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The Founder Formula
The Founder Formula

Episode · 2 years ago

Hayes Drumwright, Tech and Winery Founder, Author - The Myth of Entrepreneurship

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Today’s guest is Hayes Drumwright, founder or co-founder of multiple startups ranging from tech to the nonprofit space, including a few passion projects. He sits down to discuss with us his formula for being a serial entrepreneur. 

Hayes has a new wine company as a passion project called memento mori--which is latin for “remember you will die.” It is a great metaphor for how he views life and entrepreneurship. Their company is a call for customers to remember to live. On the other hand, they also want to honor the struggles of their customers. Memento Mori, as a company wants their customers to do two things: be vulnerable and be brave.  

For Hayes, entrepreneurship is tough because you are making a bet on yourself, and when you start a company you force a lot of people to also bet on you. He also shares what he believes is the myth of entrepreneurship: most people think you need an amazing idea in order to achieve a lot of success. But in reality all you really need is an unbelievable level of commitment to do it better than anybody else. 

... great perseverance and great commitment that makes a great company, not the idea. The founder Formula Brings you in behind the curtains and inside the minds of today's brave executives at the most future leaning startups. Each interview will feature a transformative leader who's behind the wheel at a fast paced and innovative tech firm. They'll give you an insiders look at how companies are envisioned, created and scaled. We hope you're ready. Let's get into the show. Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. My name is Todd Galena, and with me, as always, is the chief innovation officer at trace three, mark, Campbell mark. How's it going? Going real well, just coming off vacation. It's been a lovely wake up in Canada. So I got a Canadian Tan, Super Tan from right where the two kended in the scarf began. So I got a very Terry Tan cheeks of those. That's an eye. Know to respond to that other than you. Every time we start one of these shows, you seem to be just coming off vacation. I think you got a pretty good gig. Oh yeah, no, no, I do. In fact, I only map out on my calendar of the days I'll be at work. Okay, so, Hey, hey, what a right. What have I gotten myself into here? Hollow you, it's your own fault. Hey. So today we have a special treat. Our guest has been the founder or cofounder of over six companies in the Bab and B Toc Space. He was the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year award winner. He's Orange County Business Journal entrepreneur of the Year award winner. He's the author of a really cool book I really recommended. It's called management versus employees and it's available on Amazon. Check it out. He also has a Forbes Column called Chronicles of an entrepreneur. So you'll notice a theme when we talked about our next guest. Lots of entrepreneur is m please help me welcome. He's drum right. I was it going, Hayes, it's great. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Welcome. Well, well, we first started talking about season one line up and we start kicking your name around, Hayes, is being on here. This was kind of a red letter day. I've look forward to this interview for quite a quite a while, so this will be a fun one. Thank you, I appreciate that. And then a big fan of yours as well. You've had a number of startups, as todd mentioned, wide range, big spectrum, from tech to over in the manufacturing space to nonprofits to new startups. But before you embarked on that, what in your background kind of gave you that feeling that you could go out and start your own company and be successful at what was that that drive? So allot of it, for me, honestly, was just being an American. I literally kind of, as I grew up, thought it was...

...kind of my right, like you watch all these movies like far and away and all these other movies, like we're like everybody's coming to America and everyone's starting your own business, everyone's kind of standing up for themselves and their family by trying to support them. That putting out a shingle, and I just always kind of thought that's what you were supposed to do. And my father had a couple consulting businesses of his own, so I watched him do that and then when I went to business school at Boston University, we had one of these case studies that I just it's one of the only things I remember from college actually be alumni. Don't get mad at me, but we had a case study where we went to a fast food restaurant and the whole idea that we were supposed to report back on was how many people are they losing at lunch? So you went in and you watched it at rush hour, like, you know, er fifty nine, when everybody just crowded in and they have the turnstyle stuff, you know, like almost like a Disneyland, where to have these huge lines with people trying to order Burgers, and we would count how many people walked out because they'd opened the door, they'd look in and they'd see the line and they'd be like, I'm going to go somewhere else, and then we'd have to come up with ways that we could have made processing through that line much quicker, much faster, and the operations on aspect of that I thought was really cool, and the ideas that my group came up with, because everything was kind of group works, but we came up with some really good ideas on how you could do it. And I'm actually like, twenty years later, air courts and stuff, I've seen some of the stuff you know that we came up with just as college kids, that are now being used to like move wine faster. So I understood at that point that as long as you know you were willing to think outside of the box and constantly try to improve, that you didn't have to have some great idea for business. You might be able to just take a business that you know it's successful, be creative on how you could do it better and start your own to get out there and compete. So that's pretty much how I got to it. So, at the risk of sounding a little self serving, trace three is one of the companies that you started up. Of course they's and being the sponsor of this podcast, but that's kind of only the tip of the iceberg. You've got the number of other enterprises you started up over the year, whether it's wineries or nonprofits or other tech companies. But there must have been that triggering event or that day where you woke up and use kind of Said, look, I'm done with the day job, I'm going to be I'm going to go out and start my own adventure. What was that like? I assume it wasn't, you know, an easy decision to make. You know it's tough because you're making a big bet on yourself and what you realize after you start the company is you're forcing a lot of other people to that on you, other people that have homes and medical issues and you know where they need the jobs to support their families, and that probably doesn't come into play till a little later, a year to end the business, where you realize that pressure. But for me, when I really felt comfortable that I'd step out on my own, I knew coming out of college that I'd have to learn a couple businesses or released one business.

So I got into an industry, the kind of consulting our industry, and I felt that when I had enough access to good people to start the business with and access in the market to clients and to vendors, that's when I felt it was the right time to do it. I think you know some some kids come out of Stanford and just, you know, had these amazing ideas and just murder that. That wasn't really me. I was looking at the industry I was in, I was looking at the way the company I worked at operated, working at looking at the way the competitors operated. I met Brett mcinnis, who became the cofounder of two companies that I started, and it was it was at that point where I felt I knew a guy I could start it with. I had enough clients that I could test the idea of starting a business with on my own. So it's about really just having access to the right clients in the right vendors and then knowing that you had a partner to that you could could do the business within lean on each other for well, I first bumped into you when I work for one of praise three's customers. I was at what was then called the EBC, now called the evolved conference, and I was a customer sitting there and at one of the breaks I got in the absolute wrong line. I got in the line of tracery employees and we went off in the this side room and you got up on stage and presented the playbook. That will circle back to the playbook here in a bit, but you went through this playbook and here were all the employee centers. I realized it rather quickly I was in the wrong line. That thought, Hey, I'll get a look behind the curtains here. This will be a sneak beak and what I left there. I was telling one of the attendees, I said now I can't figure out whether this is a really cutting edge tech company, a Ponzi scheme or a cult, and it's it's speaking me five years to figure out, tuning you, which one were you're hoping it was. That's a well, yeah, it's turned out it's all three. So it was. It was compelling enough that I left the perverbial day job to come over and work at trace three. But I found that to be a super intriguing meeting. I've never seen anything like that at any other companies that I've worked with. So the playbook certainly an interesting idea. So, Hey, circling back mark question the playbook. So you know most companies share their annual goals for the year, but you invented something called the playbook. He saw our listeners about that. Yeah, it wasn't planned to be like an invention nearly as much as I got to the point, you know, two or three years in the business and I think a lot of founders get to this where they feel like maybe a lot of it is depending on the founders, a lot of the success of the business is depending on the founders and I'm trying to figure out how to scale and I remember giving a lot of thought and honestly being a bit nervous about it, because the idea of the playbook was that I was going to share everything I had learned about growing the business. I like everything that I had learned about shocks, growing the business, and it was the idea that if I could transfer that knowledge to the employee they that and they knew as much...

...as I knew and they were, you know, like as aggressive and smart and tinacious as I was, that we could scale much, much faster. It's like trying to you know, like mentor as many people as you can, and when you mentor with word of mouth, like it's you know, it has kind of a limit to the speed at which it can move. But if you print these books where you write everything down, did not only plays for the people that are currently in the company, but it becomes this artifact in the business that allows people two years from now that you hire that you might think are great, to go back and look, okay, where did we come from? What are we about? How did they scale the business? How did they get to this point? And then if you can continue in writing them. As the company will always hit new challenges every year, especially if you're growing quickly, it becomes a way for you to just really admit as a founder, hey, I don't have all the answers, but here's how I look at the world and here's how I hope we try to take these challenges had on, work with each other and help each other. So for me it was really this idea that I wanted to provide mentorship for all the people that were open to it and, selfishly, I really wanted to scale the business and a by product of all that that I didn't really expect was that by being very vulnerable and talking about all the things that kind of kept me up at night about the business or how I try to tackle things that were really hard, it started the vulnerability, I think, started to build a lot of trust with the employees in the organization. And, you know, the turnover was almost nonexistent when we were kind of growing in a hundred percent year over year, which is which really can burn a lot of people out. But I think everybody felt really motivated that it was okay to admit like, I don't know how to handle this and call in, you know, the other people for help. So He's you. You mentioned that in that playbook was basically how you designed a successful company from the ground up. We're worried about maybe the playbook getting into the hands of your competitors. Yeah, you know, I was. Even you even have that little, you know, thought in the back your mind, like what if? What if one of the best employees takes it and leaves and starts their own company? And then what I realized is nobody ever really takes for that seriously like it, like the competitors. Like you know, I didn't worry as much about that as someone leaving. And what I eventually came to when I decided to publish it, and and beginning the first ones really were kind of internal for use, was that if one person left and took the playbook and tried to do it, starting a business is still hard. So they have all those things. They got overcome. But if, the fifties it stayed all actually they actually applied it, we'd take off and we kill so and that is what happened and no one left and everyone applied it and we did super well. And then what was great. It is, you know, over time, but they're really brilliant. People in the company started writing their own playbooks for their teams. You know that add stuff in it, but I've never even thought of it. became became kind of a really cool thing to watch that as great leaders started to have success, they started to...

...understood that if they shared the failures that they were dealing with, they shared these struggles and they shared the ways they overtime them, that their team could really scale if they did that, and that was fun to watch. Certainly as prestree picked up momentum over the years, those playbooks were instrumental on that. However, I think a lot of folks that are out there either contemplating a start up or they're at a small start up. Getting that initial momentum, going from a standing start to be rather difficult for some people use venture capl to help get the wheels turning. You had an interesting adventure on how you raised your first bit of money to start trace three. You tell us a little bit about that. Well, trace three never is anybody. Tray three was just, you know, we founded it with a hundred dollars and we're able to scale it just out of kind of having access to clients and getting orders. I did raise money at a company before that called text fuel, and I raise money to pop in and I think the reasons that you're you raise money is that you feeling you've got a great idea and you really want to get it to market quickly. I think you raise money for speed, that's for sure. And then you you know, I've seen a lot of great founders, which I'm sure you've on these podcasts, that are that are, you know, worth an incredible amount of money that could easily fund their own business. But I think a lot of them want to share the risk, you know. But he knows that start us have a lot of risk and they want to share the risk. And in sharing those they're looking for two things. They're looking to share the risk with a DC or private equity firm, but they also want to gain access. So, like I talked about, when you want to start a business, you want to have access to clients and you want to have access to people that are going to consume the product that you're making. A lot of thesecs have a ton of access to customers and to developers and to the things that are really foundational to building a launch business. Yes, he does. You've done both ways and I think that super useful for our listeners on that understand that pays. That's great. Hey. Let's transition to team building. So you've had to assemble founding teams multiple times. What are some of the qualities you look for and do they change base on company and sector? Yeah, you know, I think that they do. The founding teams that you're kind of you're trying to figure out when you're starting a company. Really, for me, having done so many now is like I try to figure out, like what is the home run? Why am I doing this? Like the mental more, the winery that I started in two thousand and ten but now is now in two thousand and nineteen, is just doing better than I really ever thought it would do. And you know, I found it that with two of my best friends in the goal was to make great wine. It wasn't there for early to sell a ton of great wine. It wasn't to make a lot of money. It was more of a passion project and the home run was making great wine that we would love to share with people. And it turned out that in making wine that we loved, it turned out that the market really liked it. And now it's one of the top coult calvs and noother. And we could have, we probably could be ten xts bigger than we are...

...right now, but that was never the goal. So in that one, no, we didn't go to look to raise money. We didn't want to sell the consolation our gallery these guys right out of the gate because it's that's not what the goal of the project was. And then at pop in, you know, we found a problem where it's really difficult for executives to get truth and transparency at the top of organizations. We found a problem that you know, I had dealt with this the CEO, and so when I pick my founding partners for that, yeah, we went and raise money to get access to developers and knowledge that we didn't have from the industry that we had come from, and we picked kind of a different outcome that we were shooting for. Right. We wanted to really build a company that allowed people to figure out what's going on in the organization so that they could operate the better and I could keep going. Like every business, it's kind of had a different coal. There's a I just bought seventeen acres of land up and NAP and now that the mental worry has been really successful, we're developing our own winery and I'm calling it Vita Valiente, which means brave life, and that project is about really trying to celebrate the struggle of of what we deal with every day and things that kind of give your anxiety in the things that you're doing that are hard in your life. We want you to come to this plot of land and we want you to come to the facility and we want you to walk over the bridge that we're building and start it by thinking about the things that you're dealing with in life that are hard. But when you're done with that, that walk, we want you to be proud of yourself that you're trying to do things that are tough, because really, I think as you become successful in life, what you're really trying to do is just just teach the people around you that if you're vulnerable and if you're brave, you can inspire a lot of people and that's how we make everything better. And on that project, my partner, you know as my wife, and another family, or the Kapla and Sam Kappa's our winemaker, and in that one I knew fam has access to all of the best people in Napa for farming, for architecture, for construction, for making wine. So my partner that I picked in that was about, hey, we're going to invest a lot of my we need it to, you know, be profitable and we need to make an incredible product and we want to give people an incredible experience. So once again, kind of a different criteria for how you pick that you're going to partner with. Well, certainly the companies that you've started, you know, being in various different areas, there isn't like one go to like how to guide on how to pull that all together. What are some of the things that you've heard over the years that now, after starting a number of different companies, that you've found her kind of a myth or a misconception or an or an under overstatement? Yeah, I think, prupim probably, are you with me on this? I think people think that you need an amazing idea and they that does not hurt. Like if you have an amazing idea that's no one's thought of and you know you can make the pet rock and no one's thought of that, that's going to murder. You know, good for you, but I don't think that's how you you need to look at it. I think you need to look at if something is running and you think you could do it better and you think you have access to...

...the people you need to do it better and access of people that were consume the way you do it better, then I think you should be open to thinking about starting a business. And you don't have to go raised, you know, twenty million dollars in order to do something that's already in the market better. You just need to have an unbelievable level of commitment that you're going to continue to try to do it better than everyone else and that you're going to be willing to go through the hardship of running a business, because running a business involves managing people and people have good days and bad days, they have difficult things that happen in their life and you are employing them and have to deal with a lot of that and that stuff can cause, you know, a lot of heart ache. I met a guy that sold his company to Wells Fargo for like an unbelievable sum and he was wildly successful and the company for the last five years he was running it, was basically running itself and he told me he never in one and a one week period, not thrown up in the shower at least once, and I like started cracking up when you told me that. And he's like now you just you're always stressed, and you know, if you've had a company that has gone under, like I have, and you you know like a market turn or like in straight thing with China, like all these things, all these macros, things are in the market, you just are always worried. It's almost like having a kid. You're just always worried whether it's safe and whether it's going to be okay, because all these people are counting on you and I so I ask him what was the biggest difference since you sold? He's like, my sharers have been pretty normal since then, and that that was really telling for me. So if you're going to start something, I think the myth is that a great idea will make a great company and it's great perseverance and great commitment that makes a great company, not the idea and very durable shower maths. Yes, yes, yeah, yeah. I was like, okay, that's a little disgusting, but there's a good story. The point I'll say that yeah, well, you mentioned earlier that you know when you have a start up that it's a lot like having a child and you're wanting to nurse here it is it safe, and and so forth as you watch that child grow. Tell us a little bit about how you actually scale a company but yet retain that personality, retain that culture, retain that uniqueness. What would you say are some of the keys and pulling that trick off? Yeah, I'd Say I think scaling a business and I getting clients is not that hard. This is what I found. Holding clients and constantly providing value to clients is how hard. And you can even take that back a level and say, as a CEO, you can provide value to your company by doing a certain thing, but in a different you know, like you can provide value to your toddler by doing a certain thing, but that same thing will not provide value to the teenager. Right. So how do you constantly and consistently provide value to give the business longevity and to give the culture longevity right where...

...you are constantly reaffirming to the employee base that I'm not going to rest on my laurels as the CEO and be talking about the same stuff I was talking about two years ago. I'm going to constantly be trying to evolve, which is eventually what you know. Sandy named that show that trace three does and that and that became part of the culture. We've got to try to evolve with got to try to do things that are new and different. I have to keep reinventing myself in challenging myself as an executive to keep providing value to the company, because once it starts to move and be successful, it's it's pretty easy to rest. I mean, if you think of I think the most simple way to look at it is like any of us that you been in college is like one year, like you're freshman year, like one bar will be super cool and everybody will go to that bar and everybody loves it, and the next year that bars almost out of business because everybody's going to the new place that is cooler and has something snazzier. Well, that happens to businesses all the time. Like momentory the winery, like we've been in business nine years. It got a ninety nine point rating from Robert Parker in two thousand and sixteen and it's like wow, that is such a high level of quality. That's amazing, but there's new winery starting all the time. I'm even starting on like how to how does that stay cool? How do you provide an experience for your customers that keep them coming back to you? And I think if you focus on that as an executive team, not just acquiring new clients or growth in the market, but how are you treating your customers and your customers, obviously, or, you know, your employees, your vendors and your actual external clients? How are you treating them in a way that that they're constantly wanting to come back to your bar, that they're constantly wanting to come back and give you business because of the way you treat them? And I think that culture part. You talked about mark that starts with the way you treat your employees and then if you can do that really well and tie in, how it needs do that with our external fish and customers, are vendors and our customers, then that that will kind of carry on and carry forward and in the playbooks, if it's something we talked about constantly, you know, and a Mentamoria, we we have this logo of three skeletons dancing because the mental or needs. Remember you will die and Latin and for us we've translated that into remember to live. One of my partner's Adro, had a father, guy of cancer, you know, in a three week period and that was really hard for him to deal with and it was was you know, I had cancer when I was in my s and you realize they're things can be taken from you very, very quickly. So, you know, we really wanted that to be a part of our culture and we talk about that with our clients all the time when they come and visit. We asked them to share their stories about things they've dealt with. It has made them remember to live and made them thankful to be here, and I mean those a it's crazy, but there's a lot of tears and our tasting sometimes when people really get into like, you know, what they've been through and the challenges that they're going through, and that builds a long term relationship that we can't stop there. We you know, we're sending gifts...

...to our clients all the time. Of We have these three skeletons dancing that are on this painting that we brand on the bottom of our box and we put the bottles on top of it and when you lift a bottle out, you can't see them when the but when the when it the box is packed a bottles are blocking it. When you pull the bottle out, you are freeing the skeletons dance, and the reason that they're skeletons dancing is they forgot to enjoy life all their lives as not. They're dancing after so for our top couple hundred clients at Momentumori, we made these insane decanters where we etched in the canter the skeletons dancing around the bottom of the canter celebrating life, so that they would have this concert reminder from us that that's what we're about and that's what we want them to be about. So every time they have people over, every time they're drinking great bottle of line, we want them to remember that they should be enjoying it and they should be having a great time. And we found like that those types of things, like thinking about your clients and Sam Wan, thinking about the way you want to be treated and trying to treat your clients that way, that that can build a great culture and a great business. These while I just listening to you talk about, you know, the winery and in the meaning around the mental more he design of packaging, the design of experience, the story you're trying to tell what this product. It forces me to wonder how important is that? You know you were, you thinking about a wine company. You illustrated a great point. You Bill stated a great point with with the bridge to when they're going to be going to the to the winery as well. How can other startups and companies maybe in the text base take advantage of that? How important is story? How important is your company name? How important are those things and what advice can you give the listeners regarding that? I think like so as far as like name, I think it's like I mentumor I write the name really really worked really well with the story, and Vita Valiant as same thing. There's consumer products. We wanted to really connect on those things. But then, you know, I want I pick trace three and I pick these other names of companies are popping and some things. I believe that the product you offer and the service you give is what build the brand behind the name. So I don't know if I think there's like, especially in the text, if I don't think that the name matters nearly as much as the level of service you provide and how valuable the product is. That's where I would really focus on that. As far as story goes, you know it as a technology company, and my opinion, the story should be all about out you know, like we serve what the client needs. That's what we do right, and so so, if you want to build your brand around your name, you know, if you want to build your brand around culture, anything like that, what you need to be doing is being in front of your clients constantly and letting them talk. We have this huge need to like fill voids and we hate silence and it's great to just let your clients talk and let your clients talk about what they need, no matter what kind of product you're building. Then you will find just little nuggets of gold. The more you can get them out in, the more you can get them talking, and the more you can prove to them that you care about helping...

...them be successful. And if that becomes the emotion that they get, the feeling that they get from meeting with you, and that becomes your brand and that becomes your story. Who are those guys? Oh, those guys. Just make sure we are crushing all the time. Yes, it's you. Almost transisted. In the next question they're talking about your hyper focus on customers. You've always been hyper focused on on getting feedback. Getting feedback quickly tell us about your prok some of the levers that you pull to get that feedback and how it translates to any potential product changes you might be considering. Yeah, I mean I think the clients drive almost all product changes for us and maybe in the beginning when you have like a top in when we had the original idea, you know, a lot of that was through my experience or of needing a software tools that would allow me to say, Hey, we have a bottle that right here. You guys closest to the bottom that. How would you solve it? It's a safe place to give me answers. Go ahead and just give me answers on that. That became great. But then in talking to clients that we're using it that way, they're like, man, we'd love to get we'd love to get this kind of information in this kind of transparency, like an a town hall setting where they were asking us like can we have a live version of this product? So like pop in dot live. Now is all about, like if you've got an event, if you've got any kind of town hall where you want to understand this crowd. I'm going to talk to what do they want me to talk about? which goes back to what I was saying about serving your customer. When you have think exacting is when they get up the town halls, they think I've got to like cover my agenda. Will nobody really cares about your agenda until they know that you actually care about them. So a client came to me and said and this is and then what did? The way we do this operationally, right thought is a client will coming to ask us for something. Will take that and we'll go to seven other clients and say kind of just ask us for this. What do you think of that? And then all agree this would be great. So they would run a pop in before the meeting just saying, Hey, I'm going to get on stage tomorrow. What would you guys like me to cover? And the APP allows crowdsourcing to occur where people can give the answers vote on each other's answer, so an exact get something. Note. These the top three things everybody wants me to cover. So they cover that first hit their agenda. Now that they have shown that they gave a crap about what people fought by covering the top three things that the crowd wanted to hear, then the crowd leans in when they cover their agenda. Then at the end they just asked him pop in like hey, did all of this make sense? And they can, you know, find out whether their methods hit or not. We've done that in almost everything we've done in software and I really think trace three did it a lot too. You know, we had client of visory boards, and you guys still do. The whole goal of that is not for us to talk but to get up in front of people. So here's the things we're thinking about and then we be quiet and really listen to what their thoughts are and what their needs are. You know, trace three, when I was the Seeo, we took a lot of less turns based on that feedback. Thinking we knew everything, but you know, really listening to the client learning like actually, there's something else that they're really struggling with right now that they need help with, and we build practices around it. So it doesn't just have to...

...be software. So you talked about listening to the voice of your employees. You talked about listening to the voice your customers. What what about the competition? What about the market that's out there? Did you and your various enterprises been a lot of time looking at the competition? What are they doing? Where we ahead? Where are we behind? What do we shore up? What do we attack? Or is it hey, if I just take care of of my own cooking, the meals going to be great. What was your approach to competition? So when you start, I think it's incredibly important to understand the competitive landscape. Even when I started trace three, what I did is looked at the competitive landscape, look at where I thought there was a gap. There were certain vendors that were covered by, really well covered by a lot of different partners out there. I looked at the two or three that might have been getting neglected but bret and I thought were amazing products. We pick those up, gave those masses so this we're able to build momentum with that and then you can start to go broader. So the competition, when you start, it's really important. Like everyone's like, Oh, the company's doing so great now, but like the two or three years. Really probably the first twenty four months. That's that's like everything. Having that plan of how you're going to start really has to be focused on what's already in the market and whether you think you can do better than what's in the market. After that, I think Mis ben successful by transitioning from not so much looking at what everyone else does but by listening to what my customers need and making sure that my employees were focused on giving them that. I know from discussions we've had that you've been quite fortunate having some great mentors along the way. How exactly did you assemble mentors? What are some of the qualities that you look for when you're out there to find the those those trusted advisors that whose words you can really rely on? Yeah, I think a lot of my mentors early on, you know, as a teenager and stuff. A lot of it was kind of watching my dad, but after that a lot of it the game books. For me, I still remember the first I don't know how out of favor he is at this point, but the first Jack Welsh book that I read I remember had a real effect on me on the the real focus on improvement and great employees and all of that and I remember what the name of the book was, and then I went on to, you know, lean start up and some of these other books that kind of had a big effect on me. Drop I'Vean some of these others that were really much more like kind of people focused in my mind. I know they're likely, and start up was operational. How you operationally do software, but it was by focusing on people was the answer. So focusing on your customers and getting feedback. So those, those books really mentored me quite a bit. When I came to speaking, if I found someone that I thought was a great speaker, like Tom Mendoza, then I would I would try to contact and then get as much mentorship as I could, send emails on things I've struggling with and see if I could get something that way, and that was that was pretty useful for me. But I really just kind of found that at the end of the day, like, you can have a lot of mentors but, like, you have to be open to listening to them and you have to be open to kind of taking, you know,...

...tough feedback and, even if you don't agree with it in the moment, write it down and look at it the next day and really try to be honest with yourself about whether you are doing what they're saying or whether you're not. And I've tried to mentor a lot of people and and you know, I've had but had some success and I've had a probably way more failure. And it wasn't mean necessarily that was doing anything differently, it was kind of how open the person was. And I don't know, maybe maybe I just found it way more, way simpler to be open to books. But I didn't have a ton of I never I never was in any kind of CEO Councils or Ypo or any of that stuff. But I was kind of studios on like what really successful people did through books and and then by watching people that ran great companies. I loved kind of dissecting like what made that company great almost by talking to their employees or, you know, the dinner parties with friends and kind of hearing about what they loved and what they didn't like and trying to just do the things they loved with the company's Iran, will you mentioned a rock star in our industry just earlier, Tom Men Doza, cofounder at APP. Yeah, you know, two thousand and seventeen. We gave him lifetime achievement awarded our outlier words. Yeah, I was there. That was really cool and I remember something he said. He said I don't think about what keeps me up at night, it's what gets me up in the morning. So what gets you up in the morning? What's your Tom Mendoza objective? So I and I think this is playing out kind of in that the winery that I talked about. I want to I want to prove that it's life is worth living in that in no matter what your success level is or how much failure you've experienced, you've got to be brave. Like we're in the greatest country on the planet. It gives us all kinds of opportunities and you've got to be brave. I have five kids and I'm not getting up so much. You know the Caudi the kids are doing anything but to show them that that every level in my life I'm going to be trying to do hard thing and things that cause a little stress and causal anxiety. But we need to celebrate that struggle. We need to celebrate the fact that we're brave enough to be trying them and you know, you hope that that example will kind of carry forward. And for me, you know, while it is incredibly stressful to do all these things that you know I'm doing, it's really fun and it inspires me. I really love building not just companies but people. I don't know if I have anything in Life I love doing more than that. So that's it for me. Well, as you've been, it's really been an inspiration to many, many, many people. At trace three. I know that you mentioned earlier that you failed more than you succeeded as a mentor. I think that's totally false, but I think it's that, you know, trying to be vulnerable, but you've been a tremendous inspiration for so many people and just just as you mentioned, they're at the end was incredibly inspirational. You know, I forget that sometimes. I...

...forget that we live in the greatest country in the world with nothing but opportunity and it's a great reminder to be brave. Is there anything that we didn't cover on on this podcast that you were hoping you could share with folks? No, I don't think so. You can. You can kind of talk about so many different topics. I would just you know I was just close out kind of my thoughts. UN Really, you know, I just really encourage people. If if you're inspired by anything you heard today, if you're with the other podcast, like the steps that you make to start something are the hardest steps you'll ever take in your life, because you're betting on someone that you don't normally bet on, which is yourself. You're used to betting on someone else and you used to betting on a company to work for. Betting on yourself can be incredibly hard. But I promise you're no matter whether it works or whether it doesn't work, you will never be sorry that you try it. You'll never be sorry that you made a bet on yourself in life. I just I you'd have an incredibly hard time convincing me that that didn't work out for you. Thank you, Hey, thank you so much. Here. You willing to come back and maybe doing another one of these now? Yes, of course not. I'm going to go and grow up in my shower. So thank you so much, Hays. Trace three is hyper focused on helping it leaders deliver business outcomes by providing a wide variety of data center solutions and consulting services. If you're looking for emerging technology to solve tried and true business problems. Trace three is here to help. We believe all possibilities live in technology. You can learn more at trace threecom podcast. That's trace, the number threecom podcast. You've been listening to the founder formula, the podcast for all things start up, from Silicon Valley to innovators across the country. If you want to know what it takes to lead tomorrow's tech companies, subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time,.

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