Setting up a culture that centers on collaboration has become a critical factor for success. Today, we look at how to improve teamwork across your culture. Our guest is Scott Schwalbe, CEO, and Co-founder of Nimbelink. This company was ranked #1818 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Nimbelink connects machines through innovative cellular technology to get the data. Scotts shares his insights on how to improve teamwork. One aspect of this interview is the importance of transparency when it comes to collaboration. Discover steps that you can use in your journey of how to improve teamwork.
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Target Audience: Scott Schwalbe is the Co-founder and CEO at NimbeLink. NimbeLink prides itself on award-winning solutions and talented executives, engineers and product specialists who help deliver solutions.
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.
Scott Schwalbe [0:00]
Without employees, you’re never going to have customers. So in most ktr business differentiation is really our business model, you know, cellular, a battery, you know, while we’ve got, you know, really good people putting things together using their know-how, in a way that is unique, but ultimately, how do we deliver? How do we communicate? If we didn’t have the employees, I wouldn’t have customers and I wouldn’t be able to have the customer testimonies of how well our team’s working with them. So it’s really I would say, Now, on the other hand, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have huge growth. So you need both, but I would say that people I would prioritize.
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 help leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:09]
Do you think about teamwork often as a leader? teamwork is something that we talk about. Maybe we think about it some times, but we take it for granted. When you have a really well-oiled machine, you have a team that supports each other respects each other. They collaborate together without being told. Teamwork is really important. So how do you improve teamwork? Today, we look at that very question. When you think about how to improve teamwork, it’s more than just, you know asking people to be on a team. There are many elements around it. And leadership. Your job is to figure out how to improve teamwork. Our guest today is the CEO and founder of nibbling. They grew at an astronomical pace over 400% In three years, there was number 1103 on the Inc list in 2019. And the CEO I’m talking to is Scott Schwalbe. Scott is just someone who really believes and leading his people, we talk about the difference between management and leadership, really important. Understanding, if you want to really be a leader for your team, you’ve got to go beyond just management, managing the work, managing the task, managing that data, or the metrics, you’ve got to lead them. So today, we look at how to improve teamwork. If you haven’t already registered for the principles of fast-growth companies, I’ve taken time to look at all of the interviews I’ve done, and really create something of value to you. It’s in three short pages, the 12 principles of fast growth companies, just go togenehammett.com/principles, and you can get that now. Here’s the interview with Scott.
Gene Hammett [2:57]
Hi Scott, how are you?
Scott Schwalbe [2:58]
I’m doing well. Thanks.
Gene Hammett [3:00]
Excited to have you here at Growth Think Tank.
Scott Schwalbe [3:02]
Well yeah, thanks for inviting me and thanks for allowing me to be here to share today.
Gene Hammett [3:07]
I want to kick this off with I’ve already shared with our audience a little bit about you at a personal level and leadership and what this interview is about. But I want to for you to tell us about Nimbelink
Scott Schwalbe [3:19]
Sure. In highest balling Yeah, we Nimbelink spirit technologies, how’s that? But at a high level, we’re really focused on helping OEMs helping companies for business to business, connect their machines and their assets, and get their data. And we do that using cell phone technology industrializing that and then helping them attach that to their devices and pull that data out so that so we design develop and deliver solutions based on cellular technology to pull data out of machines.
Gene Hammett [3:58]
Well, as we discussed, Scott In 1994-95, I studied the cellular data for electric utilities wrote a book about it became somewhat of an expert on how to get meter reading data out of it using cellular products. And you’ve carried that that torch on with many other aspects i thought was pretty interesting when you were talking to me, one of the the products that you guys have them, I’m not sure where you are in the process, but determining predictively where the next. Powerline pole may actually fall during a storm.
Scott Schwalbe [4:35]
Yeah, there’s a lot of opportunities. I suspect when you wrote your book, it was to GE and the second generation now we’re moving into the end of 5g. And the technology has just changed us dramatically to allow low power to allow us to track things and monitor environments in places you never thought about environmental monitoring, with battery. Because back when you were looking, the challenge was how do you Keep the cellular working and make it remote with battery and last long enough to return on investment.
Gene Hammett [5:07]
Yeah, a big part of that was that and the not to get into details of it, because we could probably talk all day about this. But I remember it was the remoteness of some cellular work rate was a great ROI because it would take you 30 minutes to drive out there to get it. Get that one little media metering data are but if you had a core Central, like an apartment building and whatnot, you would never put that on cellular because you have so many people in one area. When you think about your fast growth, I love to ask companies that really have had this for over 400,000% growth over 400% growth. My tongue-tied today. But what are you most proud of is probably something else besides the growth.
Scott Schwalbe [5:56]
Yeah, it’s interesting. We talk a lot about that and people ask me that You know, we’re growing an organization and a family almost, you know, it’s our employees, you know, I think we had three new babies in the organization that’s in the last nine months. So it’s kind of fun seeing the organization grow, seeing the people grow, seeing the team really grow. So if I look at that, and then obviously our customer base, the loyalty we’re gaining within our customer base, the relationships that we’re creating with, with our customers, it’s been just a really, really rewarding to see that evolve. Especially as you mentioned, when you’re growing fast, and there’s a lot going on, it’s easy to get distracted.
Gene Hammett [6:45]
I don’t get a chance to ask everyone this anymore, but I have been pretty diligent and asking founders, and it’s, I call it the impossible question. But what’s more important to you as a leader, your customers Are your employees?
Scott Schwalbe [7:02]
Our employees, because without employees, you’re never going to have customers. So in most cases, our business differentiation is really our business model, you know, cellular, a battery, you know, while we’ve got, you know, really good people putting things together using their know-how, in a way that is unique, but ultimately, how do we deliver? How do we communicate, if we didn’t have the employees, I wouldn’t have the customers and I wouldn’t be able to have the customer testimonies of how well our team’s working with them. So. So it’s really I would say, Now, on the other hand, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have huge growth. So you need you to know, you need to you need both, but I would say that the people in the team are I would prioritize that and say that’s the highest.
Hold on for a second. Scott just talked about employee First, you ever thought about which is more important, your customers or your place? I know a lot of people get really dogged that it’s got to be customers. And I get it. I understand that perspective, customers are very important to our success. We’ve got to listen to them. Here’s the difference. Fast-growth leaders know that their employees are expected to think to empower them to make decisions, expecting them to innovate, be creative, really know that their employees the most important piece and asset in the company. And so they’ve got to put the attention on the employee first so that the company as a whole can put the customer first. You want to make sure that you have this kind of chain of importance inside your culture and your thinking because fast-growth companies have told me over 94% of the leaders I’ve asked that question have said that its employees first, only a handful out of hundreds have said customer first. You may not value them. You may think differently, but you’ve got to, I’m asking you to think about it deeply, which really comes first at this stage in your business? What would have to change for your employees that to feel connected and valued in a way that puts them first so that they can put the customers first? Back to Scott.
Gene Hammett [9:20]
It is an impossible question because we do have to take have both of these things. But I see what’s different is smaller companies, not tiny companies that are one-two people, but companies that get to your size 20 plus employees, they really do put an emphasis on the people and how they grow because they need them to think they need to be creative and innovative inside the solution. And we don’t need them worried about all this other stuff. And we, frankly, don’t need to just do the work. We need them to really think beyond today’s set of challenges to be proactive. And that takes a different style of leadership and as you get bigger You begin to see employees as replaceable. To your size. There’s not replaceable, or easily.
Scott Schwalbe [10:06]
Sure, yeah, I think my background of 20 years active duty in the Navy and then moving to corporate working for an $11 billion publicly traded company. Yeah, definitely worked through that and saw all that and lived through a lot of that.
Gene Hammett [10:19]
Yeah. Well, I know that you’ve worked with my team to understand what have been the the kind of driving forces of fast growth through a company, and you had mentioned teamwork. Tell us what teamwork is for you and how that works at your company.
Scott Schwalbe [10:36]
Yeah, so as you can imagine, in a company like ours, where there’s a lot of product development, and then there’s a lot of customization configuration within our customers, so so when we bring in a new customer, every aspect of our companies engaged you to know, the marketing groups engaged in bringing them in the sales team brings in the energy appears rather quickly. We’re finances involved in stuff I think about a simple one, we call it a simple sale. The team is very, very involved in that. But then also in informing the roadmap, our next product so so we’ve we actually bring the whole team together every Wednesday and spend an hour walking through the current projects, what’s going on the state of the company. And so all team members in the organization come together at least once a week for an hour to collaborate, and we just kind of identify the issues that that one group is not getting some done because they’re all meeting individually, they’re all talking but sometimes it’s good to have everybody in one place. So that’s been very effective for us.
Gene Hammett [11:47]
When you think about teamwork, is it something that’s in part of the core values of the company or is it something that just overarching across what you’re building.
Scott Schwalbe [11:59]
I think it’s almost arching you know if I look at the core values of, you know, integrity and trust, you know, and there’s obviously more behind that and, and really a focus discipline within the organization. And, and then I look at humble confidence is a is an interesting value because we have a very, we have a number of very smart, intelligent hardworking people and, and as we spend a lot of time educating our customers. So it’s good, we need to have that confidence, but we need to be humble about it. And then an integrated lifestyle, I think is really been a focus for us to how to integrate our families and everything and, and church and work and involve all that. So I think ultimately, we don’t have core values of teamwork. But as we think about all those things, coming together, they drive to the teamwork.
Gene Hammett [12:52]
When you think about your job as a leader to create the right team and select the right people, I know you You’ve learned some lessons along this journey, what lessons sticks out the most is kind of very important for the growth of your company.
Scott Schwalbe [13:08]
Yeah. You know, you had mentioned, you know, people, I mean, when when you start creating a culture, it’s very easy to you move, sometimes too fast, but sometimes not fast enough, you know, there’s that balance, but making sure that the people that we’re bringing in are are individuals that can actually fit within the culture. And now just this summer, our hiring is hiring some interns and even the intern hiring and buy you know, we select them we go through a process, but before we actually hire him, the team members that are going to be working with that individual spend some time with them before we actually make the hiring decision. So so as it’s just important for the team members to have input and we definitely have said no to people if the team member you know, even though we have a critical hire It needs to be filled. And teams, you just say, you know, I don’t know if that’s gonna work. You know, we’ve learned our lesson because we’ve said yes, in the past, and we just got to get a body in here and had that mistake of looking at your point, it’s a body versus, you know, the most important asset of what the company needs. Because you tend to want to move fast. So I think having that what we do is have the teams even, you know, talk to the individuals before we bring them into the organization.
When you think about culture fit inside your company, do you have the absolute process to give a culture fit diagnosis inside your interview process? Well, a lot of organizations evolve over time. And so if you haven’t put a lot of effort into how do we ensure that everyone we’re hiring is a great fit for our culture. Here’s one way that you can improve them. If you have company core values that you really strongly believe in, and I suggest you to Then you create questions that allow people to see where they are, you won’t ask a question blatantly. You know, how honest are you, you will get them to tell you a story, get them to give you an experience where their honesty was tested. And you get to figure out where they are in the spectrum. You get to hire people based on cultural fit. I wanted to put this in here because it’s such an important factor for success and fast growth. You got to bring in the right people, and you want those right people to have a culture fit, and not just a skill set. Back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [15:38]
Scott, when you think about your own evolution as a leader, how do you best you know, kind of received new information, and began to apply that inside the organization?
Scott Schwalbe [15:50]
Yeah, so I do most of that probably by reading and as far as new information and looking but then you know, then the next veramente and so if I’ve looked at through the years and as I’ve went, like I mentioned, I spent 20 years in the Navy, and then in the corporate world and start thinking about the difference between management and leadership, that’s, that was a key element for me to work through. But then start looking at some of the leadership styles that tie into my core beliefs. So when I say servant leadership is just becoming more and more important to me as I mature and grow. And we can talk more about that if you want. But just, you know, really trying different things. We’ve probably when I was starting nibbling I needed I needed to make some money along the way. So I was doing some consulting and I implemented the the entrepreneurial operating system, book fighting attraction and I implemented that. I don’t know Another company and so I just kind of forced me to really learn that. And so we, we took that and implemented it in a number like so. So I think reading, you know, talking to other people and then really trying it.
Gene Hammett [17:12]
Well, I can’t let you go on that you meant you said something pretty big there. And I would love to kind of put a spotlight on the difference between management and leadership.
Scott Schwalbe [17:20]
Sure. So, as I’m evolving, you know, in the Navy, it’s pretty easy to call management leadership. You know, because everybody’s in the same vision. Everybody knows what they’re doing and you’re leading from the front and in reality, you’re not leading you’re managing, you’re just basically making sure the tasks are getting done, that you might be the so called leader with the title, and you’re making sure everybody’s coming along and, and I went into corporate world, kind of that same way, but you get to a point when you have number of people reporting to you and You’re leading from the front, and you’re in, you’re trying to manage all the tasks, it gets to the point where, okay, you’re either going to drop over dead, because you just can’t do it anymore or you got to make the switch to lead and help people come to the realization that of the mission and the vision and, and embrace it themselves. Because managers management is a very critical aspect of the world that we need and making sure we get the task done. But my when I step back and look at leadership and and I guarantee I don’t do it perfectly every day and I you know, I have a lot of work here, but how do we bring the organization along so that they’re internalizing the customer internalizing the vision, internalizing it so that it becomes their own, and then in leadership is really setting up the environment for success. You know, we can’t really Drive success when a leader can set up the environment where a manager you know, when you’re managing environments, typically there, I think that’s that whole environment of goal of what the leader needs to do and then selling that and then that’s what drove me to servant leadership is, is, is getting that out of the way, get out of the front and then really just get down to the, to the back and build the organization.
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Gene Hammett [19:49]
I love the way you describe that and you said the word own it once inside there and internalize a couple of times. My big message behind this and studying fast-growth companies is what I’ve seen is one of the number one aspects of how companies grow so fast is they get people to feel like owners. The feeling of ownership as a leader is such an important piece. You can do it without financial tools like stock options and things like that. is do you think about that feeling of ownership across the company?
Scott Schwalbe [20:25]
Think about I probably don’t execute it very well all the time. But as we I know for a fact you know, like when we’re dealing with customers, and trying to get their product, there’s a lot of pride when a product comes across the board, even if it doesn’t have our brand on it has the customer. The fact that we were able to design it and create it and white label it and help that customer increase their revenue. There’s a lot of pride and ownership in that relationship and in The success of our customers with our employees. So we, we definitely see that we spend, you know, there’s a lot of questioning, you know, why are we doing this? How does this, you know, help our customers? How does this help the world? You know, there’s there’s so I definitely from the questions that are coming. It’s not just like, how do we do this and make some money? There’s questions on Are we really having an impact and what’s the value of doing this work? So I think from the questions I get, I would say there is that right.
Gene Hammett [21:31]
So I want to leave you with one last question. What may I have missed in what has been made a real impact on you growing Nimbelink?
Scott Schwalbe [21:43]
You know I think you obviously need to be in a good market. You know, I never have, you know, so it’s helpful to be in the Internet of Things market that’s growing fast. So that’s a little lucky is not a bad thing. Being in position, and then obviously, having a good solution, a product that fits in that, that that niche is very helpful. And then I think you’ll bring the people I think, you know, if I look back and in growth, I look at mistakes that we’ve made, I think is, is probably an area that, you know, maybe not hiring fast enough, not hiring, you know, trying to stretch the team because you’re trying to stretch the dollars and you want to make sure you’re profitable. But then you end up if you go too far, you know, we’ve had experience where all of a sudden, you know, I’ve burnt out my you know, myself, my team members, you know, what’s going on, because we didn’t actually bring people in hiring outside. So I also believe there’s a, you want to get the right people in the right seats at the right time. I think our growth was, you know, we were able to grow because we did bring people in a little ahead of time in some places, but we’ve made that mistake and it’s slowly donor growth. So I think the other thing is, how can you slow your growth and that’s been a risk for us and not hiring the right people and getting them in fast enough is a challenge. Also,
Gene Hammett [23:12]
Scott, thanks for being here on the podcast, sharing your wisdom.
Scott Schwalbe [23:15]
All right, thanks for having me.
Gene Hammett [23:16]
I love interviews, we get to talk to people about their leadership styles, where they made mistakes, where things have had to improve and shift today was no different. Talking about how to improve teamwork was something that I have been wanting to do for a while. I just had to find the right leader to talk to when you think about growing your team fast. How do you as a leader, engage others to be more team players? What’re the most important elements behind that? Well, there’s a lot to it.
Gene Hammett [23:47]
One of the core areas that you often overlook is how do you have to change as a leader to be the leader that engages teamwork. I know that you think that you’ve got everything covered, and maybe you’ve got So much on your plate you have no idea how you would have time for this. But you have to take time to think about the people who think about the culture. I work with leaders in the defining moments of their own growth. Sometimes I hear that people realize that getting to a point of their success where they have become complacent. I’m here to tell you, I’m here to guide you to the next level. I’d love to support you and understand you through that. Make sure you reach out to me at [email protected]. And if you want to get those principles I mentioned in the very earlier mix, you go to genehammett.com/principles to get the 12 principles of basketball. Don’t forget to share this episode with a friend. 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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