Creating a Culture of Speed with Ryan Margolin at Professional Hair Labs

Do you want a culture of speed? In our changing world, you may think about getting your people to speed up and adapt quicker. It does take exceptional leadership to enable a culture of speed. My guest today is Ryan Margolis, CEO of Professional Hair Labs. His company was ranked #372 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Discover the secrets of a culture of speed with Ryan. We look at why it is vital in today’s marketplace. We look at the specific aspects of leadership that make it possible to create a culture of speed.

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Ryan Margolin: The Transcript

Target Audience: Ryan Margolin is the CEO of Professional Hair Labs. He traveled and worked in over 15 countries, helping businesses with Marketing, CRO, SEO & Digital Advertising. Professional Hair Labs is a manufacturer and supplier of adhesives, removers, shampoos and scalp treatments for the hair replacement industry.

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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.

Ryan Margolin
Speed is very important because it allows you to create habits and allows you to, you know, it allows you to output more, which more output means more people, you reach more revenue. Speed also gives you the ability to evolve very quickly, you know, once you get stuck in and you implement your processes that you put in place, the quicker you can execute them, the quicker you’re going to evolve or you’re going to grow. And the one thing I love about speed in most of all, is that it gives us the ability to, I suppose, expose our weaknesses, and that’s really where the big learning curve comes for us when we’re able to expose where we’re falling short, or where the pitfalls are. That actually just helps us improve our processes to refine them become better become quicker, and in turn, all of the latter points I just made happens faster.

Intro [0:56]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [1:19]
Fast growth companies? Well, they think fast, they make fast decisions, and they have people that are willing to accept the speed of growth. When you think about driving your company to the next level, do you think about, you know, getting your people to be more effective, more efficient, you probably also think about how you want them to speed up. Well, today, we’re talking all about speed. We’re looking at speed from the perspective of leadership. What do we have to do as leaders to drive our people to go faster?

Gene Hammett [1:47]
Today I have Ryan Margolin, he’s the CEO of Professional Hair Labs. They create adhesive products for, you know, different things that go on replacement hair products. I smile and I say that I don’t have used their products. But I do know that a lot of people need this kind of product. And so they have created a culture of speed, their company has gone really fast. They were number 372 on the Inc list. In 2017, they had over 6 million in sales, over 1200 percent in three years. Now, when I say these numbers, I want you to understand, it’s not just about the numbers, but it’s about how people are engaging that kind of growth. They have added people to the mix so that they could get that kind of cultural growth. Today in the interview, we unpacked exactly how that’s been done.

Commercial [2:37]
Before we dive into the interview, I wanted to remind you that you can actually get a tool that I’ve been working with clients with for the last couple of years, I’ve refined this tool, this gone through several iterations. Now we have it completely automated, you can actually go online and fill out the leadership quiz. To get the leadership quiz. Just go to theleadershipquiz.com that’s pretty easy, right? theleadershipquiz.com what you will get when you do that you will answer a few questions, you will see where you rate based on the core principles of fast growth companies. If you’re ready to grow your company or you want to see where you are, then make sure you go to the theleadershipquiz.com inside it, you will get insight to where you are, understand where you want to improve. And you will get them mapped into the 10 areas that are most specific to fast growth companies. Again, go to theleadershipquiz.com and you can get that right now. Now, here’s the interview with Ryan.

Gene Hammett [3:33]
Hi Ryan, how are you?

Ryan Margolin [3:35]
I’m good Gene. How are you?

Gene Hammett [3:37]
I am fantastic. excited to talk about you know, speed and what has made your company grow so fast. But before we do that, Ryan, tell us a little bit about the company, what it is and what you guys do.

Ryan Margolin [3:50]
Yeah, sure. So, the company name is Professional Hair Labs and we’re a manufacturer and distributor of our own brand of cosmetic bonding adhesive. shampoo. conditioners, wet lines, hair care maintenance for the nonsurgical hair replacement industry. So, what we do is we manufacture a full line of products and we distribute those, you know, to distributors, we also wholesale them to salons, hair studios, online resellers. So the scope is is is purely b2b.

Gene Hammett [4:21]
Well, fantastic. You know, we probably know people that use your products, but we may not know it because they have to have good, good products. Right?

Ryan Margolin [4:32]
Yeah, absolutely, know that we have a lot of people that use our products and you know, because of the I suppose the nature of the business, a lot of people like to be very private about it, you know, so it, you know, we kind of cater to, to all types of, of home users sell on users and we just we do respect the privacy of our customers. So there’s a lot of cases where they do use our products and, you know, for privacy purposes we can’t trade.

Gene Hammett [5:01]
Well, we all understand that we all have certain confidentiality in my business we do as well. And this is not about selling hair products and whatnot. It’s about the business and in this culture, the leadership around, you know, your fast-growth company. I wanted everyone to get a feel for what you do. How many employees do you have, right?

Ryan Margolin [5:21]
At the moment, we have 12 employees in total between both locations, we have one location in Florida and we have one location in Ireland.

Gene Hammett [5:29]
When you think about, you know, the core factors that that really drive growth for your company, we talked a few days ago about speed. And we’ve all heard this before that, you know, speed is is a really important factor in growing a company. Why do you think speed so important for a growing company?

Ryan Margolin [5:49]
Yeah, as I mean, see, this is it? I think the answer to these questions will differ from person to person. I think from my perspective, speed is very very important because it allows you to create habits that allow you to, you know, it allows you to output more, which more output means more people, you reach more revenue. Speed also gives you the ability to evolve very quickly, you know, once you get stuck in and you, you know, you implement the processes that you’ve put in place, the quicker you can execute them, you know, the quicker you’re going to evolve, or you’re going to, you know, grow. And the one thing I love about speed, in most of all, is that it gives us the ability to, I suppose, expose our weaknesses, and that that’s really where the big learning curve comes for us when we when we’re able to expose where we’re falling short, or where the pitfalls are. That actually helps us improve our processes, to refine them, become better to become quicker. And in turn, all of the latter points I just made happen faster.

Gene Hammett [6:56]
One of the things that I want to ask you, you told me a story the other day, and it’s Want to set the context with this? You know you create a lot of products because of the nature of your business. It’s you’re always evolving and innovating. You had a product that basically, you thought would be a pretty good product. I don’t know what you went through, but you came to market in about four weeks, which is pretty amazing, given the size that you have, and even the number of people you have. Tell us a little bit about that story?

Ryan Margolin [7:26]
Yes, so the real I mean, really, it was quite simple. Only because we’ve improved the process enough to make it simple. You know, we were having a lot of feedback around a few of our products that you know, some of the hair that was being used, or some of the adhesive that was being used to attach the hair wasn’t holding in the manner It was supposed to. And what we realized was that a lot of the application processes being used to attach it was were failing. And we’ve always had a few application methods that we’ve used ourselves.

Ryan Margolin [8:00]
To You know, test our product and give recommendations on our product, but it was causing so much of an issue that we realized, look, we have to really bring this to market this, this is not something we can sit on any longer because, you know, the view of performance is being affected, I suppose the reputation of our brand could potentially be affected on our name. So we literally took the processes that we go through on a normal product development, and we said to ourselves, okay, how can we actually speed this up, you know, and bring this from, you know, three months down to four weeks, because the quicker we can get this to market, you know, the quicker we’re going to resolve this problem. So that’s really where the whole concept came from.

Ryan Margolin [8:38]
So we had our initial meeting, we shared ideas about how we were going to do this, the meeting was no more than an hour-long, maybe an hour and a half, you know, we over a cup of coffee and some notes, and then we delegated some of the roles to different people within the organization that would normally have that responsibility, but we knew if we needed to get this from A to B, within four weeks, we were going to need the help. Everyone. So that’s really where the, I suppose the where it was all created. And then through that process, it just happened to happen really quickly because we work so closely that the communication was very open. And we were sharing the information with each other based upon our own experiences and our processes. That just helped us get to that point much quicker.

Gene Hammett [9:21]
I’m sure there’s a lot of leaders listening in here going, you know, yeah, we can speed up a little bit, but you took it down to a third of your normal process. And you didn’t, I would imagine, this didn’t just come from the top. It had to be, you know, working together as a team. Is that fair to say?

Ryan Margolin [9:40]
Absolutely. This. This result definitely came from the foundation more so than the top down. It was from the bottom up, you know, I took to the meeting, what exactly I knew we needed, but then once we had a chance to really pull it together as a group, we realized that the core components, This were based upon the foundations from everyone. So that’s really where we’re where the speed came from in that project development.

Gene Hammett [10:07]
Well, I talk a lot about ownership. And when you have a bottom-up kind of structure, that means you’ve empowered people you have a real sense of trust and transparency that goes on and with each other. Do you feel like you have an empowered team that allows you to create that kind of speed of bringing a product to market?

Ryan Margolin [10:28]
Yes, absolutely. And I think, you know, that being completely transparent, that’s something more recent than anything, what we realized the sessions that we’ve created within the company are actually a lot more well known than it than I would have imagined and this product development was key and showing you that so it’s been a really huge learning curve for us. And for me, personally, to show that look, you know, we can actually repeat repeatedly do this. If we just have the right people in the right places. So yes, it was a great learning curve under 100%.

Commercial [11:01]
Hold on for a second, Ryan just talked about top-down leadership. And that’s a part of leadership in the early stages. But Ryan only has 12 employees. But as your company grows, as your company continues to add more people, you don’t want to have just top-down, you want to have a bottom-up as well, you wouldn’t have people that are so engaged, they’re so empowered, that they feel that sense of ownership. And this is one of the things I work with companies with all the time about how leaders can get that sensitive feeling of ownership inside the culture. And that’s what drives growth, not the sheer cracking the whip and, you know, dangling carrots all the time, that feeling of ownership is something that comes from the inside. Now, you have so many options for you available if you want to go deeper into that, but the best one is to just email me gene at GeneHammett.com and say ownership. I want ownership. Send me that email. I’d love to talk to you. Now back to Ryan.

Gene Hammett [11:57]
So let’s talk just a little bit more about speed. We want to create speed as a part of our culture and many of our businesses, if we want to grow faster, higher revenue, even higher degrees of customer satisfaction, how is that baked into the culture of professional hair laps?

Ryan Margolin [12:16]
Yeah, like you talking in the context of like, how it’s embedded into the culture and like how it got there, or like how we’ve, you know, our view on it, you know, it’s like, how, yeah, how did it get there? So, I think, fortunately for us that came from the top down. So the company was started by my father. So it’s myself and my brother, my two brothers and my father involved in it. So there was a lot of information that could be provided to us and given to us, you know, for, you know, from my father and his experience in the industry over the years. So that information is really what molded the core components of what we needed to do in order to You know, bring this into the company.

Ryan Margolin [13:04]
My father didn’t really always have that team there. In fact, our team has grown so much over the last three years prior to, you know, prior to three years ago, there was only three people involved in this company, you know, and we had a whole different setup a whole different, a whole different model of fulfillment, and, and manufacturing. And now that we brought everything completely in house, you know, we’ve taken those key components that we shared with us at the beginning, and we really utilize them and expanded and improved on them.

Gene Hammett [13:32]
So how do you make sure that you’re hiring the right people that understand speed is very important to the way you guys work? Is there a question to us or anything that we can learn from that?

Ryan Margolin [13:45]
Yeah, like, that’s really, it’s a tough one to answer because, you know, when you’re hiring somebody, it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. What I’ve learned over the period of time that we’ve been hiring and growing our team We do look at experience and abilities. But I really rely heavily on my God. And you know, my God has led me astray a few times as any other business owner would openly say. But that’s where I really heavily rely on, I have an open conversation with the person, I let them lead the, you know, I let them lead the conversation and the information that they’re feeding back and I got some further questions. And by the end of it, you’d have a pretty good idea based upon the roles that they’ve been in, the companies that they worked for, or the experiences that they have of how not only willing but capable they are to move at a fast pace but follow a system.

Commercial [14:38]
Ryan just talked about leading with his gut. Now, I know you probably have made a lot of decisions from your gut. But that is really something you have to think about as a leader as you continue to evolve. You have to create more systems in place. And really those systems should be created by your team members, not just you because that’s really empowering them because if they are part of the process, they will own it. I know I’ve talked about ownership a lot. I know that everything here has been about ownership. But I really do believe that if you want your employees to take more ownership, you’ve got to have this bottom-up structure. You want people to feel that sense of empowerment and trust inside your leadership and culture that allows for that. Now, back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [15:18]
The systems of the business, are these some things you document or is this something that you just people know because they’ve been doing it as part of their job?

Ryan Margolin [15:28]
Now, everything in our business we’ve learned to document and you know, sorry, originally, we did actually just go with the flow based upon you know, our previous experiences, we would realize we’d have to do step one, step two, step three, but then what we figured out is that as our revenue started to grow, that really wasn’t going to cut it anymore, because we had to move quicker, it became more complex, and we were forgetting parts of the process that ended up you know, putting us four or 567 weeks behind. I mean, there was a point where our processes fell apart. So bad We were growing so fast that our fulfillment Time went from two days to four weeks. And we really had to pull everything back in and patch everything up and just start from scratch again. So everything that we do within our company now has documented processes that we can literally roll out to any new team member. Or, you know, they’re scalable as well. So like, no matter what level of revenue we hit, yeah, we’ll face more challenges, but our foundations are and our core structure is there now. So we can actually have that to reference at any point.

Gene Hammett [16:33]
This reminds me of some of the conversations I have with my clients when they come to me things are sort of falling apart. And I asked them this question and I want to ask you the same question. Have you ever thought about sometimes you have to slow down to speed up?

Ryan Margolin [16:47]
Yeah, now and we did and, you know I kind of take that on myself personally. Like when we need to slow down, I slow it down myself. And then I rebuild it myself. And then I come back to the team with a process that I believe is going to with a very quickly now, over the past few months, you know, when I bring something forward to the team, only then you realize is that okay, I’ve taken my time to pull things back, really think about it, structure it correctly. But I forgot points A, B or C. And then they’re like, well, what happens if this happens? And then I’m like, absolutely. I think we need to go back. So yeah, no, I think you’re 100%. Right. Sometimes you do need to slow down to speed up, because you really, no matter how much of the process, you think, you know, there’s always going to be parts of it that you miss. And you just need good people on your team to be able to point that out to you.

Gene Hammett [17:38]
This is one reason why as leaders, we have to continue to evolve. What may have worked a couple of years ago, as we apply those same principles, they don’t work now. And as you’ve added people, you’ve seen that too. I can see the look in your face. When you think about your own evolution as a leader. What do you focus on specific Typically,

Ryan Margolin [18:01]
What I can provide to our employees to make their job easier because it originally it was about what can I learn to help the business? But at this point, now I’m taking that in conjunction with how can I serve the employees to make sure that they have the tools that they need in order to execute the tasks and responsibilities and the growth that they want to you know, they want to learn so that that’s really my biggest learning curve was that I realized, hold on, I need to stop making this about, you know, the three or four people that are constantly executing, you know, the high-level tasks as a company, it’s more about how can we support this from the ground up and actually give everyone the tools that they need so that that that was my that was my personal experience, you know, and were kind of leadership, the view of leadership changed for me.

Gene Hammett [18:54]
I asked a lot of my interview guests the same question. I’m going to ask you not knowing that what the answer is going to But with a fast-growth company, what’s more, important your customers or your employees?

Ryan Margolin [19:06]
Our customers and and you know what the thing the reason I say our customers is simply because I know every single one of our employees that work with us on the team feels the exact same way. That’s why I’m comfortable in stating that because they know and we know and this is what something that filters from the top-down, regardless of what goes on, you know, even behind closed doors, we know that we have each other’s back. So we know regardless of how stressful things might get, or you know, situations we might find yourself in that are challenging. Ultimately, we always put the customer first.

Gene Hammett [19:38]
So I’m not trying to throw you a curveball here. But most fast growth leaders will say it’s in place.

Ryan Margolin [19:44]
Yeah, I know. I know.

Gene Hammett [19:46]
Early-stage companies will will will lean toward customers as they get product validation. bigger companies that are short term thinking really focused on the customer first, but in that sweet spot where companies are really You know, trying to activate people to think for themselves be empowered. They know that as leaders, they put the employees first. Now the whole company as a whole puts customers first. Yes, but your job as leaders, and you can take that any way you want to, but I just wanted to share some of that research because it’s fascinating to see literally 90% or more people will say in employee first.

Ryan Margolin [20:26]
Absolutely. And, you know, I, what my response to that would simply be is that we have a team of 12 people. So we’re actually in a phase of large growth and diversification. So the leaders who have larger companies and you know, they have 30, 40, 50, 100plus employees, I’m pretty sure you know, when we do eventually get to that point, I’m 100% positive, my view will likely change because, you know, look, when you’re dealing with that many employees, it becomes about, you know, the employees within that company to make it operates. Right now. As it stands, we’re so heavily focused on customer service and making sure our product needs to do what we say it’s going to do better than any of our competitors. Everyone within the company right now has that same focus. But going back to, you know, the, to the statistic that you just served me, I’m pretty sure you know, in a couple of years time or a few year’s time, I might feel differently about that. But I’m open to that, you know, that’s all part of growth, you know?

Gene Hammett [21:24]
Well, it’s good to see. And I’m not saying one’s wrong or the other we could go back and quote stats, Jeff Bezos was one of you know, the wealthiest person in the world will say its customer first. But you have someone like Richard Branson, who’s built 400 plus companies will always say it’s an employee first.

Ryan Margolin [21:43]
Yeah.

Gene Hammett [21:44]
It’s just a little bit of a barometer within the leadership. And I was I was kind of wondering where you were so it’s not that you’re wrong, or I’m wrong. The aspect of speed inside your company. I know you told us the story of bringing something To market when you’re working individually one on one, how have you found to get someone to speed up their work? Or how have you really been able to coach someone, as a leader? To get them to understand the importance of speed?

Ryan Margolin [22:15]
Sorry, Gene, the connection kind of broke a little bit there. Can you repeat that?

Gene Hammett [22:18]
Sure. I can. You know, how do you work individually with one on one with someone who needs to speed up their work? They need to really, you know, be coached or what is your kind of method on one on speed?

Ryan Margolin [22:31]
Yeah. Okay. Yes. So within our organization, if there’s a system that needs to be taught, myself and our operations manager here are well versed in all processes and all systems so we will literally take them out of their role for a period of time, and they will literally shadow us because I’m a firm believer that right now, where the company is at, and how fast we’re growing and how and the diversity cases we’re making. If we don’t have every single employee within our company capable of understanding, you know, the systems where if I find they’re falling short, somewhere, the only way they’re going to learn that is to be hands-on with it. So they need to just we bring them in, they shadow us for a period of time. And then we literally give them you know, we give them a certain period of time where they execute all of those tasks so they can, they can improve the process and they can, you know, improve the speed at which they’re executing. It’s just a, I find that the speed comes with it with the confidence and understanding. So if they’re confident and they understand the process intimately, their speed just naturally improves.

Gene Hammett [23:36]
Well, I used to work in a manufacturing environment and you know, the, obviously the first time you’re doing something you have no confidence in doing it and it takes just actually doing it so I love the fact that you are getting hands-on with your employees and you’re able to do that at this level. Well Ryan, really appreciate you being here on Growth Think Tank I have. I’ve seen a lot of companies that want to speed up They’re processes and speed up the employees. But they went to how what we’ve really talked about today is talking about a style of leadership and expectations around speed, and maybe even challenging status quo through certain times when you really got to all come together. So thanks for being here and sharing that here on the podcast.

Ryan Margolin [24:18]
Absolutely. And look, thanks a million for having me. It’s been a pleasure. And, you know, happy to share anything that I’ve learned that we’ve learned. And look, that’s how we all learn in the end is by sharing information.

Gene Hammett [24:31]
I love this conversation of growth because I know companies that want to grow faster, and they want to grow faster. So they start focusing on the numbers, they start focusing on, you know, the strategies behind it, but they don’t really think about the people. Today we unpack what it means to lead fast growth, what it means to activate people, how do you get individual players to raise their game to go faster? How do you get them to contribute and collaborate together so that you grow faster? How do you get them to shave off the Time of standard processes to go faster? That is something that a lot of companies are struggling with. And you probably are too as a leader. I love creating this kind of conversations for you because you want to grow your company faster, you want to be a stronger, more effective leader. Well, this is just a piece to the puzzle.

Gene Hammett [25:19]
Today we talked about speed. But in order to activate full growth, you must really understand the full aspects of creating a growth model company or fast growth model. And that’s something I’ve been working with over the years. I would love to share it with you. If you have any questions about what that fast growth model is, make sure you go to [email protected] send me an email about your company. I’d love to share with you a little bit about what that is in that model. And but you have to send me that email first just go to [email protected] as always lead with courage. We’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.

 

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