People want to be aligned with a purpose to drive impact. Another way to look at this is a mission-driven culture drives growth. You may believe that your mission as a leader is to increase the bottom-line or you may think that you have to develop your team for growth. Both of these are important to company success. Being a leader of a mission-driven culture is one way to make all of this easier. My guest today is Vernon Green, CEO of G Cubed Enterprises. This company was ranked #386 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Vernon talks about mission-driven cultures and how it drives company growth. We looked at new aspects of being a leader that is mission-driven. Join us today to look at clarifying your purpose to activate more growth.
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Vernon Green Jr.: The Transcript
Target Audience: Vernon Green Jr. is the Founder and CEO at GCubed, Inc. A multi-faceted technical leader with proven management skills in the supervision of large scale, diverse networking teams both CONUS and OCONUS. Adept at combat leadership skills requiring decision-making while under adverse circumstances with time-sensitive, mission-critical extreme consequences. A collaborative leader and insightful analyst with superb communication skills. Management history of continuous learning, outstanding performance, adaptability.
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.
I grew up in a place where I did not have a lot of resources. And I remember asking everybody in my family if I could get a cosigner for my first car so I can get a car and go to work. I just wanted to get a car so I can go to my jobs and I didn’t have anybody that was qualified or eligible to support me in that. And so where I thought it was just me trying to improve myself and better myself, there wasn’t any resource that could help me get there. So what we want to do is make sure that we’re providing opportunities for people to improve their lives, make sure we’re in a better position so that we can help people and just do the best we can by people.
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 [1:02]
Mission-driven organizations contribute to fast-growing companies, you may be thinking that the mission is not so important. And I get it. It’s something that you feel like is a little bit squishy. It’s hard to measure mission if you’re on a mission. But it’s much easier to measure market share profits, revenue, whatever it is you’re measuring. mission-driven should be a part of that plan.
Gene Hammett [1:30]
In fact, I believe it should be a part of the core of the business so that you invite others to join you in that mission. Those employees, those partners, those customers, understand the mission, and they want to be a part of it too. This contributes to your growth as a company at a much deeper level and allows you to grow faster with the right people and overcome challenges even in the light of viruses and things that are outside of our control mission is very very important. We have a special guest today. His name is Vernon Green. He’s the CEO and founder of G Cubed. They are cybersecurity for government organizations. And they do a lot of great things that we talk about in here. What he’s doing for his community is amazing. But what he’s also doing for a school that needed a little bit extra support in the cybersecurity area of teaching students, and how his employees are getting involved with that. What I like most about this interview, is that Vernon really does know how to walk the talk. He really is someone who is out there putting mission over self. We talked about that many times today in this interview, so make sure you tune in, take notes about a mission-driven company, and how that contributes to growth. Now here’s the interview with Vernon.
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 is 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 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.
Gene Hammett [3:43]
Hi Vernon, how are you?
Vernon Green [3:44]
Great, and yourself?
Gene Hammett [3:45]
I am fantastic. excited to have you on the podcast. I wanted to jump into this I’ve already kind of let our audience know a little bit about you and your background. But I want you to tell us about G Cubed. What do we need to know
Vernon Green [3:59]
Well, the very fundamentals about G Cubed is after 20 years of military service and retirement, transitioning out of the military was one of the scariest things I had ever done. I went into the military at 19. It was my whole adult life. And I didn’t exactly understand the civilian and commercial world. But you know, I dived out, went out and got a job with a small business. And what I realized very quickly is that the culture of the outside was not exactly the same as the culture that I had in the military. So when I started thinking about starting a business, it was all about producing a business that was focused on a mission over self and incorporated the army values because that’s what had led me so far. It hadn’t failed me in service, and now it doesn’t fail me in my civilian career.
Gene Hammett [4:57]
Well, I think you’re onto something with that because of All the interviews I’ve done and research and hundreds of founders just like yourself, I’ve had on the show, many of them have put a high emphasis on creating a mission-driven organization that is more than just, let’s make some money.
Vernon Green [5:16]
Exactly the money part, if you do a good job and provide service and fix problems and things like that, the money will come. But I usually have an issue with a focus on with partnering with people who focus on the money. I am more focused on the mission and the solution and the people and the outcomes. And that has been very successful for us.
Gene Hammett [5:40]
So I don’t want to leave this unsaid. But I’m kind of curious, what is the mission?
Vernon Green [5:45]
Oh, that’s a great question. So mission over self. We are about keeping business and people securely connected in this world where there are new tools and there are new solutions and All kinds of technology advancing. What we sometimes forget is with every advance in technology, there’s an advancing vulnerability. So mitigating those vulnerabilities is what helps us allow technology to advance us to the next level, but still, be secure in the fact that we protect our networks. We protect our data, we protect our people.
Gene Hammett [6:23]
So we’re seven weeks into this COVID this new change of remote working for us, I’m sure that’s put your cybersecurity to the test in new ways.
Vernon Green [6:33]
It absolutely has. I’ll tell you that from the aspect of a remote workforce and remote challenges and tools and things like that we have in a very, at a very fast pace, become a completely remote workforce, supporting our government contracts and supporting our continuous mission. And now everything is a telephone conference or a video teleconference and, you know, maintaining those relationships not just from a technological standpoint, but from the absence of the direct connection being in the same room with someone. So the challenges have been great. But the answer to that is just making sure you hire people that have the right mindset about mission over self. We all realize that we have challenges but we try hard to stay together and accomplish the mission.
Gene Hammett [7:30]
And you got about 100 employees. Is that right? In my research.
Vernon Green [7:35]
Just about 50. We’re looking at doubling this year.
Gene Hammett [7:40]
Well, I was looking at the context here. You would talk with my team about the importance of community involvement as a company and I think a lot of people are seeing benefit behind that if they were involved in the community after things have shut down. I’ve seen restaurants being supported. Because it’s local, and you know, what does that mean to you the computing community involvement?
Vernon Green [8:05]
So people who know me will tell you that I am only in business to support my nonprofit habits. I am also the founder of G Cubed Community Services, which is a nonprofit that operates in our community. What’s important to me is when we make a profit within certain areas, we take a large percentage of our profit and redirected back into those communities through programs after school programs, character development programs, stem, and steam initiatives. It’s all about not just giving back, but it’s important to me that we provide opportunities to those that don’t normally have opportunities. You know, when I came into the military, I’m from New York and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me at the time. You know, I barely made it out of high school. I didn’t have a lot of education, money. or resources, the military really gave me a lifeline that changed things. Now what I’m trying to do is be that resource that I wish I had when I was young and opportunity.
Gene Hammett [9:14]
It makes for an amazing story. Vernon,
Vernon Green [9:16]
Gene Hammett [9:17]
Well, I want to dive into this because there’s people listening in here that are founder CEOs running teams that want to grow fast, what does all this have to do with having a fast-growing company?
Vernon Green [9:30]
So I will say that I attribute our fast growth to several things. One is from a customer standpoint, we truly partner with our customers and understand their needs. And everyone likes to say that, but it’s a lot of times your customer doesn’t really know what they need, they just they have something some requirement and so forth and so on, but in I used to work at A company called Circuit City, and Circuit City is close. So a lot of people may not know what Circuit City is anymore. But I used to sell computers. And when people would come to me to sell computers, I wouldn’t try to sell them the highest brand or the most expensive. I’d asked them, What do you need? And what are you going to use it for? And then I’d make the recommendation based on what they were going to use it for. What we do the same thing in business, we partner with our organizations to find out what their needs are. And we don’t try to upsell or oversell or anything, we fix their problem in fixing their problem. They actually give us more work. They love our approach to how we do business, and we’ve had more business come out of referrals from our customers than us going after open RFPs requests for proposals.
Hold on for a second. Vernon just said the importance of partnering with customers. Now I know that you know that’s important, but one of the best ways I know to do that is to have to Allow your employees to be that bridge, the partner that’s necessary. It’s not just your responsibility to identify these things. And there are relationships that need to be developed. But for you to, you know, let the employees create those relationships, and better yet, build up employees, they know how to do it, build up the employees to have the confidence and courage to be able to have real meaningful conversations with the customers. Give them the support that they need. Because when you as a leader develop those skills inside of employees, they want to stay because they’re gaining so much experience in value and growing their skills. This is something I’ve seen is very important if you really want to develop the people on your team. Now back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [11:48]
Now I know that’s what everybody wants to have as a business as a healthy referral stream. Is there a connection between the community work and in that referral stream and the relationship has your customers?
Vernon Green [12:01]
Absolutely, I will tell you that if you look at the workforce that we have right now, people, the new generation of employees want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves, not just about the money. They want to know that the organizations they work for have a social responsibility that they are contributing to greener ecosystems that they are, that they’re doing things that improve their, their communities. And so in us being a community-driven organization, we attract the best and the brightest because they want to be a part of the efforts that we’re executing. So not only do we accomplish the mission, not only are we growing, but the truth of the matter is at our, our taxes just got filed for this paper for this year, and we gave 80% of our profits to our nonprofit to go execute within our community, and that is a tremendous credit to our company and what we believe in. We everyone gets paid, everyone gets a salary and we pay all our bills. But we’re not about hoarding a bunch of money for the growth of the company, we pour that money back into the community back into our employees back into the resources that are making us successful.
Gene Hammett [13:26]
I love that story. And that’s a hefty amount of profit. I mean, I’m sure you’re running a sound organization, you’re putting away money for future growth. How’d you come up with that? 80% number.
Vernon Green [13:39]
It wasn’t a target. It was just after the year was over. Believe me, me and my co Oh fight about this all the time. Miss Wendy Mauer. She’s like, you know, we got to make a profit. We need to make sure that we keep the doors open and we pay our people and we take care of things. And we do she fights for increased benefits for our employees. She fights for, you know, higher as we match on our 401 K’s, she fights for all those things that make us a very desired place to work. And then after that is done, we have just common sense mission type things.
Vernon Green [14:18]
You know, I was, for example, a teacher in one of the local high schools reached out to me because she said that she’s required to teach cybersecurity but she does not have a cybersecurity background. And that’s a challenge. So she asked me to come into the school and help her and assist her in the process. And we did and in doing so we established a partnership with the schools. we’re establishing after school programs where my highly qualified people on in the company are spending time with these kids teaching them some of the advanced networking advanced security concepts and technologies and it benefits them But it also benefits us. I’ve hired several people directly out of high school because they showed an aptitude to grab on to these concepts and do great things.
Gene Hammett [15:10]
That’s another amazing story behind this. Vernon. I am really kind of curious. You’ve got most of this training from the military, but it also sounds like you just got such a big heart. Where did you get that big heart from?
Vernon Green [15:24]
So I will say that the military definitely contributed to a lot of my philosophies, you know, I’ve led teams in for deployments. We’ve provided communications for warfighters who depended on our communications and our technology in order to fight the war. And I’ve always taken my job, kind of serious to that point, and that is, if we fail in our mission, someone depending on our capabilities is going to fail at their mission. So that’s it. Mission over self part. But the big heart part just comes from the place of I grew up in a place where I did not have a lot of resources. And I remember I remember asking everybody in my family if I could get a cosigner for my first car so I can get a car and go to work. You know, I just wanted to get a car so I can go to my jobs and I didn’t have anybody that was qualified or eligible to support me in that. And so where I thought it was just me trying to improve myself and better myself. There wasn’t any resource that could help me get there. So what we want to do is make sure that we’re providing opportunities for people to improve their lives, make sure we’re in a better position so that we can help people and just do the best we can by people. People are an organization’s greatest asset.
Now well, let’s wait a minute here. Vernon just talked about having a big heart. Now, I know I asked the question, but I want you to think about your heart as a leader. Are you really showing all of yourself? Do you have the empathy you need to, especially in a time like COVID-19, where people are a little bit fearful, maybe they’re just not sure? There’s a lot of unpredictability in front of them. When you take the time to truly connect with people heart to heart, have real conversations, not just about the work, but about what’s going on inside them. You can raise their confidence, you can increase their level of courage, and you can be the leader that they really want and will follow. Now, all it does is take a little bit of more attention around your own big heart. Vernon shared with us why it’s important, but developing others is a part of your job as a leader. Back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [17:50]
Well, I know you’ve taken some uncommon approaches to build a fast-growth business. What is one that you could share with us that you have haven’t already shared just something that you think might be counterintuitive, that has worked or really move the needle for you?
Vernon Green [18:08]
I will say when you first start your business, you have all kinds of needs and very limited resources. That when you first start, you have to take whoever is willing to do the job, at whatever cost you are able to pay. One of the hardest decisions as a leader is when you have those people that helped you start and they’ve tapped out on their capability. Do you hire someone, as you grow? Do you hire someone that can replace them to take you further? Or do you stay loyal to the people that got you the growth that you’ve sustained? I’ve always prided myself on making business decisions, and in such a way that I’ve had to terminate friends and family members And people that were very close to me for the advancement of the business, and I hope that we can stay friends and close and everything after because it’s not personal. It’s truly about the advancement of the business. So I know a lot of companies that, you know, family comes to the rescue and they’re in high positions, but once you tap out on their expertise and their ability to take you further, you have to make a business decision or you’re condemning the organization with those decisions.
Gene Hammett [19:33]
Vernon, time and time again, every example you have, it’s you put mission over self leaders sometimes resistant and having those hard conversations that are necessary to let go of their friends and family that they’ve grown loyal to. But also if you want the mission to continue to grow, as you’ve said, we got to make some hard decisions and put the mission first.
Vernon Green [19:58]
Absolutely mission first is Not just a model that we put on the wall, it is not just something to sell tickets or to get contracts. It is a mission and a lifestyle that you have to, you have to adjust yourself to, or you truly are not going to be that fast-growth company. The mission requires a certain level of resource, a certain quality of an individual or certain expertise. And if you do not provide the mission, those resources, then you will fail. So we tried very hard to make sure that we adhere to that mission over self mentality.
Gene Hammett [20:38]
I’m going to throw you a curveball because this hasn’t really been in our pre questions and whatnot, but I know you can handle this. military leadership has a lot of strengths. It also has some drawbacks. When you move into the commercial world, what is one thing you had to unlearn as it relates to leadership and in the current business
Vernon Green [21:00]
That is a great question. And it’s funny because I’ve had this conversation many times, I will tell you that in my military approach in the military, our subordinates are legally required to do what we say. And therefore, in executing the mission, I give order and that order is carried out. I live or die by the sword I give in the order I give. Well, as you transition into the civilian world, it’s not like that at all. I have to convince my team on a regular basis that I am the leader, I know what I’m doing through demonstrated proficiency through leadership through you have to prove yourself it’s not adherence to the rank that I hold its adherence to what I display on a daily basis what my expertise is my demonstrated content punishments, there is a huge difference and leading in the military versus leading in business. And that is one of the things that while most of the things translate very well, one of the hardest things is explaining yourself. Like, I never had to say why when I was in the military, I told them to do it, they moved out. Now, it’s, well, why do you want us to do that? Well, because in doing this, you’re going to build a better relationship, you’re going to have a stronger outcome. Those things are very important to leadership on the civilian side.
Gene Hammett [22:36]
I’ve had a lot of conversations around this too. I think there’s a lot of great things in military leadership. And if you’re under wartime situation, you want to make sure those orders are being followed. But thank God, we’re not always under wartime. We’re under cooperation, and we’re moving together as a team and we’re growing as teams. So I appreciate you you being honest with us and I saw the smile on your face there that it’s something you’ve had you’ve had to work on.
Vernon Green [23:07]
Absolutely, absolutely. It’s a, it’s definitely a challenge because sometimes I want to beat my chest and say just do it because I said so. But that’s not good leadership. And I’m not saying that it’s bad in the military because sometimes in the military, I don’t have time to explain why I don’t if we’re going to accomplish this mission, I need you to execute right now and make it happen to move forward. And I’m not gonna lie. There are times like that and commercial of practices too. But what I like to tell my team and I harp on this very regularly, in those nonessential times, building those relationships with your team will allow you to endure when those critical high-stress times come. So I make sure that I have individual relationships with all of my managers is many of my employees as possible. So At those times when I don’t have time to explain why they trust them to believe in my leadership, they trust them to believe in who I am and they still carry out the mission.
Gene Hammett [24:09]
Well, fantastic Vernon, I really appreciate you being here sharing G Cubed mission with us and what that means to the organization, your big heart show through you actually do walk the talk, and I really excited to share the story.
Vernon Green [24:25]
Well, I have one more thing that I have to add because no leader is an island and that is my team is amazing. I’ve surrounded myself with very capable people who believe in the mission who care and to be honest, they do most of the work. As a CEO and a visionary. I give very broad guidance. This is what I want to see happen. It just so happens that I am a technical leader but at the same time my team makes the mission happen and I could do nothing without them. So I am very appreciative of the people that I have surrounded myself with.
Gene Hammett [25:00]
Well, we would definitely make sure that that’s highlighted here on the show. Thanks for being here on the podcast.
Vernon Green [25:07]
Thank you so much, Sir.
Gene Hammett [25:08]
Another fantastic interview here on the podcast. I really enjoy talking with people who see the world a little bit differently. Having such a focus on mission is really powerful. How it aligns people together, how they can contribute to charities, giving away 80% of profits, is unheard of. But there’s a reason behind this madness. And Vernon really does believe it. His job is not just to make money and create a business so they can have a lifestyle, but it’s to be a part of something bigger than himself and to invite others along with that mission. He’s a real leader. Hopefully, you will learn something from this and be able to apply it to your day to day as a leader.
Gene Hammett [25:48]
Now, we all go through defining moments as leaders. I went through them before I’m still going through them. You probably have a defining moment in front of you. Are you stepping up to that action Are you stepping up in a way that allows you to let go of the old version of you to become the leader that your team deserves to become a leader that really does drive growth, connection, and make people really feel a part of that mission. Those defining moments are exactly what I do. As a coach, I want to help you through those decisions guide you in any way I can use frameworks and tools to give you the support you need to make it faster, smoother, and get you where you’re going to take advantage of the opportunities in front. Just make sure you reach out to me at [email protected]. Make sure you keep listening to these episodes. Hopefully, you’re applying it, make sure you’re taking something away from each episode and applying it inside your business. It’s really important for you not just to be a passive listener, but to actually work on what you’re hearing and do something about. Any questions about that make sure you reach out as always lead with courage. We’ll see 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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