Virtual workers are commonplace for many businesses. Workers are demanding freedom. Leading remotely comes with particular challenges that you must understand. Today’s guest is Garik Goldsheyd, Co-Founder & CEO at TheoremReach. Inc Magazine ranked his company #116 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. TheoremReach powers millions of surveys and helps publishers monetize their apps while gaining powerful user insights. Garik talks about leading remotely in today’s business world. He gives you insight into what works and didn’t work when leading remotely.
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Garik Goldsheyd: The Transcript
About: Garik Goldsheyd love to figure things out. It started with video games, and nothing has really given him more joy than finding a creative solution to a problem. Right now, at UserWise.io His figuring out how to make great tools to mobile games teams to manage their live ops – event scheduling, segmentation, and A/B testing to get players to stick around longer and do more stuff. For the past 7 years, His also been running TheoremReach rewarded surveys to help market researchers get real answers from real people. Before that Garik, got to learn all about the internet at various roles in digital marketing. His been fortunate to work with awesome co-founders, employees, clients, and partners; figuring out the ‘how’ of transforming an industry couldn’t be possible without awesome connections and conversations. Garik done a bit of everything related to starting, growing, and running a start-up, but being a people manager, business analyst, and data-driven decision maker seem to be the prevailing themes in his career.
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.
Garik Goldshey: [00:00:00] It’s not really just working somewhere besides the office, it’s figuring out how do you bring the best team dynamics and develop the same type of culture that you need to develop at any company, but you have a different type of nuance. Right? So we were pretty fortunate when we started, we were actually always our remote teams since day one. I like to joke that we’ve been in operation for the past seven years and I, my business partner and I have only seen each other, maybe a total of six times. So even from day one, we’ve kept it pretty remote. So anytime we, we hired, you know, it didn’t really matter to us where the people were from the one thing, as you said, was, did they have that self-starter mentality? That’s probably the most important skill that I think is required for a smaller remote team. And for a startup that wants to operate remotely is finding someone that has some level of drive interest or passion to be able to get up and kind of self-manage themselves. Rather than, , look to other folks for direction.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. [00:01:00] This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: We probably faced the challenges of leading a remote team. Well, it is a challenge and you have to understand some key concepts. We unpack those today. In this episode, our special guest is a co-founder of TheoremReach. There were number 116 on the Inc list in 2021 that puts them at over 3500% growth in a three-year period, which is remarkable all on a team of seven. And we talk about what does it take to do that? Leading remotely is something that you have to face. It is a new reality for today. If you want to attract the top talent, if you want to create a place where people are performing at their best, you’ve got to learn the skills of leading remotely. We unpack, , you know, hiring the right people. We look at the other aspects around communication and values and what role they play inside of this. But it really [00:02:00] is a great conversation we have with a Garik. Garik Goldsheyd really is a force inside of this leadership and what’s going on in this company. He really shares some powerful ways for you to grow as a leader and for you to create the kind of space where people love to work and they perform at their best.
Now let’s dive right into this episode with Garik.
Garik Goldshey: Hey Gene.
Gene Hammett: Well, I wanted to jump into this cause I’m really excited about having you on the show.
Garik Goldshey: I’m really excited to be here. Certainly excited about the podcast, then happy to share any wisdom and tips that I was lucky enough to come across.
Gene Hammett: Well, tell us about the company TheoremReach.
Garik Goldshey: Yeah, so TheoremReach. , so we started up about seven years ago, just two guys in the garage. , we provide a software platform that connects market researchers looking for surveys, to digital publishers, aiming to monetize their users by taking those surveys.
Gene Hammett: Love it. When you have created this idea I know that’s part of the, the, the right idea, the right timing, and the right team when you think about the idea that you came up with, what is different today than when you first started?
Garik Goldshey: Oh, man. [00:03:00] A lot of things I would love to see anyone who’s. Stays the same after enough time, , pivoting. But yeah so when we first started, we didn’t really know anything about the market research space. We certainly learned a lot in the last seven years or so, but the idea today is very different than what it was on the day one.
Gene Hammett: Well, mine has changed too, and I think a lot of people listening in have their ideas have changed. We’re going to dive into the whole context of today’s interview. Really is about leadership and growth. Your company was number 116 on the Inc list in 2021, which means you had an over 3500% growth over a three-year period. I think a lot of people don’t understand that level of growth. What’s the short story of that growth and how you got to where you are.
Garik Goldshey: Yeah. it’s a fun story. So, you know, when we first started our business, we were testing out product idea, number one, which was sort of like an arbitrage of surveys and we had a few clients and things were going well, but we felt like there was a new opportunity that we didn’t how to start, but we knew we needed to kind of build a team for it. So [00:04:00] we looked around and happened to bring on a third co-founder to help us build out this new idea. And by being a little bit more technical, technologically savvy, we were able to create this really cool platform that basically automates the stuff we were doing in years one to three. And that’s kind of what put us on the map. We created a unique pricing model that never existed. A lot of our publishing partners found it, enjoyed it, and shared it with their other businesses, associates, and we were able to grow pretty quickly from maybe a handful of publisher partners in mid-2017 up to you know, about a couple of hundred, today just through or organic reach and conversation.
Gene Hammett: I can’t like something go by that when you say unique pricing, my curiosity gets the best of me. What could we learn from that unique, the pricing that you share?
Garik Goldshey: So the biggest problem that we solve in our company really is how to combine two different industries. So the market research space operates on a pricing model that pays out per interview. And [00:05:00] it works if let’s say you manage your own panel. But what we found was we were partnering with a lot of third-party audience sources, like websites and mobile apps that had contents to offer their users like a game like candy crush, for example. And they didn’t like the pricing models. So we had to really figure out how do we bring this new industry to the game space in a way that they like my business partner. And I worked on a few different versions until he ultimately came up with this concept to convert the surveys into a cost-per-attempt model, which never really existed prior to us bringing out to the market. And once we launched it, we found pretty quickly that it had some success.
Gene Hammett: Love it, Garik you came here to talk about specific challenges and opportunities within creating a remote team. We dive into that. How many people on the team?
Garik Goldshey: Yeah, so we operate a pretty lean team right now. We’re a team of seven.
Gene Hammett: Okay.
Garik Goldshey: And what’s interesting is we actually broke out our company into a second business unit and we’re taking part [00:06:00] of the core team and moving it to the new business and hiring is probably going to be a big theme for a lot of the stuff that I love to talk about. How do we find good teams? We’re figuring that out today as well. So we definitely have the backfill on the old team and hire up for the new team.
Gene Hammett: Let’s take a look at this whole remote team kind of thing. We can look at, start anywhere you want to, but when you think about your journey of remote teams. I think a lot of people are getting more used to it, but they’re still kind of curious around what creates the unity and the alignment across remote teams also we got to bring in people that can be empowered to work remotely. Cause it, it is a challenge for some people to stay on task without being micromanaged. Where do you want to start with today’s conversation?
Garik Goldshey: I mean, there’s so much to tackle there, right? I think one thing that I’ve started realizing recently is the concept of a remote team. It’s not just like the opposite of a office, right? There’s so much more nuance between having a remote team and then having a team that goes [00:07:00] into the office and everything in between. So I guess probably. You know, I’d love to tackle what is core to running a remote team. That’s different from managing a team in the office and what are the similarities, but really why are they not just opposites of each other?
Gene Hammett: Sure. Let’s start there.
Garik Goldshey: Yeah. I mean, it’s not really just working somewhere besides the office. It’s figuring out how do you bring the best team dynamics and develop the same type of culture that you need to develop at any company, but you have a different type of nuance. Right? So we were pretty fortunate when we started we were actually always a remote team since day one. I like to joke that we’ve been in operation for the past seven years now, my business partner, and I have only seen each other, maybe a total of six times. So even from day one, we’ve kept it pretty remote. So anytime we, we hired, you know, it didn’t really matter to us where the people were from the important thing, as you said, was, did they have that self-starter mentality? That’s probably the most important skill that I think is [00:08:00] required for a smaller remote team. And for a startup that wants to operate remotely is finding someone that has some level of drive interest or passion to be able to get up and kind of self-manage themselves rather than look to other folks for direction.
And a big part of that really is setting good goals, setting a good check-ins with your team members, and setting a good vision. So everybody knows what they’re working towards without having to check in as often.
Gene Hammett: Do you have any interview questions or anything that you could share that helps us find those self-starters?
Garik Goldshey: I’m going to shamelessly plug a book that probably drove a lot of our hiring journey. It’s, the book is called “Who” it’s a pretty popular book and the concept is how to hire A players. It’s not just about getting them in the door when you need them, but it’s a matter of approaching things with a scorecard, being able to source folks before, you know, you need to fill that role. So you’re always looking for good candidates being able to select [00:09:00] them. So how do you go through the interview process? The right questions to ask the right things to avoid, and then how do you sell them? You know, it’s not just the one-way conversation to get the best type of town. You have to have a really good proposition for why someone wants to join your company.
Gene Hammett: Well, I don’t want to go too far into this cause I want to talk about the all aspects, but I am always curious besides the book, or maybe it is because of you learned from the book, but what was really kind of unique is the way you select and hire people.
Garik Goldshey: A big part of our hiring stems from defining a proper mission and set of core values. Everything that we do in our business down to each decision that is pivotal has to check off on the four sets of values that we’ve identified. And especially in our hiring, you know, managing a scorecard with those values, with every conversation we have, it’s really crucial to find the good talent. So even before we bring in the rest of the team to jump on the phone with A prospective candidate, even if they have the [00:10:00] most amazing resume on paper, I’ll spend 30 minutes in a very informal conversation. Just getting to know a little bit about them, having them ask any questions about how the business operates, just to get a sense of how do they approach their decision-making process.
Commentary: Garik just talked about defining your mission and the core value. Let’s take a moment here to look at why they’re so important. Well, your mission is critical because you want to not just hire people to do a job. You want to invite people on that mission with you. You want to be clear about what that means. It should have an emotional reaction when you share what your mission is, and people should be connected that mission across the organization. It’s not just at the founder. Everyone in the organization, that is a critical component. Now the second part of that is core values. Now a lot of people will do these on because they’ve read it in a book somewhere and they feel like, you know, it’ll create some kind of structure, but the real key here is great core values that you live by. These values are part of the rituals and interwoven into who you are as an organization. And you do them on a [00:11:00] daily, sometimes weekly basis based on different rituals that allow you to live the values. And everyone knows how to make decisions based on these values. You’re making decisions in alignment with it. And people are promoted and developed and even exited a company because of their alignment to the core values. That’s why it’s so important back to our interview.
Gene Hammett: Love the, that appreciate you sharing that piece, because I think that comes up a lot on this podcast, as it relates to finding the right people. So I want to ask you this, besides hiring people, how do you create the kind of unity and alignment across your team as you guys work on these complex products. And you do it in a lean fashion.
Garik Goldshey: Yeah. There are a lot of different steps there, probably the most important thing is making sure that there’s good communication always. So because we’re remote, we have to fill in a lot of the blanks when it comes to proper FaceTime. We follow kind of. Scaled down version of Kanban which is even more of a scale down version of an agile methodology. All that to say, we make sure to have daily video [00:12:00] check-ins so everyone can see everyone else. Everyone has a chance to go through what they worked on yesterday. What they’re working on today in our weekly team meetings, which are also with video on, we encourage everyone to just share something interesting.
It doesn’t have to be about work. What are they thinking about? And what problems are they having? How was their weekend? Something to just share a little bit of personality to help develop that remote culture. And then probably just as important as anything else is quarterly meetings. And check-ins to make sure we’re hitting our annual goals and having goals for the next year, three years and the tenured overarching goals. So it’s really a lot about deadline management and sending good goals.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. I want to put a spotlight on that personality part because a lot of people think, oh, we’re just so busy. You know, we’re going to make these meetings as short as we possibly can, but you’re adding in there this moment. I don’t know. What is it, you know, three minutes or five minutes or 10 minutes of this personal element what would you share with us? What you’ve learned about doing that over time?
Garik Goldshey: I found that the best authentic responses come when you set an example [00:13:00] at the top. So I’m very forthright. I’ll share a lot of stuff that I’m going through. I encourage folks to do things like take mental health days. If I’m not sort of walking the walk, then no one else is going to want to share anything. So it really does have to start with the, with the exec. I found that when we first started this, you know, a lot of it would not normally be, how was your weekend? What, you know, what did you do? That was an interesting, but every now and then you’ll find a little bit of a Colonel like one member on our team is looking for how for houses in the market right now, it gets really tough. So you get to hear sort of what is her journey. You have other folks pitching in with ideas and tips from their own searches. And you kind of have this natural team cohesion that takes place just by kind of taking a step back and empowering everyone else to feel comfortable sharing.
Commentary: Hold on, Garik just talk about walking the walk, you know that you’ve got to lead by example. That’s another way to talk about walking the walk, but leading by example is not always easy because when you are [00:14:00] really needing to be open and transparent with someone, it takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of confidence that this won’t be used against you. It, it truly will be taken for what it is, is a chance for you to be vulnerable. Be courageous. And walking the walk means that you are not always doing the easy thing. Sometimes it’s the hard thing that you have to do and leadership. This is something that you’ve got to do consistently. If you get out of alignment, you do it sometimes. It just doesn’t have the impact that if you do it all the time, that’s the reason why it’s such an important force inside of your own leadership. If you want to look at anything inside your organization. This is one of the first places to start. Is, are you walking the walk? Are you truly leading by example and being critical with yourself? Where could you do a better job? Where are you truly out of alignment with the words that come out of your mouth versus what’s, you’re actually doing that’s, what’s important? And that’s what people see. They see everything back to the interview.
Gene Hammett: I appreciate your sharing that with me. I’ve seen the power of my own team. We’ve been asking simple questions like, you know, what’s your favorite vacation spot? [00:15:00] What’s, what’s your favorite movie? And I feel like I’m getting to know my people at a much deeper level and it has nothing to do with the work, but we laugh and we connect on these things. It’s been pretty fun.
Garik Goldshey: I think that’s great. I think just any chance to be authentic, you know, at the end of the, at the end of the day, we’re very blessed to be at least for our company. We’re in a space where we can be a little bit more relaxed, we’re not quote unquote saving lives. So especially we don’t have any investors or equity backing. We’re fully bootstrapped. So a lot of the payments and pace of how we run the business, it’s a function of the entire team and what they’re looking for. Every time we add a new person to our team, because we’re so small, it ends up changing and improving what the culture is. And it’s our job as leaders. To kind of nurture that, not try to re replace it or try to kind of dictate the way it shouldn’t be, but have the natural progression of the culture grow and may ensure your vision is still making sense in alignment with what everyone is working towards.
Gene Hammett: I know we could [00:16:00] take this in many different directions. I wouldn’t like to focus on the values of the company. We don’t have to go through the exact values unless you want to, but I want to know how you’re using them because I think a lot of people who say that they are a values-driven organization, I find that they’re using them in unique ways. What would we see across your team?
Garik Goldshey: So we have really four values, but probably the most important value that we try to uphold over. Anything else is this concept of user focus. So what does it mean to be user-focused? It’s really easy to say that. You could apply it to anything, but until you actually take an action, it’s really just words. So the best way we found to encourage good values is to actually prove it. We had an instance recently with one of our client partners, where we stood to lose a lot of money. By doing the right thing. And the only option there was really to do the right thing it wasn’t really much of a conversation. It didn’t have to be a long, difficult decision-making process because our mission states, we have [00:17:00] to be user-focused. So by having that as a core value, it really takes the guesswork out of making that decision. , and it kind of becomes a kind of like. Like a natural step. You don’t even think about it. And I’ve noticed in my own hiring, I start to apply this type of filter. When I’m speaking with potential candidates, I’m looking for keywords to see how have they been user-focused in their own, in their own careers, or in their own lives. Are, will they be able to fit these values versus us trying to, let’s say more a person, which is something I would never encourage someone to, to do.
We try to abide by a simple concept, avoid toxicity, which I think is from the no assholes rule book. But generally, stray value or one person that isn’t on the same page can have the chance to really wreak a lot of havoc. So again, we take the decision-making out of the process and just make sure we align with our vision. Everything kind of falls in place from, from there. It’s probably the hardest part is setting up that [00:18:00] vision.
Gene Hammett: The whole theme of this episode is leading a remote team and I’ve seen values as a very critical function of this because what you’re expecting people to do is to make decisions when you’re not in the room. And when you’re remote, guess what? You’re not in the room that often. And so, if you were talking to a founder about the importance of values and like really living them, not just having them and putting them out there and then, you know, push them aside and get to work, what would you say to that founder?
Garik Goldshey: You gotta be comfortable being uncomfortable. I think I’m generally a pretty reserved person in my personal life, but for the success of my team, I have to be more open with how I share things and how I communicate information. So I found probably the best skill that has helped me is just to really be uncomfortable, honest about things being very transparent. With folks sharing sensitive information that I might deem, you know, a little bit dangerous to share, but I’m creating a level of trust with someone else. Once that trust is in place, it almost [00:19:00] empowers them to want to reciprocate by, you know, going above and beyond and really participating as a true part owner in the company, rather than someone that’s just clocking in, for example.
Gene Hammett: You said it well, Garik, I really appreciate you being here, sharing your wisdom and your journey of leadership.
Garik Goldshey: Awesome, thank you very much. It was a great chance to get to share. And I loved hearing about your journey as well prior to the podcast. I encourage everyone get in touch with Gene that if you haven’t already, he’s got some cool stories.
Gene Hammett: Let me reflect back on what we just heard here because I think the challenges of running and leading a remote team are not new to anyone. And maybe they figure out how do we do this better? What I heard in here is you’ve got to over-communicate, you’ve got to create the kind of rhythm and the cadence inside this. And it may mean you do some things that aren’t logical. Like spending time on personal conversations, getting to know people, also being transparent, and being authentic are not natural to a lot of leaders that are expected to be stoic if you will. I really think that what we talked about hiring the [00:20:00] right people, hiring people that are self-starters great concept for you to understand. And what does it take for you to do that? Well, you understand those values upfront and you hire people that align with the values and one of their values is really this user focus. This is a great example of what does it take to create the kind of unity and alignment across a remote team and specifically leading a remote team for success.
When you think about your own journey as a leader, you probably have some questions, you know, you know that there’s some things that you could work on and improve on my hope is that you’re leaning into those that you’re evolving every day. You’re growing as a person and you’re growing as a leader. And if you do that over time, you’ll see the benefit across the organization. And across yourself too, it’ll change your home life. It’ll change your personal life. It’ll change the way you lead and engage with people. I help people do that all the time. This is my job is to help you really become an extraordinary leader. You’re curious about what that looks like and what does it take? You’ve got to go deep into some of the blind spots into the shadows of who you are to address what’s really going on. That keeps you from being the leader that you could be, [00:21:00] and you don’t have to be overwhelmed. You don’t have to, to lead through burnout. You have to really connect with this deeper sense of your.
My job is at executive coach is to help you that just schedule a call at GeneHammett.com and you can schedule that time with me. It’s not a sales pitch. I promise you it is a chance for you to really, truly get clear about what’s next. And I love to do that for you. If you are listening to this deep into the show.
Garik, thank you for being here and sharing your wisdom. And when you think of growth and you think of leadership, think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. Well, 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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