Ep. #1023 - 5 Founder Tips from Matt Watson
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, we welcome back to the podcast Frank Keck. But this time, he’s sitting down in the guest host chair for our new series, Founder Fridays with Frank.
In this first episode, Frank talks with Matt Watson, Co-founder of Full Scale and Startup Hustle, about founder life. Together these seasoned pair share their own experiences and insights on improving workplace culture and leadership development. Don’t miss Matt’s incredibly helpful founder tips on recruitment, delegation, and perspective.
Covered In This Episode
Frank, our favorite company culture guru, is on a mission to reveal the challenges that founders face daily. And to kick off this special series, he welcomes our very own Matt Watson to the hot seat first.
As Matt gets comfortable, he talks about his best founder tips that can help company leaders innovatively grow their businesses. He encourages every Startup Hustle listener to gain new perspectives on basic but powerful management strategies.
Tune in to this podcast episode today! And don’t forget to check back next Friday for new insights from another Startup Hustle host taking the guest seat.
Matt Watson’s Special Advice Corner
We’re making it easier to digest Matt’s advice. Here are his best five founder tips for our listeners out there. Take more notes from his engaging conversation with Frank.
- Hire smart and weird people
- Gain different perspectives
- Delegate, delegate, delegate
- Seek to understand
- Play to people’s strengths
- Getting to know Frank Keck (01:07)
- What is Founder Fridays with Frank? (01:47)
- Matt Watson’s background and role at Camp Digital (03:00)
- VinSolutions’ double spinoff company (04:38)
- Turning ads off when your company is at capacity (05:40)
- Using the little things to make the biggest impact (06:23)
- What is Matt’s biggest problem at work right now? (08:02)
- “Team Charter” exercise (09:27)
- How to hold people accountable (10:11)
- Thoughts on daily standups and time management (13:46)
- A mindset for knowing “what’s coming next” (15:46)
- Understanding weaknesses and priorities (17:06)
- The value of being in front of customers (18:25)
- The first two tips from Matt (19:00)
- Being curious versus being judgmental (21:11)
- What does “understand before being understood” mean? (22:32)
- Watson’s advice to founders when it comes to people (25:02)
- Delegation is a crucial part of company culture (26:47)
- The “Chunk Size” concept (27:58)
- Single contributors versus team managers (29:55)
- Today’s culture shift (31:42)
- The Dual Ladder approach (32:49)
- On playing for people’s strengths (33:15)
- The Fast Four with Frank segment (36:07)
Leadership tip number two is: we have to see things differently. You can’t look through the same lens. And you’ve got to look at your people differently than the projects and the things that they’re doing to be successful.– Frank Keck
But the most important thing isn’t the list. It’s writing down who is going to do them next on the list. And focusing on delegating to other people. I think that the biggest challenge that a lot of entrepreneurs have is just not learning to be good at delegating and trusting other people.– Matt Watson
As leaders, the more curious we can be, the more we can find out how weird that person is. And the more we can look at different things and come up with different solutions.– Frank Keck
It has been said that delegation is an essential key to success. So if you have pending tasks requiring a software developer’s skills, learn how Full Scale can help. With their proprietary platform, you can build your software development team quickly and affordably. Work with a team of fully vetted experts now.
Looking for remote executive assistants? Or want to apply for grants? Check out what our podcast partners can do today to support your growing company.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Frank Keck 00:00
Hello, Hustlers, founders, investors, and startup enthusiasts. This is your guest host, Frank Keck, coming to you with a new series called Founder Fridays with Frank. It’s a lot of F’s. We’ll be exploring the challenges founders face on any given day, which will hopefully, in turn, help you and your business to grow in a healthy and productive way. For those of you that don’t know me, and even those that you do, my name is Frank Keck. I am a workplace culture developer. And I founded a business called CoreBuild, a leadership development and training company. These days, a lot of corporations are contacting us to help support their company culture and leadership goals. And, all that said, as an entrepreneur and founder myself, my heart is always with startups. This is exactly why I’m so excited to bring you these Founder Fridays with Frank episodes. You’re in for a real treat as the first four guests in the series. You likely know pretty well. They’re the hosts of the Startup Hustle. We’re putting these founders in the hot seat, so you can learn more about them individually. Before I tell you who today’s guest is, let me take a quick moment to thank Full Scale for sponsoring today’s podcast episode. Learn how Full Scale helps you build a winning software team quickly and affordably by visiting FullScale.io. And now, without further ado, let’s welcome our first guest in this four-part Founder Fridays with Frank series. And I found out that we’re starting with the best-looking host and podcaster of the bunch, Mr. Matt Watson. Matt, welcome to the podcast.
Matt Watson 01:52
Thanks for having me, Frank. I’m pretty sure you’re gonna tell everybody. They’re the best-looking guests, though. Not just me.
Frank Keck 01:58
I’m gonna come up with different affirmations for each of you. I don’t know what we’ll do with the others yet. But we’ll go somewhere with them. Now I’ve got some questions. I want to ask you, Matt, but I was just kind of looking through some stuff. You’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time as a business person.
Matt Watson 02:18
Yeah, I, you know, I’ve been an entrepreneur, basically, and a software developer for basically 20 years. I’ve always been a tech, you know, product guy. I like to build products like I like to build things. And so yeah, I started my first company in 2002. So I was, like, 21 years old and 20 years old, whatever. And, yeah, we sold that in 2011. That was coming to VinSolutions. And I started a company called Sacrifi. And we sold that about 18 months ago. And I’m also one of the co-founders of Full Scale, which we started four years ago now, I think, which, you know, is done really well. And, yeah, now I work for a company you mentioned earlier called home and local services, but we actually just changed, they just changed their name. So it’s actually called Camp Digital now. And, okay, Camp Digital. And it was started by an ex-colleague from VinSolutions. So they recruited me to come to help them kind of grow the business and help take it to the next level. So I’m helping them on the technology and product side now.
Frank Keck 03:21
And what do you guys do over there?
Matt Watson 03:24
Yeah. So, you know, they have found an interesting niche. So actually, we had VinSolutions. And there was an offspring that turned into a company called dealer teamwork, which was advertising software related to car dealers. And so this company came digital and actually spun out of that. So it’s like a double spin out of VinSolutions from originally just chemicals. But they took the same idea from dealer teamwork, and it’s for home services. So we’re actually one of the largest digital marketing companies in the United States for electricians, plumbers, ah, back, not a very sexy space. But they don’t have a lot of technology. And they really need what we do. We actually have a patent pending on a really simple idea. That is a big, big deal. You know, if you call like I actually literally this morning, I called because my heaters are not working because it’s a little chilly here in Kansas City. And most all transactions to like truck companies happen within 48 hours if I call them and they’re like, oh, we can’t be there for two weeks. I just called somebody else, right? Yep. So it doesn’t make any sense for them to spend $35 for a lead, and they can’t service the lead because the customer is going to hang up and call somebody else. So we have a really simple product. We just basically turn off their advertising. When they’re at capacity, right. If their service technicians couldn’t handle any more work for the week, we turned our ads off. You know, we dynamically changed our ads. So it’s a relatively simple idea that nobody was doing, and we basically have a patent pending on it, and it’s a pretty cool thing.
Frank Keck 05:00
I mean, it’s such a simple system. Why didn’t somebody think of that? Right? Yeah.
Matt Watson 05:04
So, you know, hats off to Katie Donovan who’s our CEO, another original founder that came up with the idea. And we’re, we’re, you know, working with some other people. And here they are four years later, and they were on the Inc 501 of the fastest growing companies in the United States. And it’s a cool story. So glad to help them try and get to the next level. So very cool.
Frank Keck 05:27
That’s neat when you take something really simple, and I think that kind of ties into what we’re talking about with culture and people and stuff. You know, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impacts. Yeah. And so, like, just taking a really simple idea like, Hey, your, your capacity, so let’s turn that off. Yeah, that’s, like, really simple. So I love that. Who would have thought? All right. Are you ready for it? Are you ready for some hot seat questions? Let’s do it. All right. Question number one. How does it feel to be in the hot seat? Right, so today, you’re on this side of the microphone. Now you’re the one being asked all the questions. So I really got so far.
Matt Watson 06:10
Well, so if you’re the guest host, am I the guest? Guest?
Frank Keck 06:13
You’re the guest.
Matt Watson 06:16
Guest today, I like it.
Frank Keck 06:18
Yeah. How’s it feel to be the guest? Guest?
Matt Watson 06:21
It feels good.
Frank Keck 06:23
any different than being the host? Or the?
Matt Watson 06:27
It? I don’t know, is it harder? I have to answer all the questions instead of asking the questions.
Frank Keck 06:32
Yeah. Well, now, you know, you have to actually like to think, right? You don’t have all the questions written down. That’s right. So what you’re doing so far, from my perspective, you’re doing, you’re doing a fine job. So give you an A so far, all right. So as a founder, you’ve done this several times, so you must be pretty good at it. And I’m sure you’ve learned a lot. But in your newest company, or even with it, let’s just stick with your newest, your newest experience? What’s the biggest challenge people-wise for you right now?
Matt Watson 07:10
Well, it’s culture. I mean, you know, it sounds like you’re an expert in culture. And, you know, the company that I work at now is primarily based in Minneapolis. And, you know, they’ve had their own cultural issues. And actually, we had a meeting a couple weeks ago, a management meeting about culture, like, there were some concerns about, you know, employees taking advantage of working from home and, you know, just different things going on. And it’s, you know, the company is growing. I think we have like 60 employees, most of those in Minneapolis. I work remotely, though, you know, and just frustrations like, hey, nobody cleans up the kitchen and feels like, just do just a different culture thing. And some of its companies are growing up, and they hire a lot of younger kinds of entry-level people. And there’s been different challenges from culture and politics and all the different things these days with, with some of that, and so, yeah, culture is always interesting.
Frank Keck 08:05
You know, it’s, I appreciate that answer. I was in Tampa yesterday, working with another startup and helping them with their culture. And they have a similar, similar challenge. And so one of the things that we did yesterday was we brought their people together. We did an exercise called a team charter. And really all it is Matt just getting people to sit down and say, Hey, how do we want to work together? Right, and so talking about stuff, and kind of going back to learning how to turn the advertising off. It’s like the little things. It’s kind of the same thing. Hey, let’s talk about stuff before it becomes an issue. Yeah, let’s talk about the kitchen. Let’s talk about what respect look like? Let’s talk about what honesty looks like? Let’s talk about what’s important to us. So you know, we get in such a hurry, sometimes we forget about those little things, that it’s those little things that make a huge difference. As we go to work together.
Matt Watson 09:02
Once and a of it, I feel like for us at our company, it could be how we hold people accountable. How do we know if they’re working? How do we know if they’re being productive? You know, when you’re used to having a company that all works in an office, and then everybody goes remote. And now people are working from home one day a week, maybe two days a week? There’s this perception that if I can’t see somebody in their chair, I don’t think they’re getting anything accomplished. It doesn’t mean they’re getting anything accomplished, even if they are sitting in the chair anyways. Right? But I feel like there’s a lot of struggle for companies now that are trying to figure out this work-from-home thing where it’s a mix. I feel like working from home for a mix is hard. We had this issue at Full Scale where it’s like we were how we were allowing employees like in our Kansas City office even like to work from home one or two days a week, and I feel like some of us, I think some of them felt like oh, when they were working from home that was almost like their day off kind of thing right like We’re where people are always in the office, or they’re always at home, it’s easier for them to feel like they’re in work mode, right when they but when they work from home one day a week, I think it’s a little bit of different shift. And for some employees, I think they do struggle with it. They win that one day that they’re at home, they may not get as much done because they’re not used to working from home, whereas if they work from home all the time, it would be different.
Frank Keck 10:24
Do you guys have conversations with people like, Hey, you’re going to work from home? Let’s talk about what that’s going to be like?
Matt Watson 10:30
Well, so, you know, I manage the engineering and product side at camp. And it’s so funny, it’s camp because I always feel like when I say, Oh, we’re at camp like it. But our mascot is a bear like we were there. Yeah, they went full crazy with the camping thing. But you know, I’m, I’m managing a group of engineers. And so at camp, we also use Full Scale or customer Full Scale. So, you know, half of our engineering team is remote. Anyways, right? And then they’ve, one of my engineers in Boston. And so I’m pretty much of the mindset, like all of our people are remote. They’re all just, you know, distributed anyway. So I don’t really care that two of them are actually sitting in the office, it doesn’t really matter. To me, it’s like everybody’s remote. They just happen to be sitting in the office. So my management style is a little different that way, like, you know, and I have daily meetings, everybody and kind of keeping tabs on what are they doing and knowing, you know, feeling like they’re making progress, and all that kind of stuff, and, and software engineering, managing software engineering, anyways, it’s hard, because it’s not like you’re on an assembly line. And I know, you produce eight widgets a day or whatever, and you’re hitting your numbers, like, with software engineering, it doesn’t really work that way. Somebody told me something funny the other day about construction, which I think relates directly to software development, he’s like, you know, when you’re working on a construction project, you’re either 20 minutes from being done, or 20 minutes from now, you’re gonna have three more days of work to do. And software engineering is kind of the same thing, right? Like, anything can go wrong in the next 20 minutes is going to create like three more days where the work of like, there’s some new bugs, some new problem, like, I thought it was gonna be easy to do this thing, but it ended up being a giant nightmare, like, software development is really difficult to kind of forecast how long it’s going to do. And, and it feels more like you’re fighting a battle. And you’re just trying to see, are we making progress every day? Right? Like, right, it’s hard, and you just get to know that certain employees make a lot more progress than others. And that is just as part of it as well.
Frank Keck 12:33
Doesn’t that kind of help you with your leadership style, though? It’s like, okay, so I know this person, I need to check in on this one I don’t need if I follow up more with this one, it’s just going to slow him down.
Matt Watson 12:46
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why we have daily stand ups, right, trying to check in with them and knowing how to manage those people, right, knowing like, I have to give them more direction, I have to tell them exactly what to do and how to do it. And that’s the thing that’s hard about software engineering, like I have one, one guy on my team is working on a project that I know is going to take like two or three months. So it’s, it’s, you know, just kind of checking in with him making sure he’s not stuck on something. But he knows what he needs to do. It’s a really long running thing. Right? Right. versus another guy, I gave a brand new project today that I think will be done in two days. Right? So then it’s like, I have to work with him a lot to make sure he understands it’s a new project, what do I need to do? And I expect him to get it done pretty fast, like, so managing short versus long projects is also very different.
Frank Keck 13:34
Well, and then to balance Where do you spend your time? Right? Right. And okay, this guy is going to have it done in two days, this gal is going to have it done in two days. So I’ve got to have something ready for them to do next.
Matt Watson 13:47
And that’s another problem from managing a software team is queuing up the work? Right? It’s like how do I keep like that, I almost feel like software development is really an assembly line, right? And it starts with, you know, the planning side of it, the requirements, designing all this stuff, breaking down the work, putting it in the queue, having a development team work on it. So yeah, there’s a lot of work that nobody nobody thinks about. And people don’t spend enough time on the design and requirements, the planning, all that kind of stuff. And so that’s my challenge, almost just in time delivery of like, Okay, I gotta keep queuing up for work next Monday, they’re gonna be ready for this thing. Like it’ll just work to do like, It’s a never ending battle, but it’s good. That means we’re getting stuff done, right? It’s like if I have to keep ensuring that the next project is ready, that’s a good sign.
Frank Keck 14:35
So you kind of sound like you’ve figured it out, okay, I’ve got to keep the assembly line moving. I’ve got to try to stay one to two to three steps ahead of everybody like what’s coming next. So how like having that mindset mat and going into it, how does that change your interactions with people.
Matt Watson 15:00
Well, so I mean, a lot of my job is, you know, talking to the engineering team, but then also trying to be the translator between the engineering team and the business, right. As a technology leader, my job is to figure out what the business needs? What are the most important things we need to do, trying to herd cats, get everybody to agree to what we need to do, all that kind of stuff, right, and then take that back to the engineering team and translate that to them. And what that means from an architecture or software design product was needed to do, you know, and the engineering nuts and bolts of stuff, right, like I have to bridge that gap. And one of the reasons they brought me in is they were struggling with some of the engineering stuff and what needed to be done. And they weren’t making a lot of progress on some of the things they needed to do. They knew they needed to grow the team. But when I started what they thought were their highest priority things that needed to be done. After a week, I figured out where the least priority actually was. And the things that were the most important that everybody was telling me were the most important things that were causing customers to leave reasons why they couldn’t sign up new customers, like trying to understand from a product perspective, like what our weaknesses were, they weren’t even a priority. And so I had to help them understand that and see that like, Hey, guys, you’re you think this is your most important thing, but you keep telling me it’s actually something totally different.
Frank Keck 16:24
So how did you figure that out? That’s interesting.
Matt Watson 16:27
I just, I have a knack for it. You know, I’m a software engineer at heart. Like, I like building things and writing software and all that. But most software developers, and this is like very stereotypically speaking, don’t necessarily have a lot of common sense or look for things that like a user experience perspective or thinking about things at a high level, they’re usually very in the weeds writing code, you know, very logical very over logically kind of people usually. But I’ve always been good at trying to relate that back to the user and the business and the product and understand all that and, and actually can probably think my, my first job I ever had for that, because I was forced to do those things. Like I had to talk to the customers, right? And that kind of forced me to do that. And maybe I never would have been that way myself.
Frank Keck 17:24
But that was my first job as a software developer, that’s all I did for like a year or two so maybe we should be putting more people in front of customers. Yeah, probably cringing thinking about that, but yeah, help you out.
Matt Watson 17:31
Right? Yep. Soft. A lot of software developers are just, they’re very heads down logical people and they’re different personalities. And it’s like, I always joke like, if you’re interviewing a software developer, like if they came in, dressed very professionally, like, you know, a suit and tie or a lady dressed very nice or whatever. It’s like, I don’t hire that person, hire the one that came in dressed like a Jedi Knight like that, that’s the person you usually the weirder they are, the better they are just like they’re usually weird personalities and have some very centric to them. And, and those are usually like the smartest, weirdest people like just the nerds. Right then if there’s some truth to that. Those are usually the best engineers for my experiment hiring.
Frank Keck 18:16
Tip number one.
Matt Watson 18:19
Weird. They are the best. Yeah, very nice. Very nice.
Frank Keck 18:22
So I’m just kind of encapsulating that I’m gonna ask you questions, just because I’ve been wanting to say this all day. So what is your superpower? What is it that makes people go, Watson, come quickly? Before heavy, I just see things that other people don’t see.
Matt Watson 18:40
And actually asked one of my colleagues the other day about if she thought I would be better or worse than a couple of different different things I was considering doing and that was her feedback to me. She’s like, I don’t know why, but you just see things that other people don’t see. And I think she’s right, I just, you know, back to me, being an engineer and being more product focused, I just see things differently. Like, I’m the guy that walks in the room and notices the crack in the wall that somebody needs to fix. Like I just, I just perceive things differently and pick up on things. And that makes for creating good products like understanding what the users need to do and being able to make it all come together. I just see it.
Frank Keck 19:23
Would you say math? You just are very curious.
Matt Watson 19:29
I love a good challenge. And you know, yeah, absolutely. Alas, I love building products.
Frank Keck 19:38
It just seems to me that if you walk into a room and you see things differently, like I think that’s really good there’s leadership. Tip number two, right, number one, the weirder the better. Leadership tip number two is, you know, we have to see things differently. And so you can’t look through the same lens. And you’ve got to look at your people differently than the projects and the things that they’re doing so to be successful. In building a culture, you’re able to stop and go. Okay. Let me just ask myself a few questions. And so from, from my perspective, I call that being curious versus being judgmental, like, and a lot of times will be, especially for using the left brain very logic oriented stuff is right or it’s not. Right. And so we’re passing judgment. But to be in leadership, it’s the right side of the brain. And it’s like looking at it from a different spec perspective and asking different questions and going, Okay, why is that? Why is that like that? So I think just the questions that we asked, but I love looking at things from that different perspective. And for those of you that don’t do that, normally. Now, that’s not part of your natural way that your brain is wired, you can learn that just write down several questions, just write down like 15 or 20 questions, and look at those before you go to work. There’s a really great book by Matt, called How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. I mean, you talk about a great founder and startup guy, right? He was a long time ago. But he used to just write journal after journal book full of just nothing but questions. And he just asked questions. So I think as leaders, you know, the more curious we can be, the more we can find out how weird is that person, the more we can like, look at different things and come up with different solutions, which is an old mat and a long way.
Matt Watson 21:27
You mentioned not being judgmental. And I think another really popular saying that people say is, like, seek to understand before being understood, or whatever the saying is, and I think that’s a good one too. And I think that’s what I always struggle with. And patience is not one of my best suits. And it bites me all the time. I struggle with it with my wife and my kids and everything. In the workplace. It’s a double edged sword. Like, my lack of patience, causes me to drive other people that sometimes are needed. Like they need to be driven. Like, I’m the guy in the executive meeting, like, Why the hell do we don’t have to shit done, stop making excuses. Let’s go, let’s figure it out. Like that guy. Yeah, which sometimes is really needed, but sometimes is really bad, right. And so in my marriage, it can be really bad. In the workplace, if it’s used the right way it can be really powerful. As a manager, it can be really powerful, but it can also be bad, right? If you are quick, or if you’re quick to pass a judgment on things and you don’t seek to understand before trying to be understood yourself, like I think is a great tip and should be on the list of tips.
Frank Keck 22:39
I love that tip number three, Seek first to understand then to be understood, I believe that was Stephen Covey.
Matt Watson 22:47
Yes, seven habits, one of the seven habits.
Frank Keck 22:49
So you know, finding experts, software developers, you know, finding the right people can be tough, right? And then and then getting them to do the right things can be tough too. But it doesn’t finding these expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. I’m going to jump to get several questions left but I’m gonna ask for tip number four. And I’m bad at math. And I don’t follow the details very well as you learn. So I don’t know if we’ve had three, but I think we have some number fundings.
Matt Watson 23:40
Not math. It’s not when you bring something like mine counting.
Frank Keck 23:43
Same place. So if you could give our listeners Matt one tip, like, because in my opinion, you’re kicking ass in a lot of different ways, right? And not just like getting in people’s faces. But when I say kicking ass, like you’re doing stuff that’s like, Hey, this is really great. If you could give a founder like one piece of advice, to really kick ass when it comes to people, aside from the three that we’ve already done, what would just be like one thing that you’re like, Frank, if you do nothing else, you got to do this.
Matt Watson 24:15
I think the biggest one of the biggest problems that most founders have, and really all managers, executives, a lot of people have is learning to be good at delegating, learning, learning to be good at trusting other people and delegating. And a lot of people struggle with it. And it’s its own skill. It’s its own type of skill. And I’ll say I’ve been guilty of this for a long time, right? I feel like oh, it takes me 10 minutes to do this or it’ll take me an hour to train somebody else to do it. Right. And then I don’t know if I trust that they can do it the right way. So I just keep doing these things. Right. And for a long period of time, I was definitely very guilty of that. And I’m sure I can still be guilty of that today. But one thing I somebody told me one day and I don’t really remember where it came And from like, you know, as leaders, a lot of times we wake up every day, and we have a list of things to do. And it’s great to start with that list of things to do. But the most important thing isn’t the list, it’s writing down who is going to do them next on the list, and focusing on delegating to other people. And I think that’s the biggest challenge that a lot of entrepreneurs have is just not learning to be good at delegating and trusting other people.
Frank Keck 25:24
Yeah, because if you always do it yourself, you’re not developing your developers, right, you’re not developing your people. So you always have to do it. And then you get, now you’re limiting your growth.
Matt Watson 25:36
Well, you talk about culture in a company, right? Like, that’s a key part to how you build that culture is like, as a leader, your job is to train everybody else. And that’s part of the culture, right? That’s how one of the ways that you build that culture is training them on how you want to do things, and that, you know, shifting your mentality from, I’m not a single contributor anymore, my job is actually to manage other people and train them. And some of us struggle with that, you know, because it’s easy for us to be a single contributor and feel like we, we, I am definitely guilty of this in the past, like, I enjoy writing code, because I feel a sense of accomplishment every day, like, oh, I wrote this code, and I did this thing, where if I feel like, oh, I went to a whole bunch of meetings all day, I don’t really feel like I accomplished anything. But what you might be accomplishing in those meetings, it’s really important is the culture, the mentoring, the training, hiring new people, all those sorts of things that are really critical to growing a business. But you may not feel like you actually did anything that day. Right, right, which is understandable, right? And so, but those can be the most important things, especially for a business that’s growing needs to grow, it needs to grow to be bigger than you. Right. And I think as young small companies, that struggle is like you’re trying to build something bigger than you. And you’ve got to slowly change that mindset.
Frank Keck 26:57
You know, so here’s a little bit of my mind. nerdiness. Right. So the concept that you’re talking about, we teach this a lot. It’s called chunk size. Right. And it’s actually how your brain is neurologically wired. And so you’re born at birth left, like left handed or right handed, you’re also born either big chunk or small chunk. And so especially in the tech industry, you know, we hire people, because they’re really good with the detail stuff, like you were just talking about. Yeah. Right. But then it goes back to what you talked about earlier, where, hey, you’ve got to be able to see things from a different perspective. Well, small chunks, people are really good at the details. But looking at that bigger picture, looking two steps ahead, their brains are not naturally wired that way. That’s something that’s a skill set, they have to actually develop, they have to learn, right, and I think that’s one of the biggest things that I see is we put these small chunk people because hey, you’re really good at writing code mats. And now we’re gonna put you in charge of five people. But we don’t necessarily give them the skill set. And we definitely don’t teach them how to see the bigger picture. And we just kind of expect them to change. Big chunk, people don’t normally see the details, right? Like Matt DeCoursey is primarily a big chunk guy, right? You can see the big picture. Yeah. But getting into the details, not his expertise. I think you guys make a great team. So I think it’s, you know, part of it is like, Okay, I’ve got to start to see that bigger picture as I’m running this organization. And so part of that is making sure this stuff gets done. But it’s also developing my team, as you’re, as you’re sharing now. So that whole delegation piece. So for some of you, that’s not going to come easy. That’s going to be your big challenge. But I think that kind of goes back to Matt’s tip number two, which is to see things from that different perspective.
Matt Watson 28:41
Well, and I think, I think you highlight another common problem that a lot of companies have is you have people that are great, single contributors. And then you potentially promote them to another position that they are just not good ad, they’re not good at managing people. They’re not good at operations. They’re not good at managing people and driving results, like how do I manage this team and make them more efficient, and know what they’re doing and get the results out of them that I can and all that kind of stuff. It’s a totally different skill set. But I think we’re all, you know, think we’re like climbing the corporate ladder of like, you come in, and then you’re supposed to be promoted and do this or whatever. But it’s a different skill set. And it’s a different job. And not everybody’s cut out for it. And maybe some people can learn to do it. But definitely not everybody is going to learn to do it. Right. And not everybody wants to do it. No, my dad didn’t want my dad’s worked at VinSolutions, a company started for 17 years, and is about to retire. I’ve never been a manager in the company at all. He’s always been a single contributor. And he’s had opportunities to be like the team lead or the manager and he’s like, he didn’t want to do it. He’s like, I don’t want to manage all these other people and babysit all their problems and deal with all the bullshit like, like, just leave me alone and I’ll do my work. And I don’t wanna deal with any other bullshit and I can respect that I respect and I believe I love I love it. I’ve got another, you know, another guy I work with now that he’s a really good single contributor. He wants to be a manager, but his personality doesn’t allow it. Like he struggles with all those sorts of things. And I think that’s really common in engineering because most engineers are not necessarily very, they don’t really have like, really good people skills, really good communication skills. And they struggle to make that leap. And honestly, I feel like this problem is only getting worse. I don’t know. Like, I feel like I have four kids. And, you know, they don’t learn to socialize and talk to other people the same way because of computers and technology and all this stuff. And like, I can’t get my 13 year old out of his bedroom. Right? Like, I feel like this problem is just going to continue to get worse and worse in the workplace.
Frank Keck 30:48
Yeah, I have the same 10 year old. It’s like, we gave her a really cool room. And now she slept down. I have a cool room. Why would I want to leave?
Matt Watson 30:57
Yeah, your stories, your stories now about kids, like they don’t care about getting their driver’s license and all these things. And like, it’s the culture of slowly changing. I don’t know about you, but I will turn 16. I’d be 16 to drive in Missouri at that time. And it’s like, the day I’m there, like, let’s go, I’m ready to drive.
Frank Keck 31:15
And I’m my son’s 13. He’s like, Dad, here’s the day in the hour, I’m going to start driving because in Kansas at 14, I can drive in the car legally. Right? He’s ready, likes to go and sits in the car. And so I think there’s still that. But yeah, I think we are promoting that with tech, which is why, you know, talking about culture and leadership and some of the things that we’re talking about, I think we need to talk about it more. Because that is becoming a problem. But on the other side of that coin is I think our society says, Hey, if you want to get ahead in life, you have to go into management, right? And, and so I see this in a lot of companies, it’s like, Hey, if you want to move up, you got to go into management, and we’ll pay you more money. And so now there’s a thing called the dual ladder approach, where it’s like, okay, you can advance your career in management, or you can advance your career staying on the tech side, right. And so I would encourage you, if you’re running your own business, kind of think about if you’ve got a really great programmer, and they’re really productive, maybe it’s not in anyone’s best interest to put them in a job that they don’t want to do, that they aren’t very good at. Right. So we’ll play to people’s strengths.
Matt Watson 32:23
Well, and that’s what’s interesting to talk specifically about software developers and their kind of career paths, they have a couple different ways they can become an expert at managing teams, or they can become an expert at the engineering side and become like an architect. Right. And so software developers, their career path can go different ways they can, they potentially go to architecture, side enterprise architecture, you have like a whole different kind of career path that way. But what’s interesting about working in it, is you can also then like, Oh, I’m gonna work on the product team, I’m gonna be a project manager or database administrator, or all these different roles. So that’s what’s cool about working with tech and tech as you can actually go a lot of different avenues. And one of my favorite stories is we had a support person that was doing technical support for our product. And then solutions, eventually became a junior developer, and then a software developer on the team. And then he left and co-founded a local company here in Kansas City called dealer queue, which is extremely successful. Cool. And he’s one of these days, we’ll, we’ll probably sell for over $100 million. And, to me, that’s just like, one of the coolest stories of, you know, started as customer service, worked his way up, you know, turned into a product expert, right, and understands the industry and spun out and started his own company. And like, that’s cool. Like, I love seeing it like that. That is the best. That’s my favorite. That’s the American dream, right? The American Dream. Yeah. playing to your strengths. But by allowing our people to play to their strengths, it not only helped you in the business, but it also helped this person to know.
Frank Keck 33:58
Yeah, and create their own thing.
Matt Watson 34:01
And that’s why you have places like Silicon Valley that are so successful. That happens over and over and over at a bigger scale than it does here in Kansas City, right? Like, the tree grows and drops a lot more seeds and those seats do and grow kind of thing. Very cool that that creates that kind of culture that’s different, right? In the tech space, right? And the talent that it creates the entrepreneurial spirit that it creates.
Frank Keck 34:26
Awesome. So Matt’s given you five or six tips, I would go back and tell you what they are, but I didn’t write them down. So learn from that. But I think hiring nerds the weirder the better. Right? Look at things from a different perspective. Be sure you delegate and play to people’s strengths seeking understanding.
Matt Watson 34:46
I think that’s another way to understand Thank you.
Frank Keck 34:50
Yeah, that was the fifth one.
Matt Watson 34:51
One of the seven habits.
Frank Keck 34:54
So we’re gonna finish things up, Matt, we have this thing like All for fast from Frank. Just because I apparently loved the letter F. Yes. All right. So for quick questions, just whatever the first answer is that pops into your mind. You’re ready.
Matt Watson 35:11
I’m ready. Paper or plastic paper to relax.
Frank Keck 35:16
Would you rather be by yourself or with a group of people? Group of people? What is your favorite cartoon character, and why?
Matt Watson 35:27
Mickey Mouse, I guess. Okay. I don’t know why.
Frank Keck 35:32
Okay. And your personal mantra or slogan?
Matt Watson 35:40
Wow, I don’t know. I must have a few of them so that my wife has to know the answer to this immediately. Probably.
Frank Keck 35:48
Some words that you live by, perhaps?
Matt Watson 35:55
Man, I don’t know. Okay, I got one for you. It’s okay. Well, here. I’m gonna go with this one. Actually, I think this is something that has helped me lately. Keep Calm and play chess. I’ve turned into a chess player. I like playing chess now. And actually, I think it’s a good skill for anybody because it makes you slow down and think. Okay. And it’s strategic. Right.
Frank Keck 36:22
And if you’re very strategic, I love it. All right. So slow down. Play chess. Be like Matt. That’s my slogan today.
Matt Watson 36:31
Like, Matt, I’ll take that one. Yeah.
Frank Keck 36:33
So as we wrap things up today, Matt, just thank you for joining us. And this man, I learned a lot. I love having tips and learning some things from an expert. And so before we sign off, just another thank you. And another shout-out to today’s episode sponsor. Do you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders? Let Full Scale help. We have the people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions, then let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, we specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. Matt, again, many thanks for your time and your energy. Love your answers. And we will hear you on another podcast.
Matt Watson 37:36
Yeah, thanks for letting me be the guest today. I like it.
Frank Keck 37:39
Alright, thanks, Matt. Thanks. Thanks, everybody, for listening. We’ll see you in the next episode.