ben Wright: Why we’re growing so fast? Is it started with, it started with the vision and the vision a Little more than I just didn’t want to create a lifestyle business and all due respect to my, my friends and people who create these lifestyle businesses that are amazing. It’s just not how I get passionate. I want, I want to go from zero to 100. I want to work hard. Um, I want to leave it all on the playing field if you will. So it really started with that. What were the real execution of it is just around for us, hiring tendons and then getting out of their way. So we always talk about we only hIre people here who are our tens. We teach them the system. Um, we get them up to speed and kind of what we do and then we empower them and we kind of stepped out of their way and say, okay, now go take this thing and bring on behind.
Gene Hammett: So how do you find or they find you
Ben Wright: Having the success that we’ve had in some of the growth. And you know, the incredible job of our pr and branding team have led, a lot of people do is they come apply. So that’s been really helpful and frankly I hope this never changes. our biggest challenge is sifting through making sure we’re finding the best of the best excIted, no shortage of talent who come apply to us, but we have a very rIgorous and personalized process that we followed in terms of the interviewing and getting people on board with the organization that has been really successful.
Gene Hammett: Well, I know that’s a challenge for a lot of companies. You know, the war for talent is real. It’s not getting easier. And one of the big factors behind that is a culture fit. Is there anything you can share with us, a way that you’re ensuring that there’s a culture fit in that hiring process?
Ben Wright: For sure. So we tend to focus less on previous experience is better. In fact we made, we may screen out people when we first see the resumes based on whether we stay, have a basic experience in terms of the job and we’re looking for, but that’s about it. We don’t necessarily go back to a specific experience at any point in the interview process, the rest of it around how driven are you, how much, how passionate are you about what you do, how are you from a cultural set of perspectives, how much is there alignment around what you’re proud about and what those previous jobs were about, you know, is there alignment between what you rank yourselves and what your previous bosses rank you and it’s all really important stuff and it’s less about experience.
Gene Hammett: So this reminds me of the old adage of hiring on attitude versus a skillset. And I guess you guys have looked at the traits oF have the attitude of our culture and go, how do we mimic that through driven, passionate and alignment?
Ben Wright: Any more to add to that or been certain days we look for, we look for people who are self less self absorb. If you only care about yourself and where you’re taking this thing, you’re not going to be a good fit here. VelocitY, global, what are our key values is being of service. And so we looked for that significantly. Um, we look for people who really kind of go out of their way to be useful to other people. We looked at it for people who are a confidence but has a significant level of humility that plays really well here in velocity global. And we look for people who at least have a sense of where they want to go, right? You know, it is easier for someone in their thirties or forties or fifties to kind of be able to say, this is where I’m going to go. Somebody just kind of just out of school. But those people who at least have a basic understanding of what that north is for them, we find that works really well because then we can ally.
Gene Hammett: Well, you mentioned something. I’m going to go back to hire tens and then get out of their way.
Ben Wright: Yup.
Gene Hammett: I understand what that means is I talked to a lot of people in there, but we’ve got a listener in here going, you know, how do I get out of the way so that these people can actually do their work? What do you mean by get out of their way? And then how do you actually do it?
Ben Wright: Do I need to get out of their way is one of our other values is empowerment and this empowerment with accountability. And so what we do is we set goals on a quarterly, semi, annual and annual basis and those are the big picture items that we need to drive towards. And we say, let’s work together to come up with what you need to do to get this done. And then I’m going to. I’m going to let you empower you to kind oF get there the best way to use fit because there’s tons of learnings. If you get a right, fantastic. If you don’t kind of get it exactly right, it’s going to help you in the organization the next time around. And then we just do the basic. If something gets too far off course, if there’s a really big cereal distraction off of what our ultimate goal is, we’ll step in. But otherwise we really let people go. Um, you know, a real life example is I actually, I actually took two months off this summer, so I took a sabbatical.
Gene Hammett: It sounds like a lifestyle choice there.
Ben Wright: It’s so funny you say that. So my wife had a sabbatical eight weeks. I mean we were planning on taking the whole family and over the winter I was thinking about, I was just going to work and I was thinking about this empowerment and I realized what a cool way to empower our entire team. BUt in particular by senior team, what if I take those eight weeks off to. And so I broke the news to him early in the year and we prep for and we got ready and so for literally two months over the summer, which isn’t a huge amount of time over two months over the summer, they literally took over. I had email off my phone when I have slack off my. And the whole point of it was to get them to show them they can do this, they can trust themselves. And I can tell you there’s quite a few people kind of coming out in the summer who are positioned to take that next step in their career. And it wasn’t all perfect. There’s some things they could learn from that. That’s exactly what
Gene Hammett: That is a common story I hear with companies that create employees, they have a very important a culture where people think for themselves, um, you know, being a servant leader, I find that some people kind of misunderstand that they really want to win. A problem is presented. They want to solve the problem. They think they’re being of service by solving a problem which you many experiences with that. Like when people come to you with that problem, like what do you, what do you ask them instead of telling them the answer?
Ben Wright: no question, we return to play the tape out. Right? So let’s think about the different scenarios, you to different scenarios as we look forward as to how this may play out and so a lot of times that will kind of help clarify this situation, but I also, I don’t think you should be afraid and I can tell you that I’m not afraid of letting people long as it’s not again, have a cheerio departure and where we’re headed. I have no problems with letting people kind of run down a path that I don’t necessarily think is right or make that same decision because one way or the other we’re going to learn. We’re either going to learn that, okay, we talked aBout thIs and you decided you want to move forward on this way. It didn’t work. And here’s why. A greek life where you know the other side is true as well. It works out fantastic. We’d better than I thought it was incredible learnings for me as a leader to say, yep, okay. Got it. I don’t know all the answers.
Gene Hammett: Well, I’m curious of any kind of rituals that you guys have, whether it’s your communication rhythm or the way you guys recognize or reward people or anything else that you would consider to be a ritual that it reinforces the growth of the company and the culture. What comes to mind.
Ben Wright: So we do quite a few things that really we do here. One of which that I think the first that comes to mind is we have a spot rose bonus program and so if you have, if you identify somebody in the organization who you see living our values, velocity, empowerment, professionalism, integrity, service, at any point, you just send me a note. Um, and I recognize that individual across the entire company comes with a spot bonus and it’s a really cool way on a peer to peer basis to see people who are really living our values and what I can share with you as a lot of them have to do with all of our values. But in particular is moving with velocity and it’s service and it’s empowerment. And so a lot of examples of people saying, hey, that, that person, they just picked up the ball, they ran with it and we are all so much better because of it. So that’s really kind of one of our main rituals
Gene Hammett: now you keep coming back to the values and I know a lot of companies have values and they put them on the walls and, and that’s about where they last. You begin to ignore them if that’s all that you do with your values, what are you doing to actually reinforce the values other than this spot on us?
Ben Wright: So I talk about them all the time. Uh, in fact, colleagues across the table from me here is nodding her head all the time. Part of it is because as an employee, and again, before starting velocity level, I’ve always been in employment organization. I never knew them, I forgot about them. I said, yeah, yeah, we’re not going to pay attention to those things. In some cases. And in most, I don’t think this is true. In some cases, companies really went to lengths to try to come up with the values that are important to them, but they just never reinforced them to never talked about it. So the tying our pure spot bonuses to those values is huge. We’re probably going to have an announcement later this year, which I can’t share here, but, but something around organization-wide living our values. We, we start most presentations internally with the slide. Hey, juSt a quick reminder. Here’s our values. This is what this is about. When things are going really well, we tie them bags or values, but things aren’t going quite as well as typiCally valuE related and say, hey, this wasn’t tOtally living our values. This is why. Here’s what we’d like just to kind of see a change.
Gene Hammett: So what would you say to a leader who’s like, you know, I understand the value thing, I get that it’s important, but we’re just so busy executing or we’re busy doing the work. Um, what do I need to really take the time to get clear on the values for my company to have what we’ve been talking earlier? Uh, ben is a growth culture. Um, what would you say to that? That leader?
Ben Wright: I’ve been involved in a lot of those organizations. We just been too busy, just been too busy to be able to focus on it and talk about it and it’s understandable for us. One of the reasons why we do it as well as tying everything back to those values allows you to have, again, both the positive and the critical conversation with individuals. And it’s what allows people to say, hey, listen, this, this behavior or this action really wasn’t totally alive and let me draw this back to this particular value and this is why, and this is why it’s important to us as organization. And it takes all the smokiness, the nebulous nature of interactions or whatever it happens to be out of the equation and say, no, this is specifically how it ties back. Um, and I’ve just personally found it has made it so much more objective in terms of when you’re working with people both positive and critical reinforcement. Some of those things that are exactly right.
Gene Hammett: I love the fact that you about their critical reinforcement. And, um, and the importance of that, because most of the problems can be solved by just going back to look at the values, what values are in conflict here,
Gene Hammett: right, right. Whatever they need, being of service, uh, empowerment.
Ben Wright: I knew what to do and I didn’t do it like you see you see it for yourself. Um, as we begin to, to, to land his plane, then I am curious, um, you know, do you work with coaches? You work with executive leadership inside. This is something that you valued in that journey. You’ve had
Ben Wright: no question. Part of the impetus for starting this company in the first place was working with a coach. Uh, I was struggling with trying to. I just kept hitting my head against the ceiling of this organization I was in. I felt like I had a lot to offer. Either they didn’t or the culture just wasn’t, you know, one of promotion type of culture. Really struggling with that. I was kind of struggling around our values and working with a coach. She helped me for the very first time to find what it is I want to be when I grow up and it’s, you know, it wasn’t a title, it wasn’t a compensation was there was, it was what I wanted to be known for and what my values were coming out of that. It became so completely clear aboUt, thiS is why I want to start at this organization. Velocity global. We still do work with coaches around here. I still work with coaches. I have personal mentors, I have professional coaches. Uh, we have people involved in the organization who come in and work with some of our leaders as well. I think we constantly trying to get better is really important.
Gene Hammett: Now, if you’re listening in, let me remind you, we’re talking to ben with the last global who grew at 39,817 percent and still sees the value in working on himself, investing and his team. Um, and is that a commercial at all? It’s just like, you know, I had someone come back to me. It’s like I never heard a coach. We know our industry better than anyone else. And I had a tough time responding back to this. I didn’t want to be defensive because that’s what I do day in and day out, but I, I just respond as you know, coaching got me through some really tough inflection points in my life and if I didn’t have that, I don’t know where I’d be right now and that’s the reason I became a coach. So I’m glad that you see the value there. I didn’t know where that would go. It could have been like coaches, you gurus and shallow medicine and all that stuff. But I appreciate you sharing with me about your journey of growth. I’m just recapping a few things here. We didn’t go much into this, but you start with vision, you hire tans and you get out of their way and then you took a two month vacation for being a lifestyle.
Gene Hammett: I know there’s a lot of work in between there, but I can really appreciate that. I think other people can. Listening in here, so I really appreciate you being here. I love for our audience to follow up with you. How could they go to bed if you wanted to? They wanted to get more information.
Ben Wright: Absolutely. Thanks for. Thanks so much for having me. So wwwvelocityglobal.com is the web address that you can find me on linkedin. You can find me on twitter. Um, and yeah, it was a couple of great places to be able to reach out.
Gene Hammett: Well, Ben, thanks for being here.
Gene Hammett: Thank you so much for having me. Great podcast.
Gene Hammett: Fantastic. Love to have these kinds of conversations. Um, I got to, you know, a page full of notes here, things that will really feed it into the work I’m doing, the speeches and also the book that I’m writing on growth culture. Uh, don’t have a specific title yet, but that’s the working title right now. And we’re putting on this because we want to organize all of these interviews for you. So, you know, I don’t have any kind of link of having sort of writing the book yet. I’ve just been really thinking about it. Developing an outline that will really serve you and doing, you know, hundreds of interviews like this to help you understand how to create a culture of growth and that really will help you really be clear about your growth factors for your business. All right. Uh, my name is Gene Hammett. I help companies that are in a fast growth or to achieve fast growth, to understand that chaos and leverage it to create a leadership and culture that’s a competitive advantage. So if you have any questions for me, you have any insights, please make sure you reach out. I’d love to get to know you as always leading with courage. And I’ll see you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
In this episode we’ll cover:
- Critical Reinforcement
- Coaches, Guru’s and Shallow Medicine Growth
- Personal Mentors
- Lessons of Growth
- Core Factor of Growth
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