Transcending Workspace

Transcending Workspace: A Conversation with David Nilssen

December 09, 2021 Apex Facility Resources Season 1 Episode 1
Transcending Workspace
Transcending Workspace: A Conversation with David Nilssen
Show Notes Transcript

Join Matt as he talks with David Nilssen, CEO and Co-Founder of Guidant Financial and Doxa7 about how he has navigated change in the workspace in a dynamic environment, but still maintains the mission and goals of his companies.

David Nilssen is the Co-Founder and CEO of Guidant Financial and Doxa7.  Guidant has helped nearly 25,000 entrepreneurial-minded individuals access 5 billion dollars to start or acquire a small business or franchise. While Doxa7 helps entrepreneurs to build teams leveraging global talent out of places like Vietnam and the Philippines.  And, David currently serves as the Global Learning Chair for the Entrepreneurs Organization worldwide.

Matt Watson, Vice President of Development at Apex Facility Resources, Inc. has dedicated the last 35 years of his career to making the complex simple for his clients. He delivers innovative solutions that support building collaboration, development, and managing change for clients throughout North America. As a single resource partner, Apex provides comprehensive workspace change services to companies during any phase of transition. 

                                                           

00:00:04:04 - 00:00:21:20
Matt
Hi, my name is Matt Watson, I'm with Apex Facility Resources. I've spent the last 40 years working with clients, managing furnishing and re stacking, reorganizing their companies physical work and space environment. Today, we're going to start our hour.

00:00:22:03 - 00:00:40:11
Matt
Let me start over, start over. Sorry, David. No worries to get this thing out of my face here. OK. Hi, my name is Matt Watson. I've spent the last 40 years working with clients, managing, furnishing and relocating their workspace to come to it since to kick it over again.

00:00:40:24 - 00:01:02:05
Matt
Hi, my name is Matt Watson. I've spent the last 40 years working with clients planning, furnishing and managing their workspace in the face of the greatest change in human history. Today, we're kicking off Transcending Workspace, which is a podcast that we started talking about how organizations are adapting to the greatest rate of change in human history.

00:01:03:02 - 00:01:18:19
Matt
And we hope to connect with leaders managing this dynamic environment, what their strategies are to give their company's mission and vision through this great change. Today's guest we have David Neilson, who is the co-founder and CEO of Guidant Financial and DOCSIS seven.

00:01:19:11 - 00:01:42:24
Matt
Guyton has helped nearly 25,000 entrepreneurial minded individuals, exits $5 billion to start or acquire small businesses and franchises. DOCSIS seven helps entrepreneurs to build teams leveraging global talent out of places like Vietnam and the Philippines. David currently serves as the global learning chair for the entrepreneurial organization worldwide.

00:01:43:05 - 00:01:44:17
Matt
Welcome, David Neilson.

00:01:45:15 - 00:01:48:17
David
Thanks, man. Thanks for having me. It's fun to be here with David.

00:01:48:22 - 00:02:01:06
Matt
I think that your story is really interesting, and let's start with the kind of the beginning when you and Jeremy co-founded Guidant. Tell us a little bit how you started the business and kind of how you got to here.

00:02:01:24 - 00:02:15:01
David
Sure. Well, you know, as you said, I started a company back in 2003 called Guidant Financial with the partner Jeremy Ames. Both of us came from different aspects of the real estate industry, and we met through a mutual acquaintance.

00:02:15:01 - 00:02:30:12
David
And at the time I was developing real estate on the peninsula in Bremerton, Washington. So this is when they reactivated the Navy base due to the war on terror. So we were buying up, you know, RA lots and helping to bring in homes to support the lack of infrastructure that they had at the time.

00:02:30:21 - 00:02:45:22
David
Somebody said, I should meet this guy, Jeremy Ames, and we got a chance to connect over coffee. We realized that we both had a passion for this industry, and he was helping investors invest in speculative real estate. And we thought there may be an opportunity to do a deal together.

00:02:45:22 - 00:03:03:03
David
So we sat down with the real estate attorney to structure a deal where we would help bring some investors and we would help to effectively develop some land on behalf of them. And in doing so, this real estate attorney suggested we look at retirement plans as a way to fund this transaction.

00:03:03:14 - 00:03:07:07
Matt
Interesting to fund your own entrepreneurial venture?

00:03:07:21 - 00:03:11:15
David
Well, for actually for these investors that time and funds as investment capital.

00:03:11:23 - 00:03:12:00
Matt
To.

00:03:12:00 - 00:03:20:13
David
Invest in things like real estate. Later, we found out you could do more than just real estate. There was the opportunity invest in tax liens and private mortgages and even small businesses.

00:03:20:14 - 00:03:30:00
Matt
Wow. So it was really just an attorney who brought this up as a way to fund your own entrepreneurial venture that you then find out this is an amazing opportunity.

00:03:30:14 - 00:03:40:23
David
Yeah. Well, it was something that at the time had been primarily reserved for high net worth individuals and really had made its way to Main Street. So it was this emerging opportunity that many people hadn't heard of, including ourselves.

00:03:40:24 - 00:03:52:24
David
And so we actually helped a couple of investors use their retirement funds to invest in real estate, and we were able to turn those properties relatively quickly. And thankfully, those people had lots of friends who wanted to talk to about it.

00:03:52:24 - 00:04:03:18
David
And so next thing you know, my phone is blowing up with people who want me to help them invest their retirement assets in real estate. And that was the early sort of way that we identified there was an opportunity.

00:04:03:18 - 00:04:17:09
David
So we launched the business at that time, focused on real estate. But what was interesting is, as we did, we realized that you could invest in things like your own small business or franchise. And both Jeremy and I loved real estate, but we really more loved the business of real estate.

00:04:17:09 - 00:04:33:18
David
So the idea of helping entrepreneurs find new ways to gain access to capital really exciting for us. So gained eventually evolved. It was originally real estate focused, but you know, because we, you know, we know that about three quarters of the people actually apply for loans from banks get declined.

00:04:33:18 - 00:04:45:24
David
And because about 80% of the small businesses that fail, it can be attributed to a lack of capital. We thought there was a really great opportunity for us to support small businesses by going all in on that particular strategy.

00:04:46:00 - 00:04:56:02
David
So today, the the team at Guidant spends their time helping new entrepreneurs, whether they're buying or starting a business or franchise to get capital so that they can do that.

00:04:56:09 - 00:05:15:18
Matt
Wow. So you start in Bellevue, Washington, you figure out, Hey, I got to hire some people. I need to start creating more or less a business that's going to support these folks who are coming at me with, Hey, I want to invest my my funds in my real estate into not just real estate, but any franchise or

00:05:15:18 - 00:05:27:13
Matt
businesses. I want to build a business with the with the my investment capital. So tell us a little bit about the humble beginnings of your kind of. Your office in Bellevue and how that started?

00:05:28:17 - 00:05:45:08
David
Well, yes, I mean, that's what ended up happening where we launched this business to help individuals use their capital to invest in alternative assets. Now today it's focused primarily on small business, right? But when we started in Bellevue, we decided, hey, we needed to find an office space.

00:05:45:12 - 00:05:45:19
Matt
Yeah.

00:05:46:02 - 00:06:00:08
David
And like most entrepreneurs, we re, you know, we I should say, at least in our case, we bootstrapped the business. So we started with our own capital. We never raised any. We didn't take on any debt. Yeah, we just launched the business and let it organically grow over time.

00:06:01:12 - 00:06:14:02
David
And as you said in the intro, we've done done that very well. I mean, today we still have the same shareholder base and we've helped put nearly $5 billion to work in about 25,000 small businesses across the US. But we've had to have an office that we actually did.

00:06:14:02 - 00:06:30:08
David
What what did we sublease? We found somebody who had and, you know, got themselves into lease and did it for whatever reason that was and we took that thing over and sort of moved in to this, this office space that was far from perfect because not by someone totally different.

00:06:30:23 - 00:06:32:19
David
I mean, people.

00:06:32:19 - 00:06:45:11
Matt
Just bring on, get into their businesses and they take on leases with furnished space and then they grow into it organically and then say, Oh, then they started altering that space to make it work for them. And that's probably what you wound up doing.

00:06:45:15 - 00:06:52:09
Matt
I know you and I connected through EO, but I don't know 15 years ago, 20 years ago. I don't know David.

00:06:53:01 - 00:06:54:15
David
I got I got gray.

00:06:54:16 - 00:07:11:16
Matt
I know, I know. And you got you got a little gray, too. So anyways, but the fantastic experience we had with working with you is we wound up connecting with you as you were growing out of your space and you were taking that next step that leap into a much larger activity movie twice.

00:07:11:16 - 00:07:28:11
Matt
I can't remember, but I know the last space we moved in was 10,000 feet class-A space downtown Bellevue, right along the 405, and it was quite an expensive venture. I mean, we installed over 100 workstations and had a fairly high density there.

00:07:29:06 - 00:07:40:16
David
Yeah, it was. That was an important route for us, actually, because actually you guys moved us twice the first time. It's 10,000. The second time was, I think, 16. Oh, is that since? Got it? Yeah. So it was it was a it was a big space.

00:07:40:16 - 00:07:53:05
David
I mean, for us, you know, I think back of our first two or three offices, which were all sublease as we moved, I think, five times in the first five years. So that just tells you, you know, we really didn't know how fast we would grow and we get like a rocket ship.

00:07:53:10 - 00:08:00:20
David
But the time we started to get a little bit better handle on our growth, we had to go into a place and make it our own because we kept moving to these office spaces that were, remember the first one?

00:08:00:20 - 00:08:10:22
David
I think we had 15 or 16 people in there and there was 20 offices. There was no collaboration space. It wasn't open at all. It felt like you just went into a place that you had rented your own private office.

00:08:11:18 - 00:08:19:19
David
And so by the time you guys came on board and I remember you sat down with us and you're like, Well, what's the experience you want to create? And I never really thought about office space from that standpoint.

00:08:20:02 - 00:08:37:14
David
And we designed this really open collaborative concept with lots of places for people to just have what I would call these drive by meetings and collaboration sessions out in the open and not behind closed, you know, closed doors, which was, I think, a little bit ahead of the time, the first time that you helped us work through

00:08:37:14 - 00:08:39:23
David
that. Yeah. And I think that the hard part.

00:08:39:24 - 00:08:56:16
Matt
Is when you're trying to gauge as a business owner how quickly you're going to grow. And the real estate is a finite resource. Once you invest into a lease, you're set for a certain period of time. And those two things are always out of alignment in a very fast growing environment like you've always had at your, you

00:08:56:16 - 00:09:12:02
Matt
know, kind of confronted. And so you and Jeremy learned very early on how to kind of navigate change and bring change in and probably were a bit immune to the effects of change, meaning a lot of people get bummed out, get threatened.

00:09:12:24 - 00:09:16:17
Matt
They fear change. It sounds like you and Jeremy learned how to embrace it.

00:09:17:12 - 00:09:37:05
David
Well, it's actually one of our values. So our our overarching values are paced and we call it paced. It's passive. It's passion, adaptability, community excellence and diversity and adaptability is a big one. So we always say, like, look, we have to be part of driving change because that is the only thing that is for certain in our

00:09:37:05 - 00:09:51:02
David
business is that things are going to evolve. And so it's one of the things that we look for when we hire people is to make sure that they they know and understand that early, that they've demonstrated the ability to sort of roll with the punches because we never know how the market's going to adapt.

00:09:51:02 - 00:09:59:15
David
And as a business, we just have to be a adaptable organism and not one that's resistant to change. And so, yeah, yeah, it's just part of our DNA.

00:09:59:20 - 00:10:12:10
Matt
Yeah. And I say the same about Apex. We've learned a lot from working with clients like guidance because I mean, when we were working with you on the last space that we put you in before the last big change, we're going to talk about it here in a minute.

00:10:13:18 - 00:10:36:11
Matt
We were really engaged in trying to figure out how to connect teams and culturally attuned our organization to meeting rhythm and. I know there's a lot of benefit with the oh to what's his name, wrote the book, and he has the amazing book around how to really create meeting rhythms within each team and then within the organization

00:10:36:12 - 00:10:51:17
Matt
so that we stay connected and we had the privilege you come to. You're all hands meetings where the culture you would get together and you would acknowledge you would share news. It was a great opportunity for the teams to step up and speak as well, which I also thought was really an interesting aspect.

00:10:51:17 - 00:11:03:21
Matt
Tell us a little bit about how that evolved and kind of we'll start talking about what your next step, which I think another really interesting part of what your story is is where you've gone in the last, say, three to four years.

00:11:04:11 - 00:11:12:16
David
Yeah. So when you say expand upon that, are you talking about sort of how we think about the communication rhythms within the BSO? So how you.

00:11:12:22 - 00:11:24:23
Matt
You connected this organization in one big space where people could see each other face to face? It's completely different. Well, very different than what has happened over the last two years where all of us have had to adjust for the pandemic.

00:11:25:07 - 00:11:36:14
Matt
However, you guys started adjusting before the pandemic in terms of how you were seeing your workforce and how you were going to actually globally. You were starting to look globally at your workforce, but you had.

00:11:36:14 - 00:11:38:09
David
This really connected culture.

00:11:38:14 - 00:11:40:17
Matt
Face to face culture before all this.

00:11:40:22 - 00:11:41:09
David
How did you.

00:11:41:09 - 00:11:53:03
Matt
Evolve from there into the next steps? And let's talk about the next steps that you've taken in the last three years, going overseas and working with outsourcing solutions and how you've created another business around that?

00:11:53:21 - 00:12:08:05
David
Yeah, totally. So well, let me first start. There's a place in our old office. You guys helped us create a what I would call the interview room at the front of the office space, and we used to have this, this big word, all that was laminated right on the wall.

00:12:08:06 - 00:12:17:09
David
It was all these words that our company, our team members, had said about our culture, and it was sent out at one point from the marketing team, said, you know, give us three words that best define the guide and culture.

00:12:17:09 - 00:12:30:02
David
And then they sort of ranked all those and put them into a word own, as you know, and word rolls or word clouds. They prioritize the size of the words based on how many times I've said, and the number one and two words that were said were family and fun.

00:12:30:12 - 00:12:44:14
David
So to your point, we built this great culture. You know, it was. It was, but it was. It was based around this centralized office concept. Everybody came to work and was there five days a week. So it was really easy because we had management by site.

00:12:44:14 - 00:12:54:04
David
There was a lot of opportunities from around the water cooler to stop in and check in on people. And so it was a very, very connected culture. In one way, you know that that earned us best places to work many, many times.

00:12:54:24 - 00:13:15:13
David
But in 2015, 2016, we started to notice what I would call little splinters. We're starting to show up. Traffic had gotten awful. I remember one point talking to somebody who was commuting more than an hour and a half each way for their jobs or spending three hours a day on the road, which to me, it's really hard

00:13:15:13 - 00:13:29:05
David
to justify. You know, we we were struggling. You know, we are a service based organization means we deployed a tremendous amount of people to provide the services that we have. And in 2015 2016, the 15 dollar minimum wages catching fire.

00:13:29:05 - 00:13:46:21
David
You've got, you know, CEOs coming out saying they're raising the minimum wage even higher than that. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Costco. I mean, all these massive companies are gobbling up talent. So this talent scarcity scarcity issue that we're struggling with today, nationally is something that's been affecting Seattle for years.

00:13:46:21 - 00:14:01:20
David
Yeah. So, yeah, so to answer your question, we decided at that point we had to think about other ways to find talent and tap into new talent pool. So we often opened an office in Boise and that came about because we were looking for places that had a lower cost of.

00:14:02:11 - 00:14:03:06
Matt
Living labor.

00:14:03:06 - 00:14:20:06
David
But a significantly lower cost of living, one that was close to a, you know, airports and colleges and had the amenities and all those things that we needed for to have a productive workforce. Yeah, but we also did go offshore, and at that point we looked at places like Vietnam and Manila as opportunities, and we originally we

00:14:20:07 - 00:14:28:07
David
actually went to Vietnam first, and that really helped us in terms of recruiting additional engineering talent. But we also did you start in engineering.

00:14:28:07 - 00:14:38:08
Matt
And that was your first position that you were like, Hey, we need to grow our engineering team. We don't really have a lot of engineers at the time and you said, let's do it overseas versus do it domestically.

00:14:38:10 - 00:14:39:09
Matt
Is that how it went?

00:14:39:13 - 00:14:49:22
David
Not a great question. So I'm going to be really clear. Our strategy with offshore talent has never been to reduce onshore talent, always been a growth strategy for you.

00:14:49:23 - 00:14:54:05
Matt
You didn't have them to begin with. So you were saying which direction will it go? You were at a fork in the road?

00:14:54:09 - 00:15:04:16
David
No, we had. We had a full engineering team here, but we knew we had to make more lessons and technology. But unfortunately, we were in a place where that would not have been the responsible way for us to grow.

00:15:04:17 - 00:15:18:17
David
So we didn't eliminate jobs here, but we added jobs along the way there and allowed us to scale more effectively from that standpoint. And so that's all. That's how we always looked at it. It's a chance for us to lift up both the workers here and abroad.

00:15:18:17 - 00:15:37:09
David
So when we create teams offshore, we have to then build additional supervisor. City and up level, the talent onshore shore for us to be able to make that work. So it's been it's been a fantastic strategy for us and today actually about a third of our workforce is offshore with about a 200 people total and all of

00:15:37:09 - 00:15:39:02
David
them are offshore. So two 200.

00:15:39:03 - 00:15:46:19
Matt
People total, 60 of them offshore. And in what countries are you currently offshore working? Is it primarily so? Yes.

00:15:47:03 - 00:16:00:23
David
The Philippines is where the super majority of our people are, and then we still have our engineering team in Vietnam, Vietnam and the other was great because we could find really skilled labor wasn't just assistance because you hear this a lot of times people talk about offshoring and it's just the administrative work that they don't want to

00:16:00:24 - 00:16:17:23
David
pay for here. And so they send it off to a more cost effective geography. But we are finding everything from accountants to sales development reps to marketing automation specialists, project managers, software engineers about any skilled labor role that you can think of can be done offshore.

00:16:17:24 - 00:16:28:22
David
We just happen to like the Philippines because it aligns with our service based culture. That's an English speaking organism that's very soft or neutral accent. Yeah, it's an English, the first their first language over.

00:16:28:22 - 00:16:30:17
Matt
Then consider that.

00:16:31:09 - 00:16:47:04
David
It is an English speaking country. You know, they have their the the original language. There's Tagalog, but super-majority people there speak English and the accent is neutral. So it's a great place for voice roles and and the cost benefits are significant.

00:16:47:17 - 00:16:48:10
David
So talk a little.

00:16:48:10 - 00:16:57:17
Matt
Bit about so you've talked about the transition where you where you saw the fork in the road where you had to grow more and you looked at the options of growth and that's where it took you offshore a little bit.

00:16:57:23 - 00:17:17:03
Matt
But talk about making this change from Bellevue, Washington right along, by the way, 405, which is one of the top five worst traffic freeways in the country. People don't realize this Thursday afternoon 4:30 is the worst, like the third worst place to be in the country, traffic wise.

00:17:17:10 - 00:17:30:20
Matt
So, yeah, no kidding. On the traffic, we've had the same problems with cost of living, pushing our teams further out and having this all this massive problem. So talk about Boise and what that transition has been like, and you, your family and Jeremy's family have both moved out there.

00:17:30:20 - 00:17:43:21
David
So I mean, the Seattle market is a tough market to do business in today, and it's one that that we, you know, we still have guidance. If you look at where we have the most number of people in any one location, it's still Washington.

00:17:43:21 - 00:18:01:20
David
So we have a great team here. But it's not a place where aggressively growing because of all the things you just said. It's hard. There are a lot of places where we think there are additional opportunities that we can expand to that that are best for all parties that jump to Boise is gone very, very well.

00:18:01:20 - 00:18:15:18
David
We found great talent, but as a as a result of having now two offices and at the time it was really Seattle and Boise. We've now opened up a new office in the Philippines. We've got these sort of pockets of concentration are happening everywhere.

00:18:16:01 - 00:18:33:20
David
We've gone from fully centralized to now, completely decentralized, and so we've had to invest a lot more in what you were talking about earlier. And that is the business rhythms, how we plan, how we communicate, how information cascades down throughout the organization, how we think about developing culture.

00:18:33:20 - 00:18:47:09
David
I mean, we had to really reinvent all of this and we were starting that reinvention before COVID. And that just, you know, decimated that work and sort of through lighter fluid on one side decelerating into a more flexible and remote workforce.

00:18:47:09 - 00:18:48:02
David
Unbelievable.

00:18:48:03 - 00:19:02:12
Matt
And I think that this, you know, CEOs and those who run organizations listen to you now are going well. He's gone off shore with part of his growth and he's gone to Boise in search of talent and lower commutes and better cost of living for his other part.

00:19:02:16 - 00:19:18:06
Matt
But how does he how does he kind of control? Has there? Is there a hub? And it sounds like there's spokes here. You know, Boise, there sounds like an existence. Still, there's still some people in in the local Seattle or Bellevue, Seattle, Bellevue market are the folks in Bellevue working from home primarily then.

00:19:18:12 - 00:19:19:19
Matt
Is it a hybrid environment?

00:19:19:22 - 00:19:20:09
David
Yeah, great.

00:19:20:19 - 00:19:21:02
Matt
Yeah.

00:19:21:08 - 00:19:35:07
David
Well, so COVID, we're in a really interesting time for guidance because when COVID hit in 2020, it aligned with our office leases expiring. So good. So we were all remote. We have full remote and we're still full remote today.

00:19:35:07 - 00:19:53:20
David
I mean, intolerant, less COVID is off the radar. We don't want to be obligating ourselves to office space and have to pay for something that we may not be able to utilize. And so right now we are, you know, between DOCSIS seven and Guidance Financial, we've got 350 people across the world that are in a fully remote

00:19:53:20 - 00:20:01:02
David
environment and have been for almost two years, so we've had to reinvent everything along the way. And so how you connected the.

00:20:01:02 - 00:20:19:10
Matt
Dots on just I mean, there's a lot of concern around people, around organizations culture, whether it was before was this connected culture with drive bys and people with invasion inside. But now it's hey, people working remotely. And there's the, you know, obviously the don't pick up all the body language on the on the Zoom calls and all

00:20:19:10 - 00:20:31:15
Matt
that kind of stuff. So how do you guys how do you change gears so that it's. Now it's got to be different. Maybe not perfect. Maybe there's a struggle there, which is a health and struggle, but what is that like?

00:20:31:15 - 00:20:40:19
Matt
What's it? What's it going away and what are your what's your line of thought? What's your strategy and tactics to keep people connected and have a culture now that we're completely remote and all over the world?

00:20:41:04 - 00:21:00:06
David
Yeah, yeah. Well, the good news is COVID forced everybody into the same situation. So our team is giving us a lot of grace if we as we've sort of fumbled through all of this. Yeah. You know, we were on the path to being what I would call a hybrid organization where we had, you know, a central headquarters

00:21:00:06 - 00:21:18:19
David
and we had maybe a couple of small satellite offices. But that sort of blew up that strategy and forces into a forward more remote world. Right. Right now, actually, I think we've been relatively effective. You know, the things that we've done that I think that have really helped is one we implemented iOS, which is is a method

00:21:18:19 - 00:21:33:02
David
of operating a business there. Scale up, there's iOS, there's one, there's many others, but we put us in place. It gives us a predictable process for planning so that everybody sort of understands what our priorities are, what we're working on, what we're working towards.

00:21:33:19 - 00:21:45:17
David
You know, it helps us cascade information throughout the organization. We that weekly stand up that you referred to earlier, we now are doing in a virtual environment. But to your point, you have to work so much harder in person.

00:21:46:09 - 00:22:02:05
David
They can read your body language. They can sort of sense your authenticity. It's easier to be engaged when you're in person, but when you're remote, it's easy to be distracted by what's going on your computer, your emails coming through, or you're not feeling the energy of the room, you're not next to your peers.

00:22:02:12 - 00:22:14:08
David
So we had to work much harder in improving the production value of that time together. And then to your point, you know, I don't think being in an office is bad, and I don't think being fully remote is bad.

00:22:15:03 - 00:22:33:04
David
I think they can both work. But what's really hard is going from one to the other. So all of our practices were built on being in-person to gather and and we're having to sort of work through that. So at this point, to answer your question that we're not even 100% sure what our strategy is going to be

00:22:33:04 - 00:22:34:08
David
when COVID lifts.

00:22:34:17 - 00:22:35:05
Matt
We are, we.

00:22:35:05 - 00:22:44:09
David
Are we are in that place where, you know, we're still trying to contemplate whether or not we want to be a full remote environment or a hybrid. What we know is that we're not going to be centralized anymore.

00:22:44:17 - 00:23:00:19
David
We've got people and I think 16 states now it's impossible to think about being going back to a centralized operation. The question will be how we think about in the future. And some of the things that we're talking about right now would be like should we have a semiannual meeting twice a year, which would be people get

00:23:00:19 - 00:23:04:01
David
together for a big guidant or doctor convention?

00:23:05:05 - 00:23:07:18
Matt
Should we? That's a great idea. I love it. Yeah.

00:23:07:21 - 00:23:19:08
David
Well, I love the idea, too. But as you know, it's a massive expense. I was doing the math on this and the cost of us having the office space in Bellevue. Obviously, that's a significant savings, not having that anymore.

00:23:19:19 - 00:23:28:07
David
But to bring 200 people to one location even for three or four days at one time is about a third of the cost for a year's worth of office.

00:23:28:08 - 00:23:28:23
Matt
And this is.

00:23:29:10 - 00:23:30:00
David
Everybody should.

00:23:30:00 - 00:23:45:18
Matt
Know that David is a renowned learning chair of the global is a global seat on that EO globally, and he runs global e-learning and is learning. Events are amazing and his gatherings are amazing. So you would not have to ask something like that, I guess.

00:23:46:01 - 00:23:57:09
David
Well, that's true. That's true. I might have maybe a little bit more discerning eye than some might. Yeah, I mean, honestly, even when I run the math, we're doing it in places like Las Vegas, which is not an it was not a an expensive place to travel.

00:23:57:09 - 00:24:09:11
David
It's built for conventions. We've talked about it in Boise, Idaho and Phenix, Arizona. Like the place that we're not talking about going to the, you know, to L.A. or New York or places like that. And it's still a significant investment.

00:24:09:11 - 00:24:17:06
David
And then the amount of time and energy it takes to put one of those things on is huge. So these are all the trade offs that we're sort of thinking through in the moment. So connecting the culture, so.

00:24:17:06 - 00:24:27:18
Matt
What does it feel like now? And if you're at a you're like an eight or nine, never perfect, never a ten, but out of one to ten scale of cultural connection where you were in Bellevue, you're maybe seven to nine.

00:24:28:05 - 00:24:29:12
David
Where do you how do you.

00:24:29:12 - 00:24:32:06
Matt
Feel like you're connected now organizationally?

00:24:33:06 - 00:24:47:09
David
You know, so we survey our team quarterly now because we're really trying to keep a pulse on what's happening underneath the hood. And the scores today would tell us that we're doing just as good as we did before, although and I'll I'll I'll preface this.

00:24:47:15 - 00:24:57:07
David
So, you know, we ask, like, how effective do you think you are working from home on a scale of one to five? And right now we're in the 4.5 range of work from home effect. So 90%, that's pretty good.

00:24:57:24 - 00:25:13:02
David
How connected you feel to your team are very similar in how connected you feel your supervisor is to you and to your work is very similar. So we feel like we're performing in a really good place. But but there are a couple of places where real challenges, I think, are starting to boil up every well, I shouldn't

00:25:13:02 - 00:25:25:08
David
say every about two thirds to three quarters of our team signed up under the premise that they were going to get to go to an office. Now some of them are glad to be in a room. World right now, or at least a flexible world.

00:25:25:17 - 00:25:35:19
David
But there are some that are, if we don't go to an office, are likely to turn over as a result. We also have this if we go back to an office, others will turn over because they like working from home.

00:25:35:19 - 00:25:46:02
David
And so I think there's this, this real interesting place that every employer is going to be at, which is like, I just got to do what's best for the business and just recognize that there is going to be turnover as a result, regardless, regardless.

00:25:46:13 - 00:25:58:16
David
Yeah. The other things are, though I talked about earlier cultural connection, family and fun used to be our culture. Our whole culture was defined on this in-person human connection. And so that is something that we have to really think about.

00:25:58:23 - 00:26:17:15
David
Yeah. Managed by site or management, by site, as we call it, that no longer exists. So everybody in the company has to have a number and not every role is in a production role. So how do you how do you measure people like marketing who are supporting acquisition to fulfillment to customer success, right?

00:26:18:06 - 00:26:19:20
David
It's really hard to do that.

00:26:20:00 - 00:26:39:03
Matt
Yeah, it's created so many. What we find is knowledge transfer because in our business is to learn by doing business. We don't personally, you know, at 40 years of doing this, I mean, we look at somebody just starting out raw, coming into our organization and sales or some other position in sales, especially, it takes probably five years

00:26:39:03 - 00:26:43:17
Matt
to start to understand the nuance of our of our organization, in our business and how we transact.

00:26:43:24 - 00:26:51:07
David
How do you manage just, you know, the onboarding new people and kind of getting them up to speed?

00:26:51:07 - 00:26:57:11
Matt
I mean, how is that transparent? I mean, I'm sure you've got a lot of things in place for that, but it's probably a big task.

00:26:57:13 - 00:27:14:10
David
Well, we're getting better at it. I would say that probably like most of the people, they're going to listen to this podcast. When we hired somebody historically, ride alongs was the no way to train ride. You just sit next to a watch, ask questions and learn that does not exist in a remote world.

00:27:14:10 - 00:27:29:10
David
It's nearly impossible. And so we had to redefine it. I mean, right now we're, you know, we're building onboarding assets in a digital environment. So when we're doing trainings, we're actually recording that and be able to use that transcription and actually build official training documentation.

00:27:29:10 - 00:27:43:21
David
Eventually, there will be an element in place so that they're sort of like this guidance university for training and onboarding, because the way that we used to do it is just not going to be possible and that's going to be true, whether we're in a remote environment or we're in a hybrid environment, because then in a hybrid

00:27:43:21 - 00:27:58:24
David
environment, you're still going to have so many people that are outside of wherever that corporate headquarters is. So I do think training and development is a place that all of your clients or a lot of your clients and a lot of the small businesses that I serve going to have to spend a tremendous amount of time today

00:27:58:24 - 00:28:11:21
David
because Kobe basically broke down all of these barriers. The world isn't remote now that local mode that we used to enjoy being in Seattle or Boise, we're like, Oh, you know, because we're here, we have a competitive advantage for recruiting that doesn't exist anymore.

00:28:11:21 - 00:28:15:05
David
The whole thing evaporated. No, everybody, including me, is recruiting in your backyard.

00:28:15:10 - 00:28:19:06
Matt
Exactly. And that's a huge benefit. And so.

00:28:19:11 - 00:28:19:16
David
Let's.

00:28:19:16 - 00:28:22:19
Matt
Talk consequences because we're getting close to the end of our time together.

00:28:23:05 - 00:28:24:20
David
So tell me about the.

00:28:24:20 - 00:28:40:05
Matt
Unintended consequences of some of the efforts that you've made, both in offshoring as well as movement to Boise. I know you spoke of a few that you've kind of said, Hey, you know, it feels like people who have come to work for us understand that it's a remote work.

00:28:40:05 - 00:28:51:07
Matt
But also there are people who have come with the anticipating working in the office with folks in the office. What are the other unintended consequences? Do you think you'll face going forward with some of the decisions that you're going to have to make?

00:28:51:07 - 00:28:56:01
Matt
And what are maybe some of those big decisions that you're sitting right now, you know, kind of struggling with?

00:28:56:24 - 00:29:08:17
David
Well, I think we've covered a lot of I mean, there, I think because we're still in the middle of COVID, because restrictions still exist in so many places in both the U.S. and internationally. People are still giving us a lot of grace, right?

00:29:08:18 - 00:29:23:14
David
All of us as employers. I haven't yet met somebody who just has the strategy 100% nailed unless they were already remote beforehand, right? And so there's so many of us that I think have been given a lot of grace and rightfully so, and thankfully from our team members.

00:29:24:18 - 00:29:42:21
David
That being said, I think how we think about building culture, especially connection among team members like the whole concept of team and camaraderie is really important because, you know, previous to COVID, some of the things that I had heard and seen, you know, validated over and over again as people leave companies because of their manager.

00:29:42:24 - 00:29:58:23
David
Right? And so how does that manager build relationships and and effectively support and manage individuals in a virtual environment? The second is, though people typically stay because they feel like they have a best friend. How do you create best friends if you never meet everyone?

00:29:59:01 - 00:30:14:23
David
Right. And so that's something we have to really, really think about. The other is then if you go to a hybrid environment, which I think is likely to be the case, so many people have gone full remote. And I think what you'll find is, I think at some point would say, you know what, actually what I'm finding

00:30:15:15 - 00:30:24:05
David
, I won't talk for other people. What I'm finding is when it comes to pure execution, being remote is very, very efficient. Yeah. When we. The collaboration.

00:30:24:15 - 00:30:27:05
Matt
It's earning harder onboarding all the yeah.

00:30:27:06 - 00:30:41:15
David
Yeah, anything, the collaboration is more challenging in a remote environment, and anything that requires production is actually easier in a remote environment, assuming your team has the environment at home and the space that they can use to do that effectively.

00:30:41:17 - 00:30:51:07
Matt
So one last little plug for docs is sudden. We're excited about that. We're actually looking at that for some positions at Apex. Tell us more about what I mean. You must be on fire with that.

00:30:52:07 - 00:31:09:19
David
Well, Yankovic certainly has given it a tailwind. I never really talked about the the reason why we got into that. But you know, as we talked about the talent, we decided long ago that if we're going to manage people from Seattle in places like Florida and Atlanta and other states, then what would be the difference in managing

00:31:09:19 - 00:31:20:14
David
them offshore? What we found is that we just we could find highly skilled, high quality individuals. And what we did is we started taking some of the things that we do here in the U.S. and applied those to our work there.

00:31:20:14 - 00:31:31:12
David
So example sort of leveraging assessments so that we're looking at both their skill set but also their natural wiring to put them in roles where they are wired naturally to do that successfully over a long period of time.

00:31:31:12 - 00:31:53:02
David
And we sort of leveraging some of the remote management tools that we began building here, those capabilities that we can be a flexible or remote employer without compromising data or security. And then we started leveraging things like RPA robotic process automation for process mapping and process optimization tasks costing so that we can improve the benefits well beyond

00:31:53:02 - 00:32:04:15
David
cost arbitrage. And then, you know. But basically, what ended up happening is we were starting to make have some success doing this, and I was starting to get referred through EO and some of the startup community there. Interesting.

00:32:04:18 - 00:32:19:04
David
When you show them what you're doing, can you know? Yeah, can you talk to this person about how you built these and other guidance startups? Well, and because in general, it's an acceptable standard that 40% turnover occurs annually, which means your average person last two years.

00:32:19:10 - 00:32:29:14
David
Right? I can't. I can't even train and onboard someone to proficiency in less than a year. So to have them turn over a year later is a waste. We've been we've seen less than 10% turnover since we've been doing this over five years.

00:32:29:14 - 00:32:39:19
David
And so eventually I just realized we were doing things unique in the market and we had something that could really help small and medium sized businesses who are sort of overlooked by the industry in general.

00:32:39:20 - 00:32:41:02
Matt
We're a classic example of that.

00:32:41:08 - 00:32:42:20
David
You know, we're actually so perfect.

00:32:42:20 - 00:32:53:01
Matt
Size for that. So, David, I know that's a rabbit hole. We're going to need to go down. We're going to hopefully have you back. We really appreciate the time you've shared. Thank you for coming and helping us kick off our podcast.

00:32:53:02 - 00:33:10:13
Matt
You are a special man, and I really appreciate it. So thank you again for all the time you shared and for all those listening, you know, transcending workspaces is going to evolve and change and transcend as we go, so we'll definitely have David back and look forward to next time.

00:33:10:20 - 00:33:12:08
David
Thanks. Thanks for having me on. This was a lot of fun.