Transcript: Leadership Lessons to Help Scale Your Business (EP98)
Brendan: Welcome to the Culture of Leadership. We have conversations that help you develop and become a more confident leader.
This is my conversation with Jem Bourouh. Jem is 24 years old and a serial entrepreneur from Germany. With his Google Ads agency Adcubator, Jem and his team spent more than $318 million profitably. He's now building his own ecommerce brands and acquiring other marketing agencies.
He's leading a team of 103 people currently and it's growing rapidly. Along the way, he’s learned many leadership lessons that have helped him. Today, Jem will share his five leadership lessons that helped him scale his businesses.
To start the conversation, I couldn't help but ask him why he thought people should listen to what he has to share. This is the Culture of Leadership podcast. I'm Brendan Rogers. Sit back and enjoy my conversation with Jem.
Jem: First of all, the reason why people should probably listen to me is we've not only built a team of more than around 103 people, which is full-time people working in-house and not contractors. This is across several companies, across agencies, across our ecommerce businesses, and that is not only remote, but also in-house. For my Google Ads agency activator, for example, we have an in-house office with 23 people. For the other agency accelerator, we have an in-house office with around eight people in Hamburg.
We know exactly that there can be a huge, vast, discrepancy between building the culture in-house and building the culture if people are not in an office or working remotely. Especially if you have people working in-house and outside of the office, then it's like, okay, how do I really combine both of these things to have a team that is not only getting along with each other, but that is working productively, having a proper output and not having to babysit all these people, right?
If we're taking a look at the track record that we're having, the revenue that we did last year was around 35 million across all the companies. It's not like we're doing some guesswork here and trying to figure it out. I think we're doing good. Every year, we're seeing significant growth in our business. I think it's a valid reason why people should listen to this.
Brendan: There's a bit of credibility there, absolutely. What's given you the drive to build these companies? What drives Jem?
Jem: In the beginning, quite honestly, it was just money and to make money. I remember there was a quote in my yearbook when I was 18. There was a question, where do you see yourself in 10 years? I just wrote down, millionaire. I didn't try to be funny, but it was generally thinking that, okay, I'll be a millionaire because I thought, okay, you manifest it, become what you think you are.
It actually happened three years later. Of course, I think many, many things start with money because if you grow up not having money, and you see all these other people and kids have money, money—money is not a bad thing. You can do nice things in life with money. You can do a vacation, you can eat at a restaurant.
Generally speaking, money just increases the quality of life that you have and just gives you a lot of security. But at some point, it's not about money. It's about making an impact. It's about leaving a legacy. It's like a game, that you want to become the best in your respective vertical, just crush all of your friends and all the other people that are there, and just try to become the best player.
It's like we're playing Monopoly. You have four people playing it. You're not playing to lose. You're playing to have fun, and you're playing to win. It gives you joy as well. That's what it's all about.
I started doing these keynotes last year. My first one was actually in Dubai in February last year, which was in front of I think 120, 150 people, which is Geek Out, GeekEx, now called, the event of a friend of mind, where the average brand, or the average attendee makes 37 million in revenue a year, which is humongous. Imagine this 23-year-old guy speaking in front of all these people for his first keynote, and then three months later, being invited to the biggest marketing conference in Europe with 70,000 attendees in person speaking in front of a crowd of 10,000 people.
This is the pace that we're going at. I think it's beautiful because of course, it starts with money. But at some point, you're getting to see the impact that you have, especially because I used to have an info product business and education company, where we're teaching people how to make money online, how to start their own ecommerce business.
The results that we've seen from the people that are enrolled in the course are just crazy because they come into the course not knowing anything about mindset, not knowing anything about how to run ads, not knowing anything about ecommerce, and then they go through the guidance, they go through a course, they go to them through the materials, they attend to calls, they ask the right questions, and then you see them progressing like a chart that is always compounding and compounding and compounding. I think that's super interesting.
Brendan: Absolutely. Do you remember the time that it changed for you from being about money to actually being a leader and having an impact? What was that pivotal moment?
Jem: First of all, everything that you're doing that involves money is you have to be the guy who does the fulfillment. You have to be the guy who does the sales. You're a one man army. As soon as you're starting to hire people, it's like, okay, well, I need to provide for them, I need to provide for their families. I can't let the ship sink.
If you're sinking your own ship, that's one thing. But being responsible for a lot of other lives, you're starting to realize, that's something else because the people are putting their trust in me. They wouldn't come to me or any of my companies and say, hey, I want to work for you. They wouldn't apply if they wouldn't feel something about it. People don't apply because of only salary, some benefits, startups having a table tennis table in their office, or some free supplements, whatever.
I think the change really happened in 2020 when we started to hire more and more and more people, and actually get an office. It's becoming a big thing. These are real people. These are not only people in front of the computer. We have to turn this into something big, which is what we did.
It really started snowballing from going from a one-man-army freelancer, if you will say so. Hiring a few people, friends, just people in your circle, into hiring external people that you've never known that come into your office for an interview, where it's like, okay, we're breaking the barrier here.
Brendan: And 103 people later. You're having quite an impact, absolutely. Let's dive into Jem's top five leadership lessons and tips over this journey you've had so far and rising up the ranks very, very quickly. The first one, not relying on IQ, but also EQ. Explain it.
Jem: I think to be a good leader, because of course, in running a business, you can run a business if your EQ is that high or just average. But in order to lead people, understand, get feedback, and assuming that the things that you understand immediately as a leader are immediately picked up by your team, is not a given.
Of course, you've been in your business for the longest amount of time. How can I really communicate with my team in a way that they don't feel any negative form of communication from my end or a C level end, where they feel inclined to leave because there's someone else on the team that is holding it all together, who has more of an EQ who was a team leader, for example?
This is why it's so important in a leading position, in a team leading position, in a C level position, or even as a founder, depending on how, of course the organizational chart is to have some kind of high EQ because otherwise, you don't understand what the people are thinking, you don't understand what the people are feeling, you don't understand how to act in certain situations. That's pretty much it, honestly.
Brendan: How do you think you've developed your own level of EQ over the time that you've been scaling businesses?
Jem: It's a good question. I think the main thing I did to develop a high EQ is not only read a lot of books, but also talk to a lot of people all around the world. Traveling is something I can never really afford, until you start to make money, of course, and then I started traveling a lot. In 2020, I've been to 10 countries. Last year, I've been to 15 countries.
Last year, I had more than 50 flights, which sounds nice. It was honestly very draining, and I wouldn't ever do it again as much, but you get to meet people all over the world. Especially if we're talking about marketing and ecommerce, you're in this vertical, where, of course, there are people in Germany doing ecommerce and marketing.
The bubble back then in 2017, 2018 when it started wasn't as big as it is right now. You have to go out of your comfort zone, talk to people in order to just make these significant connections, and make sure that you are exchanging your knowledge with other people, whether that is through some community, some forum, some groups, some masterminds, some events, or whatever it is. That's how you really get to start to talk to people.
I think of course, by nature, you have some IQ level, EQ level. Of course, there is ways on how you can improve. This is one way, for example, just talk to a lot of people. Just make sure that you study social dynamics in a way that you understand what is appropriate to say in what certain situation and what is not appropriate to say in another situation.
It's super interesting to see when people go to a party, for example, or let's say you would be going to a party, you would know one person, and there are 100 people. You would know one person, that's it. The way you are integrating yourself into the party is a super interesting way to see if you have some kind of EQ.
There's actually a super funny story. We were at an event, a goodbye party for a friend of mine. There was this woman. She's actually in Dubai right now, which is funny. There was this woman, and we were in our circle just talking and just having a chat. Then no one knew her. She just started introducing herself and then some other people came or turned around who weren't part of the conversation.
She said, oh, yeah, we were just introducing and exchanging names, so smooth that it's not awkward, but it's very genuine and has a very, very good flow of the conversation, so it doesn't go off track. It's this weird introductory thing where you're like, oh, I don't really want to meet this person. But it's super smooth because no one feels that they have to go out of their comfort zone, because she just seems so genuine and so nice. This was one moment where I was like, man, this woman has super high EQ.
Brendan: A great story to reinforce the message about. It's not just IQ, it's EQ, a key part of leadership. Let's go on to the second point. You mentioned to me, feedback culture is critical. Tell us a bit more about that.
Jem: I think it revolves a bit to the first point. If there's some miscommunication, which is always going to happen, or some misunderstanding, it's about, how do I communicate that back to the person who said it or back to the user who received it? Within this feedback culture, of course, we could talk about operations here and see that there is a problem within a certain structure, process, or whatever. But this is more so about if shit goes down, if there's something wrong, how do I make sure that this feedback is reinforced to the user or the sender directly without having a negative connotation?
You can send a message in two ways. You can have a positive connotation and you can have a negative connotation. You can say if we're talking about a super, super simple real life example, I'm thirsty, bring me water. We can have a negative connotation. I didn't say please, I didn't say thanks. I said, I'm thirsty, go do it for me. It's not really a polite way of saying things.
However, if I were to say, man, are you as thirsty as I am? You're close to the fridge, would you mind bringing me some water if you're already there? It's a totally different thing. It's not the best example, but it's something that just came up from top of my head. It totally reinforces the message in a totally different way that it doesn't seem rude, but it just seems very polite.
I think this is why feedback culture is so incredibly important because again, you can send messages in two ways. Especially if you're trying to send a message that has positive reinforcement, but you might have used the wrong word. It might have come out in a different way, which is a bit negative, but you don't know for a fact. This is why it's important to always talk to each other. This is what keeps people in marriages, talking with each other. Feedback culture is super important.
Brendan: Once again, I couldn't agree more. I guess what I'm here hearing you say is that ability to have the emotional intelligence, that level of connection and rapport building, whatever you want to call it. The first point you refer to, that definitely underpins and supports the ability to create a really good feedback culture. Would that be fair to say?
Brendan: Okay. What have you done over the time that you've been growing these businesses, again leading it to 103 people, and counting so far to really double down on the feedback culture, your ability to set the standard around that and have other people follow?
Jem: First of all, it depends because there's in-house, there’s people working on outside of the office just because of their location. To maybe generalize it, first of all, it's having a proper feedback culture. This again goes back to the point before, where if there's something badly communicated, then no one should be scared of getting canceled, fired, or anything, just because they're raising their voice and actually speaking up about a problem that has happened in the company.
It doesn't matter what kind of position it is because it's all flat hierarchies for us. Just because I'm the CEO, it doesn't mean that I'm something better than someone who's in customer support. They're doing something different. The work that they're doing is equally as important as the work that I'm doing. It's important that they shouldn't feel inferior to me just because I'm in charge of the company, so to say.
How we are properly enforcing it is, first of all, that. Having weekly meetings, where we discuss basic stuff, having sealable meetings, and then having feedback meetings at the end of the week every Friday. We're like, okay, two meetings, one for the operational side of things of course and one just for like, okay, what went well, what went bad? We also have weekly reports in Slack, where we're like, okay, this is good, this is good, this is good.
We also have submissions where every employee can say, okay, this is how I felt about this week, this how I felt about this week, this is good, this is neutral, this is pretty bad, it could be better. If you don't know what's not working inside of your company or things that are not working smooth, then how are you supposed to improve things that are not running smooth without having the feedback?
Brendan: Spot on again. Let's go to your third point. If you're not growing, you're dying. Unpack that for us.
Jem: Yes. I think it goes hand in hand with the operational side of things because if you're not growing, you're dying, you're stagnant. Then there's a problem, an issue facing up, which doesn't even have to be internally, but it could be externally, then you're dying. Your revenue chart is going down. Your MRR, ARR is going down, whatever chart we're talking about. It's the same with culture.
Imagine a friendship. You're talking to your friend, you're meeting, you're meeting, having fun, going for food. Imagine it like dating, first date, second date, third date. You get to know each other, there's no fights in the first few dates, and then after you get to meet her, there are some sides that you wish you maybe would not have uncovered, but you still have to deal with it because everyone has some issues, or everyone has something that you wish you didn't have. This is why personal development is so important because we're all working on ourselves.
It's the same inside of a company. You always have to grow, you always have to grow, you always have to educate yourself on how you can make things better, not only on the operational side of things or the leadership side of things, but also in terms of culture, and how can we keep the team super tight, super connected, super inclined to work with each other? Can we have a team event, for example, where we're connecting in-house and remote?
Is there a way on playing games, for example, inside of the company once a week? Is there some psychologists that could come in, where people could talk about the things? Some English lessons, where you have a teacher or an agency come in, where you put in all of the employees that are speaking English and just have them go through these weekly hours of courses? Because at the end of the day, it makes you not feel like a job that you're working, but it genuinely feels like friends, community, and family.
Whenever we're talking about the team inside of the team, inside of Slack, you can always see that everyone says family, family, family, and not my colleague. I'm not a big fan of the word colleague.
Brendan: Let's focus on Jem again and the you're not growing, you're dying personal development. What have you done over the time to be very, very deliberate around your own personal development?
Jem: I read a lot of books right now. I'm looking at the book. It's my favorite book ever. It's Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. Amazing book because he actually get to uncover—I'm not going to talk too much about it.
I think it's more interesting if anyone who's listening to this is just picking up the book and reading it. It's the best book I've read in my life. Especially because it's in the space of personal development, so I cannot recommend it more to anyone. It's a great gift for people who are going through some stuff or just want to develop further.
Read a lot of books, travel, discover new cultures and everything that goes hand in hand, discover new cultures, discover new foods, talk to new people. Just experience life in different countries. I've lived in different countries all my life starting from the point whenever I started making money.
It was 2020, pandemic hit, and I moved to Sweden. I lived in Sweden for half a year. In 2021, moved to Mexico. Back then in 2021, because of all the things that have been going on, the borders from the US and Germany were so close. You couldn't fly from Germany to the US directly.
At that point in time, I was still living again in Germany, at least for three or four months. I moved to Mexico. I was getting tired of Mexico, so I went to the US. I lived there for some time. Moved to Dubai in September and stayed there for a few. Moved to Bali in December. I pretty much just wanted to visit for a month, I ended up staying two and a half months, and lived there this year, six, seven months out of the year, I think.
I'm talking to other people. I'm talking to people of other cultures, looking into other things that people are doing, so not only staying inside of your bubble, which is marketing for me in ecommerce, but also making sure that you have friends and people outside of the bubble that you're talking to. Because if you're only restricted to this one single thing, I wouldn't say it's getting boring, but there are some things missing from the outside, some impulses.
I think it's also important to always start learning new things, start learning new things, start doing things that you feel uncomfortable doing, conquering your fears. I'm super scared of heights, for example. I'm on the 15th floor right now. I have a pretty hard time going to the edge of the balcony and looking down. I couldn't do it. However, I can go skydiving without any problems. I can go paragliding without any problems because I'm trying to be very rational about it.
If I know I'm attached to a guy who has done 4500 jumps, has one wife, has two kids that are three years old and seven years old, what are the odds that he would commit suicide or would die after 4500 jumps? Statistically speaking, of course, the likelihood of him dying would only go up if he's had 4500 jumps without any issues. But then again, practice makes perfect, and it comes with experience.
It's all about looking outside of your bubble. It's all about doing something that you feel uncomfortable doing and just learning new skills, developing new friendships with people, and not trying to say no to everything, but being open to things. Again, be able to have a proper feedback culture as well with your friends.
If there's something that wasn't appropriate, for example, it's not like we're talking about it right away. It's also not an intervention or we have to talk, but we're talking with each other, which is very important. Otherwise, if he or she fucked up on something, this person doesn't even realize, how is he or she supposed to improve if they don't know? This is what's so important in teams, leadership, friendships, and relationships, that you're talking about these things and making sure you're ironing everything out as good as you can.
There's always going to be new things popping up. It's about making sure that whenever there's something, you're ironing it out. It's not going to be perfect. It's never going to be perfect, but you can try and make it as smooth as it can be. This is what I think of this entire feedback culture thing. This is what I'm personally doing to develop further and further.
Brendan: Feedback certainly allows for that self-development cycle to continue, doesn't it? Lots and lots of great experiences you've shared. I guess probably the one thing that stands out to me around your deliberately around personal development is just growing businesses. That's got to be some pretty decent personal development, hasn't it?
Jem: Yeah. I feel like different stages of businesses and different levels of revenue and growth require different levels of experiences. Back then, I didn't really used to be the CEO type of guy. I used to be very perfectionistic. I just wanted to plan everything out. Now I've done it better than perfect. Let's execute and the rest, we'll figure it out later because I know we can even iron these things out later.
I'm still doing some CMO stuff, but right now it's more so about CEO things. I really see myself growing and flourishing that respective role. Thinking one, two, three years back, I wouldn't really say that this is something that I would see myself in, position wise, but I feel like strategizing and all of these things such as business development are things that I'm growing a lot. I see myself having a lot of fun and actually being able to provide a lot of value to the business.
Brendan: Before we move to your fourth lesson, what's giving you the courage to even try all these things, put yourself in these positions, and just give it a crack?
Jem: I think sometimes people tend to overcomplicate things, as I said, trying to be super perfectionistic about things. If you're not trying these things, how are you supposed to know if you're really good at it or not?
You could ask the same question about, why did you decide to go into ecommerce? Why did you decide to go into marketing? First of all, the potential that you have inside of these verticals is insane. I just thought it was interesting, as simple as that, honestly.
Brendan: Let's talk about your fourth one. Culture is king.
Jem: I think the fourth point, culture is king, combines everything that we've talked about before, the positive versus the negative aspects. Again, if something within your culture is negative, it's not only going to reflect negatively on your team, but it's also going to reflect negatively on your performance and your output of your business.
Of course, the number one goal in every company that is not a nonprofit organization, is to make profits, is to grow. If you're not growing, you're dying. It goes hand in hand to the other three points because if all of these things are not enforced, what's going to happen to your business? Your employees are not going to be happy. What happens if employees are not happy? They're not going to be as productive, they're not going to be as effective. They're not going to take their job as serious as they would if they would feel they are part of something bigger, part of a family, and not just a number inside of a company.
This is why culture is king. If you don't have a culture, what the hell are you even doing inside of your business? These are real human beings. These are not just some domino stones that are there that you put into a system. If you're trying to be that person, you can go to Google, you can go to Facebook, you can go to Apple. At the end of the day, of course everyone is replaceable because everyone is part of this one system, and you're trying to streamline everything.
What would you feel more comfortable with? Would you feel more comfortable in being this employee number 37,459 and being replaced by someone else who has the same qualifications, even better qualifications, or less qualifications, just because you're not performing as good? The only output that you have is measured by some OKRs and KPIs. Or is it also the growth, the perspective, and everything that the business has on your end? This is why culture is king.
Brendan: If you are overhearing one of your employees, one of your family, let's say you liked that word, one of your family in your business, talking to somebody outside of your business family about the culture of the business they’re linked in, how would you like them to be talking about? How would you like them to be explaining and describing the culture that you're building?
Jem: Exactly like I've done it before. We always see it on their personal Instagrams, for example. Whenever there's something, some great success, Christmas presents being sent out, or anything positive happening inside of the company, they're always sharing it on their Instagram.
They're showcasing not only things that are happening, gifts, or anything, but they're also sharing everything related to their work, they're always sharing it with a company logo, they're always sharing it with a company name, they're always tagging the company, or the company is on Instagram, this is where I'm really starting to think, okay, if the employees aren't posting in their personal life about what they are doing in their day-to-day, their nine to five, 40 hours a week, what they're doing with their friends, family, and everyone else, then that doesn't mean that they're showing face. They're representing us. They're proud to be inside of this team.
Once this started to happen, I really understood that because of course, culture is not a thing that you're building from day one. If you're building a business, the first thing that you're thinking about is definitely not culture. You think about culture once you start hiring people, once you maybe have an office, and once you have people go there.
Once that happened, I really understood that culture is something that you really need to put emphasis on because again, if the people do not feel well, then you're doing something wrong. I'm 100%, sure, not 99.99, I'm 100% sure that anyone who's working with me would be here. Instead of me, they will be saying the exact same thing about it. The good thing is I can say the exact thing from a retro perspective.
If someone will be talking about any one of my employees, and I see it all the time with my assistant, everyone says, man, she's so fast, she's working so hard, she's so dedicated, she doesn't make any mistakes, this is the perfect scenario. You don't want to employ someone who's making a lot of mistakes. Mistakes happen, and they can be ironed out. But let's say someone makes 80% mistakes, not too good. Someone has like 5%, 10%, 20% mistakes once they're starting out because they're not familiar with the business, it's totally fine because they're getting training.
This is exactly how it should be. People should be showing face for your company, the work that they're doing, and everything that is connected to it. Everyone who's seeing it from the outside, everyone who's communicating with them, or anyone who has an introduction to them, they should be saying the same thing about your employees because you don't want to have the word out that, man, your employees are lazy.
Brendan: Fair point. Why is the word family and describing the culture around family or the people that are working in your business' family so important? Why is the word family so important?
Jem: If we're talking about work, work is just something you do from nine to five. Family is something that does not stop. Family is something you're always part of, something that you cannot change, something that is in your bloodline, whether you like it or not. It's this vision of being something bigger than just a company who's in business to make money, be a market leader, showcase their knowledge, make their clients more money, make their clients happy, and provide value. This is why it's all about family and why this word is so incredibly important.
Brendan: Let's go to Jem's fifth lesson, being a role model for the entire team. Tell us about that. Unpack that for us.
Jem: You cannot expect people to do something that you yourself would not. I've talked about this before. If you're a CEO, and I have someone in customer support, it's same-same. It's potato, potato. I don't care. Even if it's someone getting paid 2000 a month in the Philippines, 1000 a month in the Philippines, or someone getting paid in Germany 6000, 8000, it doesn't matter. Potato, potato because it's all the same, it's all equal. There is no better, there is no worse.
There is different positions. I've said something different before. Some positions are more important than others just because of the impact that they have. Some roles are supporting, some roles are money generating, some roles are developing, some roles are keeping things in place and keeping the system alive. Everyone has some importance, but all of these importances are different as per business.
If you would have a car manufacturing company, for example, the people who are assembling the car, they're doing important work, very important work because if you only had the engineers who was going to build the cars, and of course if you only have the workers on the on the assembly line who is going to design the car, who is going to make sure that the car even works, it doesn't make sense. It's not as equally as important. In this case, probably as equally as important because otherwise, the final product doesn't come to show. You get the point anyway.
Being a role model is incredibly important because you cannot expect people to do something that you wouldn't do. Let's take the example of a team meeting or a feedback meeting. I don't care where I'm at, I don't care if I'm in a restaurant, I don't care if I'm at a bar. If there's a team meeting, I'm going unless there's something critical happening. It doesn't matter.
Every Monday, every Wednesday, every Friday, weekly team meetings talking about what's going to happen this week, talking about what we're grateful for, talking about what was amazing last week. Wednesday, C level meeting, talking about higher level stuff. Friday, review of the week saying what's good, saying what's bad, saying what's neutral, and then going to the weekend.
If I, as a leader, am not showing up, if I'm the face of the company and if I'm not showing up to this meeting, I'm the most important person of the company because I'm the face of the company. The people are looking up to me inside of the company. Some people apply and work for us just because they see me as a role model, just because of the things I'm doing in my life, just because of the things I'm posting on social media, and just because of things that I'm just sharing.
If I were to have someone like that who was totally admiring me for something that I'm doing and not showing up to the weekly meetings or not putting in as much work as them, not working as hard as them, I'm not showing them respect. Do you get where this is going? How can I be a role model for someone if I'm not putting in as much work, as much respect, as much dedication, as much passion, if they are doing it?
At the end of the day, I'm the person who's taking home the biggest piece of the pie. They get part of the pie. But if I'm not doing anything as hard, I'm not growing, I'm dying. There's not going to be culture. People are going to not really understand what I'm doing. People are going to ask questions. People are going to ask, what is happening with all the profits?
I feel like there's some importance to transparency to a certain extent, not all the way. I feel like companies do that differently. I know a few of my friends don't share any numbers at all. I know that a few friends of mine share it on a weekly basis. I know friends of mine even go as far and share the P&L. Again, things are of different importance, their respective roles.
There's a reason why you're the founder inside of your company and people being there to support. If I wouldn't go into the team meetings, if I wouldn't be putting in the work, if I wouldn't have my back of my team, then nothing would work.
One example, for example, happened two days ago. A client thought there was something urgent. Conversion rate was down, which is regular in marketing. In media buying, in MarTech, it's Facebook ads, Google ads, it's not consistent. There are days where the performance is better, there are days where the performance is worse. If you're a company doing 40 million a year, then you should most certainly know about this, especially if it's the only business you're running as an ecommerce brand.
The client was asking, hey, the conversion rate dropped, it tanked. Can you look into it? It's super urgent. Many times, your employees don't treat you with enough respect because these people don't have culture in their company, so they don't know how to talk to people. They don't know how to talk to their own team, they don't know how to talk to contractors, they don't know how to talk to agencies, and they don't know how to talk to shareholders. Maybe shareholders because they're perhaps VC-backed, but again that's something else because they're getting something and benefiting a lot of it.
Anyway, the team member who was in charge of this was on vacation for I don't know how long. Anyway, he replied immediately. Hi, I'm on a vacation, I'll check it tomorrow. It was like, no, you check it today. It's super urgent.
Anyway, he took the time out of his day, 10, 20 minutes. I replied to make sure he was happy. The client didn't say thank you. I'm like, okay, so this guy said he was on vacation, he's taking his valuable time out of his day, and then he's not even being thanked for putting in hours, even though it's his day off, because he's not supposed to work if it's his day off.
We started to intervene. We started to message and say, hey, if there's something you need and it's urgent, blah, blah, blah, you need to wait your turn because we have a playbook, where it's basically dos and don'ts of working together, working alongside each other. Being pushy, being rushing, this is one of the things for example we do not like and do not encourage. If a client has a certain amount of strikes, we kick them out.
Anyway, we talked, we talked, we talked, and then they were trying to tag people of the C level and head off. I'm just so confused because I haven't been texting with this client at all, because I'm not involved in the operational side of things. They were tagging some other people inside of the team and it was so confusing. I'm like, okay, what are you trying to achieve by tagging this person? They don't have to say more than me, and they didn't really understand that.
I was shocked because the client thought, okay, I'll just tag this person, then this guy gets shut up. It's a weird story. But anyway, it's important again to be the role model, to show face, to stand up for your employees. It doesn't matter what rank they are, it doesn't matter if they're on vacation or not. What's important is that we have a good feedback culture and that you say thank you and please if you want to have something.
I think it's super critical because again, it's about empathy, it's about EQ, it's about how you say certain things, it's about how certain things come out at the end of the day. This is why being a role model, this is why you treat other people as you want to be treated is so freaking important. Otherwise, the team is heading in the wrong direction, and things are not going to work out the way you want them to.
Brendan: As I expect with Jem, I felt his confidence come through. The confidence in the journey he's on and his confidence in his ability to get there.
Confidence creates comfort in being vulnerable. Jem shared how he keeps growing, learning from others, and taking feedback. It's this level of vulnerability that created his leadership reflections and his ability to share his top five leadership lessons.
These are my three key takeaways from my conversation with Jem.
My first key takeaway, Confident leaders nurture a feedback environment. Giving and receiving feedback in a positive and constructive way is important. An environment of feedback helps employees feel valued and supported in their growth. This often leads to more motivated, productive, and collaborative employees.
My second key takeaway, Confident leaders emphasize the importance of culture. When it comes to building a successful business, culture is critical. You want your employees to be proud advocates for the company, not detractors. Celebrating success, openly sharing opinions and experiences, and supporting employees' learning and growth, all help emphasize the importance of culture.
My third key takeaway, Confident leaders are positive role models. They understand the importance of being a role model for the entire team. They demonstrate common courtesy with please and thank you and stand out for their employees. Through every day interactions, they exemplify dedication, passion, and commitment.`
In summary, my three key takeaways were, Confident leaders nurture a feedback environment, Confident leaders emphasize the importance of culture, and Confident leaders are positive role models.
What were your key takeaways? Let me know at the cultureofleadership.com, on YouTube, or via our socials. Thanks for joining me. Remember, the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation.
Thanks for listening to The Culture of Leadership. You can access the show notes at thecultureofleadership.com. If you enjoy the show, please follow, rate, and give a review on your favorite podcast platform.