You know the importance of strategic planning at work to guide the company forward. However, today we look at how to use that strategic planning in your home life too. When I heard Matthew Porter, CEO at Invisibly, about how he leads his family with standard strategic planning practices, I was emotionally moved. Matthew shared with me how his family has a mission statement that unifies and connects them. His children are small, but they are 100% committed to strategic planning in the home. Matthew is an intentional leader that shares other aspects of leading others to support you in being an influential leader.
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Matthew Porter: The Transcript
Target Audience: Matthew Porter is the Chief Executive Officer at Invisibly. Invisibly is building a better digital ecosystem as a single stop alternative to the inefficient and ineffective advertising technology offerings available today. With Invisibly’s end-to-end system, we improve the economics for both digital publishers and marketers, resulting in high-quality content, deep engagements, and meaningful consumer relationships. And in addition to a better browsing experience, individuals can enjoy an improved ability to set preferences and control their experience online.
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.
How many hours a week do you think you work? 70-80 hours? Do you think you’re gonna do this? I guess 15 years, 10-15 years. I mean, we eventually want to actually sell it, move on. But I’m thinking 10 to 15 years. And he looks at me and he says, so I just want to understand this correctly. You spend 70-80 hours here, for something that’s 15 years. And for your family, you’re not doing any planning like you do here. You’re not thinking about what your family’s mission is. You’re just gonna wing it for 168 hours a year and the rest of your life.
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 [1:04]
Strategic planning, the skills that you’ve put in to drive your business forward? All of the things around mission values, the vision that you have aligning people together toward one common goal, the way you approach different challenges, the way you have fun together with the way you really execute. What if I said, all of those skills can be used to improve your home life? strategic planning takes this idea of being intentional about setting out what you hoped to create. And then how do we align around that creation. Strategic Planning is a core part of your own leadership. But I’m also claimed that it’s a part of your home life as well. Today we have a special guest Matthew Porter is CEO of Invisibly. He also talks about the importance of really putting strategic planning inside your home life and what that means. We look at It’s specifically today, where he learned from, from a mentor with these powerful questions that always challenge you to think, but also some of the details behind it. What are the core elements of that? How do they execute it? How do they keep it fresh? How do they keep their teenage kids aligned with the mission of the family? All that in today’s episode? Here’s the interview with Matthew.
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Gene Hammett [3:16]
Matthew, how are you?
Matthew Porter [3:17]
Doing well, how are you?
Gene Hammett [3:19]
I am fantastic. I am excited to talk to you as much as I am about, about family, and about how we as leaders have responsibilities that really we don’t pay attention to. Before we get into that I really want to know about your work. So tell us about Invisibly?
Matthew Porter [3:38]
So I took over as the CEO visibly, we’re a venture capital back startup. Our core focus in this world is to return control and privacy to internet consumers, especially as they engage with that ad and engage with publishers. Or any content creator?
Gene Hammett [4:01]
Well, it’s definitely necessary. The internet has grown drastically over the last couple of decades plus and it’s a little bit of a cowboy state for most cases.
Matthew Porter [4:13]
Yeah, it’s a little bit of wild west, especially as a consumer, not knowing what information you’re exposing out there, even beyond those folks that are using ad blockers, and there’s a lot of stuff going on with regards to extracting demographics on somebody based upon IP addresses, what we think their socio-economical background is. And we just fundamentally believe that if you want to expose that information to a publisher or to a brand, and actually have a true engagement with either one of those, that’s your right to do such. But it’s proactive, right? It’s not some claim that you give up and give to the world just because you went online?
Gene Hammett [5:00]
Well, I like the fact that you just mentioned the word proactive because it gives me that right segue into the topic for today. We as leaders and I think this is not just fathers, but I think all leaders have a struggle within our work because we spend, you know, 60 hours, sometimes 80 hours a week doing something that is not at home, but everything. You know, I know I’ve made the trade-offs. It’s like, I’m doing this for my family, but then my family feels completely left out. So today, we’re going to talk about family because you’ve got some unique approaches to how you do that proactively.
Matthew Porter [5:40]
Yeah, I, I came about this and I wish I could say that I actually did this on my own. It took a mentor to really, really reset my focus on what was my life, and then it wasn’t just the business. If you’re shooting I’m happy to actually share the background. story on this. Yeah, a little bit around the company at the time. Let’s do that. My business partner guy named Craig and I founded a cloud computing company before there were cloud computing companies. This is nearly 20 years ago. And we did this because we saw that was the future of it. At the time, though, we were having to give up almost everything. For this. Both of us had children. I had one kid, one on the way when I started his wife, he and his wife had their own daughter, they would add another daughter to the mix, I would add another son so my wife and I would have three kids and about 29 months with no multiples. And yet, Craig and I were doing 12 to 16 hours a week to get this company off the ground. And our wives bought in. They saw what we were trying to do. They were willing to participate in that process.
Matthew Porter [7:00]
For me over the years, though, it really kind of sucked the life out of my family. And for me personally, I ended up actually relatively unhealthy, relatively overweight. My family was not in a good spot. And I happened to mention this to a gentleman who was my mentor at the time. And I remember him sitting in my office and staring at me, and I bring up this very personal family thing. And his responses. How many hours a week do you think you work? 70-81? Do you think you’re going to do this? I guess, 15 years, 1015 years. May we eventually want to actually sell it. Move on. But I’m thinking 10 to 15 years. And he looks at me and he says, so I just want to understand this correctly. You spend 70-80 hours here for something that’s 15 years and for your family. You’re not doing any plans. Like you do here, you’re not thinking about what your family’s mission is. You’re just gonna wing it for 168 hours a year and the rest of your life. And this mentor had this really unique way of mentoring and nudging me because I’m hard-headed.
Matthew Porter [8:17]
He would ask these very deep questions that made me feel like I was missing something very obvious, very intentionally obvious. And just feeling ridiculous. And when I came home, and I shared this with my wife, I said, I think we should start doing strategic planning. I think we should develop a mission vision, then we should talk about what the values Our family has. And I think we should do this in a very, very active manner. And so that’s kind of how we stated. And it’s probably been 12 years. For 12 years, we’ve done strategic planning as a family and as our kids are now Teenagers, they’re getting involved with that planning. Because my oldest is two and a half years away from college. Her brother will follow a year later, her other brother will follow a year later. And we want them to actually start thinking about how they plan their lives. Not just what’s on the schedule today. What guitar lesson has to be done today. But what does three, five, and 10 years look like?
Gene Hammett [9:32]
Now, I love this, and I have an almost 13-year-old. I know his response to most of this stuff and probably like most teenagers, is, I don’t know what I want to do. Other than watch TV, eat junk food, and maybe do something fun. I got to ask you, Matthew, you know, you started using it a dozen years ago the kids were little set right. Give us the question. elements of this strategic planning. I know you mentioned the mission. And we know you’ve got a great story around mission. So maybe we should start there. But is there any other place we should start?
Matthew Porter [10:09]
I think mission and values are the best. I do want to add that you did hit on something. And we’ll come back to it in a second. When you were talking about your 13-year-old, and that’s the word fun. So before my wife and I started this, we actually made this something fun. And by that, I mean, we would go do strategic planning for six, seven hours, the two of us, then we would go out to dinner, and then we would stay at a hotel that night just to getaway. So we did do something fun on this, just like I think the organization should do. Any company should do a nonprofit to do when you’re doing a strategic plan. But on the topic of our mission statement, this really came from how my parents raised me how my wife’s parents raised her and how we came to this together. So this actually means so much to my family and me that it’s on our family website. And it’s actually scripted, on our wall inside of our master bedroom. My wife one day gets up super early, I think she’s going to work. And instead, she drove a stake over and picked up this piece of artwork that has some that have our mission statement memorialized on it. And that mission statement is anybody who’s actually curious, reads the following. We have a debt to those who came before us and an obligation to those after us. We maximize life and potential through heart, intelligence, and grit. We focus on our bond. We do all of this together because we are always stronger together than the word most Which is actually kind of our family ord.
Hold on for a second. Matthew just talked about the mission statement. The reason I know Matthew is because I had a chance to go to an event. It was a YPO eo event where a friend of mine, john Rulon, was speaking there. And john gave Matthew, an amazing gift. This gift was a coffee mug that not only showed where he and his wife had met, but it really depicted it in visuals, and also a verbal kind of element to it. It included the family mission, and I really thought that having a family mission was something I was missing out on. And it was really a little bit jealous about how it aligned the kids and the wife together. So that’s the reason why I had Matthew on the show today. I just wanted you to know that personal story about how amazing I thought that gift was from John Rowan, back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [12:51]
I know you told me that and it caught me. And that’s one reason why I had you on the show is that you know, as successful as you’ve been You know, building businesses and getting things off the ground. And I don’t even think about that. When I think of you, I think of this family.
Matthew Porter [13:09]
Thanks. I actually appreciate that when I, when I took my new role and going invisibly, and sat down with Jim McAfee, who was our CEO at the time, and our chairman. He’s the co-founder of square. He founded this company early on, it’s now been funded by the likes of Peter teal and Founders Fund and some family offices. When I sat down with Jim, and I talked to him about joining the company, the first thing I said to him was, I need you to actually understand what my family is trying to do. And therefore, I want you to see what my priorities are. Because I’ve made too many mistakes in relationships, even with my business partner when we were building contingents to not ask what somebody’s expectations were and not share what mine work. So I walked Jim, through our mission statement. And what that meant. To me that meant that invisibly was going to get a lot of my time, a lot of my heart, a lot of my soul was going to come math for my family, though. And we had that conversation up front. And it was very clear to him how committed I was both to the family and to what he’s trying to do, and how those two things a sign.
Gene Hammett [14:31]
I see patterns here. And just, you know, what I see is that you’re very intentional about life. You set expectations, you with your family, with your investors, probably with your leadership, and tensions and setting expectations is a really good thing and then you live it.
Matthew Porter [14:50]
Yeah. It’s not always been that case. The case about I has the reason why I love doing any type of writing or Talking to entrepreneurs is that I have screwed up so much stuff and caused so many mistakes to happen directly and indirectly, that I just genuinely believe. entrepreneurs need to talk about these mistakes, not to make the other entrepreneurs feel good about the mistakes that they made, but so that they don’t actually repeat the same mistakes. Because the world only progresses, if people go out and try new things, which means that they’re inevitably going to try something, it’s going to fail.
Matthew Porter [15:37]
They’re going to create new mistakes. Like we don’t, we don’t need to repeat the mistakes all of us have done before. Like, we need new mistakes out there. Like we don’t need to innovate on every single thing. I mean, I’ve jokingly said to people that no, we don’t need to innovate in payroll. We don’t walk into our team and say, guys, we’ve innovated payroll, we’re just going to pay you at random times. But it’ll all even out in the end. Like you don’t know if you’re gonna get paid on Thursday, and then you might get paid Monday. And then you might not get paid for six weeks. But it’s innovative. Like, trying to figure that stuff out. So, for me, not living intentionally was a very big mistake, not setting expectations with the with my team with the people I worked with not sharing them my expectations and regularly checking in was a huge mistake. I don’t want to have that mistake, repeated by me or by anybody else. So I spend time talking about it with my team, with my kids. My wife and I talk about it. But make no mistake on this gene. It is a very, very intense house and it’s a very, very intense family.
Gene Hammett [16:53]
I love it. I want to go deeper into this because we talked about strategic planning, the mission being one of them. I think you mentioned values. How do you I know you’ve kind of baked the values into the mission, but how do you how did you come up with the values?
Matthew Porter [17:08]
The mission statement and the values were memorialized by my wife Courtney in the in our first two strategic plantings, we drafted them out. And then we sat there and said, let’s make sure that these are really truly what matters to us. You kind of want to have the bacon. I think companies are really good at doing this. They put something down. They don’t just assume that it’s right the first time especially if you make decisions in committees or in meetings that are this monumental because these are all supposed to be the guardrails on the road. So you know, you don’t go off the road. So we let it bake in. And we came back I think two months later, do we still believe in these Yes, we do. And then we started talking about the mission statement to our kids. We started talking about what the values are with our kids, and not just the words. Because one of our, one of our core values is grit. We talked about the actions that my wife takes the actions that I take the actions that those that our kids have taken, and what that means to grid. We talked about committed effort over results. And one of the examples that we talked about our kids are, when’s the last time mom and I checked your report card? they inevitably respond well, when you had to sign it. But we do. Look at your effort. Are you working hard on your schoolwork? Are you committed to it? We care more about that effort. Then we do the result.
Gene Hammett [18:55]
We all know this when we have kids. Kids Learn By watching what the parent actions are not just what they say, definitely, that happens in our businesses too. Right? We have to learn by example. I want to make sure before we run out of time, what are the other core elements of the strategic planning with the family?
Matthew Porter [19:18]
The other core elements are we actually look at it from a tactical perspective. We walk through every single kid and say, What worked this year? What didn’t work this past year? We This is our annual strategic planning because we do quarterly planning quarterly check-ins as well. We talked about what’s working, what’s not working with each kid. We talked about where we wanted to play our family resources. So for us, that means what do we think we want to do with our time as a family? Does that mean that kid will go off to camp? What do we think we want to do with our talents our family as a commitment to service every year? For example, a couple of years ago, my wife and I are in service. bursary we went and volunteered for the day. Then afterward, we actually went and had the word most disk, which is our feeling word tattooed. Both of us got a tattoo of my wife’s on her wrist mine because I’m a super-geeky guy with a comp sign mathematics background is on my back and binary. Also because most disk looks really too close to the word moistness. So we decided should be written out. We then actually, we then actually talk about my wife’s career, my career, where we’re headed.
Matthew Porter [20:35]
What’s the next one year look like? What’re the next three years look like? And right now, that’s, that’s important, because in the next two and a half years, as I shared before, my oldest will go off to college. Three and a half years, my middle kid, four and a half years, my youngest, my wife, and I will be empty nesters in our 40s Summer. And then we actually bring the kids in. And we want their feedback on what this looks like. We want to talk to them to say what is working in your life. A few years ago, we knew that school wasn’t working for all three of our kids. We made the decision to change schools, and my daughter needs something drastically different from my sons did. My daughter wanted a very single-sex all-girl environment. Very small school. Our boys wanted big, so they opted for public school. We have them involved in that process.
Matthew Porter [21:34]
We do quarterly check-ins Are we still on track with our plans where we want to put our time, talent, and treasure? We have weekly check-ins with our family. We ask them where did you honor the family mission statement this week? I had family dinners. Where did you honor our core values and became really super important when we deal with really good stuff like mine. Exit, selling the company enjoy the company private equity. And it became important when we dealt with things as a family. I was very private about having multiple sclerosis for the first three years of my diagnosis. My kids didn’t know for 26 months after I was diagnosed. So before I went public, we sat down in these quarterly meetings and said, Why am I going to step out and talk about this? Well, because it’s our family mission statement. Okay. What does that mean? How do we all get prepared for this? How do you get prepared for when your kid who’s 12 years old, somebody walks up and says, hey, how’s your dad doing? That’s what we in the family called the one-octave question. Always one octave lower. We wanted them prepared for because this isn’t 15 years and 80 hours. gets 168 hours a week and for the rest of our lives.
Gene Hammett [23:03]
Matthew, I, this is such a beautiful way to look at this being intentional about our families. And the story that you open this up with just really powerful because we do spend a lot of energy. If we give our best energy to our work, and we leave the rest of our family, I think it’s a big mistake.
Matthew Porter [23:25]
I will tell you, I think that is true. And I think that’s true in both a selfless and a selfish manner for the business. If, if we as leaders are coming in and giving it all to the business, and all to the people there. Then what are the message that we are giving to them with them and their families? That it’s the company is saying that it’s not long term sustainability for your team. It just isn’t we should have These focus outside of this, and it makes us human beings. It makes us authentic. And that is actually what I think drives real true culture. You can throw core values up on the wall. You can put them on key chains, you can put all this mission statement out. But if the people you’re working with don’t know that you are a well rounded human being, whether you are a leader, you are pure or whatever, you’re a well rounded human being who has interest needs outside of the organization. They’re never going to give you there all because they will probably look at you and say, Oh, my, I don’t want to be that one-sided in my life, even if they never admit it to you know.
Gene Hammett [24:59]
Matthew, I want to wrap this up with one thing we’ve been talking about family. I just have this vision that the relationship between you and your wife is is at this epic level because of this, this kind of communication That you’ve had, and you’ve gone through this over, you know, more than a decade. I know you’ve got your ups and downs. But as this make it made it easier to find the love and connection inside the marriage.
Matthew Porter [25:13]
Absolutely. It’s not just the superficial part of the loving connection. At one point when we were building the company after we had set out what our mission statement was, and our values work, we ended up actually having to take a home equity loan just to be able to buy groceries. That’s a difficult thing to do. For anybody any entrepreneur, and yet my wife sat there and said, What are our values? What’s our family mission statement? What was our plan? We’re going to successfully execute this plan. So we committed to it and we have been together since we were teenagers. grew up together. worked at Kmart, yes, they came It’s 2627 years ago, but we met at Kmart. And we’ve got to grow up and build this deep connection.
Gene Hammett [27:05]
Well, I have to wrap this up, we kind of gone over what I typically do, but I wanted to make sure that we got as much in here as possible. Really appreciate your being here. Matthew 16.
Matthew Porter [27:05]
Appreciate the time, sir.
Gene Hammett [27:05]
I love this episode, Matthew had such great insights around how do we take the traditional strategic planning that is done in our businesses and apply it to our home lives? It may sound rigid, but I really believe the intentionality that he has is a magic formula that we’re all not taking advantage of. You probably have some of these elements.
Gene Hammett [27:05]
We have some of these conversations with our wives and maybe our children, but are we truly putting it together and keeping everyone aligned to the strategic planning of the family so that we actually create the relationship and the connection that we want to together? I love This episode I wanted to bring it to you. Hopefully, the sound quality wasn’t too bad for you because we had a little bit of a hiccup there. I think a lot of people are using zoom lightly.
Gene Hammett [27:05]
As I record this, I really want you to think about your own family, I want you to think about your own leadership. Are you being intentional? are you creating and using your skills as a strategic planner, inside your own family? What could you do? If you did? Think about that for a second? My name is Jean habit. I work with founder CEOs of fast-growth companies to help them through the defining moments of their leadership. I help them grow and develop the leaders inside their organization. And I do this using a unique method where people feel that sense of ownership stay tuned to more episodes here at Growth Think Tank. Make sure you share it with a friend. And as always lead with courage.
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