Adapting to the ups and downs of a crazy, fast-paced work environment is all about embracing change. Companies that resist change and make excuses suffer the consequences. The leaders of any organization must embrace change, and they must also encourage growth across the organization. My guest today is Co-CEO and co-founder of Soundstripe. This company was ranked #68 in the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Soundstripe is a marketplace for royalty-free music. Travis and I look at embracing change from a practical perspective and also the mindset. Join me for this interview to improve your leadership skills to embrace change.
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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
We really sort of knew that we wanted to create a company culture that we wanted to work at, that we enjoyed what we did that we had a lot of integrity around that people could really do what they wanted to do that is and be mission-driven. We wanted to create a culture where, you know, he didn’t micromanage, we could give a lot of autonomy. But with that comes a lot of responsibility.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insights 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 [0:47]
Embracing change is not just for leadership. It’s actually for all of the people inside your company, where you want to adapt, be agile, you’ve got to create a culture where people are willing to embrace change. And so today, we’re going to talk about what are the core elements of embracing change with CO-CEO, co-founder of Soundstripe. Were with Travis Terrell. They were number 68 on the Inc list they grew at over 4,000% in the last three years revenue-wise. And we talked about the importance of embracing change. We talked about what that means inside of our organization and leadership. What are the key mindset shifts that have to happen for us to be able to do this on a consistent basis? And today, that conversation is just for you, the founders and CEOs of fast-growth companies. When you think about your own growth, do you have a plan? Are you ready to grow to that next level? Do you know the exact leadership skill is you need to work on? Well, I work with executives and founders and their teams to help them continue growing and evolving. If you have any questions about that, make sure you check out the free content at gene habit comm you can get a free session with me for coaching. Just go to start your journey. Find out more details there. Gene hammett.com. Now here’s the interview with Travis.
Gene Hammett [2:00]
Travis, how are you?
Travis Terrell [2:01]
I am great. How are you, Gene?
Gene Hammett [2:03]
Fantastic. excited to have you here on Growth Think Tank. We talk about the leadership and the culture of fast-growth companies. Tell us a little bit about Soundstripe
Travis Terrell [2:12]
Well, Soundstripes have been around since 2016. I started as a professional musician when I moved to Nashville dropped out of college and made my mother very angry. But we mended those fences obviously Soundstripe provides world-class royalty-free music and sound effects and now video on that last week to 10s of 1000s of freelance creators, digital content creators all over the world. And so we’re based out of Nashville, Tennessee, employees everywhere. But yeah, we’re having a lot of fun.
Gene Hammett [2:51]
You made it to 68 on the Inc list in a very short period of time. 68 fastest growth revenue over a three year period. What do you think the key was to that?
Travis Terrell [3:03]
That’s a good question. I would think part of that is that we call it a tailwind of we found a tailwind of this market that was needed they were needing music and they needed it in a way that we could give it to them that wasn’t in the industry so far. So we were new we are newish to market. So I think this tailwind of digital content creators that we’re creating content, and they needed music, to license your project. So that was certainly important. I so we can’t discount that. The other piece to it is that we constantly have tried to build a culture of evolving in and changing and so we have done several kinds of iterations of that we you know, did not look like we used to in 2016. We look very different. So I think it’s just a combination of that the tailwind and having the right people involved was certainly a big help.
Gene Hammett [4:15]
Well, I can appreciate you saying that there’s a tailwind and there’s always, you know, some opportunities and strategies that have taken companies to this level of growth, but you wouldn’t do it alone. You’ve got 70 employees that you have you got a team around you. And when you think about the team, what are some of the core principles that you use to engage the team to grow along with you and keep up at this pace?
Travis Terrell [4:40]
Well, I certainly I the one thing about the team that is so important to us is making sure that we’re all aligned on where we’re going. So the mission is incredibly important to the company. Our mission is to keep creates creating. And that is sort of central to everything that we do and making sure that people that we’re hiring people that are really in tune with that mission. The other thing is that we, we actually, I had core values ready before we actually started the company. It was my, my business partner who would laugh at me saying, Why do you have this deck? And I was like, I just think that this is going to be important. And, and he was like, well, we don’t have anything to sell yet. I was like, well, but we will. That’s, that’s that, I guess we can get to that at some point. And so we came up with 10 core values.
Travis Terrell [5:45]
I mean, I think that you know, you hear every company has values of some sort, and you have, you know, people that stick the values on the wall, and just, they, they never look at them. But I would say our culture really tries to think through these core values quite a bit, we talk about them a lot, you’re very open and candid, about how even, you know, it sort of objectifies decision making. And for me, even I can break a core value and get in trouble if I own a company. And so that’s that those are, those are sort of the things that I would say the core values and mission had been instrumental in a sort of making sure the team is going in the right direction, and we’re getting the right people on board.
Hold on per second, Travis just talked about, everyone should be aligned to where you’re going. This is really talking about the mission and vision of the company. And I think that a lot of the conversations I’ve had here on this podcast have talked about the importance of having a mission and a vision that people understand, they really are kind of engaged with and connected to. And your job as a leader is to make sure that happens on a consistent basis, it is more than just happening once it is happening on a daily occurrence. And the more you able to operationalize that vision of where you’re going and align people together, you will have the kind of culture that is able to navigate through constant change. Today, we’re talking about embracing change. But you get the point with you having this mission and vision. And some of the key concepts that Travis has talked about is really essential. Back to Travis and interview.
Gene Hammett [7:27]
Where you’re not the only person that has talked about the importance of values before you actually have a team. It is rare, I’ll be honest with you because most people think about product-market fit. They’re thinking about the strategy and how we’re going to make money and how we’re going to, you know, going to get some things happening here. Did you learn that somewhere? Or did you just something you thought was important?
Travis Terrell [7:48]
No, I didn’t learn it anywhere. I wasn’t smart enough to sort of preemptively know all of this stuff, I think no, Mike and I had an idea of what kind of company we wanted to create. And, and so we didn’t actually even know what we wanted to do. But I think we really sort of knew that we wanted to create a company culture that we wanted to work at that we enjoyed what we did that we had a lot of integrity around that people could really do what they wanted to do that is and be mission-driven. We wanted to create a culture where, you know, it wasn’t micromanaged. We could give a lot of autonomy. But with that comes a lot of responsibility.
Travis Terrell [8:39]
So these type of ideas, we just I sort of just cherry-picked a lot of people that we liked, we loved some of the things that Tony Shea was doing at Zappos, we love some of the things or you know, Netflix had done certs, authors, of course, have a huge follower of Seth Godin back in the day. So all of these types of things, we sort of just Sora like that. I like that. I like that we kind of just meld it together. You know, this idea, but No, we didn’t. We didn’t fully realize what we were doing. I think we just sort of knew really what we wanted it to not look like and in sort of that that world where you’re not appreciated as an employee where there’s a lot, not a lot of, there’s a lot of micromanaging, things like that, that we weren’t particularly fans of.
Gene Hammett [9:39]
So a lot of the words you just talked about and kind of glossed over are very core to the reason why I think fast-growth companies are fast-growing, it’s because they put their people first because they really care about empowering them. They care about transparency, they care about their own individual growth. That experience they have. So, you know, I appreciate you saying all those things. One of the things that you didn’t mention yet was the ability to create a place where people embrace change. I think a lot of organizations, at some level, we all know, change is good for the most part, at least I do. But some people resist that. Was this a conscious thought to create a place where people embrace change?
Travis Terrell [10:23]
Yes, that was, you know, what’s funny is we now know that we’ve hired software teams, and that sort of thing we know about agile development, or agile, agile, I’m not even sure how you say it. But you know, there’s this framework that that software developers use, we didn’t know anything about that when we started the company. But we knew that we needed we knew that the world was changing, the world was constantly changing, that’s the one concept is that it changes. And that goes for businesses and markets and, and customer behavior, and through that thing, and we knew that was going to change. So we needed to create an organization that was changing along with it, and getting out in front of it, and really being proactive instead of reactive. So that was incredible, that was incredibly important to us. So one, I think one of your guests was Andy Stanley, right?
Travis Terrell [11:26]
We actually copied one of his core values, one of them is to make it better. And then the other one is a date, the model marries the mission. And something I think I heard him say, one time and some random interview, but it was, it was, that became a sort of a mantra for us that we’re going to, to not, we’re going to get married to the mission, the why the reason the company exists, but know that, that the how the what the model is going to constantly evolve and change. And we tell you to know, our employees this, that we hire today that, hey, if, if you like what we’re doing, hey, in five years, that that we’re probably not going to be doing it. And so we cannot get into that mentality that it’s going to just stay the same forever. So that’s that. You know, we’ve tried to adopt that.
When you heard Travis talk about being proactive versus reactive. Did you kind of agree with that internally? Well, what I’ve seen is many leaders understand that being proactive is extremely important to the success of the company, you can’t just wait for things to happen. But a lot of leaders are indecisive. And some of those leaders are not able to be as proactive as they want to be. One way to make sure you’re being proactive is to be really clear about where you’re going and why you’re going there. Because when you understand those things, you have a chance to be much more proactive. And if you can actually communicate that to your employees, you have a much better chance to keep them aligned together around that, if that was the same thing that we talked about, about the mission and vision a little bit earlier inside this interview. Now back to Travis.
Gene Hammett [13:12]
So a lot of leaders talk about embracing change, would we see anything different in the way you engage inside meetings are inside your kind of collaborations about change?
Travis Terrell [13:23]
Well, yeah, you know, what’s funny is I talked about some of us with somebody the other day about this and how it is easy for people to say they embrace change. And then it’s another thing to yell at an employee or fire an employee because they messed up. And, and or messed up because they tried something new, and it failed. And so you have to really sort of, you know, buy into what you’re talking about. And so one of it’s not of core value for us, but we certainly follow it pretty closely is to fail quickly and cheaply. So one of so that whole idea is that you can try something, and we constantly use the scientific method. We, you know, in order to try something new, you have a theory about the world, maybe you have a theory that this new product is going to be great or this market, we need to go into Germany or we need to do whatever this is whatever you want, you have a theory about it.
Travis Terrell [14:33]
Now we need to test it. We’re and we’re not going to put you know, $10 million into this to invest in we’re not going on gut and feel an instinct, we’re going to use data to back decisions. We’re going to step up, we’re going to put a toe in to say okay, what do we think about this and like let’s use data to help inform us and before and then we’re going to step into it pretty, pretty hard about If we need to, or want to. So these types of things we try to instill in people that, you know, you can have an idea. Just like I can have an idea, but let’s test this idea. And yet, let’s say we test it. And if it fails, that’s totally fine. And we can’t, we can’t really get hung up on the failure itself. It’s what are we going to learn from that failure to kind of, to, to create an iteration of that. And so that’s kind of the whole framework of being agile is constantly sort of tweaking and iterating on an idea or a theory. So that’s sort of how we think.
Let me break in here for a second. If you happen to be listening to this on your iPhone, or maybe even your laptop, do you know that we have a channel on YouTube if you want to become a better leader, be more visionary, be more effective? There’s some special content we only put on YouTube, you can go there and get it now. Just go to genehammett.com/YouTube. It’s absolutely free. It’s just for you. If you want to be a founder, or CEO of a fast growing company and learn from the best make sure you go to YouTube right now genehammett.com/YouTube, back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [16:17]
So a lot of successful companies that embrace this, this, we fail forward? No, we really understand that failure is a part of the path. And you know, some leaders have the resistance to that, when you’re working with a one on one employees bringing to you a problem. What does your conversation change around helping them see that they need to go out there and create some new ways or new, a new path forward?
Travis Terrell [16:43]
Yeah, I would say one thing that I heard, Jeff Bezos say that it really stuck with me once is that he said you can, you can fail, like, there’s a difference between failing at a new thing. And then there’s other there’s a difference between failing at a new thing and failing it operation, operational excellence, you know, and so what he means by that is that it depends on what it is we’re trying to accomplish. If there is a, if there is something that is, you know, pretty routine to sound stripe, there’s a lot of things that are routine to Soundstripe by now, like things like customer service, or product requirements, or engineering or, or, you know, SEO or things like that, then then you know, we want to perform those things, the best to our ability. And so we want those things to be really tied up and nice.
Travis Terrell [17:46]
Now the things that we can experiment on, we’re going to say that we’re experimenting on it, and it can be, it can be deemed a failure, and that’s fine. But we’re kind of investing appropriately to do that. You know, I, I think a lot of companies tend to put fail for, you know, fail all the time, fail, fail, fail, and they kind of put it in their mantra everywhere. And sort of it doesn’t actually give you the excuse to fail at everything. It just gives you an excuse. Because it really should be you know, you’re failing at new, innovative inventive things that have not yet been proved out. And we try to make that distinction here if that makes sense.
Gene Hammett [18:35]
Thanks for sharing that with us, Travis. Since we’re talking about failure, I want to kind of zoom in on your own leadership. Is there something you’ve had to learn the hard way that you can share with us today that maybe we can learn from it? Maybe it’s something you’ve overcome? Or had to shift your own mindset around?
Travis Terrell [18:50]
Yeah, you know, what I, of course, made so many mistakes I can, I’ve probably lost the company, you know, a lot of money. But I think the biggest mistake that it really keeps me up at night. And I tend to make it I’ve made it more than once we’ll continue to make it. And that is indecision and failure, failure to make a decision about something. I when I look back at, you know, my career, it’s usually that I’m most regretful off, it’s not that I made a wrong decision, the product, and that it was just a failure. And customers didn’t like it. And no, we’ve made so many of those types of failures. But we sort of just sort of pick up move on and say, well, customers didn’t adopt this the way we wanted it to, well, what if we tried this or this or this? And we sort of finding the answer, and that’s, you know, this agility that we keep talking to but The part that I keep, you know, trying to, to not have this paralysis from analysis constantly thinking that I’ve got to make the right decision.
Travis Terrell [20:13]
And, you know, I am a student pilot, as well. And so they teach you in, in-flight school to when you’re testing when you’re practicing emergency landing, you know, they’ll maybe they’ll shut off the engine or they’ll choke it down. They don’t actually shut it off. But they’ll say, okay, where are we going to land, and you need to decide right now. And they constantly teach you to decide, decide, decide, like, think, think about where we’re going. Because the minute that you the, if you lose 100 feet of altitude and airspeed, your chances of surviving are very limited, you know, if you keep pushing off, and if you push off where you’re going to emergency land till you’re 100 feet off the ground, you know, it’s not going to work out. Great. So those are the things that I try to think about. I’m not an expert at it by any means. But it’s those are the big mistakes that I am trying to get better at.
Gene Hammett [21:14]
Travis, I want to say thank you so much for being a part of Growth Think Tank, sharing your experience and journey talking about embracing change, fast growth, leadership culture, we’ve covered a lot today. I just want to say I appreciate you being here.
Travis Terrell [21:27]
Thanks so much.
Gene Hammett [21:28]
Well, that wraps up another incredible episode here at Growth Think Tank. I want to remind you that, you know, embracing change is not for just your people. It’s for your leadership, you have to continue to evolve as a leader. Hopefully, you’ll continue to do that. If you have any questions about what your next step is, make sure you reach out to me, you can check out some of the free resources we have at Gene Hammett. You can check out a place in there where you can actually get me on the phone, we can actually talk about your business talk about what’s really keeping you back. If you have that same issue that Travis has around indecision, I can help you with that as well. So as you continue your journey of leadership and you think of growth and you think of culture, make sure you think of Growth Think Tank, 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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