Ep 006 | Strategic Evolution and the Path to Organizational Growth


Strategic Evolution and the Path to Organization Growth

September 27, 2023

About this episode

Effective management of a strategic plan can be the pivotal factor determining an organization's success or failure. Ensuring streamlined execution and reducing day-to-day disruptions are vital for achieving successful growth. One crucial method to achieve this is by assembling an exceptional leadership team that matches the current organizational stage.

However, adjusting strategies and leadership approaches during growth phases can be challenging. Mark Flickinger, COO and General Partner at BIP Ventures, offers insights into constructing a top-tier team and implementing an adaptable strategic plan.

Join us for a discussion on:

  • Building a winning team in a competitive job market
  • Aligning team expertise with the organization's growth stages
  • Crafting a precise strategic plan while minimizing distractions

Guest Intros

Strategy Gap Podcast Guest | Mark Flickinger, General Partner and COO at BIP Ventures

Mark Flickinger

General Partner and COO at BIP Ventures

Stay connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news and episodes. 

Transcript 📝

Jonathan Morgan  [00:00:02]: 

Welcome, everybody to another episode of the strategy gap. I'm Jonathan. And I'm Joe. And today we have exciting guests. Joining us today is Mark flick injure. Mark is the general partner and COO at VIP ventures and a couple of interesting insights about Mark his company, VIP ventures as a lead investor and achieve it. So, he's had a unique perspective over the years, if you achieve it, not only as an investor, but as a board member. And also, fun fact, Mark was my first manager coming out of college. So, for better or worse, marks had the experience of working with me and definitely for better I've had the experience of working with him. So, Mark, welcome to the show.

Mark Flickinger  [00:00:38]: 

Thank you, Jonathan. I'm really excited to be here. It's funny how the world turns so to speak. Here we are, again. Here we are.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:00:46]: 

Here we are. Yes, here we are. So, we have a lot of great topics to talk about today, certainly from your experience, internally and externally. But I think before we dive into that, it probably makes sense a level set on your role in VIP ventures. Do you mind giving a quick summary just of who VIP Ventures is? And what potentially your what explicit your role is within VIP?

Mark Flickinger  [00:01:06]: 

Sure, yeah, thanks. You know, VIP ventures. We're a venture capital firm based here in Atlanta. And we've been around for 16 or 17 years, I've raised over five anchor funds, we invest predominantly in kind of b2b SaaS and tech enabled service businesses. My role within here started, as we call it, the first hire to work on the enterprise. When I started, we were less than 10 employees. And we had made a handful of investments in companies and the majority of our employees were working in those companies. So, we were working with those companies helping them kind of grow and scale. These are, you know, small, entrepreneurial businesses. And so, my job was to come in and help build VIP ventures, the company that it is today. We are now over 50 employees have been here for over eight years. So, there has been a tremendous amount of growth there, which has been fun to be a part of. But the other thing that's kind of unique is that I sit on one of our investments on our investment committee, so I get to work closely with a lot of our portfolio companies. So, you know that the topic that when you approached me about this thing was interesting one to me and one that I look forward to talking about just given the purview and exposure to all the different companies that we have, or we've invested in.

Joe Krause  [00:02:24]: 

Excellent. And so with that being said, I appreciate you the given the background, and I think of all the people you've interviewed so far, and the people that will interview in the future, I think you have the unique perspective of not only scaling VIP, and I've been with achiever for over 10 years, and I saw Mark come in and grow into the role and do some fantastic things. And just being part of that Atlanta ecosystem, it's great to see his organization grow and thrive. But he's also trying to make sure that they're the ecosystem of portfolio companies within Atlanta and outside, sometimes the zip codes of Atlanta, succeed and thrive. So mark in your role, you get to see your position in your company in taking all the things that you do to grow. But you also see portfolio companies, which as we all know, some do really well, sometimes some people operate in the middle, some fail. So ultimately, based on your experience, is there any sort of a through line that you've seen across the board when it comes to organizations that do really well with strategy execution that are that our viewership and our listenership can learn from? Is there one like one or two qualities that you've seen that really take organizations to the next level? Or is it more complicated than that?

Mark Flickinger  [00:03:32]: 

It's a great question. I think, like, you're right, it's for me, it's been a really fun job to work with nice people. And we certainly want every entrepreneur to work out when we make an investment. Unfortunately, we don't one kind of comment to add to what you said before I answer your question directly is that we are multistage investors. And so, we will invest in companies that have little revenue, so called less than $500,000. We also have companies that have $150 million of revenue. So, to your comment earlier, Joe, those are very different companies in terms of what they need to do, I think the biggest challenge, and you guys are the experts at this, but I think the biggest challenge is you ever won sets a strategy and then they say it's a great strategy, and then they lose track of it. And I think that happens it just as much in really large companies as it does and in particularly acute in small companies where you, you have a great plan and you walk out the front door, and then you get like punched in the mouth to use a phrase and then suddenly you're spinning and you're trying to figure out what to do. And I think it's really easy for people to lose track of like the priorities that they set out to get done in any period of time called a year, quarter month, etc. And you need to have some ingrain process internally that allows you to constantly touch them, not to say they aren't going to change over the course of a year. But like we said, we have a saying inside are kind of the phrasing. So, like we said at the beginning here that these are the most important things to do. And then we set our employees off to go do those things. And we hope that that that rubric or that list allows them to when they have to decide between x, y or z that they need to get done over the next week, that that helps them triage, right and prioritize what goes on. But this constant like urgent versus important thing happens, and something I wrestle with, I'm sure everyone does as well. Like, it's really easy to lose track of what you set out to be the really important stuff, because you have to deal with all these urgent things. So, I think that I mean, it's as kind of, perhaps cliche as that sounds. I mean, as I said before, I've seen companies that have little to no revenue, up through companies that have $150 million of revenue. That constant, just ingrained process of a touch point to keep things in front of them, so to speak. So, they don't lose touch with what we're doing is kind of the key to success. And when you look back on the year, and you say Did we achieved what we said we're going to achieve or not, if it's the first time you've dusted off your list that you settled on, after hours and hours of discussion, chances are, you're probably not going to have it done as much as you would like it to be done.

Joe Krause  [00:06:06]: 

It just as a side note, the three of us for better or for worse ever MBAs and what would be what MBA program would be incomplete with two by twos. And what you were just mentioning, reminds me of the Eisenhower decision matrix where if it's urgent and important, do it if it's not urgent, important decide at a scheduled time to do it. That makes a lot of sense. So if you're not familiar with the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to our listeners, it's really is puts things in perspective. But my follow up question to what you just mentioned was great. And I think what you mentioned was great. What we find with our clients, helping them navigate through strategy execution is that they get sucked into the idea that was brought up in the Franklin Covey book, the four disciplines of execution, the whirlwind of daily operations, the fire drills become the main aspect of their day. And so, strategy isn't necessarily in their mind. less important, but there's not enough time in the day to focus on it. How have you seen organizations get really successful at quieting the whirlwind? Knowing that operations obviously has a part, but they have to carve out time for strategy and focusing on the long term, what have you seen in your career, that people have administered that and done that well, to really fight their way through it?

Mark Flickinger  [00:07:18]: 

Yeah, I totally agree. It's a constant struggle, it's a struggle for me in my daily work, I often get spun around multiple times in a day with a whirlwind of what needs to get done. I think it starts with an agreement at the top that it's important, right, you have to have something to fall back on where whoever is setting the agenda or the setting the sales, so to speak. And of course, for the organization has to have conviction unilaterally across the organization, that it's important for them to do this from a strategic perspective. And it's important for them to get that done, then you can always go back on that, like, you have to be able to carve out time. And then I think it comes down to sort of discipline and accountability amongst the leadership team that they're going to enable and empower the organization to make sure that continue to touch on that. And they move forward in and they're able to go get it. You know that the whirlwind of the or that urgent stuff, it happens every single day. And if you don't have those kind of two touch points of the discipline and the agreement and the process across the top, that it's something that you, in order for the organization to get where it needs to go, you're going to be successful, you're never going to be able to carve out the time, there's just too much demands of your time in order to do it. And so, I mean, it's something we still struggle with today from a VIP ventures perspective, where, you know, we've been around for 16 plus years, to have a lot of capital under management from our perspective, but we still have to make sure that we're touching back on what do we say we're going to do? Are we going to do it? Are we doing the right job from leadership perspective, instilling that back down through the rest of the organization. But it does start at the top. I mean, you can't expect to like you hand something off to the rest of the organization, and then they're going to just go naturally get it done, because you gave it to him one time. But if you don't have that discipline and accountability at the top, you're not going to be successful.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:09:10]: 

Yeah, super interesting perspective. And I certainly have a lot of questions around the people side of that for leadership. But I think it makes sense to spend a little more time on that process, and particularly how that changes across the different phases of an organization. Right. You mentioned earlier, you work with seed stage companies, so almost pre revenue, probably at times 250 million in annual revenue companies. How does? Is there a certain like, break point where that process changes significantly? How does that change over that lifecycle of a typical company in your experience?

Mark Flickinger  [00:09:42]: 

Yeah, yeah, I don't know if there's a break point because everyone kind of evolves as they go. I wouldn't say you move from like, you can get by on big blocks. Like we're gonna go do X when you're a small company and you haven't done much. It's really easy to say the strategic goal for the Here is to sell to a customer, right? I mean, these you make these kinds of big blocks that don't require a lot of extra thought and everything. As you mature as an organization and you're you have more employees, you have a more diverse set of clients, you have a more diverse product, you have more and more features and functionality, etc., across the organization. I think the ability for a strategic plan to be effective requires more not like thought it requires more, you know, nuanced where you know, as an organization, we're gonna do X, but as a tech team, we're going to do Y to support X. And as a marketing team, we're going to do Z to support X, and you kind of have to break it down throughout the organization. And so, I think the break points that you're talking about Jonathan are more around as mature as the company matures. your strategic plan has to mature with it so that everyone knows what their, you know, their seat on the bus is supposed to do whatever. And in order to achieve something, we're trying our big strategic imperative as an organization, to what you need to do from your team, and then distill that down into your employees. But I think it gets a lot more complicated, right? Yeah, it's easy when they're five to eight people sitting in a room to settle on something, and then constantly touch that without a lot of rigor. I mean, in many cases, you don't even you should always write it down. But they don't necessarily even have to write it down, right? They could write on a whiteboard and walk by it every day. And they would kind of know, am I furthering the goal of A, B and C or not. But as you get into a larger organization, you need to be much more overt about what you're trying to do. And that plan becomes more detailed in order for it to therefore be effective across the organization.

Joe Krause  [00:11:42]: 

In that same vein, I had the pleasure of attending a conference last week up in California, Sastre so many of our listeners might know, it's a pretty big a great source, both at the conference and in throughout the year for resources that help SAS companies, no matter where they are, in their journey, be it precede seed, you know, growing and scaling, what have you. And obviously, they had a lot of great speakers hear from some really well known brands and companies, and they always put the best on the stage, right? You don't have somebody that failed. It's always somebody that took it from 7 million ARR to 850 million ARR in five years and look at what I've done. But as you know, more than anybody, that journey is rarely straight up and to the right is a twisting and turning. And I guess the question that people might have, especially if they're in organizations that are maybe in the middle of a struggle, and they can't figure out how to get through that thick jungle with a machete. What knowledge have you imparted to founders or anybody at any stage you've invested in to keep sight on the fact that like keep hacking away? Because right over the next ridge, is hopefully the promised land? What have you been seeing successful to keep people motivated? Even if they're executing at a high level? And the results aren't coming with it right away? They're a little bit delayed. What's your approach to that?

Mark Flickinger  [00:12:48]: 

Yeah, yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, we're venture investors are pretty early stage investors, typically first institutional capital. And so, the stories that you just articulated the like, unicorn, and five years, those are few and far between and more power to those that get there, I think the vast majority of businesses take 10 plus years to get to something where they have traction and success. And I think that it takes there's we call it like the horse, jockey and track or track, horse jockey. And so, you kind of have that I'll elaborate on that a little bit. But you have to be solving a problem that people want to be solved at the forefront. And you have to have some unique way that you're solving that problem relative to how others could be solving that problem. I think if you if you have lost touch of that, right, like you're giving people a vitamin instead of a pain pill, or in the course of your journey, while you're slash thrashing away with a machete. That problem has been solved by other people, you gotta adjust and pivot and kind of take a different tact or a different course. But you know, if you're, if you're on a track that horses can run on to try and keep the horse analogy, whether that'll work or not, we'll find out. But if you're on a track, that, of course is gonna run you have a problem that's known that needs to be solved, you have a neat way of solving that problem. Like the market knows you're there, the market knows your solution. And sometimes that market has to come to you it's not mature enough to know that there's a solution for their problem. Sometimes you have to go to the market, you have to articulate your, you know, go to market and your target market fit profile. But that's kind of one piece of the puzzle. The horse would be your product, right? Like the horse, you have to have a good product that solves the problem in a unique way where people are willing to buy it and use it because then it makes their life easier and more efficient. And then your kind of last piece of the puzzle is the jockey the team, like who's stewarding and who are we getting to where we are so I think first comment would be you're absolutely right. There are very few overnight successes and even the ones that feel like overnight successes, they're not right they moved around for eight to 10 years and then all Sudden they got it all right market came to them, they had the right solution, position everything and then the revenue went up really fast. But it's very rare, very rare that you start a business and the next day and off it goes. In often I won't. Often companies that go up that fast come back down that fast, right? It just they caught on to something that was more of a trend than a company and they'll go up and down. So, I think that first comment is it just it does take time to do it. So, keep going after it. The second piece of advice for those people that are out there is just to keep in touch with what you're trying to do relative to the like the problem, the simplest form? Is that what problem you're trying to solve, do you have a unique solution to solve it relative to your competitors relative to the market, etc, etc. Sometimes, we've invested too early for a market where we believe something's going to be the solution that everyone needs. And we're building product. And we're building product, we're getting a little bit of traction with a customer here, there, but they're bleeding edge, right? And this the market is not ready, you can't force it on the market. So, you have to adjust how you're moving for it for business perspective, to give yourself that time. And then your focus really comes on how do I educate the market that they need my solution? Sometimes you're just your products not right, right you know, the way you're solving the problem markets ready. But the problem the way you're solving a problem, that to me is a lot of just listening to your customers like getting out in front of them seeing you know, the promise that you have with your product, make sure that your product lives up to that promise to make sure that the promise is actually something that the market needs. And then the third touch point is your team. You know, I think it's easy from an entrepreneur’s perspective, start with three people, and call yourself all co-founders, you all do different things, you kind of move down a path, you got to be honest with yourself that like your goal is success for the organization, not title, the same team, etc. And so, identify what the company needs. And it may not be your roommate that you started the business with, or your best friend that you hired to do marketing, it may need someone else in order to break through and get to where that needs to be. And I think good founders, co-founders, entrepreneurs recognize that it's a dynamic world and things change over time. And you're not like how you started out is not going to be how you finish in your job. If you're if you're true with if you're like the reason you started the very difficult endeavor to be an entrepreneur in the first place, is you wanted success with the business because you're solving some problem for people. You have to be honest with yourself to like, have I done the right thing across the kind of market product and team or kind of track, horse, and jockey.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:17:46]: 

Now, I'll throw in my input, the horse analogy works. So, congrats there. I followed along; I think our listeners did too. But he brings up an important aspect of crucial roles within strategy. Certainly, we've talked a lot about process and kind of how that drives it. But when I think about strategy, you know, it's like a three legged stool you have the strategy or the ideas, whether that's a service or a product or consumer product or the case maybe you have the process, which we've talked about and then in the people or your jockey is really the key aspect and keeping that together. There's only sometimes you can get lucky and have a two legged stool that works out. But that people aspect is really important to bring it all together, in and that's something that in our experiences early on in some of our other episodes. Everybody has varying opinions on kind of the role of leadership and strategy. You know, in some cases, we joke that it's like Moses with the 10 commandments, saying this is what we're going to do. In other cases, it's the opposite side where it's much more collaborative approach to planning bottoms up versus top down. I'd be interested to get your perspective. Similar to our question about processes is, how do you see most organizations plan? You know, is it a lot of them early on are top down, and then over time it shifts to bottom up? Or that some blend of those two strategies?

Mark Flickinger  [00:19:09]: 

Yeah, I think that a lot of our organizations that we start with are the middle, which is now that they're small enough organizations where there's not that big a difference between top and bottom. So, let's start there. From my, my perspective is perhaps a little bit skewed from some of your larger clients, customers and or listeners. I think the top to bottom is just the relatively small organizations, right, the 10 to 40 employees, perhaps sometimes less than that. And so, I think it always typically starts top down. And in order for people to get the importance of strategy and when people joined an organization at that size at that level with the belief that the horse jockey and track that they're on are going to be successful. In so they're kind of looking to leadership to say Well, I'm here now to provide my unique skill set to help us get there. What are we going to do? Right. And so, I think that kind of strategic piece typically start from the top, I think to be successful. Over time, it needs to be both, right? I mean, whether it's built from the top down or the bottom up, you need everyone in the organization to be aligned with the goals of what we're trying to do in a year. So that when you're not sitting next to them every minute of every day, people know what to do with their job, right. I mean, I think particularly in today's more distributed workforce, whether you're 100% distributed or five days a week in the office, or some hybrid in between the two, everyone needs to be like, tied to mission vision values, and in what we're trying to get done from a strategic imperatives perspective over the course of that year. And so, they need to buy in from top to bottom. And one of the ways to get by, and I think once you have the thought, leadership, accountability discipline from the top is to allow it to start at the bottom. Right, because then once you go from the bottom, you build up to the top, assuming that it aligns with what the leadership wants to do with the organization, then everyone has buy-in, everyone's participated in the process, and they've done well. And I think that's a that is a, if everyone's on board with what we're trying to do, then it's that's kind of the first, I don't know, first rung in the ladder to having a successful year, because everyone, like they, they authentically agree with what you've put in front of them. I think the risk with the Moses example is that people may not agree with it. And that allows you that like when time goes by, if no one's checking in, or they don't, you know, throw down the 10 commandments, again, every month or every week, or every time you could have staff meeting, they could just pick at it didn't really mean that you're I don't believe in it. So, I'm willing to do six of them, we're not going to do all 10. And so, I do, I do think that, you know, for us, a lot of times, it's the whole org because of their small orgs. But, you know, assuming you get what you need from the top in terms of everyone understands why and what you're doing, allow me to start from the bottom makes a lot of sense to me

Joe Krause  [00:22:11]: 

into that, and Jonathan and I are operators that achieve it. And we are still in a fairly tight labor market. I mean, it's things have gotten a little bit better. I mean, we saw the day, the CPI numbers just came in a little bit hot. So, who knows what the future may hold. But ultimately, it's still challenging to find the right people for the right role. No matter what you're hiring for. It could be entry level, it could be somebody more senior. And you have once again, the unique experience of seeing late stage early stage. And the advice I was given early on was that if you're really early stage, you can hire missionaries, people that really buy into the mission, the long term vision because they want to ensure that they're part along for the ride. But as you get past a certain stage, you have to hire unfortunately, mercenary, somebody that's maybe more focused on title and position and all the good things, they have really big skill sets, but there's not as much to give as you wouldn't an early stage company. So the question I have is, then, is your hiring approach change in regards to you mentioned early, they have to be aligned with mission vision values, but the way that you approach to hiring good people to execute at a high level at an early stage company? What do you look for that's different than maybe in the late stage company? Or is it the same where it's the type of person you're looking for can fit into both? What are your thoughts on that, considering you've done it for so long?

Mark Flickinger  [00:23:21]: 

Yeah. Thanks, Joe. I think that's a I think that's a compliment that how long I've been doing it, but

Joe Krause  [00:23:27]: 

100%? No, no, Joe, we've all lived stories for days. Right? So, the point is, we all know that this could go really well or it could not. And how do you approach it is I think something people can really learn from

Mark Flickinger  [00:23:37]: 

I think that was commenting on my hair juxtaposes your hair with

Jonathan Morgan  [00:23:40]: 

Your hair was not far off when you were 30. So, we met Jonathan, it turned that color. So that's it?

Mark Flickinger  [00:23:51]: 

No, I think your talent is key. Right? So, I hopefully answer your question. As I, as I talk through this, if I don't, please ask it again. I think in order to get to where you want to go, you need to have a great team, right? That team is dynamic. Just as much as I mentioned before, as things are kind of changing from an organizational perspective, the team that's going to get you from 1 million to 10 million may not be the same team to get you from 10 million to 50 million in etcetera. I think my advice on talent is particularly now it's going to cost more than you want it to like you said already it's just a really tight labor market. So, the best people have jobs and so if they're looking for something new and interesting, exciting, you have to both give them that satisfy like professional satisfaction or opportunity to do something that they can't do in their current role and then you're probably going to have to pay for them as well. We haven't we've we like to say inside our house like if you think good talents expensive, see way too easy or expensive bad talent is this is so disruptive to the organization and you know you have come to a some crossroads in your organization where you recognize you don't have the team on do to get to the next place, you're so you're either growing too fast, everyone's stretched too thin, or you just don't have the right skill set to do something, you're going to stop what you're doing, to go try and find this exceptional talent. And when you do, they're going to show up on day one, you're gonna onboard them for day two, and then you're gonna say, go make my life better and deliver on the promise, you got to have a really great talent in order to do that, if you under hire, because you're trying to save 10 grand or 20 grand or some larger number of the course of the year, you're gonna be underwhelmed with what you get what you need, some of that can operate in the maturity stage that your business is in, in order to get you to that next particular phase. So, I think it's hard to find talent, the good talent is often in already has a job, they're not wandering the streets looking for their next job. And so, you have to give a compelling reason for them to come to your company, in order to go where you want to do. If, like, from there from, like you're going to company to company, you're going to have different phases of maturity as far as what company what employee you want. And I mentioned before this kind of dynamic Road, where you go, it's okay for someone to be really good at one to 10 and not good at 10 to 20, or whatever the number is that that's okay, we have a lot of people in our portfolio, we have a different perspective, as you highlighted already, where we'll put someone in pickup function, finances punctual put someone as a finance function, and they really love the one to 10 face. And then the really, really good ones that have done a bunch and have, they'll raise your hand and say, Okay, I'm ready to go back to the one, like, let's find a replacement. But very few people have that, like self-awareness that that's what they want to do. And so, like, you need to be honest with yourself, like, it's just the companies outgrow the people, that doesn't mean the people that do anything wrong, the people probably aren't having fun anymore, either. And so, you kind of have to think of your organization. And in this Dynamic Phase of like, we're going through these nodes of success and maturity, if we're fortunate enough to get through them all. Let's make sure that the team we have as we go through them all is the best team, we can put on the field in order to find success, it's really hard to win, right? It's really hard to start a company and have the company be successful and scale, you need all these things to go that we've talked about already in your favor. And, you know, the team, to me, is the fastest influence on where you're going to go as your team. It's not, you know, the market requires a lot of time, and education adoption, from a product perspective, like building a solution. I mentioned before, we're a lot of b2b software and technical service businesses that takes time with the team that you implement, can unlock a lot of value really quickly, whether it's go to market strategy, or it's how you're positioning yourself or marketing. And there's a whole host of different things you can do from a team perspective that unlock things kind of faster than those other two can.

Joe Krause  [00:27:56]: 

It makes a lot of sense. And I mean, I think what you're saying to hopefully resonates with folks, you know, penny wise, penny wise pound foolish, when it comes to potentially the talent that you need at your stage, there's a cost benefit to hiring the wrong person that's going to outweigh the extra 10 or 20 that you might put out there. And one thing I know that's worked to achieve it over the years is that we've incorporated pretty much across all roles, some sort of final act, some sort of final presentation, something at the end of the interview process, where the person that you're trying to hire demonstrates the fact that they can do the job at some level. So if you're a strategy consultant, like Jonathan was when he first started the org, with the organization, he gave a great presentation around a plan, where some of the gaps were what recommendations he would give, and he was acting as if he was already doing the role that's allowed us to get a glimpse, every hire you make is a bit of a risk, because ultimately, you don't know how that person is going to work out. So, you do your best on the front end, like you mentioned, and just make sure their onboarding is good. So, they have the tools they need to then run. And ultimately, at that point, you hope you hope for the best, but sometimes it makes the interview process go a little longer than you'd like. But that extra time spent is time well spent, at least in my humble opinion.

Mark Flickinger  [00:29:01]: 

Yeah. And one comment, just to add, before we go to the next question, the inverse is also true, right? You want someone that's aligned with the values of your firm, so just spending money isn't going to solve the problem, right? And so, I don't want people to listen to this and say, Oh, he said, pay more money for people.

Joe Krause  [00:29:19]: 

That's inflation, inflation that's

Mark Flickinger  [00:29:22]: 

coming from my seat, my seat is, you know, that is essentially our money that we've invested in a company to go kind of hopefully be successful. The inverse is also true, I mean, there is a culture and a set of values within an organization. And the person that you bring in has to norm into those are already be normed into those in order to be successful. And so that's a that knife cuts both ways, right? You need to make sure you're finding the right person and don't skimp on if the best person that you find is a little more expensive, but you know, in your core in your heart that that gives you the best chance to be successful figure out a way to make that happen, even if it's negotiation and discussion with that person. Don't just buy someone because they work with some, you know, I say buy give us mercenary before, don't just buy, I got I got in there incepted us good, excellent is by someone, because they worked at some company that everyone knows, right? That doesn't mean that they're a good employee, you're done. And often if you know the company, there may not be the right maturity, like the maturity stage where you are, because that company has already had kind of escape velocity and been really, really successful. They don't want to come back and work for a company that has $20 million of annual recurring revenue as examples. So that is a double edged sword. So, we certainly don't want you to just go spend money to spend money, just like you're really trying to get the best team that has all the all the boxes checked for you to be successful.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:30:42]: 

Yeah, I'm really glad you mentioned that. That's something that I've definitely seen a lot of not at achieve it but with colleagues and friends and other organizations is everybody wants that super attractive company name and the executive from that company. But they don't take the time to think about, you know, was it that person that drove that growth? Or was it just a product that no matter who you had in that organization, it would have taken off as well. So definitely some great insights there. And we could continue this conversation, I'm sure for hours. And we'll definitely have to have you back on in the future. But need to wrap up here and want to close it out with one last question. So obviously, you've had plenty of years of experience, both internally and externally. monitoring strategy and execution and organizational growth. If you were to think about your career and go back to the beginning of your career, well, we'll say post MBA, so when you when you first start started working with yours truly, yeah, to give yourself one piece of advice. What would that advice be?

Mark Flickinger  [00:31:38]: 

Who one piece of you really set that up? As the last question, I got to go along with a great answer.

Joe Krause  [00:31:43]: 

Ask everybody the same question. So, no pressure, everybody gets the last one.

Mark Flickinger  [00:31:47]: 

Yeah, I think the advice I'd give myself is, you're always coming out of MBA school is, is a great example is a great place to start as you're always in. You're in a rush to start your career. And I think you're trying to you guys still hear me?

Mark Flickinger  [00:32:14]: 

The clicker still going? Yes. Yeah. Got as you land your face to? Deal. It'll answer the question, and maybe we can add it from there.

Mark Flickinger  [00:32:31]: 

I think going for Business School is a great place to start with the question.

Joe Krause  [00:32:35]: 

He could just answer the question. Okay.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:32:48]: 

I'll text them.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:32:58]: 

up there it says in the lobby. There is. Right when you started the to answer, so you can just we don't need to re ask the question. But if you want to, or Gabrielle, however you think we should do it? I think just right when you started answering that question, and we'll edit out everything in between.

Joe Krause  [00:33:29]: 

He said business school when you said when you're leaving business school, that's where we've got lost. Yeah, yeah.

Mark Flickinger  [00:33:35]: 

Yeah, it's a tough question. Thanks for saving until the end. If I were to go back, I think Business School is a great place to start. From my perspective, because you come out of business school, and or at least I was in a rush to start my career, right? I think you like I got experience, have some degrees and ready to kind of go and go from experience perspective. I think at that time, you need to go. You need to be consciously working on your career and kind of go, go as fast as you can, but not be in a rush. I think there's just there's so many skill sets that you can learn along the way. And you can learn from everyone around you. And so, my advice to anyone listening is really to absorb mean ask questions, put yourself in challenging situations, be in an uncomfortable situation. Ask what else you need to learn. I think it's easy for people to say, I've been here for some period of time, three months, six months, 12 months, I'm ready for a promotion. I think the better question is what do I need to learn at this current phase in my career in order to be prepared for where I want to go? And that's different for everyone. You know, what you want to be and who you want to be like, who you want to be when you grew up is different for everyone. And so, I think the advice I'd give myself to be thoughtful about that. Don't just kind of get caught up in it. There's food on my plate. And at first, I wasn't hungry, but not hungry. So, I'm going to eat it. Like be thoughtful about what you want to do with your career where you want to go with it and be in in really set about setting yourself up to be successful in your own career that get the skill sets that you'd need to get, put yourself in uncomfortable situation and find a way to be successful there. And that will help guide you as far as where you're going. It's easy to just want to move up the ladder, so to speak, in terms of title and, and obviously, from a salary perspective ever wants to be successful in life. But I think, you know, that's not a linear path, in my opinion. And if you're thoughtful about how you're going to do it, you'll be more fulfilled when you get there. And all the compensation will come if you're successful, but you'll be fulfilled because you have all the skill sets to be successful when you get to where you want to be.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:35:57]: 

Yeah, I love it. As a millennial who has often been impatient with my career. I totally appreciate that feedback and couldn't agree more. So, Mark, I appreciate all the insights and for you taking the time to join Joe and today on the episode and we look forward to chatting more in the future.

Mark Flickinger  [00:36:13]: 

Great, thank you both. I really enjoyed being on the show. Thanks Mark.

Subscribe to The Strategy Gap