Communication is one of the most critical aspects of leadership and company culture. Fast-growth companies tend to agree that transparent communication is a driving factor to their growth. Leaders that embrace openness and inclusive strategies are perceived to be better leaders. Today’s guest is Igor Epshteyn, CEO at Coherent Solutions. Inc Magazine ranked his company nine consecutive times on the Inc 5000 list. Coherent Solutions is a software product development and consulting company that solves customer business problems by bringing together global expertise. Igor shares why transparent communication is essential in today’s leadership. We look at the common breakdowns in communication and how to overcome them. Discover the power of transparent communication in this interview.
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Igor Epshteyn: The Transcript
About: Igor Epshteyn had a passion for technology and innovation since the creation of his first company in his native Belarus in 1990. This passion drove him to found Coherent Solutions in 1995 after his immigration to the United States. Today, as the CEO and President, he leads Coherent Solutions’ strategy, vision, and growth. His dedication to entrepreneurship and technology served as the catalyst in creating Coherent Solutions, a leading custom software development and consulting company committed to excellence and innovation.“It was a dream to create a global company with the growth, success, and long-standing client relationships that we have built at Coherent. Every day our team continues to evolve with creativity, talent and passion, driven by the goal of having our customers’ best interests as our primary focus,” said Epshteyn.
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.
Igor Epshteyn: I did not use the word vulnerability at all. I wasn’t even thinking about it then disturbance up until a year later. And looking back, I pretty much realized that this is what it was because we couldn’t, we didn’t know the answers and lots of questions. All we would tell people, all we tell our clients is what is it that we’re going to do? And you, when people. Working with you understand this, they understand that you’re doing the best you can, and you’ve been open and transparent. We’re all together in this adventure. They, they back with loyalty and that becomes bond loyalty, both clients and employees. And I can’t do this separate these two groups because it’s, it’s really, as I said earlier, most clients and employers that you call important, I don’t know which one is more important for us?
Introduction: Welcome to growth. This is the one and only place where you will get insights from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: No leader would ever say that communication wasn’t important to the growth of their company, but. here is 2021 And are you putting forth as much effort as you need to, to be intentional about being a great communicator, and this is more than just sharing your vision, sharing the goals, but it’s how you connect and relate to people. What we’re going to talk about today is transparency. Communication leaders are required to have transparent communication because that is what’s necessary to create loyalty and create the kind of connection between the employees. We want our employees to think for themselves. And we want them to make decisions.
We want them to trust themselves. And that’s the way we scale companies is through people. But leadership has to be transparent in their communication and they have to be great communicators and you have to work on it. I believe you’ve got to be really intentional about it. So today’s conversation is with the co-founder of coherent solutions, a nine-time Inc company. And we’re talking with Igor Epshteyn, Igor talks about communication. Now, you know, he will admit that communication is not his natural ability, but he knows how important it is. And transparent communication is a part of communication that allows you to truly open up, be vulnerable, and really share with your employees where necessary.
Today, we talk about transparent communication. What’s in it for you is that you can learn some of the key elements of why you should communicate with your employees, why you should create this space to be transparent and create loyalty, and how that all works together. If you have any questions about what your path is on your journey to being a great, extraordinary leader, you might want to check out the fast-growth boardroom, because if you want to be a great leader that you want to hang out, With other great leaders, you want to learn from them. You want to be coached and be challenged and supported. And that’s what we do inside fast growth boardroom. If you want to see what that’s all about, just go to fastgrowthboardroom.com. If you think you’re a great fit, then I encourage you to apply. We’ll get on the phone. We’ll talk, I’ll answer all your questions and I’ll make sure that you are a great fit because we are only as good as the type of people that we bring on board we really believe that we’re here to serve people that want to be extraordinary leaders and keep growing their companies increase the value of their companies. So check out fast-growth boardroom if you think you’re a fit. Now here’s our interview with Igor.
Gene Hammett: Igor How are you?
Igor Epshteyn: Great, great. Then you also Gene?.
Gene Hammett: I am fantastic. Excited to have you on the podcast. We got a great conversation planned. Tell us a little bit about, Coherent Solutions.
Igor Epshteyn: So first of all, thank you for having me in. appreciate it and, so Coherent Solutions is the software, product development, and technology consulting company. I started this organization in the late nineties and we’ve gone through a number of different ups and downs and we’ve been on a consistent growth stretch over the last 10, 11 years.
Gene Hammett: Love that we focus on a lot of growth-oriented companies. You’ve been on the Inc 5,000. Was that a goal that you set out early in your career or is it just something that happened?
Igor Epshteyn: I think it’s just completely something that happens. So we started the wine. I believe I could be wrong, but I think like seven years ago, and I think we’ve been consistently select that as one of them and we need some on the list, so, but it wasn’t necessarily a particular goal. It was just a by-product of growth and expense. So, and, but I think it’s been a great tool for us to, to connect with the community and get some recognition and also see how companies of similar sizes.
Gene Hammett: Well, that’s a good explanation for what happens when you are a part of this community. And I really appreciate you being here because we’re building a community of fast-growth leaders, learning from each other, the podcasts, a great format to do that. So we’re going to dive into this. You had told me earlier, you had about 1600 employees. You get to where you are now if you couldn’t scale through the people that you have around you kind of curious how important are people to the overall growth of the company?
Igor Epshteyn: Well, that’s a good question. So people is the growth of the company. So we never look at the clients as one target market for us. So we kind of have to serve two target markets. Our services are purely based on people who have skills, education, and everything else. So people is the fuel people is the engine that allows the company to grow. So we, we spent equal amount of time, 4% on targets in our people and employees, , as we do with our clients. So it’s an absolutely fundamental key component of the organization and enables us to grow, enables us to get there. No horizons,
Gene Hammett: as you’ve gone through many different phases of growth, you’re a different company than you were, you know, in the beginning, the nineties, starting this out, communication has changed over time. You, you shared with our team about how important communication is to the overall. Leadership and culture of the company. Give us an idea of why it’s so important.
Igor Epshteyn: It’s absolutely crucial. In my opinion, especially in the context of 2021, when the whole world kind of faced this kind of unprecedented unexpected changes. When everyone moved from a team environment, working together into their own spots and working remotely how do we keep ourselves as a company, as one living organism. how do we maintain the essence of who we are when all of a sudden, within a very short period of time, we had this team-building exercise. As we spend time together, we have multiple offices around the world, but despite all that, we still had events and we would collaborate with travel nonstop.
We were seeing each other and now all of a sudden we work in different, in different places without seeing each other for essentially a whole year. So how do we maintain ourselves? And that’s where the communication. Comes into play because without that, how can you grow? How can you keep people together?
Gene Hammett: Igor give us an idea of some of the specific things that are different in today’s communication rhythms than it was before the pandemic.
Igor Epshteyn: Very specifically, it is just the frequency and the cadence of how we communicate. And also what we’re saying as a leader, you always want to know the answers and all the questions you always want to. In a position to be able to tell people and your clients and your employers that, well, this is what’s going to happen. This is what we’re going. Unfortunately, the whole world face kind of unknown situation when we didn’t know what was going to happen the next day. So being able to make yourself vulnerable and still maintain honesty and transparency, that’s, that’s kind of the main difference in my opinion, that happened on our company
so you can’t lie to people. You can’t, you can’t make things up. You need to be honest and you need to continuously drive them towards the goals that you have, which was at some period of time, was simply trying to understand what was happening and where the future was going to be. So this kind of combination of vulnerability, if you will was something else that I really didn’t experience before that rice, that was the element that we had early 20, 20.
Commentary: Hold on for a second. Igor just said, leaders really want to know the answers to everything. But the reality is there’s a lot of unknowns, especially in this last year, but moving forward, there are even some unknowns about how we will work together in hybrid organizations who will work from home, who won’t, and how we will evolve together as a couple. And you want to make sure that you had the ability to be transparent with your employees. You want to make sure you have the consistency and the right cadence of communication across all of these big changes. It really is important for you to understand how important this is. It’s okay for you not to have all the answers. I know you want. But it’s okay to say, I don’t know, but what you have to follow that up with is let’s figure this out together. I’m here to guide you and support you. And I’m not trying, I put words in your mouth, but that’s the tone at which I believe leaders are able to navigate through the uncertainty in front of us. And it doesn’t matter if you know if your company’s growing really fast. , it doesn’t matter if your company is seeing some hard. It’s always important to have these kinds of communications back to Igor.
Gene Hammett: Now, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about vulnerability with my own clients as an executive coach. It’s not something that they’ve ever been prepared to deal with. Specifically. I asked one client, you know, what does he see as the necessary steps forward for his team? And he’s like, we need people to really share what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling in their heart. And we talked about them, him leading by example and being vulnerable when you had to. Understand that vulnerability was so important this last year. What would we have seen inside of your communication with your team?
Igor Epshteyn: You know, I did not use the word vulnerability at all. I wasn’t even thinking about it in this term up until a year later. And looking back, I pretty much realized that this is what it was because we, we couldn’t, we didn’t know the answers and lots of questions. All we could tell people, all we could tell our clients is what is it that we’re going to do. And you, when people working with you understand this, they understand that you’re doing the best you can. And you’ve been open and transparent that all together in this adventure, they pay back with loyalty and it becomes one big loyalty in both clients and employees. And I can’t do this separate these two groups because it’s really, as I said earlier, both clients and employers are equally important. I don’t know which one is more important for us. So that’s, that’s kind of the assessment and that’s the word vulnerability that came into my mind because that’s what it was.
Gene Hammett: You know, I appreciate you being honest with us and sharing that you had to look back to see that because sometimes that is the mode, which we can understand what we just went through. You said something in there that, that I’m having all of these conversations too, is how do we create more loyalty? They want to create more of a place of that. Want to work there. They have a sense of ownership, but loyalty and transparency, I think go hand in hand. Have you seen that across your company?
Igor Epshteyn: Absolutely. And I strongly believe that loyalty is not something that goes one way. It’s something that you have to be loyal to your people and. You have to make sure that you build the right team to begin with, which we spend a lot of time assessing the interview and every one based on specific core values that we have in the company. And based on that, as you look, stay loyal to the people. You get loyal to that. That’s pretty much. Kind of elements in the mode of operations we have yeah.
Gene Hammett: With a ton of interviews around core values. I find fast-growth companies have, have really put a lot of focus on being intentional about these values, hiring the right people in the values.
Did you learn that somewhere or did you just find that over the course of hiring thousands?
Igor Epshteyn: Yeah, it’s a, it’s a combination. So we never, or came up with core values out of thin air. , we use the system for our business management called EOS stands for the entrepreneurial operating system. And one of the components, key components of the system is really that you select the core group of people who you think belong to your organization in you tries to assess what’s on what these people have in common. And based on that you come up with a set of core values. So we’ve done it probably if I’m not mistaken, like 10, 10 years ago, and they really haven’t changed much. , you know, we maybe tweaked a little bit the verbiage or some other elements, but in general, we haven’t really changed the values at all. So it’s, it’s, it’s really.
That the system, this approach made us think about core values in the beginning, but then this is who we are. This is how we operate.
Gene Hammett: I really appreciate you sharing that with me because I think a lot of people misunderstand core values as something you do once, and then you kind of put it aside and, and get the work done. Getting the work done is absolutely important, but how do you get the work done really? Is those core values. Are you using conversations through one-on-one conversations and meetings to reinforce the quarterbacks?
Igor Epshteyn: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s not the transaction, it’s not the process of the sale now we using it now. It’s not great. So it’s a continuous process. We were all learning how to use the stall’s tools and these approaches throughout the year. So you use these values as, as. As we hire people as we promote people, as we talk to people trying to, and if we see that someone doesn’t necessarily fit the mold, we’re trying to assess the person based on the values. Frankly, we use the same approach or similar approach with our clients as well. So in other words, maybe it’s not exactly the same set of values. Not exactly the same set of key criteria, but it’s something where you have to be aligned with your clients. If you want to have, if you want to have relationships with an organization that’s not transactional, it’s not like shortened time spend. You have to have it and approach it from the same place.
Commentary: Hold on for a second, Igor’s talked about the importance of interviewing people based on quarters. What that is, is you being intentional about the core values of the company and creating a library of questions for you and for others that are interviewing your employees. So they understand that we’re trying to hire people that have common values. I don’t care what your values are, but if you have these questions made available, then you’re not just winging inside the interview process. You’re actually being intentional and it’ll support your people to bring on the right people back to the interview with Igor.
Gene Hammett: I really appreciate your sharing that with us. The real thing that we came here to talk about was communication. , a lot of leaders that, that is like you are, think they’re a pretty good community. Was there a time when your communication actually had to, you had to get more self-aware or more intentional about how you’re communicating with your team?
Igor Epshteyn: Yes, definitely. I’ll be open and with you, I don’t consider myself to be very good communicator. So it’s something that it’s easier sometimes to send an email or it’s easier sometimes to be in the room by yourself and kind of think your thoughts and then tell a small group of people what you’re thinking about or what the decision is. But more and more, I’ve been kind of pushed by my team to talk more, to communicate more. And whether it’s in front of people in front of the microphone and the camera, but yes, I mean, that’s been, that’s been an evolution and growth for me as well, and that’s not something that they have met surely in me, and it’s not to give that they have, like, I’m not very good with public speaking and so on and so forth.
So, but that’s something that you absolutely must be able to do because people when they see that you are sincerely open and honest, they, they, they forget little details. They don’t really pay attention to the nuance of what you said.
Gene Hammett: Another area where people really struggle. And I say, people, meaning leaders like yourself is the listening behind it. They think that they know the answer. Have you had to work on your own listening skills in this journey?
Igor Epshteyn: For sure. I guess listening to him comes to me a little bit more naturally. I like to get opinions from people I don’t call the process of growing is the ability to surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you are. And you have to, you have to listen. You have to understand. We Mo most of the decisions we make in the company, they’re not, not easily kind of wake up one day and go make this decision or try to move fast. But at the same time, we have to make sure that we listen to people, but listen to the key players in different areas.
I think it’s completely important not to, not to make those decisions in isolation in the vacuum. So you have to, you have to get feedback from people and include them in the decision-making process.
Gene Hammett: We’ve been talking about the importance of communication as a leader. And I want to just give you a chance if you’ve made any mistakes. As it relates to this, that we could all learn from what you feel comfortable sharing with us today, what comes to mind?
Igor Epshteyn: Well, it’s a, it’s an interesting question again, as I said, it’s, it’s not something, communication, and public speaking it’s not something that comes to me naturally. So maybe, maybe. The need to communicate with people early on. Even if your company is 20 people or 50 people, you need to start early and people need to understand what’s the agenda. People need to understand the goal of the vision. And to me, people feel that you. On the same adventure ride, everything feels a lot more comfortable for the whole team.
So again, last year pandemic pushed us into this situation when we have to jump on the bag and we have to start talking a lot more, I guess maybe one of the adjustments that that should have made in retrospect is to talk to people a little bit more frequently before the pandemic happen.
Gene Hammett: Igor, I appreciate you sharing this with us. These mistakes happen all the time. And it’s good to know that you’ve aware that that’s an issue. I think a lot of leaders aren’t aware that communication is an issue for them. , when I do 360-degree feedback and I figure out how these direct reports are experiencing their leadership from founders, the number one thing that comes back is always communication. So that’s the reason why we’re here talking with you today about how do we really create a place where people feel that. This sense of loyalty through communication. I really appreciate you being here on the show.
Igor Epshteyn: Well, I appreciate you having me here, as I said, and it’s also from the communication standpoint, when we talk about kind of top-down communication, talking about the vision and everything else that’s, as I said, it’s, it’s super important, but there are also other aspects when, when people have made decisions in certain areas, How do you communicate those decisions that especially they affect other parts of the organization? So, yeah, I mean, I can’t, I can’t overemphasize as the organization grows, the number of people increases. The complexity of communications is growing exponentially as well.
Gene Hammett: That’s a great point. Thanks for being here on the show.
Igor Epshteyn: Thank you very much.
Gene Hammett: And I know Igor is still listening in here, but I wanted to recap what we just experienced through this interview. When you are a leader and you are communicating at some level, it changes over time. He has changed and evolved as a leader through all of the hiring inflection points that this company has been able to do, that the growth that it’s done over the last 10 years really has been attributed to the way he communicates the way he builds loyalty and the way he creates a place for this core values of the company to shine through. So if you’re worried about or concerned about what your next step is as a leader, Maybe you have the EOS system and you want to figure out some of the gaps that are going on inside that system. This is something we work with all the time about 50% of the clients we have are using EOS and they have some kind of gap as it relates to leadership.
It’s not just about the tactical elements of running a business. So if you’re wondering what those gaps are, make sure you reach out to me we’ve got a community of Basquiat leaders at a fast-growth boardroom. If you think that’s a fit, we’d love to have you apply there. And, if you have any questions about what your next steps are, just reach out to me at GeneHammett.com. As always lead with courage will 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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