Company core values are a big topic in today’s business world. Many leaders know that they need to refresh their values. Creating your company values the right way will give you a boost in company culture. Today’s guest is Johnny Hanna, co-founder and CEO at Homie. Inc Magazine ranked his company #305 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Homie is a tech-first brokerage building software to streamline home buying and selling with a mission is to eliminate unnecessary fees and commissions. Johnny gives you strategies for creating your company values. We look at values in a more profound way to live your values daily.
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Johnny Hanna: The Transcript
About: Johnny Hanna is the co-founder and CEO of Homie. Homie is a tech-first brokerage building software to streamline home buying and selling with a mission is to eliminate unnecessary fees and commissions. Johnny helped grow the company’s revenues to over $100M in annual recurring revenue and over $1 billion in monthly rent payment processing. He led sales, client services, and human resources for Entrata. He also focused on building an amazing workplace culture and hiring hundreds of employees that won Entrata “The Best Place to Work in Utah County” award. Entrata has received numerous awards like “Technology Fast 500” by Deloitte 2012, Utah’s 5th “Largest Job Creator” in First Annual Inc. Hire Power Awards 2012, Gold in 2012 W3 Web Creativity Awards, “Most Innovative” in MHN Technology Choice Awards, and “Best Consumer Products & Services App” by Tabby Awards. Johnny earned a B.S. in Business Management at BYU Idaho.
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.
Johnny Hanna: [00:00:00] It’s really hard to step aside. I mean, especially when I’m passionate about the values I already created, you know, and it, you know, I had to take a big bite of humble pie and just say, look, this is our company. And, and I wanted alignment. , my previous company, we didn’t really give out much equity in the company, so there weren’t any other owners, but just a handful. And with this business, I wanted everybody to be owners. I want people to take ownership. And I just realized if I was going to do that, I needed to get out of the way and let other people be owners and create something that we all could enjoy together. Not just something I created.
Intro: 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 hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Today we look at core values specifically. How do you create core values that will align people? , the creation of core values is something that a lot of people have to figure out. They have to [00:01:00] do, the, at the wrong way first to figure out the right way. Today, we’re going to walk you through that. With our special guest. He is the co-founder of Homie. They’re a unique real estate company that is expanding out of the Utah market into, across the nationwide. , take a look at what they’re doing really is amazing work, but Johnny talks about creating core values and really how he stumbled in the beginning. What really helped him figure out how to create them. We go through some of the nuances of that inside this episode. Why you want core values is because it will reduce your, attrition. You’ll be able to retain your key employees. You’ll be able to, align work. People will feel empowered since they will make their decisions. And we’ll have more of a self-managing company than that of a micromanagement company. So values are very important aspect. We’ve talked about a lot on this, but today we go in deep about creating your core values. So in this episode, you’re going to learn a lot about what it takes to be a great leader. And if you’re curious about what specifically you want to work on, then make sure you keep doing in, , two episodes. But if you really want to go deeper to it, I offer this up to you because if you listen to. There are three or four [00:02:00] episodes and you’re just, haven’t reached out to me yet. I would encourage you to go ahead and do that. If you know that you want to be a leader, or you have someone on your team, you want them to be a leader. I’ve got some tools and training that can give them, but I really would love to talk to you first, just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule a call. I’d love to help you do that. Now, now here’s the interview with Johnny.
Johnny, how are you?
Johnny Hanna: I am doing well. Thanks for asking.
Gene Hammett: I’m excited to have you on the podcast growth think tank, where we talk about leadership and growth. Tell us about your company. Homie.
Johnny Hanna: Yeah, Homie is the future of real estate. , we help people buy and sell homes. We offer transparency education choice. Essentially, we have realtors that I just charge a low flat fee, and we have a mortgage company that guarantees the lowest interest rate. We have a insurance company to get you home insurance and a title company. So what we’re trying to automate and streamline the entire process of buying and selling a home.
Gene Hammett: Love that real estate has been a very interesting market for this year, I guess. And are you mostly in Utah or other areas as well?
Johnny Hanna: I [00:03:00] would say we’re mostly in Utah, but we’re in Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada.
Gene Hammett: Perfect. How many people would you say are on your team?
Johnny Hanna: We have about 450 people right now.
Gene Hammett: Right. And that’s a that’s a big. And today’s theme is really talking about how do we get alignment across these people. Now that we know that you have 450, I want to talk about the ways you get alignment, the ways you use values across this. I want to go back in the future. And you know, when you first started, cause I’m thinking a lot of people listening in here might not have 450 employees. They might have 20, but what was the first point where you realized we need to really emphasis. The values inside of our company.
Johnny Hanna: Yeah, immediately I felt like, I, I needed to do it right away because I had started a previous company. I called Entrata. And about seven years into that company, we were pretty aimless in terms of culture and values. And, I met a lady named Anna. She was the chief people, an officer of Southwest airlines, former co-founder of jet blue. And she, she wrote a book called built on values and, and it was a blueprint of how to establish values of the company. And man, we implemented that. We [00:04:00] hired her. She gave us direction on, on how to do that. And I watched our company change for the better I watched metrics, improve turnover decrease. Happiness improves. So yeah, starting Homie. I knew it was the right thing to do right away.
Gene Hammett: No, I know there’s a book out there around this, but when you were putting together the values, what could you walk us through that process?
Johnny Hanna: Yeah, so I actually had forgotten what I read, so I just kinda winged it with Homie. Cause I thought I knew everything about values and culture. So I just, I just established what I felt was really important. I talked to somebody, you know, I had a couple of co-founders talk to them and they all agreed that we had five values in place. And, you know, we, we just kinda ran with those and we had our first company meeting with, I think, seven of us, you know, our first couple of programmers, and it went well. it felt so that that’s kind of how it began.
Gene Hammett: Now. Would you say that you picked aspirational values or did you pick more the authentic version of the values, meaning that the ones that you are naturally you already?
Johnny Hanna: I think it was a mixture. [00:05:00] I, you know, I, I knew a couple of my partners and, I, I may have been analyzing their weaknesses instead of my own. When creating some of those values. And so I, you know, I’ve put a couple in place, that I, I would hope would steer us all in the way that I wanted to go as the CEO, but what, what I, what I came to find out, you know, a few months in a few, like a year in, they weren’t sticky. We, we weren’t aligned. And, and I, you know, it was because I had done it just on my own without involving. In that creation process.
Gene Hammett: That is a big lesson that I think you had, you gotta walk us through that because how did you know that they weren’t sticking?
Johnny Hanna: I would say from my previous experience, you know, when we, when we had a little values retreat with several key leaders and leaders, not by title, but, by attitude within the company, we came back and introduce those values to our company and everybody. Hmm. It’s like a sponge everyone’s just absorbed them. And, and it felt right. They, really felt like they were aligned with what we were trying to accomplish. And in a lot of aspirational stuff too, on things we were doing [00:06:00] really bad that we knew we needed to improve on. And so I think that rallied everybody at my previous company and I just didn’t see it. So that, that didn’t. It wasn’t the same feeling. It wasn’t the same excitement, you know, a year in. And I, I didn’t really think about it, but when I, when I did think about it, I’m like, huh, no one, you know, this is a different experience. People aren’t into it. Like my old company, oh,
Commentary: Johnny just said the values weren’t sticking and what he means by that is they just weren’t being used as a tool across the company. We weren’t living the values and the big problem we have here. And people know this. They’ve say the words back, but you can’t just have your values on the wall of your company and expect that to be enough. You want to create rituals inside the organization, like shoutouts that, he mentioned a little bit later into the episode, but also other ways to create a real recency effect of what the values are? Why we want them and who’s really living them and, and show them as a form of recognition, all those things across living the values, plus many, many more from hiring people to onboarding. We have some [00:07:00] resources coming out here soon. We hope to give you, but I want you to know you can’t just put them on the wall and expect that enough. If you want them to align people, you’ve got to live the values. And that’s the big lesson for today. Back to Johnny.
Gene Hammett: When you decided they weren’t into it. Did you guys recast the values at that point and change the approach instead of you doing it? You included other people is what I’m what I think I heard you say.
Johnny Hanna: Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. I ended up reading that book again, you know, to see if, if I had done it right at the beginning and I’m like, no, I totally messed up. So, yeah, we, we, we had a group of volunteers that got together to be our values committee at homie. And I stepped out of the picture and I said, look, you can scrap everything I created. You know, you can, keep anything that you want. I don’t care. I want, I want us to have values. That we that really mean something to us and that are going to direct the future of our company. And so over a three-day period, these individuals got together and out of the five, they scrapped three of them and they kept two and then they added two more. And so, and when [00:08:00] they came back and proposed them, like I could not have done it better like myself. Like I, it was so right. And they, they analyzed what was good with the company and they set values to keep that good going at the company they analyzed what was bad at the company. And they set aspirational values to eliminate the bad if the company or, or, you know, not necessarily the bad, but just challenges that we’ve had.
So, but yeah, in since then, and I think because there was a larger group in the company too, when we inter reintroduce that to, I don’t know how many employees we had a time. You know, it’s less than a hundred for sure. And everybody just, you know, absorbed them and they have been our north star ever since.
Commentary: Now I want to put a spotlight on why does this values committee work? Well, the big thing is inclusion. When you want people to take ownership of it, you want to make sure that you include them into the process. Of defining the work. For example, if you were going to change the strategy of a company and change the way we go to market, then you want to include people in it, [00:09:00] especially those that you want to, to buy in and fully be aligned with what we’re doing. And if you want people to be all in, you want to make sure you include as many people as possible. Now you may have hundreds of people in your company just like Johnny does. , he may not be an include, everyone, in, but he had a culture committee. That’s a really smart way to include them. And the thing that I want to highlight here is he’s willing to step aside, that is the key here because you want to make sure that people are doing this and they’re included. That gives them a sense of ownership of back to Johnny.
Gene Hammett: I do want to ask you about the committee looking back at it. It seems like that was a smart leadership role to do what I heard you say. We, we picked some leaders that were across the company, not necessarily by title, but just by, you know, really kind of charged-up around what we’re doing and where we’re going. And you stepped out anything you learned in that journey that you would share with us.
Johnny Hanna: It’s really hard to step aside. I mean, especially when I’m passionate about the values I already created, you know, and it, it, you know, I had. Take a big bite of humble pie and just say, look, this is our company. And, and I wanted alignment among my previous company. We didn’t really give out [00:10:00] much equity in the company, so there weren’t any other owners, but just a handful. And with this business, I wanted everybody to be owners. I wanted people to take ownership, and I just realized if I was going to do that, I needed to get out of the way and let other people be owners. And create something that we all could enjoy together. Not just something I created.
Gene Hammett: Johnny, you just touched on another big topic. That’s a theme on this podcast is fast-growth leaders tend to want people to feel like owners so that they behave and think like owners that they take ownership of the challenges in front of them. And one of the. The principle of that is inclusion, which is what you did with this committee, on values is including people. When you think about ownership, what else do you think drives that feeling of ownership across the company?
Johnny Hanna: I think autonomy, drives ownership. I feel like that the permission to fail and, you know, I don’t know. I have mixed signals from people that have worked for me on my leadership style, but I. I feel it is pretty deliberate, but if I, if I hire you and I [00:11:00] trust you, and you’re an expert in your field, I’m going to do my best remote, remove roadblocks for you. My one-on-ones are going to be asking you to like, how are things going personally, privately? You know, how, how is business and, and what roadblocks can I help to remove? But, you know, in, in, in some instances when I get that wrong. And I hired a person that might not have the skill that I thought they did. I have to be a little bit more on and, and, and it’s hard. And I don’t think, I don’t think those people feel as much ownership when I have to get involved. You know, I still try to be a coach more than I micromanage. But I would say, yeah, I, I, I’ve done really good at hiring amazing people. Swipe I’ve hardly had to micromanage with this new company. I really have an amazing team where I’ve, I’ve been able to focus on other things and let them do their job. And I think they feel ownership because of that.
Gene Hammett: I want to take back to the values because we’ve been talking about, you know, how did you discover that? You went through the first year, we’ve got a recast of the values to the value committee. Now we’ve got to [00:12:00] figure out how do we truly make this a part of who we are? How do we align around them? How do we live the values, whatever words you want to say, what would we see inside your organization on a day-to-day or week to week basis as it relates to values?
Johnny Hanna: Yeah. And, and I can, I can kind of hop from one value to another and, and I’m happy to have you interject here as well, but yeah, I would say who we are, what we’re doing, we’re trying to disrupt the real estate industry. So disruption is clearly a value and we don’t, we don’t use the words of disruption or, you know, we try to create phrases. They can have a bigger definition underneath of them. So the status isn’t quo, is our value of disruption and the status quo like that, that, that applies to us internally, as much as it, it applies externally. So we are known as the real estate disruptors in every market that we’re in. While at the same time, we have to continually rethink the way we’re doing things. And change is hard. You know, we, we, we can poke fun at, you know, the old traditional realtor, but the truth. We recognize how hard changes internally. So that value is so important [00:13:00] to us. So that that’s one that I think is, is just clear, like anybody who joins us, who’s been in this industry, they’re joining us because they want to see change. So that that’s a, that’s a clear value. And we, you know, at new hire trainings or new, new hire orientation, we introduced the values.
Every company meeting, we highlighted value. , you know, we, we just try to, include them often to remind people about them. But I think pushing it from the top as, as the CEO and, and our executive team, , I think has set a tone where you just hear them brought upon, on a daily basis.
Gene Hammett: I wanna dive into some of the specifics behind this because you can say at every company meeting, we highlight the value. What does that really look like?
Johnny Hanna: Yeah. So balance is another one. And again, we use that, we use a phrase, so fight for your right is the phrase for balance. , but yeah, at our, at our last company meeting balance was one that we focused on so that we, I just, you know, we, we, as an executive team said who really lives this value and who could preach to the company and, and challenge us. To be better-balanced individuals, so fight for your right. Like [00:14:00] it was the individual spoke about how, you know, as, as a company, we can’t help you balance your life. Like it’s your choice. You have to say no to your boss on certain projects. You have to say, sorry, I can’t, I have a kid you know, play that night, you know? So, so part of this balance, that work is part of your life, but it’s not your life. And so there’s, you know, great discussions around it where, you know, when it comes from different individuals within the company, it’s, it’s not just always coming from me or one of the other co-founders it’s it’s people within the company who lived the value, who can then express how they live that value and how you can to.
Gene Hammett: What we see that’s unique. I know that maybe not every. It’s unique to you because you’re living it, but you may know what’s not being done. You guys do a little bit differently as it relates to values.
Johnny Hanna: You know, I implemented kind of a mental health strategy a couple of years ago before. COVID thank goodness before COVID. and what I came to find out was that this mental fitness program was actually foundational to our values. So for example, balance, like [00:15:00] if, if you look at traditional therapy, you have to understand how to set boundaries. You have to have self-love and self-care to stand up for yourself to have a boundary in order to have balance, you know, to disrupt yourself, you know, we’re trying to disrupt an industry, but to disrupt, disrupt yourself, you have to look in the mirror, you have to go deep, you know, humility is another value that the phrase is, check yourself before you wreck yourself and, and, and humility. Like how, how can you be humble? Like how do you know that you’re being humble and to really analyze it? , we’ve gone to mental fitness principles where we’ve recognized that confidence is humility, true confidence. And so if you’re feeling less than, or better than you’re insecure, you’re not really humble if you’re comparing anybody, you’re not humble.
You know, if you’re putting yourself down or putting other people on pedestals, you’re not humble. And, and this is like, it’s, it’s an insane mental fitness workout to really analyze. These values and analyze yourself. Cause it’s so easy to point fingers and, and look at others, not living a [00:16:00] value as worth being off with their own mental fitness. And so to me, that has been huge. And especially during COVID the crazy elections, you know, the fires that are going on everywhere, you know, like all the crazy worldwide catastrophes and the lockdowns, and like there’s so many issues going on that it’s, it’s hard to be balanced. It’s hard to care to disrupt a business. It’s hard to be. We’re all these competing voices are coming in. So we have a mental fitness hour, every Wednesday for anybody to join. And I lead that and people have brought up all sorts of stuff. And to me, that goes to our value of loyalty as well, which is we’ve got your back and Homie as a company. Our tagline, our trademark is we’ve got your back. So it, you know, like homie’s got your back and man, I’ve, I’ve witnessed our people living that value by supporting each other through these difficult circumstances. , more than I ever have in my life. Of course, I think we’ve had more challenges than I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but it’s like that mental fitness piece to me is what is very special about our culture.
Gene Hammett: Johnny. I [00:17:00] want to wrap this up with something I’m noticing here, you’re listing off the values and you went with more fun kinds of things. Like if I go back to humility, check yourself, or here to direct yourself. Something, I may be say a little bit too much in my house. , I know you have eight kids. You probably say a lot more than I do, but you, you didn’t go for what tip people typically do, which is a very, you know, straightforward way of doing it. It’s more of a fun way to do it. Like we have your back. That’s about loyalty, but you have to kind of, it’s a great way to do this. Did you, was this intentional? I know the committee did this. You, you, you loved it. You already said that.
Johnny Hanna: Yeah, it absolutely was intentional. And I learned that from my previous company too. And, and we, we came up with phrases and you can have bullet points underneath these phrases, you know, they can just broaden the definition, but yeah, the fun phrases make it memorable. You know, if it was just humility and loyalty balance, disruption, you know, can sound like any company out there, but a check yourself. We’ve got your back fight for your right. The status quo, like that, ‘s unique [00:18:00] to homie. No one else had those. And, and it allows for that, you know, the inclusion of additional definitions to really hone in on the type of company we want to be without having, without having to have 10 or 20 core values. You know, these four really embody, you know, probably 10 or 20 core values.
Gene Hammett: I did this with a client once, and I remember this distinctly, they were talking about customer service and I was like, is that really a value? And they’re like, well, yeah, it is. And we bet I said, let me challenge you a little bit. Let’s come up with something more fun. And it didn’t come from the CEO. The founder came from one of the key employees, but they said customers for life.
Johnny Hanna: Yeah.
Gene Hammett: And everyone lit up and said, that’s what we’re going for. We want customers for life. We don’t want to make sure when they order once they want to keep, keep ordering from us. And you’ve, you’ve realized this inside your own values and how you use them, Johnny. I really appreciate you being here. I’m gonna give you one more chance to, to bring anything that we haven’t talked about as it relates to values so that you can put a light on that for us.
Johnny Hanna: I think the company that’s successful has amazing people. Like every business is about people. I don’t care if it’s tech or [00:19:00] manufacturing. And so that, that, that piece on mental fitness, I feel like we’ve really brought in a sense of humanity into the workforce. Like when we do our one-on-ones, I highly encourage everybody through my own example of asking people like, you know, are you going to be able to hit that project deadline? You know, do you have something personal in your life going on? You know, be, be real. Let’s talk like not just how are you doing? Oh, good, fine. Great. All right. Let’s get to the deadlines that you have. I think if we really focus on people, which is what core values do, core values, focus on people. , but really it, especially in today’s day and age with this pandemic that we’re in. Like, if you can dig and just say no, tell me, tell me how your weekend really was like you’re doing okay. And to me that has set a tone that, I just think, you know, the, the values then shine even brighter because I can witness my, my co-founders all my executives, my managers. We hire people that care about others. And, and, and that’s been, I think, a defining part of our business. And I want to, I would recommend [00:20:00] everybody switching their focus to be more human-based than, than focusing on, you know, then on just shareholder value.
Gene Hammett: Johnny, I really appreciate you being here, sharing your wisdom across all of this, as it relates to values and leading a fast-growth company. Thank you.
Johnny Hanna: Thank you.
Gene Hammett: I’m going to wrap up here. Johnny’s listening in to make sure I get this right. But what I really love about today’s interview is the fact that he realized that he can’t come up with himself, maybe isn’t the best way that he had to engage the entire team. I’ve talked about this. It really is about inclusion. When you include people into the process, they’re more likely to take ownership. You include them into making it a part of the everyday. It really does make a powerful way across the company and it aligns people together. Now, this mental health, fitness, or mental fitness that Johnny was talking about. Really incredible thinking.
You did this before. You’ve COVID, I’ve talked to a lot of companies that wish they had something like this. So I really appreciate you sharing that with us, but all of this comes back to, are you willing to lead your company? Be the leader they really deserve? Well, if you have any questions about what your next step is, make sure you reach out to me. I’d love to help you.
My name is Gene [00:21:00] Hammett. , just go to GeneHammett.com. Schedule your call. I would serve you to be that leader that your team deserves. When you think about growth and you think about leadership, think of Growth Think Tank 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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