Hiring for Good Ep. 4 with Charles Swatzell

Ep4 Podcast Charles Swatzell Hiring for Good

Join us on the latest episode of Hiring For Good Podcast presented by Acumen Executive Search, featuring a compelling discussion with Charles “Matt” Swatzell, CEO at Formos. Explore the transformative power of leadership in SaaS product development, mobile applications, and process management solutions. This episode is now available on all platforms!

About Charles Swatzell: Charles is the Chief Executive Officer at Formos. Charles specializes in forming and driving key teams to develop and implement strategies and technology to produce business success. A graduate of both the University of La Verne, and Amberton University holding a BS degree in Organizational Management as well as a MS degree in Human Resources, Training and Development. Charles has worked for many years driving teams to both build business strategies as well as products for the consumer and B2B markets.

About Formos Founded in 2002, Formos’ team of nearly 100 employees delivers SaaS product development, mobile applications, and process management solutions. They serve customers across North America, Europe, and Asia from offices in Vancouver, WA,(Portland Metro Area) USA, Ho Chi Minh City & Da Nang, Vietnam, and Quito, Ecuador. As the top global executive Charles oversees all aspects of Formos’ operation including a team of C-level leaders and globally dispersed production teams.

Tanis Morris: Director of Business Development at Acumen Executive Search Email: tanis@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Suzanne Hanifin: President at Acumen Executive Search Email: suzanne@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Charles Swatzell Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesswatzell/

Formos Website: https://www.formos.com/

Acumen Executive Search, Portland, Oregon, is proud to present the Hiring For Good Podcast. Follow Acumen Executive Search to be notified of new episodes.

Hiring for Good Transcript

0:00 good morning we’re here with Charles Swatzel who is CEO of Formos uh software

0:05 company in Vancouver Washington that’s correct and um I’m Tanis and I’m

0:11 Suzanne and Charles we’re delighted to have you here today we’re uh looking forward to hearing your story well let’s

0:18 hope it’s amusing but thanks for having me it’s wonderful to come out and I appreciate the time yeah yeah so I think we would

0:26 love to hear um really your story like how did you become you know where did

0:32 you start and become a CEO of a software company well it’s a long story uh and it

0:38 didn’t start in the normal place that most tech founders come from right so uh

0:43 starting way back uh so as a child I was lucky I grew up in a small town in California and the town had nothing

0:48 except theater so it happened to have like eight different theater companies producing theater within one small town

0:55 about half a million people and uh I got lucky enough at the age of six I got roped into being the kid in professional

1:03 in a professional company shows so for 13 years I spent my childhood performing on stage next to professional actors

1:10 basically being a tree or a rock or the kid in The Sound of Music or South Pacific or what you know whatever these great Classics are but watching these

1:16 professional actors perform and so I thought that’s what I was going to do I graduated high school I moved to New

1:22 York I studied musical theater I then moved back to California uh and opened a dinner theater with one of my producers

1:29 from when I was a kid so he called me he said hey you do lighting design I was doing some choreography I I perform on

1:35 stage and and do musical stuff and he was a writer and a producer so he said the two of us together we can build a

1:41 theater so I flew back from New York I met with him he pctures this idea to me and I’m like this sounds amazing where

1:46 are we going to do it and he goes well I don’t have that yet I don’t I don’t have a spot and I said wait I flew all the way here because you had a theater and

1:53 you don’t have a theater like that’s a place like what are we going to do so we were sitting in a restaurant the restaurant was empty it was Friday night

1:59 and so we saw a really sad guy in the corner and I’m like I bet that guy owns this place and so we pulled him over to

2:05 our table and we had dinner with him and by the end of the dinner we had bought out the the restaurant Thursday Friday

2:10 Saturday and two shows on Sunday and we started produce theater there 30 days later this is amazing so no just I want

2:19 to say really quickly Charles possess it he’s a bit of a unicorn because not only

2:24 is he a phenomenal business person but he’s an entrepreneur and I he

2:30 encompasses a lot and so you’ll hear repeatedly how he recognized an

2:35 opportunity and then made it happen and then he marries that with actually being a pretty fantastic manager so he’s quite

2:42 an interesting person really you know what I find interesting just at the childhood part like Tanis said taking

2:49 that risk of getting outside of your comfort zone immediately and saying okay

2:56 yes I’ve spent all this time in the front you know on stage to then go to

3:02 the back of the stage and create something new that that’s that’s very

3:09 brave yeah well you can call it ignorance right whatever you want to call it right I just didn’t know better

3:14 and through all of that I we ended up overrunning those we sold out our first season in a couple of days we just we had done theater in this town for so

3:20 long that we knew a lot of people so we sold season tickets we ended up owning a restaurant a bar a coffee shop and a

3:26 banquet facility all at the same time while producing nine shows different Productions a year and this is the same

3:32 small town that you’re have competition with all these other theaters that’s right that’s amazing it was a lot of fun

3:39 and it was a great time I met my wife there it taught me a lot about business just kind of a crash course and what not

3:44 to do mostly but uh but you know I was able to meet my wife she was my office manager at the time uh and later became

3:51 my wife and then uh did that for as long as I could right you can’t run a coffee shop and a bar and a dinner theater and

3:58 sleep and so I found myself sleeping in the office just burning the candle on both ends but loving every minute of

4:04 what I was doing um and uh at so at a certain point I got I got married we started to have kids and we realized

4:11 this is fun but I I need to make a real living like I need actual revenue to come in I have obligations I can’t just

4:18 be that starving artist anymore um and so I was trying to figure out what what do I do I have all these skills uh and I

4:26 don’t think I can make the living I needed to make standing on stage um I maybe more practical my mom’s Asian so I

4:32 say I get all that practicalness from you know my Asian upbringing right but um so I I decided that sales was the

4:39 closest thing I had to acting right and acting is very much so you know understanding why somebody does

4:45 something and then figuring out how to genuinely recreate that on stage and sales is figuring out why somebody may

4:51 want something and then figuring out how to present it to them in a way that they understand that that that’s an equal

4:56 exchange and so I took a a entry level job with a T-Mobile store I walked in

5:02 there a couple months later I was running the whole region of the Salt Lake City Valley um they then said hey

5:07 do you want to be transferred back to run a region in California I said great where is it it was between Northridge and Fresno which happens to be right

5:14 from the town I was from and so I was like that sounds fun uh and I ended up becoming a sales manager so I went back

5:20 to school got my business degree then went back and got my masters in Human Resources training and development and

5:26 then trained a bunch of salespeople to make money for T-Mobile so you were working full-time fulltime back to

5:32 school for two different degrees in including graduate school while you’re married with a wife and kids it sounds

5:38 like you’re still burning the candle at boths yeah you know I didn’t I didn’t notice that that wasn’t what you just

5:43 did right like you just went back and you did it and I was ambitious and you know I knew that in order to get the

5:49 interviews that I wanted I had to have that piece of paper behind me I didn’t have a network right I had moved out of

5:54 the town that I knew everybody in so I just had to go out and play the game and so

6:00 uh yeah it was a it was a lot of fun I got relocated up to Portland uh to be a sales manager and a trainer for a

6:05 construction company I realized that industry was something I hated as soon as I got here uh and so I left that uh

6:11 went to work for Apartment Guide in Rent.com uh love that became the fair housing trainer for the association for

6:18 housing here in uh Portland uh so I was doing all the fair housing training for the market which was wonderful uh and

6:25 then I met a startup guy who uh was pitching we were at a reverse trade show so it’s kind of like speed dating but so

6:32 the the vendors move and the the people you’re trying to sell to have booths and my team from apartment guide was

6:37 pitching right next to this other guy who had this concept and this concept was I want to build a platform or I have

6:44 a platform that you could pull one background check and instantly screen against every vacant apartment in any town and know where you qualify before

6:51 you send your information over there properties will love it because everybody that comes through the door qualifies and renters will love it

6:57 because even the most qualified renters spends about 90 days trying to find a place we can help you find a place in

7:03 less than about 30 minutes and then there’s also a lot of times deposit money and other things so so you can

7:09 totally see the benefit from both sides absolutely it was huge and so I I pulled him aside after hearing his pitch for

7:15 three hours that day and said hey if you actually have this thing like you’re going to give all of us guys a run for

7:21 our money and he said well that’s good I don’t have anything and I said wait you have nothing and he goes well I have

7:26 these slides that I’ve been showing all day but I don’t have a product and I said so what are you doing here at a trade show and he said well I’m trying

7:33 to uh see if the market wants it I’m trying to validate this concept and I said oh this is intriguing so I left

7:40 Apartment Guide Rent.com I waited at my non-compete and we built that together um that original platform was called No

7:45 App Fee um it’s now called One App uh Rentals here in it’s still based here in

7:51 Portland but 2016 we were named uh top five tech Global Tech startups by one of

7:56 the larger incubators in the world uh had a really fun run there uh started to

8:01 build Tech I spent two years of my life trying to build that product with a tech firm based out of Houston failed

8:06 miserably at building it uh and then uh one of our investors came and put his arm around me and he’s kind of these you

8:13 know genius-style Tech leaders in our market and he says Hey Charles I’d love to give you more money but your Tech

8:19 isn’t any good and I said no I know I need your money so that I can build better Tech uh and he said okay but if

8:25 you’re going to build it you need to build it with Formos based out of Vancouver and and my answer was if you’re giving me money I’ll build it

8:31 with anybody like just tell me so Matt who who’s our owner at Formos came out uh with our CTO and he said hey give me

8:38 three and a half months and about a quarter of a million dollars and I’ll get your whole product rebuilt into market so I called him a liar to his

8:44 face because the only thing worse than construction as far as timelines is software development absolutely nobody

8:49 hits timelines nobody hits budgets so we you know and he said you know he said Charles he goes if you don’t trust me

8:56 then we shouldn’t do work together pushes back from the table gets in his car and drives back from my office in Tigard back to Vancouver and I look at my

9:03 COO who who was like 18 years at Intel and I said have you ever seen this happen before like what did I do and he

9:08 goes no but we should work with those guys and so I called Matt we signed the contract the next day and they got us to

9:14 Market 15 days early and $115,000 under budget wow unbelievable and I said holy

9:19 canoli so let’s do it again so we did 27 iterations of the software while I was there and then I left I had built a

9:25 small company with my wife that we’ve sold in the last couple years but I was going to go do that uh and Matt this the

9:31 owner of Formos called me on my way home my last day at at at my startup and said hey what are you going to do and I said well I’m going to go home I built

9:37 this company with my wife we’re going to do that uh and he said can we go have drinks and so 7 hours later uh I was

9:44 working at Formos so we sat and talked for seven hours I first came on as Chief Strategy Officer um first day of being

9:51 at Formos I broke everything they’d been around for 16 years at that point uh there were about 80 people globally

9:58 and uh we uh we I brought a couple friends with me who needed software development and they’re like oh that’s

10:03 great but now we can’t have any more business we need to grow and so as soon as I broke it we kind of decided we

10:09 needed to do a better Global growth strategy uh and so I ended up stepping in as CEO my partner Matt ended up

10:16 spending more time in in Ecuador and Vietnam where we have some of our offices to help grow those teams uh and

10:21 now we’re here that’s amazing you know I I always think that life you know is

10:28 never a straight line and we just we talked about this earlier today and how you have to ebb and flow but yet there’s

10:36 something about taking those chances and those risks and listening to your gut of

10:42 saying okay I’ll give this a try and then I laugh so hard of two years you

10:50 know 27 you know different thing because especially at that point technology I

10:57 mean it’s changing so fast I mean how running a tech company how are you

11:02 keeping up and how are you yeah being Innovative and staying Innovative it’s

11:08 it’s fascinating because specifically in like the software Tech world there’s a lot of what we call like the flavor of the month technology right every time

11:15 you you you open up a new trade magazine or a website or or go to a conference they’re talking about this next new big

11:22 thing and the reality is 95% of those things aren’t ever actually viable in

11:27 market right so like we’re chasing in a bunch of this AI stuff right now right I was going to ask you about AI yup and you

11:33 know everybody’s pitching AI as being new and you know we’ve built on like the enterprise software side we’ve built

11:39 decision models when we first built no app Fe I built an engine that if I pull your background check I can screen you

11:44 against the unique data for every single property in in a in a given town right so there’s this huge model behind that

11:51 that’s making all these decisions for you all of that is AI but that was years and years ago and so what’s happened in

11:57 the last couple years is we’ve gotten a bunch of these really good consumer grade AIS you can now go on ChatGBT and

12:03 type something in and have it tell you you know all these things we’ve built really cool like recipe generators that

12:09 that generate recipes based on what you have in your in your cupboard or your dietary restrictions for some of our

12:14 clients and um they’re very cool but really what’s happened is that they’ve just come to the Forefront right they’re

12:20 now you don’t have to be an engineer to understand them but the models that things like AI are based on are are

12:25 things we’ve been doing forever um and so for us it’s a about innovation in a way that’s stable so we want to be ahead

12:32 of the curve but not too far ahead of the curve because when we build something for a client I want it to be able to be maintainable so we have a

12:39 bunch of these languages that have come out you know you talk about the languages that people develop in and you know we’ll still say at Formos most of

12:45 our stuff is Java and Java is an Enterprise language that’s been around forever and the reason we still use it

12:51 is that it does what our clients needed to do and you can go into any coffee shop in Portland and find two Java

12:56 developers and so part of this is you you have to make sure that your stuff is extendable that it’s buildable that

13:01 you’re not going to build it this year and then rebuild it next year right and so it takes a lot of discipline to be

13:07 Innovative and you don’t normally think of those two things together right you have to understand how to like pull back on the reins so that you don’t innovate

13:14 yourself into a corner that ends up being this like you know hey we finally got Market penetration and people like

13:19 this oh crud we have to rebuild everything in order to service our clients the way we want and so uh you

13:25 want to make sure that just from like an Enterprise software side of things that you’re able to balance those two so this

13:31 podcast is really about how leaders

13:37 impact organizations and and maybe at a macro level like their Community or the

13:42 the world and um I think that you know I said it earlier you Encompass a lot of

13:48 really unique skills and Matt saw something in you that he wanted to you know at first have leading strategy and

13:56 then leading the company so how you know do you see um cultural elements of

14:04 foremost that existed before you came on that that you know you were particularly in line with and then and

14:12 that’s part one of the question and then the second part is how do you think you know your

14:19 own you know the unique set of beliefs and values and skills you bring to your

14:24 organization has kind of um you know infiltrate the organization so when I came to

14:31 foremost I made the joke that other than the person that cleans one of our offices in Vietnam I was the only non-engineer in the entire company right

14:37 so I came on I sat in the office the first day and nobody spoke there wasn’t a word in the office I I literally went

14:43 out and invested in really expensive headphones cuz I was just going to go crazy just sitting there staring at these people just you know typing all

14:49 day and but foremost has always had a brand of precision right so we’ve been

14:55 on time on budget for every project we’ve quoted for over 10 years the way we do that is we don’t make promises we

15:01 can’t keep right we’re very honest we’re good at saying no which is hard in our our industry um but it’s very integral

15:09 everybody who works for us we want them to be able to be proud of the product that we deliver and we don’t want them to have to show up to meetings

15:15 explaining or making excuses as to why we’re late those are really bad days in our industry and so we work really hard

15:20 to make sure that that’s not a thing that was there well before I got there right the product was phenomenal and our

15:26 team was really proud of the product we were producing and so this was this was something I was like especially coming

15:31 from like Sales Management I I looked at I go you can sell something for like a month and then the second month you’re

15:37 like I don’t know that I love that product that that well right and so 16 years into an organization to have

15:43 people still this proud of the product that they were delivering was this amazing thing for me to try to get my hands on and and figure out how to grow

15:50 when I came in um if you would have asked the engineers what we do they would say we build

15:56 software and I say well that’s kind kind of what you do but we build software

16:01 because we have amazing people and so I tried to Pivot that to say no we’re a service based company and yes our

16:06 service happens to be that we build software but really we’re a people-based company right we employ really gifted

16:12 really talented people we Empower them to to create things in a space that stuff doesn’t create right we take air

16:18 and ideas and you do some work and all of a sudden there’s a thing there right and so we work really hard to make sure

16:25 that we lead people first right so um there’s things like in Vietnam where we have our office we opened that office in

16:31 2007 that office has uh between the two offices we have there now we about 80

16:37 people within that that organization so like every year we take uh them our employee their spouses their children

16:43 occasionally their grandparents to the beach for a number of days and we just go and we have a ton of fun we play crazy games we uh we do a lot of fun

16:51 things um but specifically when you think about offshore development you don’t think about companies focusing on

16:57 that level of human connection of actually being able to spend time with with people’s families I before Covid knew

17:04 everybody in the in the company cuz I could travel and I spend a lot of time in these offshore offices um but I also

17:09 knew their spouses and I knew their children and I got to sit down and have you know drinks with their dad while we were out on these trips and so um

17:16 running a global organization that has the people focus to be that heavy is what I want to do um my background is

17:22 not software I am very passionate about building things but I’m passionate about people not really about software if that

17:28 makes sense and so uh this is an opportunity to lead an organization that I don’t have to worry about inventory

17:34 right I don’t have to worry about other logistics I have to worry about are my people well and are they able to serve

17:39 our clients well because they’re first taken care of yeah yeah and how did that approach

17:46 change the vibe at Formos yeah I think specifically in engineering

17:51 organizations I don’t think it really is what people lead with right and software engineering you know I say between

17:57 software engineers and gamers that’s why we have energy drinks because you don’t sleep you just you burn the candle all

18:03 night every night our shop operates it feels kind of like a union shop where occasionally I’ll open my door at like

18:08 5:05 and I look down the hallway and I’m like where did everybody go like how did they all get out of here so quick and

18:14 it’s again it’s discipline to say if you if you’re well planned if you would know how to approach your day and if you’re trying to make good decisions you can

18:21 really protect people’s life outside of work and so our tenure is great our

18:27 average employee globally is with us for over 5 years wow in Tech in Tech and in

18:32 offshore right so we have the two offices in Vietnam and Quito Ecuador and so it’s been this amazing uh change in

18:39 the organization to be able to keep people to promote from within to grow people’s careers try to make clear

18:45 career paths for for individuals who join us um and hopefully just entice them to not leave right and to stay with

18:52 us because we build amazing projects and our clients love that because our average client engagement is also over five years wow and so these clients get

18:59 to know our team and it’s really hard to to to leave because you build such trust

19:05 and relationship with these core individuals and I have never experienced that anywhere else in the industry well

19:10 and and so we’re hoping you know that to to give real life you know

19:18 recommendations and value to people who are listening and building that again

19:23 culturally and and bridging that gap in are

19:28 that don’t have the same emphasis that United States does I mean you talk about Ecuador and

19:35 Vietnam um h how how is that what approach did you take and how do you

19:42 keep it up because that’s exhausting it’s exhausting yeah it’s exhausting and I I wish to say that there’s a trick I

19:48 know other than brute force right and there’s and it’s I I care Matt cares you

19:53 know and our team you know tries to show that level of dedication to both our our team internally and our external clients

20:00 right and that’s again an emotional led space in engineering and that’s I think

20:06 a little novel I think the other thing is is that um we’re a very practical company so my my response to the way we

20:16 talk about company culture within America I think has been misled for quite a while right and so when we talk

20:21 about companies that have built amazing places for people to work or uh places

20:26 that people love to be you think about Google maybe has fallen out of style lately but you think back you know in

20:31 the early days of tech Google was like hey they have M&M’s a block you know a foot away from my desk and I can sleep in this cool pod and and I can do and

20:38 they have a slide to get from the third floor to the first floor right and I look at that and I go oh great you no longer have to take a break to go get

20:44 food but you probably need a break right you no longer have to go home to sleep if you work too late you can just go to

20:50 the pod that’s a foot away from your desk and sleep there and then come back and be refreshed and none of these things actually add to quality of life

20:57 so so early on when I was with T-Mobile they paid a ton of money to get us out to um to Las Vegas they put us up on

21:03 amazing resorts we ate amazing food we saw great shows we did scavenger hunts to the strip and limousines and I was a

21:10 young married man who had just had my our daughter and I sat there the whole

21:15 time thinking why the heck am I here like why do I have to be here and so everything I look at in company culture

21:21 I look at to say why do people work why are they here if they loved absolutely everything about it they would volunteer

21:28 so because we pay them there’s this value transaction and why do they need that value and it’s not so that they can

21:34 sit at their desk longer it’s not so that they don’t have to take lunch it’s not so that they it’s normally so that they can take care of themselves live

21:40 the life they want to live or take care of their family and their children right and so the fact that you may have we do

21:46 have beer in the office cuz we’re a tech office right but you know the fact that you often hear people talk about beer on tap bean bags you know the ping pong

21:53 table the fact that the Xbox set up in this room I look at all of that and say wait we all have job jobs to do so if

21:59 you’re playing ping pong or you’re playing Xbox is that time that you’re now going to be in the office after 5:00

22:05 to try to get deadlines met and I think in many cases it is and so it directly

22:10 takes away from the value transaction of why we work and so we’ve said we’re not going to do any of that so we have a

22:16 shuffleboard table that people play while they wait for their coffee to brew we do have beer on tap or not on tap but

22:22 F in the fridge and we do happen to have a full bar in the in the cafeteria but we make a point to say like our happy

22:27 hours don’t start at 5: they start at 4: and at 5:00 everybody goes home and uh

22:33 everything we’ve done within the company has been based around that that premise is that we want you to love the time you’re here and then I want you to get

22:39 the heck out and go do the things in your life that is why you came in today in the first place yeah and it’s it is

22:46 that people first and and that and it is novel because we do work with a lot of

22:51 Technology organizations that um look at the product and talk about the product

22:58 and never talk about their people and so with that you have the retention the longevity of clients the

23:05 success and the growth I think that is valuable earlier on you mentioned that

23:10 you have to balance Innovation and um and make these really

23:17 hard decisions on what you’re going to build and and drive for how how do you

23:25 make those decisions uh specific in Tech yeah yeah I surround myself with really smart

23:31 people okay right uh I I’ve been on the engineering side of building software long enough in my life that occasionally

23:36 I say smart things for the most part uh I’m a really good second chair right and

23:42 so I bring in people that I trust that you know that have our best interest as a whole uh in it and you know all of our

23:49 leadership that’s on the technical side are still current they’re still technically current so we don’t allow

23:55 our CTO Andrew who’s a wizard to to you know use the technology or the knowledge of Technology he gained when he got his

24:01 Masters you know seven 18 years ago now right and so if something goes sideways

24:07 all the way from the top they’re firefighting so if we have a client who has an outage for some reason it’s going

24:13 to go through the chain but Andrew knows that at a certain point he’s going to have to get in the boat and row if we can’t get it fixed and so he’s having to

24:20 make decisions that in the end he’s going to have to he’s writing checks he’s going to have to cash right um and that level of ownership and care is

24:26 something that I think think uh you know mandates this level of responsible to it

24:32 the nice thing is Matt who’s our owner is also a wicked smart engineer and so anytime I hear something I’ll just text

24:38 him I said I don’t want to sound dumb but can you please help me understand what this person just said and he’s really good about you know making sure I

24:44 don’t feel that dumb but and so that comes into your recruiting strategy if if you’re aligning people with the same

24:51 goals vision mission do you feel that that cultural piece trumps the

24:57 technology or is it really trying to balance that yeah it’s it’s an interesting thing because Engineers are

25:04 not known for being complete humans right right especially when it comes to this company culture part and so it is

25:10 fascinating that every engineer that’s part of our company takes a test and this test is an actual engineering test

25:17 it’s not asking you questions it’s asking you to do currently the test we’re giving right now is a POS system

25:23 and an inventory tracking system for a fruit smoothie restaurant so they of like John right um fruit smoothies are

25:29 the only things we found that everywhere in the world they they have it feels like maybe not in Antarctica but we were

25:35 not hiring there so it’s not important um that’s a big part of it but that’s the easiest hurdle to overcome right

25:40 that’s that’s kind of a math test we can look at it we can make adjust assessments if they can work within our environment the rest of our interview

25:47 process is not necessarily engineering focused so our standard interview with me is over 2 hours and we’re not talking

25:54 at all about engineering stack I don’t want to get into that tug of war with with a future employee because they’ll

26:01 win like that’s a bad place for me to be I have other people who do that um you know I I said that my conversation with

26:07 Matt was seven hours people go through you know probably more than 10 hours of talking to leadership at Formos before

26:14 they join our team and is that all levels it’s all levels wow it’s all levels so um I approve every hire in

26:21 Vietnam and Ecuador and so even as we grow I need I I get to ask these

26:26 culturally important questions to that but the thing is is that when when somebody joins our company day one they

26:33 know how passionate I am about our product and our team it’s not something they have to learn over the first week

26:38 of how things happen so we set context before they come in and it’s wonderful

26:44 because then when they actually see that we mean it that when they show up this is how we do paperwork at Formos um I

26:49 remember the first day I sent an email to to a friend of mine from my Corporate email and I cc’ed my partner Matt and Matt

26:55 came over and he said hey Charles are you okay and I said what do you mean he goes that email like I was afraid you

27:01 had a stroke like are you okay and I said what do you mean and he goes just read it back and I read it and I just

27:06 botched you know there there were too many too many commas and I misspelled a word and I was like well but he knows

27:12 what I meant and Matt said yeah but that’s not our brand and I said wait I’m a I’m a inside I didn’t say this that

27:19 but I’m like I’m a c-level employee here team member here and you’re giving me a hard time because of an email I sent to

27:24 a friend of mine that we that we do work with and uh it just clicked I was like oh

27:30 that’s how much we care and it’s not a matter of you know he he was trying to help me not look dumb but also he was

27:36 like wait he he he’s run this company for 16 years and he cares about this and

27:41 as people understand that as they join our team it’s really easy to get them to care as well and then all of a sudden

27:46 you find out that they’re a lot happier about what they do if they care and they feel like they have a role so the other

27:52 thing on this is that I tell people I I employ or I hire like you cast a sitcom

27:57 yeah and if you meet my team you’ll you’ll see it like like once I say this you’ll kind of start to understand what

28:02 what I mean but you know I think of like uh Family Matters I may be I may be showing exactly how old I am right for

28:08 this moment in time but like Family Matters only needed one Steve Urkel right you put two Steve Urkles in that sitcom and it doesn’t make sense and so

28:15 if you look at my team it’s about empowering people on the things that they bring to the table right so that

28:20 person played a certain character and so you look at that and you go okay you’re an engineer you’re going to work with somebody but do I if you’re engineer and

28:27 you do exactly what everybody else does within the team or even have you know duplicity within your team of 100% of

28:33 what your task is what you do and how you do it then you end up feeling like a cog within a machine right and so this

28:39 is about  pulling out of people what it is that they’re great at what it is that they want to grow at clearly

28:44 understanding their career path and having even though you know within my my team here in the US is about 15 most of

28:50 them have the exact same job title but most of their career paths what they do every day is very very unique and it’s

28:56 because I want them to show up to a meeting and not feel like they’re disend right or disposable right they they they

29:02 have an important part and if you look at it each one of my my like technical project managers or my Solutions

29:08 Architects if you talk to one of their clients about how that engagement goes with them there’s a couple things in

29:13 common we write good code we build good products and it’s on time and we’re very accessible everything else is that

29:21 person’s ability to bring to the table their own personality their own their own piece and if you watch how my sales

29:26 organization sells our team because we’re selling access to people you’ll hear them talk about it I’ll always talk

29:32 about Andrew as being a wizard I’ll always talk about him being the smartest guy in any room right and we figure out

29:38 how to talk about people so that when one of my TPMs come into a room with a client that client already knows kind of

29:45 what this person’s going to do the other side to that is that you think of actors like Steve Urkel he probably had a hard

29:50 time later in his career because that’s all we saw him as right this type casting piece that you see in acting so

29:55 we also work really hard to tell people like hey if that ever gets heavy if that role gets tired let’s have a

30:02 conversation about it because I want you to talk to me about the seat you want to be in in the boat and not leave the boat

30:07 so we’ve had people I brought uh my operations manager from my startup to me at Formos uh he started as our

30:14 operation manager about two years in he’s like Charles I really like this I like foremost but I don’t want to do

30:20 this can I be a PM and I said well let’s think about it you have key attributes of you’re you’re really good at

30:26 organizing things you’re good at driving a a team to a collective goal uh you’re non-technical

30:32 but we can teach you that um and so you all these skills from you being an ops manager they directly correlate to you

30:38 being a PM let’s try it out and so that was a little over two years ago now and he’s probably one of my best PMs and so

30:45 it’s also about giving people the opportunity to flex into different roles within the company well in that example

30:51 just highlighted again about your leadership style and what has been successful so what advice would you give

31:00 your 20 year per you know like 20 years ago what advice would you give yourself as a

31:06 leader um I thought at some point in my career I’d stop doing when I was 20 that

31:12 at some point you you learn to golf right you you go to happy hours at 2 right you start to do all that stuff and

31:18 so I was always looking for that and then really disappointed when it didn’t happen and I realized that I don’t know

31:23 how to be a captain without actually driving the boat right being in the office I try to be the first one there I

31:29 try to be the last one to leave um and I think that that looking for that for so many years really misguided me in kind

31:36 of what I was trying to get myself out of work the other part was is for many years I didn’t make work play work was

31:43 work I’d go home I’d talk to my wife I’d complain about all the crud I picked up throughout the day I’d miss kids You

31:49 Know match soccer matches or occasionally when they’re in the hospital be on the phone in the hallway which I wish I

31:55 didn’t do but did it because it’s what I felt needed to happen and for many years of my career work became the thing I had

32:02 to do and it’s a dirge you get up you need the two cups of coffee before you can get in traffic you sit in traffic and curse the whole way and then you get

32:09 there and you just kind of slog through it and then a couple years ago I heard somebody say hey I I don’t ever get sad

32:14 about the amount of work I put in because I figured out how to make work play and I was like that’s not real like

32:21 that that’s a good sound bite but I’ve really taken that on to say okay how do I make this fun and it’s not about not

32:26 putting in hard work it’s about solving hard problems it’s about looking and saying okay the ship is good the the

32:32 ocean’s calm everything’s fine and then saying okay but now I’m going to insert some this is my time to innovate I’m

32:39 going to insert some difficult problems now to solve because if the ocean’s calm and the boat’s okay I’m I’m going to get

32:44 bored and you know going to get out so um well I think we are are wrapping up

32:50 on time I would love to ask our last question I mean I feel like I I hope we

32:55 can have you back again because I think you bring a lot to the conversation the last question we like

33:01 to ask our guests is you know the title of our podcast is hiring

33:07 for good and that has a lot of different iterations what does it mean to

33:13 you good question I guess yeah um I should have seen that one coming too

33:19 um I tell people all the time that I I’m in a really lucky place because I work with people that I really love being

33:25 around right that I and the reason that I like being around is that they I think

33:30 they all approach what we do you know kind of how they live their lives with some of the same core principles that

33:36 they are people who are trying to add to the increase of the people they they hang out with all the time right so they

33:42 are supporting uh our other team members when they are having hard times in life

33:47 or they’re coming to me and saying Hey Charles you were here at 6:00 a.m. this morning it’s 8 you’re still here please

33:53 go home like I’m going to call your wife if you don’t go home like and it’s the idea that I hire good people and watch

34:00 them do great things and that allows us as an organization to support each other support our families but also to to be

34:07 active in the community when I look at the nonprofits that my team runs or the the things that they get to do within

34:13 their life because they have a good career and they’re they’re stable and they’re successful the amount of stuff

34:18 that they get back in the community is amazing and it’s an unti side effect to making a really stable safe place for

34:24 people to be is that they have the brain space to not go home and try to solve the problems they left they can go home

34:29 and they can fix the problems in their community they can be active in their kids’ lives and it’s all from this very

34:35 basic foundation that I think is so simple but is so missed in business and so I’m thankful to be in the seat I am

34:41 and to be able to um proxy do good through the team that we employ yeah

34:47 that’s thank you that’s beautiful I think we can end with a better message thanks so much thanks for having me

34:53 thanks for doing this thanks for joining us today at hiring for good if you were inspired by

34:59 our conversation don’t forget to like follow And subscribe wherever you get your podcast and if you want to learn

35:05 more about our Executive Search Services check us out at www.hiring.forgood.net

35:11 or our company website Acumen Executive Search thanks so much and

35:16 don’t forget to join us next time for another in-depth conversation about transformational leadership till then 35:22 have fun