Attracting the right people is vital to your success and company growth. Today, we look at how to hire based on core values. The hiring steps are often a trial and error process. My guest today is David Wright, CEO of Pattern. His company was ranked #404 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. We look at the foundational elements of how to hire based on core values. Tune in to our conversation to get the steps he had learned work for their company.
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David Wright: The Transcript
Target Audience: Dave Wright is the CEO and founder of Pattern. In less than 5 years, iServe has become one of the top 10 largest Amazon sellers (in terms of revenue), developed a world-class analytics platform, and has experienced 4 years of revenue growth exceeding 300%. Dave has built a strong culture that is obsessed with the success of Pattern partners, demonstrated by a nearly perfect customer retention rate. Prior to Pattern, Dave spent his career as a data fanatic and technology executive.
When we talk about core values at the pattern, we’re in essence not trying to bring something up that we want to be, but rather we’re trying to define who we already are, and make it part of its just part of being a team. And there’s a lot of pride that goes into that. And so of course, one of our core values is data fanatics. We’re a team of doers, you know, so we, we’d love to, you know, try to define what are we already really innately good at? What are we as if we define our company as a whole? And so it makes the values conversation actually find meaningful and really resonate.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs 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 [0:57]
Today we’re going to talk about values those coming core values beyond just integrity and honesty, if you really use them well, they can align the people around your organization, they can help you get work done, they can help you serve your clients create more value, and grow the company. What I’m talking about is these core values. A lot of people miss that opportunity to really integrate it into what they’re doing. And that’s the real key, you want to operationalize the values. Today we’re going to talk about the hiring function mostly about how they use-values. The guest is we have David Wright, is the co-founder of pattern is an e-commerce come in the box or data analytics, but they’re also helping brands sell more of their products across platforms. We’re talking about that in today’s interview, but David believes in core values, and David has seen the benefit of how hiring the right people that have a real connection to the core values that you already have in the organization is a really great step to creating the right teams and growing the company fast.
Thanks for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank, really excited about sharing this with you. And before you run, I have done so many interviews in the last few weeks, I have such an exciting time to share with you that those interviews have been organized into the 12 core principles of fast growth companies. So all you have to do to get that is going to genehammett.com/worksheet. So you can get the 12 principles and I’ve been able to go in there and find which episodes will align to each individual episode. When you subscribe to Growth Think Tank, you will find exactly what you need so that you can move forward and many of them haven’t been published yet, depending on when you’re hearing this. But you can tune in to the date that means the most to you. So here’s the interview with David.
Gene Hammett [2:43]
Hi, David, how are you?
David Wright [2:45]
Good. Thanks, Gene.
Gene Hammett [2:46]
I’m excited to have you here at Growth Think Tank.
David Wright [2:49]
Thank you excited to be here.
Gene Hammett [2:51]
Well, I’ve already let our audience know a little bit about you and the fast growth of the company but you know give us some context to pattern and what you do.
David Wright [2:58]
Well, Pattern is essential. eCommerce in a box. So if you look at you know, a lot of these big brands we look upward and we help brands you got, you know, the Amazons and the ricotta libraries and the T malls and all the marketplaces look downward. Look at the consumer side. We help brands sell across all of those marketplaces. And we also help them with their b2c we do Skechers DTC and China Victoria’s Secrets across Europe and handle, you know, a lot of DC business in the US as well. So essentially, we’ll help brands cover their entire DC and marketplace business online. Now. We’ve helped brands grow from, you know, 3 million to 26,000,012 to 50 and 19 to 93 are mainly math guys that, you know, dove into e-commerce.
Gene Hammett [3:49]
Well, I’m a little bit of a math guy too. And I love the fact that you’re in eCommerce, but you’re really helping people optimize the whole selling platform. It’s a fairly complex system. Have marketplaces and technologies and you have some really amazing kind of ways of approaching that. Tell us just a little bit about kind of is it software-based?
David Wright [4:11]
Yeah, it’s all tech-based. My background is 17 years in the data science data management world. Never been in retail. But as it turns out these data principles that you can apply to sell, they just blow up brands, you’ll get things like I’ll give you an example on Amazon, we were looking at one fish oil was an $11 bid. If I add the word supplement, it’s 22 cents. So we just play that kind of game at scale and have had tremendous success with a lot of these brands, rolling them across both us marketplaces, international marketplaces, just focusing primarily on the measurement side of it.
Gene Hammett [4:50]
Well, we’re not going to talk about measurement today, even though I know it’s a big part of your data-driven kind of world. We’re gonna talk about core values and we will talk about Last week, one of the things that you said grows your company so fast or has grown your company so fast, and you’ve got a little over 380 employees that about right? That’s right. Is it really your attention to core values. So why are core values such an important piece?
David Wright [5:16]
Well, core values are fun, because you know, a lot of companies I did Matter of fact, just before the meeting, I just jumped on here. And I did a search for company values. And the first one that pops up is integrity and some of these things. And when we talk about core values pattern, we’re in essence, not trying to dream something up that we want to be, but rather we’re trying to define who we already are, and make it part of, you know, it’s just part of being a team. There’s a lot of pride that goes into that. And so, of course, one of our core values is data fanatics, data fanatics. We’re a team of doers, you know, so we, we’d love to, you know, try to define what are we already really innately good at what are we as if we define Our company as a whole. So it makes the values conversation actually fun and meaningful and, you know, really resonates with.
Gene Hammett [6:07]
You also talked about the importance of hiring by values. Give us an example of what you’re doing or the steps you take to hire by the core buyers.
David Wright [6:16]
Oh, yeah, it’s a must, you know, we went through like every company, you know, our misses on hiring and, and we’ve picked up this book you know, the who, you know, method for hiring here. Just Jeff Smart Randy Street, listened to it on the treadmill one day and, and we’ve taken that book to the extreme, I guess, but they have a sports party model where you, in essence, take every position you have to write out the mission and then you have to say, here are the outcomes for this position. And then you have four competencies. In that core competency section, we put our values and then you put you know how important each value is, and there’s more than just our values that go into that core competency piece. But it’s a place where we just don’t ever forget it anymore.
David Wright [7:07]
So and then you and then you scorecard them, I’ve got one of our scorecards here, you know, a level of importance and then that those interviewing sit there and say okay for, you know, a data fanatic or partner obsessed is another one our values, how is this, you know, a person going to perform in that space? So it’s, again, this is our data-driven approach, I guess even the hiring where we have a funnel and we dive into, you know, a scorecard. And it’s really been effective at helping us hire the right people that match the values.
Gene Hammett [7:42]
So at the size, you’re at, you’re hiring probably for roles that you already have. Right?
David Wright [7:47]
So absolutely, yeah.
Gene Hammett [7:49]
Every once in awhile, you probably have a new role that comes on board but you understand what that job function is and so you’re able to document and create this scorecard when you’re actually During the hiring process, or maybe it’s your team now? Are they asking certain questions? Or how are they really determining their alignment with the core values?
David Wright [8:10]
Well, they dive into it as much as they can. But there are some pointers that you know, that are in the book that you know, just things like you would naturally do in an interview. Tell me more about that. If you hear anything that comes around the core values, like Tell me more about that. Can you elaborate more on that? What did you mean when you said this? And so we just do a real deep dive with them on anything that has to do with those values. And, and, and then when we’re done, we never trust ourselves. One of the things that I’ve learned at least, you know, in several interviews, many, many, many over the years is the second you start thinking you’re that good. You know, when you start really like I am just that guy who’s really good at determining what, whether this person would be a good hire, as soon as you start filling Like you’re that guy who can just divine somebody, you’re going to mess. So we then once we’re done, we have our opinion all lined up, we call embedded with about three to five references, generally five. And, and then we start and then we get a really good idea.
Hold on for a second, David just talked about a deep dive into values and that hiring process. One of the things I’ve seen work really well is for you to have your values and a list of questions that allow you to tune in to whether that person has a good fit for the values or they’re trying to stretch, you want to make sure you ask the questions the right way. And you can share these questions across all of the people interviewing them in sort of a library, let them pick and choose don’t give everybody the same questions that just would be weird in the interview process. But if you use this, allow you to tune in to that so you can be intentional about hiring the right people that already aligned the values of the company, back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [9:57]
Anything else in that process that allows you to determine You know, who’s going to be the right player inside your culture?
David Wright [10:04]
Oh, you know, it’s as varied as the job. But you know, what we’ll do oftentimes is we’ll take people who we feel exemplify those values that we’re looking for. So we have a, what we call focused interviews in each of these areas. So we’ll do a focused interview, say on data fanaticism, or on on on on the core values. Well, we’ll take the people that we feel like internally exemplify that skill really well as the interviewees for that particular value. So there are several pieces to it, but that’s maybe one extra thing if you look.
Gene Hammett [10:42]
I haven’t heard that approach yet. By having them as team players are already excelling in those areas. They could be able to tune in to people that are similar to them and those values.
David Wright [10:53]
Well, they also tend to have a really high bar. So if you get past that guy, yeah, generally really good.
Gene Hammett [11:00]
Which, I know a lot of people that are growing fast struggle with hiring the right people. And I cringe every time when they said, Well, you know, we just had to hire someone. And it sounds like you’re okay with it being a high bar. Is that fair to say?
David Wright [11:14]
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, there is some teasing that goes on in our post-interview process. We have a few guys we call the wet blanket, you know because they always give a score of like five or four or whatever, you know, but it’s really good for us and no one gets hired unless everyone is on board.
Gene Hammett [11:30]
Okay. Is that kind of a neat a meeting at the end where you’re like, Okay, we’re going to make a decision for three or four people at a time.
David Wright [11:39]
That’s right, and everyone brings their results to their focused interview or their scorecard, and we sit and go through it and make the decision. And if one person is a holdout, what do you do? It depends on how strong they are of a holdout. But generally, we then go, that interview process basically says yes, we’re all comfortable. Enough to call references. References are the king for us?
Gene Hammett [12:05]
Okay. Well, I appreciate you going through that detail with us. I find that companies that don’t have this attention to values that you have communication issues, I’m going to ask you this kind of rhetorical question. How is the communication between the team members?
David Wright [12:22]
With regard to the interview process?
Gene Hammett [12:25]
after the fact, you know, just do the whole doing the work once they’re actually living the values.
David Wright [12:30]
You know, the culture is great. Once people get through the door, then, you know, we’re a lot more relaxed and everyone just enjoys themselves. You know, one thing we have found, though, is if unless you put the detail around this we’ve measured because we’re nerdy like this, but we implemented this, this hiring process so about a year ago, and we had every manager and every you know, VP throughout the organization go through and say Who are your ABCD players, and then we took their hire dates. And since implementing this, we’re at 9% A players. For those hired before we started the book, we’re at around 68% A players, I was just determined by their, by their manager. So we found around a 21% increase in a player’s just by following a, you know, I guess a rigorous process on hiring,
Gene Hammett [13:31]
When you think about the development of people, you know, getting that they’re already, you know, pretty high level and say data fanatics, but you get them to love it even more. How are you doing that? How do you get them to like, kind of really tune into a core value?
David Wright [13:49]
Well, we tend to compliment so every, every month, we have an all-hands meeting and we’ll bring everyone together and we’ll point out you know, I will have every Executive submit up, you know, right we have four core values so for each of those core values we say hey, walk us through somebody who really killed it in this area and we’ll hand out awards and whatnot every month those who exemplify it and everyone just gets excited and we don’t have to do a lot other than just to point out you know, successes and wins and every once in a while I’ll be in a meeting will be like you know, we just don’t feel like this document has been data fanaticism enough or that we don’t feel like we’re being partner obsessed enough with this in this conversation. So we just constantly talking about it.
Gene Hammett [14:39]
I love the fact that you’re giving awards and I know some people out there frown upon it, but I actually think it’s it’s a way to bind the team together with people that, you know, it is a still a team atmosphere, I would assume. But recognizing people that are really killing it is a good thing and from leadership, perspective is how’s it working for you?
David Wright [14:58]
Oh, it’s great. It doesn’t even matter. With the award, if I literally could get up and give a pen out, you know, they don’t care a sister, you know, for a while there, we passed around this little weird looking elephant thing. And, you know, so it doesn’t matter. I don’t think what the award is as long as there are talk and recognition and people feel valued.
Gene Hammett [15:17]
Now, I do have to ask this question. I’m sure you’ve had to let people go. And you’re probably because of something related to values. Are you accepting people because of their kind of adherence to the values?
David Wright [15:33]
I’m trying to think if we’re doing that on? I think in general, if you don’t if you’re for our company if you’re not partner obsessed, I’m a data fanatic and a team and a Dewar, then you’re going to get excited just because you’re not forming. Well, I guess I don’t know if we talk about it as much in the context of values, but, but I’m sure that it happens.
Gene Hammett [15:56]
Well, I know one of the things that you have done and seen some success with his okrs How does that work into the values?
David Wright [16:06]
Oh, well, you know, okay, ours are just a great way to measure what you’re doing, you know, those were founded at Intel, Google uses them, you know, we, every time we don’t know what to do we just start reading as many books about that topic as possible. That’s how we found okrs. And so when we’re building out our okrs, of course, they’re built, you know, in a way, you know, that they, they represent values anyway. So anything you want to measure, you’re just you drop into an OKR. And so for partner obsessed, for example, we do an NPS score for all of our partners, which, which came in at 9.3 this year, which is pretty good. We’ve averaged the M. Our RMPS score unlike a lot of folks out there, but so you know, our goal is to hit 9% or not an average of nine from partners on NPS, and we hit a 9.3. So I guess that’s just one example of us measuring, you know, that value.
Oh, hold on for a second. He just mentioned okrs. This is one way that you can actually align people together okrs, or objectives and key results, you’ve probably heard about it. We didn’t go much into it here. But I thought I’d take a moment to share with you some of the previous interviews and conversations that I’ve had with founders and CEOs, objectives are, you know, phrases about where we’re going, we’re going to increase the customer service, we’re going to, you know, reach new markets, whatever it may be, but then the key results or the measurable elements of that. And if you actually build that at the executive level, and then have each team below that have their own okrs you really do have a powerful force inside the company. Now back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [17:48]
I wouldn’t ask you one more question from a leadership perspective, you know, what is one area where you’re growing and, and really evolving at this moment in the stage of your company?
David Wright [17:58]
Oh, you know, my hot point right now is the story of Sesame Street. So we’re talking about a lot in our leadership meetings in our all-hands about Sesame Street. It’s just an interesting story. Because when they when Sesame Street was founded what they were really good at was figuring out how to measure whether the kids were engaged. I don’t know if you heard the story a little bit, but they would measure I believe it was segmented every seven and a half seconds, maybe seven and a half minutes, but, but they measured engagement and it was all you know, at the time, it was the, you know, just with a pencil and paper, but they in a way innovated and their early days, they would have shows that would run at a 50 55% engagement. And after measuring it, they got all their shows to 85% engagement and look at the results, you know, so what they were really good at was measuring, they innovated how to measure Matter of fact, we’ve laughed several times, oh my gosh, would have had all the data on the sesame Straight hat, many of us could have been producers of Sesame Street and did a pretty good job.
David Wright [19:05]
So that’s where we’re looking at this saying, you know, there’s a lot of good Facebook advertisers, a lot of teams out there, but we want to win at and figure out and innovate in is how to measure the success. Because then we don’t even need to be rocket scientists on how you implement that you just measure like that work that didn’t work. And I was sitting with the, with the partner not long ago, and they said, you know, they’re arguing about which approach was better on pitching this product that they had, and they were done. And they looked at me like I was gonna, you know, I was the guy who would know the answer. And I was like, I have no idea. If you give me three months, we’ll just measure all aspects of that. And I’ll come we’ll come back and tell you. So I think if, if there’s anything we’re really diving in on right now. It’s trying to figure out how to innovate. I was just at a university this morning, going through one of their labs that they’re using for Eye Movement and and and they have an emotional sensor that they put on the forehead. And so what are the different ways you can innovate in that space? That’s what work that’s?
Gene Hammett [20:12]
Well, Dave, I really appreciate you being here on the podcast, hearing your insights of leadership and culture, and appreciate you really giving us your perspective on values and how you use them.
David Wright [20:25]
You bet. Yeah, thank you.
Gene Hammett [20:26]
Fantastic interview. I love this conversation with the values. I know I’ve had it before here on the podcast. But here’s the truth. I believe this is one of those essential functions as a leader to be able to understand what the values of the company are tune into it across the organization and to be able to bring in more people that are aligned around those values. I do believe in diversity of thought, you have to have this really clear focus of those values, or you will hire the wrong people and that’ll cost you a lot of money. I love the fact that he shares the numbers. He is a data fanatic, and it’s great to see the uplift When you really focus on hiring the right people, thank you for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank. I really love this conversation if I could help you in any way with your leadership, your culture, the growth of your company, make sure you reach out to me, [email protected] as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.
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