The last Spartan Race Jeff Wald participated in included two barbed wire crawls. Despite snow still being on the ground, the obstacles are mandatory to complete. The slopes take no prisoners.
“It’s a quarter of a mile. Specifically done in an area that’s covered in gravel,” he explained.
“There’s a lot of distance between you and the other runners but when you get to the barbed wire crawl, it becomes a huge bottleneck. Limbs are hitting you. There are sprinklers. You’re bleeding, and there’s the guy who tries to power pass you.”
You are literally clawing through snow, mud, and rocks with blood on your fingers just trying to get the next inch so you can get out.
The indescribable mental strength and drive necessary to complete the crawl is similar to the grit required to launch and scale a successful business.
In the words of my friend Adam Liebman: “It separates the best from the very good.”
In the five months since Jeff’s last 33voices episode, Work Market has grown from 50 to 100 team members. Their latest challenge is answering the question: “How do we get all of these people indoctrinated into our culture, our way of working, and our processes?”
The company’s exceptional growth is a critical inflection point for Jeff.
The overwhelming thought I have is: ‘Wow, that’s a lot of people who’s livelihood depend on decisions I make.’
In today’s featured episode, Jeff shares the delegation, onboarding, and intentional meeting strategy he’s using to set and scale the company’s vision.
Read on for a glimpse of our conversation and tune into Jeff’s full episode here.
Delegation is not an option.
Despite wanting to contribute to each decision made at your company there comes a time when you have no choice but to let go.
“There are certain things you have to give up and have confidence in your team,” Jeff asserted.
Constantly remind yourself that an inability to delegate will stifle your entire organization’s success.
“As the company gets bigger my time is more valuable if spent in front of a customer, a recruit, or an investor, not sitting in my office for two days working on a budget. Other people can do it incredibly well and in some cases better than I can.”
It becomes a question of how to allocate your resources to the area where they are going to add the most value to the company.
Always iterate your onboarding process.
It’s no secret that scaling your team is one of the most significant ways to scale your organization. However, your headcount is meaningless if your team members don’t have a clear understanding of your goals.
One thing is definitely clear, and that is that everyone here has the same goal: To increase the value of this company as quickly and as sustainably as possible.
Hiring fantastic individuals is one challenge, authentically introducing them to your culture is another.
As a founder or team leader, you need to be confident that your new team members “know exactly what you are doing, where you’ve been and where you’re going.”
The Work Market team uses their own learning management software to educate new team members on company policies, processes, and procedures.
Each employee watches a series of videos, answers questions, and completes tasks like spending time with Jeff, to finish the program.
Set intentions at the start.
Jeff asks every team member who enters his office to set an intention for the meeting by asking: What is your goal?
Next, he asks them what type of conversation they want to have.
These are the four types.
- An action conversation: There is a distinct goal that needs to be accomplished as a result of this meeting. For example, after your time together you should achieve a specific task by a certain time. Action meetings are Jeff’s favorite.
- An idea conversation: The two of you can whiteboard an idea, challenge your beliefs, and reach an outcome that is owned by everyone.
- A venting conversation: We all need emotional support and guidance to which Jeff says, Come on in!
- A relationship conversation: The two of you have no goal other than to improve your relationship.
Once they answer those questions, the two of them can shape the conversation to achieve their goal in under 30 minutes. Jeff even has a timer that buzzes and lights up to optimize for efficiency.
“If you can’t accomplish what you want to say in half an hour I’m struggling to understand what you will accomplish in a longer period,” he reflected.
The core insight to remember is: You cannot help your team members unless you know what their goals are.
Find a true mentor.
While Jeff has immeasurable respect for time and conversations shared with his team and investors, the most influential decision he’s made this year is working with Jonathan Shapiro, his professional coach.
It’s important that founders have an unbiased mentor who isn’t directly influenced by his or her success. To clarify, despite possessing genuine intentions investors have a monetary interest in your company succeeding. You need to find someone who has a clear distinction between your success and the company’s success.
Shapiro is purely focused on Jeff’s goals and provides him unbiased frameworks for making decisions.
I can’t explain how immeasurably I have benefitted as a manager and professional because of his guidance. I’m at a point where I won’t make a decision until I talk to him.
Their time together has given Jeff the ability to separate his personal goals from Work Market’s goal, which similar to most founders; he viewed as one.
“I always thought that my only goal was Work Market’s goal. The reality is that there is a divergence of the two…You can’t scale what you were doing the first two years – Waking up at 2 and 3 in the morning and impacting relationships – to the detriment of your health.”
To gain deeper insight into how Jeff’s navigating this phase of his evolution as a founder, including additional tips on mentorship and angel investing, tune into his interview and follow him on Twitter to stay up to date with his writing on the freelance economy and Donald Trump.