Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce

David Glick Chief Technology Officer of FLEXE

December 21, 2020 Alcott Global Season 1 Episode 48
Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce
David Glick Chief Technology Officer of FLEXE
Chapters
Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce
David Glick Chief Technology Officer of FLEXE
Dec 21, 2020 Season 1 Episode 48
Alcott Global

David Glick is the CTO of on-demand warehousing and fulfillment company, FLEXE. He's responsible for the design and development of the FLEXE Technology Platform. Before FLEXE, he spent nearly 20 years at Amazon, including five years as the VP of Fulfillment Technology, where he oversaw the development and functionality of the technology within Amazon's fulfillment centers, as well as the technology for Amazon's transportation systems.

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • [05:20] Working with clients like Walmart
  • [10:19] Engineers working from the warehouse floor – take your engineers close to the pain points 
  • [14:54] Recognizing heroes who prepare – so that on peak season you don’t need to firefight 
  • [16:13] Hurricane Heroes – case study 
  • [20:17] Jump In and Running Towards the Fire – FLEXE Culture
  • [31:50] Career advice: Solve problems for your boss!

Follow us on:
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Twitter: http://bit.ly/2WeulzX
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Show Notes Transcript

David Glick is the CTO of on-demand warehousing and fulfillment company, FLEXE. He's responsible for the design and development of the FLEXE Technology Platform. Before FLEXE, he spent nearly 20 years at Amazon, including five years as the VP of Fulfillment Technology, where he oversaw the development and functionality of the technology within Amazon's fulfillment centers, as well as the technology for Amazon's transportation systems.

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • [05:20] Working with clients like Walmart
  • [10:19] Engineers working from the warehouse floor – take your engineers close to the pain points 
  • [14:54] Recognizing heroes who prepare – so that on peak season you don’t need to firefight 
  • [16:13] Hurricane Heroes – case study 
  • [20:17] Jump In and Running Towards the Fire – FLEXE Culture
  • [31:50] Career advice: Solve problems for your boss!

Follow us on:
Instagram: http://bit.ly/2Wba8v7
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2WeulzX
Linkedin: http://bit.ly/2w9YSQX
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2HtryLd

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the leaders in tech and e-commerce podcast. I am your host, Andrew Palomar , and I am the APEC director for ELCA global executive search. Our mission is to connect the tech and supply chain and e-commerce ecosystem in Asia and globally by bringing forward some of the most interesting stories about success and failure from leaders in the industry. It is great to have with us today. David Glick, David is the CTO of on demand warehousing and fulfillment company. Plex is responsible for the design and development of the flex technology platform before flex. He spent nearly 20 years at Amazon, including five years as the VP of fulfillment technology, where he oversaw the development and functionality of the technology with Amazon's fulfillment centers, as well as the technology from Amazon's transportation systems. Please enjoy our conversation, David. Hello, and it's a pleasure to have you on the podcast today.

Speaker 2:

Great to be here. Good to see you.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. So as we usually do, just to set the scene, it would be great to have a short introduction and better understand your career path so far. Maybe the big milestones of it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Thanks. I could talk about this all day, but I'll try to keep it short. Yeah . Yeah. I started at Amazon in 1998 as a junior project manager and it, and it turns out I was a short guy on the totem pole. And so I ended up getting sent to the warehouses. Everybody thought the website was cool logistics. Wasn't cool. In 1998, fast forward logistics, all of a sudden became cool, but I did that, you know , I supported it for the fulfillment centers for about five years. And I had a boss who told me, you know, it is a dead field. It's moving all to the cloud. If you're not in software, you've brought your career here. It's probably done. And so I was like, okay, well I better be in software. And fortunately, one of my colleagues, Suresh Kumar, who's now the CTO at Walmart grabbed me and said, Hey, I got a lot of people who can write code. You know, I need people who can get stuff done. And so he pulled me in and I started with a small team in retail systems and ended up building the pricing engine. What sets all of Amazon's first party prices . So it changes prices millions of times a day. I'm convinced it's, you know, it's the most sophisticated pricing engine in the world. After that, I spent time in the FBA team helping sellers sell globally. And then in 2012, I got my big opportunity to go back to operations and to run all of the technology for the fulfillment centers and Amazon logistics. So at the time Amazon logistics didn't even exist. And so we were working on fulfillment center software from 2012 to 2015. I did that. You know, one of the big projects was integrating with Kiva robots, which massively changed how Amazon designs its buildings and using computer vision to receive packages in 2015 was when I took on Amazon logistics, which at the time was delivering, you know, tens of millions of packages this year they'll do over 5 billion, potentially 10 billion packages. And so that's something I'm really proud of. I left Amazon in 2018 and retired and you know , after about three months of that, it got pretty boring. So Scott Jacobson and Madrona called me and says, Hey, you know, there's this great company called flex. They've got a huge market, a great product market fit, and they just need help with the product. And so I joined in April, 2019 at flex, and it's been a fast and awesome ride ever since.

Speaker 3:

So in 2018, you decided to retire. That's a that's. I didn't know that. So that's great. But as you said, it's only a few months, still things are the pounds start eating and you feel like, ah , I need to do something more interesting. And that's , that's a good story. So again, just for the overview, right? Because you are in the midst of a , such a hot topic with , with on demand warehousing and e-commerce , what are some of the trends that you see? It can be connected to supply chain in general or to warehousing, but because of the , uh , interesting circumstances with the pandemic, what do you see in the next few months in the longterm as trends?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You know, w we've been w the world have been marching towards e-commerce for the last 20 years or more, right. And every year we, the market segment share would increase from 9% to 10%. And so over 10 years, it went from six to 16%, over 10 weeks to went from 16% to 26%. So we basically had twenties , you know, 10 years of conversion from retail to e-commerce in 10 weeks, which is amazing. And, but it , what it means is traditional companies who've been shipping full truckloads to Walmart and even full truck loads of stuff to Amazon now are thinking about, you know, how do we ship eaches to customers rather than truckloads? And that's a whole different supply chain. And, you know, as you mentioned, there's a bunch of hot e-commerce fulfillment companies popping up around us, but, you know , we think we're the best of those. And then specifically many of the e-commerce fulfillment companies who are coming up are trying to emulate FBA fulfillment by Amazon, which is trying to work with lots of small sellers. You know, self-service registration, no sales team. You know, these songs may do 40 to a hundred shipments a week. You know, we, we are working with the world's biggest companies. Know Walmart's a big customer, for example, ACE hardware, others. And so we are helping them break from traditional in store . You know , they move from traditional in the store to, you know, how do we compete with, or work with Amazon to how do we have our own VTC experience where, you know, we're doing two day shipping or one day shipping, or same day shipping. And so that , you know, I think that's the biggest trend to come out of this. And while we all have some reversion to the mean next year, as the vaccine comes out and we will get back to normal, you know, it's, you know, we're still to be five years ahead. Or we were at the beginning of 2020.

Speaker 3:

Yes. And I think consumers have already kind of got used to the comfort of using e-commerce the ones that were not used to it now. Definitely they had to do it. And I think they have converted so to speak. So like you said, I think that market segment is just going to be bigger and bigger, even if we are going back to normal in a way, and now coming back to flex, right. Because I'm , I'm really eager to find out more about the latest upgrade, so to speak. So when you think about the biggest problems flex is trying to solve , and I think you did touch upon a few topics there, but maybe you can break it down to us. What are the biggest problems you're trying to solve?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You know , it's sort of macroscopically if you want to be in the direct to consumer business and e-commerce, you know, you need fulfillment and period, full staff , traditionally, you know, you have to do one of three things. One is build your own fulfillment centers. And Amazon has spent probably a hundred billion dollars building fulfillment centers. So they have inventory closer to the customer. So actually, let me, let me step back. If you want to do DTC , you have to do fulfillment. And in order to do that in an economic fashion, you have to put inventory close to customers. So that's the problem we're trying to solve? How do we help our customers move their inventory close to customers? You can do that in three ways. You can spend a hundred billion dollars building 200 fulfillment centers in the us and many more around the world. No one will ever do that. Again, you can go to a three PL and three PLS are traditionally a batchy process, right? There's long-term commitments and, you know, potentially upfront cash and warehouse management system fee and an EDI integration fee. And so you could be, you know, you could spend, you know , millions of dollars before you ever ship a unit. And that's okay. But what flex is trying to do is [inaudible] the process say, you know, how do we put you? How do we put your inventory in buildings, which are close to the customer with no upfront costs, no WMS license fee, no EDI integration fee and no long-term contract. And if you think about I'm an it guy, or I'm a , you know , a tech guy, you used to have to build your own data center. And then it was, if you didn't build your data center, you have a co-location facility where you have a long-term contract, and now you spin up an AWS node or an Azure node, and you're off and running in the cloud. And so we think of ourselves as the AWS of fulfillment, no long-term commitments, no startup costs only pay for what you drink.

Speaker 3:

That's , that's great. Then I think that's why the business is booming at the moment because more and more organizations need that. Exactly. That. And I just wanted to, to quote you for a bit from, I think it was a LinkedIn post, and you were saying that in your first week with flanks , you flew out to one of the warehouses with several engineers and rollouts softer hour by hour to get to the point that you can get pellets in and out . So that's, I'm sure that's a longer story there first, but second, if you would be looking back at the career so far with flex, what are some of the features and tech milestones you are most proud of?

Speaker 2:

Well, you mind if I tell you that whole story, somebody else is shaking in his boots. So, you know, this is my second week. Actually the first day I started at flex, we want our biggest contract ever, you know, as happens in startups. Sometimes we, we might've over promised what we could do. And so, you know , we had rolled out some new functionality for a big CPG company and , and things weren't going well. Like the first 10 days, my peer who runs operations, said our customer called every day at seven, he's going to fire us if we couldn't get 10 trucks in and 10 trucks out. And so, you know , I took a bunch of engineers and we got on a plane, we got on the red eye and flew out there and nothing worked. The EDI didn't work . We didn't have the right thing with expiration dates , lots of things. And it turned out that what I learned later is that none of the engineers had ever been in a warehouse. So they didn't, when we were writing code, we didn't know , you know, they didn't know like what exactly what's going on. And so the visceral reaction you get when you stand on the dock in a warehouse and an associate comes up to you and says, Hey, here's my scanner. I get this error message. What does it mean? That is much different reaction when you're sipping, sitting at corporate . And then you say, well, my software works 99% of the time. So, you know, if you're putting, you know , 10, 20,000 units a day out and your software works 99% of the time you're screwed. And so, you know , there was actually a lot of worry that we were going to burn out the engineers and these are our scarcest resource, but exactly the opposite happened. Like, as we, you know, we worked day and night or 20 hours a day for about a week. And at the end of that week, we got on the phone with the customer and said , this is what we've done for you. This is what we're going to do. And he said, great, I'm in. And so we saved the account, but , but the , the most heartening thing was that as the engineers got in the car to drive back to the airport, every single one of them said, thank you for introducing me to my customer, please. If I get another chance, if you ever go to the warehouse again, please take me with you. And it was this whole, like this whole like re revelation , um , seeing your customer. And so from that, I think I wrote a LinkedIn post that says, put engineers close to customers. And, you know, we did that at Amazon. We rotated all the, all the engineers and fulfillment technologies have to go to warehouse and pick and pack. And so, you know, I think there's a question later, you know, what's your career advice, put engineers close to customer . If you think about like how we organize that . And we had the customer talks to the salesperson , talks to the VP of product who talks to the product manager who talks to the, definitely to talk to the engineer. That was just way too many people between the engineer and the customer. So anyway, what was the other question?

Speaker 3:

No, but just to , uh , build on this, right. I mean, I don't know about many companies that do this. I mean, they , they see their engineers , um, living in their , um, their ivory towers and then they kind of code and laptops or computers and that's it, but , uh, just bridging the gap and actually, I don't know if you can feel it, smell it or touch it, but if you can do that with the problem and they're trying to solve by coding, right. Then you already have a big, big, yeah , right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Not to harp on this, but you know, we had, we, the culture we had was engineers are so scarce, please don't ever talk to them. The sales people were on one side of the building and the engineers were on the other. And so what we've been doing over the last 18 months is moving the salespeople and the engineers closer together in every way we can.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And I think the engineer , good engineers are maybe one of the scarcest resources. We'll, we'll talk about recruitment later. But I think by , by doing this, you give them more value and more, they feel better by working and working with flex . So it makes sense. And the second part of the question was regarding the things you are most proud of from a tech perspective in flux .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, you know, I think there's two things. One is, you know, shipping single units to people is easy, right? If you've got a warehouse full of instant bots and they're , all of them are single unit orders , you put a sticker on them, you put them on a truck and away you go shipping multi units, multi unit orders, which Amazon is the best in the world at is hard. And so, you know, we built what we call rebound , which is the technology to sort orders or consolidate them at the pack station, which simplifies the process significantly improves quality and allows us to scale doing multiunit orders. And so I'm super proud of that. It was an effort that we put our best engineers on and they knocked it out in six weeks of coding and six weeks of testing. But now it's the , you know , the core piece of our platform. So that's the first thing. The second is, you know, every year, every year being the two peaks I've been at flax and YouPorn at Amazon, you know, the peak season off is often a firefighting season. Like we , we do some work, but in the end when we 10 X our scale, or, you know, for XR, scale things break. And so we are very proud of how we were able to rally the troops and fix those things. As they broke in 2019, 2020, we put a lot of effort into preparing for the peak. And so, you know, we, we, we got up on black Friday morning, we had our 6:00 AM tech check-in and we were done by six Oh two because there were no tickets, nothing broke. And so, you know, again, to try to take this up a level, we are very good at Plex and elsewhere, we are very good at recognizing heroes who jump in and fight the fire. We need to be, it's very important to also recognize heroes who prepare. And so you don't have to fight the fire. And so one of the things I would tell the team is I don't want to see anybody cross their fingers. I don't want to see anybody knock on wood because we don't need a lock. If we're prepared 2019, we, we knocked on one , a bunch in 2020, I actually started crossing my fingers that one of the meetings and, and the engineer said, Hey, stop doing that. We're prepared. We don't need luck. And it was true. And we had a super fire black Friday weekend. So I'm super proud of that.

Speaker 3:

Um , again, a different perspective altogether. What do you measure? What do you focus on? What you celebrate, right? Are you celebrating how fast you fix things or are you celebrating the fact that things don't break? And this is connected to , to, you know, supply chain in general, usually professionals in supply chains are blamed when things are not going well, but they don't get any credit when things are going as per normal or expected. So if there is the correlation there,

Speaker 2:

My boss, sorry, my boss used to say, we're like the department of Homeland security, you don't get, you know , nobody knows that you're there until something goes wrong and they land .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly. That's actually a very good story. And we'll talk more about the jumping game part of it. Then let's, let's see if you can give a specific example, it doesn't have to be a name, but maybe it helps. So is there , um, a case study that you can talk more about, maybe some results, some improvement numbers that have been seen using your solutions, right. Because I'm sure that you have a lot, and it depends on the scale of, and type of clients, but maybe you can pick a few examples to share.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You know, one great example. We, we love is hardware is a customer. And the specific use case that they started using us for was they called it hurricane heroes. And so, you know, they know there's always going to be a hurricane in Southeast. They just don't know where. And so, you know, they want, they want to, you know, you want to have in stock in the store that customers need, but you don't know which store that's going to be. And so they staged things like generators and, you know , I know generators and water and all the things you need during a hurricane and sort of inland, but, you know, within half a days, truck , truck ride from their stores. And so they were able to afford, deploy that inventory and be very fast and reactive when they knew where the storm was getting . And so that allowed them not to have to ship it from across the country or run out of stock. And so, you know , that that is both helping their business, but more importantly, getting generators and getting water to the people who need it. And, you know, when you can, what is it that you can do well by doing good? So that's one that gets me in the feels a little bit.

Speaker 3:

That's an excellent example. And I , especially in , in circumstances of emergency and when people's lives are at stake and so on, when you look ahead, then I'm sh I can feel your, your energy. They , then I'm just curious if they , what are the things that, that gives you that energy? When you look ahead , what are the milestones that you want to achieve? The objectives that you have in mind for the company?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I mean, it's easy to say objective , you know , we have financial objectives of getting the going public. I think this , you know, the, the frontier of fulfillment, just, you know , today, you know , everybody has been chasing Amazon to today and all of a sudden they turned everybody upside down, like going to the next day. And, you know, in Seattle we get same day. And so, you know, how do we help our customers get to next day and same day either to compete with Amazon or , or, you know, independent of Amazon, but it's a hard problem, but we've got the right people on the team and that's exciting press to dig into next year. You know , from an investor standpoint, Cocomo , it's a big business familiar , it's $160 billion market share in the us last year, but transportation, it's like a trillion dollar business. And so, you know, moving into transportation to support same day and next day is a great, you know , great Pam expansion, addressable market expansion. So super excited about that.

Speaker 3:

And when you think about the markets that you want to cover and serve, I imagine us is the main one. Is, are there other markets that you have in mind?

Speaker 2:

You know, we're in us and Canada today, and we have conversations frequently about, you know, what's next. And, you know, it's either like, Hey, there's a lot of work to do in the U S or, you know, there's a lot more work in Europe and China and wherever, you know, so my, my expectation is, or my hope is that there will be a customer who says, we love working with you in the U S let's go to Europe together, or alternatively marks and Spencer or one , you know, one of the big European brands will call and say, Hey, we need your help please come to Europe. And so, you know, I'm excited about that. We don't have any plans , you know, hope is not a plan to do that, but if you're any listeners in Europe, please call

Speaker 3:

It's just a phone call away. And then things will happen. That's how everything starts. Good. David wanted to change a bit, the topics and go more on the leadership side in teams, because I know this is something you're very passionate about, and I wanted to ask you about good company culture, and then how you define culture at flex. And I'm , I'm , I know you have good stories here, but , uh , w what's most important to you when it comes to culture?

Speaker 2:

You know , I really like one of our company values is jump in and we talked about sort of running towards the fire is one of the sub bullets . And, you know, we had an example last year where a customer was working with a three PL who got hacked and they got ransomware hacked. And so the , you know , the customer was like, look, we'd be down for four days, you know, can you stand us up in two weeks? And instead of the tech team in particular, but instead of everybody saying, Oh my God, two weeks, we can never do that. Everybody was like, let's out how to do it. You know , let's all get in a conference room and figure it out. And we were able to build a solution in a couple of days, and it turns out there the three of y'all came back up and it was like November 15th. So they didn't want to switch horses and ride, but that culture of everybody wanting to chip in and everybody wanting to grow the business, I really love that. And then, you know , the second thing that I think we're doing really well is we're building an inclusive culture and you know, it it's hard, right? You had a bunch of white dudes, it always felt included. And then you, you know, you build a culture which has a lot of women in both in leadership roles and other roles and people of different diverse, ethnicities and diverse thought. Like, you have to be thoughtful about how you interact because it's important that people feel included. And I think that's something that , uh , flex is doing a fantastic job of a better , uh, better than I would do alone. But, you know, between the, what I would call deep dive bias for action, jump in and, and , uh , having an inclusive culture. It's a really great place to be.

Speaker 3:

Hm . And when you think about your direct team and the department that you have to lead, I don't know if I read it correct . At some point you had 50 people, engineers . I think it's just going to go up and up. And I think you were writing that as flex is growing, that the team is growing and you are in highly high need of, of good. The engineers now think about recruitment, right. And how you interview, and I'm sure you have a part to play. What are the things that you look for when interviewing? Yeah ,

Speaker 2:

I think about recruiting every day and we just super exciting, you know, we're just spinning up with the series C money that we got just spinning up another recruiting cycle. And, you know, one of the things I feel is super important is that you get the whole organization building momentum and , and you're moving any little grain of sand out of the way. And so we're going through our process and looking at, you know, how do we make offers and how do we comp the positions and how all these things so that we can be just pure and , and hiring, hiring, hiring. So that's sort of process wise . You know, I, you know, we think flux has company values and they're great. I have to admit that I call back sometimes on the Amazon leadership principles. And I once heard someone on a military guy, or I read this, that drill. Sergeant said, you know , she sent me someone who can shoot a rifle. I can turn them into a Marine. And I feel like if you send me someone who can dive deep, I can turn them into a Fleck , a flexi, you know, dive deep is super important. Like people who've liked to achieve right. People who like to get things done and who enjoyed that. That's super important to me, I've been lucky enough to be able to recruit most of my direct staff through referrals, which is always the best way, but broadly , you know, people have a bias for action. People who dive deep people who simplify, you know, one of our, one of our things that Amazon was invent and simplify, you know , everybody talks about invention. Few people talk about simplify simplification. So we look for that. And, you know, I look for people who seek solutions, which is in fact, a flex leadership principle that aren't saying, Oh, this is hard. We want people who like to achieve and to build solutions for our customers.

Speaker 3:

And I think another interesting part is the integration and training in a way, or, or kind of seeding the , or planting the seeds of that culture that you're looking for , because it sounds like it's a bit of a different place. Lexi , you go, and you meet the clients, you , you , you ask engineers to really understand the problem, look at the screen. This is the error fix it. I imagine not. Everybody's used to that. I'm just wondering it was the approach of integration. Is it like a, throw them in the water in a learn to swim? Or how would you define it?

Speaker 2:

I heard that's a funny story. We were talking back at Amazon about the onboarding experience and it was me and a guy that worked for me and he was my Jew and then someone from HR and she was saying , yeah, we're building an onboarding program. And I said, Oh, you know, from my , my dress, I just, you know , introduce them to their team and let them go. And she was like, ha ha ha. And my buddy module was like, no, no, no, that's really what he does. Um, and so for people at director level or VP level, like I want, I want them to run their show. Like my leadership style is I will give you full autonomy and then also hold you accountable. But, you know , I don't, I only want to do my job. I don't, I certainly don't want to do your job. So I'm going to hire people who want me out of their business, who are competent and who wants to take ownership. And so that's actually pretty easy at the director level because anybody who's risen to a director of VP usually has that, you know, for the engineers, you know, if I'm trying to think what specific mechanisms we have, you know, what we had before COVID was we asked them to go to the warehouse and every engineer had to spend, you know , a week, you know , a week in the warehouse, we'd send them either with a product manager or a manager or someone from the sales team. You know, we talked about going to the gemba and the gemba is Japanese for the shop floor of where things happen. And you know , what we find is that we have two gambits , we have the sales, you know , meeting with customers and that's where that , where they action happens. And then we have the operations on the floor and that's where the action. So as much as we can move the engineers closer to both the customers in the warehouse and the customers in the sales cycle, they're going to be better. And it gives them empathy. You know, over the past 20 years, one of the things I've learned is, you know, I'd rather, co-locate people than integrate them in an organization, either gives them empathy. And so, you know, we often fight over, Oh, this team is not doing that. Or these guys are getting in my way, but you don't know what their challenges are until you walk in their shoes. So if you can build empathy for your partners and we do this by going to the warehouse and we do this by going to sales meetings, you're going to be a hundred times more effective.

Speaker 3:

And I imagine that the COVID, hasn't been easy on empathy, to be honest, I think empathy through screens and cameras is the big tough. And, but is there, I mean, you're, you're doing something different during COVID, is it a lot of zoom calls or whatever technology or how do you do,

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we are doing a lot of zoom calls and, you know , my conclusion is that for executing, zoom is fine, right? For if we know what the plan is, we have our organization set up, we have our project, you know, you can March pretty well on zoom, but there are problems. There are hard problems and strategic problems that you really need to need, or want it to be face to face with people. And if you want to have hard conversations, candid conversations, it's much easier to do it in person. And so I am worried that in , you know , that all of the hard conversations we've pushed off in 2020 are going to hurt us in 2021, because it's important decisions we need to make strategically that we may or may not have made effectively. And that's going to hurt us come next year.

Speaker 3:

Mm it's . Like a , the back longer . Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's a backlog of a strategic as opposed to a backlog.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. It's a different backlog. David. I wanted to ask , um, maybe if this is more personal to you and connected to how you view and measure your own success, because you had the successful career in the corporate, right. With , with Amazon and all the rest after that, you said, let's take a break. And then you re realize that the break is not good enough for me, but now if you , if you were to , um, to look at it, when do you know that you're successful?

Speaker 2:

You know, every time I take a new role, it's usually w what I would consider a reclamation project. Like if everything was going well, they wouldn't hire me. And so, you know, my mental model is coming on day one. You know, you evaluate the people, you evaluate one of the biggest bottlenecks, and then you start going after problems. And usually what I find is the first six months is people saying, Dave, your team hasn't done this, or we need you to do that. And I call that working on defense, but, you know, within six to 12 months, usually we flip that, you know , the worm turns there wasn't , there was a movie called wall where Jack Nicholson, you know , the worm has turned in . The worm is kicking some. And so I can put my house in order. And I do that by identifying the biggest problem and bringing focus to that problem. And even more importantly, higher, higher, higher. So I spent 60% of my time hiring in the first six months. And we brought in a leadership team. And so, you know, in the time between six and 12 months, we start having the products, not being the bottleneck, everything else becomes the bottleneck. And so that's when I know I've been successful. And then, you know, the fun part about that is I get to help. In addition to my own team, I get to help my partners and my peers around me, both recruit and solve problems. And so that's what, that's what show a success for me.

Speaker 3:

Mm . And 60% of your time focused on recruitment, imagine you're not involved from, from step one. Are you involved in a couple steps or is it just the final, most important overview when, when recruitment recruiting soundbite ?

Speaker 2:

So, no for Sr for my direct reports for senior folks, I have sourced them. I've moved them. I've presented the offer. I recruiter either our recruiter hates it. I email him and say price . We all use email. We use Slack. I say, Hey, here's a LinkedIn. Please hire this person. And it's like, Whoa. I'm like, don't worry about it. Just hire them. And so that's, that's the most fun for me. And I will, when, when we, when we get a bit higher, I have a video of me doing the happy dance, which I send out to my peers indicate that we've got a , we got a big hire. And so in those, you know, executive recruiting is like enterprise sales, right? It's a long sales cycle. You know , you have to convince someone that, Hey, I want you to leave your job, making a million dollars at Amazon to come make 200 grand in cash. And with some equity that may or may not, you know, appear in the future. And like , that's the biggest challenge in the world, but we like people, you know, you, you you've asked before, you know , how do you know you're successful? Like when people come to work for me, because they want to work for me, that's when I know I'm successful. And so, you know, I've been pretty successful bringing sort of senior leadership into the company. And, you know, that's something that I'm super passionate about. And, you know , I think is the single most important thing we as leaders do.

Speaker 3:

And I just got to remind you that the story of Steve jobs recruiting the, I think it was the CEO of Pepsi at the time. And the pitch was, do you still want to continue selling sugar water all your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world? So I think it's , it's a similar story that you have to sell when in Flex's perspective. Right. And I agree, I mean, our bread and butter is executive search and we have to kind of twist and turn this story a lot of times and then make it work. David has a final question to do our podcast. We have listeners from a lot of markets, countries, different stages of their career. Some of them want to start something new or change what would be a piece of advice. And I think you did mention one , uh , what would be a piece of advice to a successful career from your business ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I'll give you , um, I'll give you two, the first one works for everybody and that is solve problems for your boss. And I , I wrote a LinkedIn post about this a few months ago. So period problems for your head , for her period, your boss, period. It's as simple as that. People like bosses, like people who solve problems for them. And you can say like, you know, I've got, I should be solving problems for my customer. Yep . If your boss is smart, they will be aligned at that. Maybe you should get a new boss. You don't know what you don't know. So like on day one, you walk in the building, figure out what your boss's biggest problem is and solve that, and then find out what the next one is and solve that. So that, that works for all of us. And in fact, my first day, my first one on one with Carl, you know, he's like, Hey, I just want you to run your business. I'm not going to get in the details of that. And my response was, tell me what your two biggest problems are and let me go solve those. And then I'll go run by business. And so, you know, we we've had a really good synergy since then, but as you get into management, as you get into senior leadership, someone wants told me, I repeat this every time I get a chance, the difference between people who scale and people who don't scale, it's who they hire. And so if you're a manager and you want to be a senior manager, if you're a senior manager who wants to be a director or a director wants to be a VP, you should spend 60% of your time hiring and 40% of your time assessing your current talent. And like you need to build crackerjack teams. So my one, my , you know, my one piece of advice for a successful career in leadership is it's about your people and hire great people, coach them and manage poor people out. You can't do two of the three.

Speaker 1:

Both of them are great. And I think like you said, solve problems for your boss. It's a very good way to identify if your boss is actually the right one for you. Yeah . Yeah. David, on this note, I want to thank you very much for the time and it sounds like you're doing great work and I'm happy to hear. Flex is only going up and up and I wish you all the best. Thank you so much for having me. My pleasure. Thank you for listening to our podcast for all the show notes and information discussed in the episode, please follow ELCA global.com/podcast. Also, if you found this interesting, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher, or one of the podcast platforms we are looking forward to your feedback.