Ep. #788 - Improving Internal Company Communications
In this episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey and Rick Knudtson, Co-founder and CEO of Workshop, talk about how to improve employee engagement through internal communication. Workshop was recognized in our list of Top Omaha Startups.
We can’t fail to mention that “Flywheel, A Midwest Success Story,” featuring Rick’s Co-founder, Dusty Davidson (linked here) is another A+ episode if you’re a fan of these Omaha founders!
Covered In This Episode
The importance of internal company communication grows as your organization expands. With Workshop, companies gain the know-how, and the tools needed to improve their internal communications.
Join Matt DeCoursey and Rick Knudtson in today’s Startup Hustle episode to hear their experiences in how better communication, in turn, means better engagement, culture, and sales!
- From Flywheel to Workshop (2:09)
- Growing a company means growing internal communication issues (5:51)
- Communicating with intent (9:24)
- How to make internal communications effective (18:38)
- Better communications bring about better engagement and culture (24:47)
- Improving internal communications (27:14)
- Internal marketing as internal marketing (31:10)
- Selling equals communicating (35:46)
- Rick’s founder’s freestyle (40:46)
- Wrapping up (40:52)
Now, I like to use the word intentionality, you have to be far more intentional about how you’re sending out messages, what channels you’re using for certain types of messages.Rick Knudston
And I would argue like you said, you know, you’re chasing your dream, the only reason you get the opportunity to do that in an organization in a company or building is the people that are there. If they’re excited to be there tomorrow and work with you, you guys can chase your dreams together, you should just flip that and spend more time trying to inspire your teams around why their work matters. And good things tend to happen.Rick Knudston
If you want to build a goal, my goal as an entrepreneur is always to build something bigger than myself, which means I need more than just me. And if you aren’t looking at the people that work at your company as the company’s biggest assets, then you have a flawed view of your own enterprise.Matt DeCoursey
Scale up your online business by partnering with Full Scale. With Full Scale, you gain access to a talented and experienced world-class team of developers, testers, and other specialists. Share your project’s technical requirements and form your software development dream team.
Moreover, take a look at all of our amazing Startup Hustle partners. They not only provide business solutions your company may need, but also support the startup community with discounts!
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 0:01
And we’re back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation on hoping helps your business grow. Like you’re listening to the show because you’re wanting to build a business or you’re in the process of doing it. And as your business gets bigger and older and everything, you’ll really begin to understand the importance of internal communication. There’s a lot of complexity to that, and a hell of a lot of ways to do it poorly. Whether you have a two-person company or, like myself, a 235-person company, it can get out of control in a hurry. So we’re going to talk about that today. Now, before I introduce today’s guests, this episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by fullscale.io helping you build a software team quickly and affordably. That’s my company. And I want to help you do exactly that. Build your software team. There are 350,000 open tech jobs in the US right now. And we don’t have people to fill them. But I’m gonna help you do that. So go to FullScale.io. With me today, I’ve got Rick Knutson, and he is the co-founder and CEO of Workshop. Now, if you recently listened to our episode with Omaha’s Top Startups there on the list, you can go to us workshop.com. What is even easier is if you just scroll down. Go ahead and do that right now scroll on down to the show notes. Click the link, so you have some reference about what they’ve built there. And everything that Workshop does, as we talk about out and straight out of Omaha, Rick, welcome to Startup Hustle.
Rick Knudtson 1:34
Awesome, thank you appreciate it. Super excited to be here. And thanks for the invite. Excited to chat about internal comms and how we can help some companies improve that. So I appreciate the invite.
Matt DeCoursey 1:43
I’m ready to learn some stuff too. Now, before we before my lesson begins. And before I end, before I publicly shout out all my own misgivings at my internal communication problems that existed at Full Scale. Yeah, let’s start with a little bit of backstory about you. And like why you wanted to provide a solution for this?
Rick Knudtson 2:09
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So before starting this company, which by the way, we’re only a year old this month, so pretty exciting. Birthday month for Workshop. But before Workshop and starting this company, I was running a company that I co-founded with two other partners, a company called Flywheel out of Omaha, Nebraska as well, in that company grew incredibly quickly. We were providing website hosting services to creative agencies, so catering to helping agencies build their businesses on our platform, actually a Full Scale customers. So the ad at the start of the I can, I can be a testimonial right here and recommend it. So we actually got a great value out of that. But what’s great is that, you know, as you grow a company, I’m excited to actually have a conversation with you. Because at 230 employees, I mean, you’re seeing some stuff, you’re growing fast, I mean, comms become super important to keep your teams alive. And we saw that at Flywheel. So we grew from, you know, just three of us starting the company to about 250 employees over six years, you know, so incredibly rapid growth, and then we sold the company a couple of years ago. But because of that, you know, that scaling, you know, we focused a lot of our time and energy and attention on how to effectively align teams using internal communication strategies. So once we require, we were acquired by the larger organization, a company down in Austin, Texas, once acquired, that company was a little over 1000 employees. So I saw even a little bit larger of a scaled organization, and they grew quickly as well. And, I saw even more challenges when it comes to internal comms. And to be honest, I tend to work on things that I’m passionate about I started Flywheel because I was a web developer and I wanted to, you know, to solve my own problems that I was having, like watching these websites and, and then, you know, five years into building Flywheel I kind of became pretty passionate about, you know, inspiring internal teams and I spent a lot of my time doing that, we actually built our own tool sets to kind of manage that and measure some of the results on those types of things. So Workshop is kind of the culmination of like that experience and we like to say Workshop that you know, a lot of marketers in the world would say they’re trying to inspire the most important audience of the company that’s like prospects or customers and I think it’s the employees that we need to focus on so. So Workshop provides those tools for teams to kind of scale their internal comms and measures the results in really that’s from my own experience doing it at Flywheel.
Matt DeCoursey 4:31
Yeah, and you know, Flywheel as in you. I’m gonna call you out for being overly humble. We actually did an episode about Flywheel that came out on December 22 of 2020. It’s titled Flywheel the Midwest success story. You guys actually had one of the more notable and larger exits and the end of the corridor that Kansas City and Omaha, and you know that the true flyover country as many people refer to it. And you know, and that episode I got to sit down with, with Dusty and Tommy who I believe are your co-founders. There are at least co-workers. Yeah, yeah. So with that, you know, the rapidly growing company. And by the way, congratulations and all that success, and happy birthday.
Rick Knudtson 5:23
Yeah, exactly. Thank you so much.
Matt DeCoursey 5:25
Yeah, the time that, you know, much like children, the business grows up so fast.
Rick Knudtson 5:30
It’s wild, like the fact that it’s a year later, I mean, I left the weekend in a year ago. And it’s crazy how fast time is, yeah.
Matt DeCoursey 5:37
Entrepreneurs are kinda like dog years, you know, like, and they can be a plus or minus, because seven years can go by and it feels like a year, for one year can go by, and I think you age seven years is how
Rick Knudtson 5:51
I was gonna say that, like, your point about, you know, Flywheel’s success. As you know, we were spoiled in a lot of ways for a lot of years because of the growth, and we had lots of resources and capital. And like, I think the most humbling experience is going back to, you know, starting a new company from starting again. Yeah, so. So I kind of forget the pain. So this last year has been there’s a lot of stories in that too. But, yeah, so Flywheel was an awesome, awesome ride. And in your point about, you know, the Midwest corridor, and just, you know, being in flyover country, you know, in some ways, for me, it’s always something I didn’t, you know, was aspiring to do is like, build a company in the Midwest prove you can do it tech companies scale it, you know, and, and kind of go against the grain a little bit. And I think the Flywheel was really great story because of that, and I think Workshop can be too.
Matt DeCoursey 6:43
So you mentioned how the, you know, that point, you have 250 employees, and you clearly are understanding and seen the issues that companies have with internal communication. And then honestly, when the pandemic hit, a lot of communication models just got splintered, because its like for us. So you mentioned the timeline. So Full Scale is four years old in June. So we’re almost literally like, divided in half with pre-pandemic, and pandemic. So we went from having like, 100, then 200, close to 200 people that were in the same place every day, which is one time, like is it presents communication, ease and also burdens at the same time, because the same communications, it’s easier to proliferate. Well, fake news will just say fake news, meaning like things, you know, you have to like, be aware of other things like you don’t want it, you got to make sure there’s not a poison pill on the well or something. Yeah. Now, when it comes to electronic communication, digital communication, however you want to call it, that’s email, things like Workshop, you know, there’s a bevy of other, you know, Slack teams, Skype, like, I mean, for us originally started 10 years ago, like with Skype, the like the messenger, not even the caller, and like, just kind of pinging each other back and forth. And then we got to the point where we had 10 people, and we’re like, Oh, my God, this is a mess. Yeah, so according to my notes, 74% of employees feel that they miss out on companies information and news. And I’ll verify that at our company, because I actually have to whenever I do updates, you talk about how we communicate, I actually do it through videos. So I send out regular video updates, where I just talk to a camera, you know, and I answer questions or give announcements or stuff like that, but I have to send it, I send it through Slack, I send it through email, I send it a couple of different ways it because it, the only way I can get it in front of everyone is to do and I every time I do it, I’m like, There’s got to be a better way with this. And then, and then, you know, I think that also I think most people listening, their goal would be to maybe have a 250 person company. So the faster the trajectory of you getting to that point, usually the bigger the ball of rubber bands, you have to unwind at some point. And, you know, I’m kind of in the process of doing that right now. And you know, and there’s, as most people have the same issues, 10 different tools, 10 different things. And then also like who’s sending what? Anyway, so Dude, where do we start here?
Rick Knudtson 9:24
Well, you’re highlighting a lot of like, what makes internal comms very interesting in today’s world, right? And you all had a very similar experience to where, you know, we built that company with, you know, in we started the company about 2012. You know, sort of building a culture in 2012 which is vastly different than it is today, considering the change in the world two years ago and I think that if, if you were doing anything, you know, exceptionally well before the pandemic in this kind of like hybrid and remote first world. It does and translates today unnecessarily. And even in a hybrid nature, I was just talking to a company that said they went from, you know, about 5% in remote and hybrid work to 25% over the last two years, just organically, you know, hiring and backfilling and that’s a vastly different company today. So what’s great about that, though, is that, you know, for a company like Workshop, you know, we’re focused on how the future of work looks, you know, and I think that digital communication, as you describe it, which is kind of how we describe it, is, is something that you kind of had to do before you use Slack a little bit. But if you were all in the office, you were using all hands are a lot of organic conversations, there’s so much stuff that’s happening, it’s just easier to walk over someone’s desk. Now, I like to use the word intentionality, you have to be far more intentional about how you’re sending out messages, what channels you’re using for certain types of messages. And, and I think that if, again, if you weren’t focused on this two years ago, all of a sudden, this became the most important topic in you know, March, April 2020. For almost every organization in the world has had it figured out very quickly. You also just mentioned, you know, what do you how do you handle these different channels and apps and tools that your employees are using? And, and honestly, that’s what, that’s what we’re focused on figuring out with workshops. So we actually are a tool for internal communications leaders, you know, a lot of companies didn’t have that title a few years ago. And the ones that did, I would say, we’re probably a little bit more advanced than most organizations back then. Now, it’s pretty rare for a company of 200 employees or larger to not have some function internally that’s focused explicitly on disseminating information and aligning teams through comms. So what we’re building is a platform that actually allows them to use all those channels that you mentioned, in the most effective way to send messages and measure the content. So maybe one area to kind of, like, dig into a little bit, is another thing we talk a lot about Workshop is just all channels aren’t the same, right? It’s, it’s, you know, I encourage internal comms leaders or, you know, CEOs or, you know, even HR professionals to think a lot more like marketers, it’s actually why we call our platform, an internal marketing platform. Because if you’re in a marketing mindset, you’re thinking about what type of content in what specific channel is the most effective, you know, piece of information for your team. So, so what I what I’m describing is, you know, does, you mentioned video, I love video, by the way, for, for remote team, it might be the most human form of communication, so highly encourage it.
Matt DeCoursey 12:35
But it’s, it’s easier to not be misunderstood in many cases, because, while Okay, having written three books, I’ve learned a lot about the written word and the way it can be received. And there’s a lot of there’s a lot of lacks, you know, there’s a lacks nature of of the way it’s interpreted. And for us, because 99% of our employees are in the Philippines, I also have to, they all speak English, like that’s a prerequisite to work at Full Scale. But I also some of that, and having worked with people worldwide for more than 13 years now, you know that some of that, as you talked about the intent and the delivery, I have a wider broader vocabulary than probably most people that, that speak English as a second language or use two languages regularly. So some of the way that you word things and then your approach pattern. Now I want to actually take your marketing outlook, and say that I look at it more as a sales thing. Because whether you consider yourself a salesperson or not, and so many people don’t, you are because you have to sell ideas, you have to sell change, you have to sell all of it. And with that, I also do something that I refer to as fact shaping now. Facts shaping is about taking the truth, but shaping it in the best way possible. So it’s like a marketing play. It’s like, there are literally an infinite number of ways that you can say pretty much anything, which means that some ways have to be way better than others. So, so rec, a good example is the different its word choice. So if I tell you something is cheap, you think, oh, man, it’s Bredel. It’s breakable. It’s not expensive, it’s disposable. If I tell you it’s affordable, that’s exactly that then you’ve then now, okay, there’s some value here. Or maybe this is a good deal. And now, theoretically, you can use cheap or affordable, interchangeably, very interchangeably. So there’s an approach doing that. And that’s intent. That is your intent. That’s like having intention about what you’re doing and who you want to hear it and how and whatever now, if you go to use workshop.com, and once again, there’s a link for that. And while I’m soliciting things, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by FullScale.io, I got to do that, or I get in trouble. Internal communications, by our internal communications, will not be positive or favorable. If I forget to FullScale.io there, yeah, I’ve made that command. But it says, you know, us Workshop.com Make every internal email a great experience. I love that, I love that. Because keep in mind, as a business owner and an employee, your realities are very different, right? And no one near employees are never going to care about your business as much as you do. So get over that fact. And then you need to make it a good experience for them to come to work and create value fun, you know, like a sense of worth, and then really, and the thing that at Full Scale that we’ve always been, that we’ve always been very, very, very attentive to is purpose driven. Because inherently, our people are always remote. Unless your business is in the Philippines, and you’re employing our people, which you’re not, then they’re remote by nature. So they always have been, and that also creates, the communication can be different, because these are people these are contributing members of your team, I mentioned to you before we hit record that your former company, Flywheel was such a great company for us to work with, because you treated our people so well, which is really important to us, because that’s our biggest asset. So, you know, that intent, purpose driven feel like you can’t make people feel like a cog in a machine like, so the way you present that and the way that you know, create purpose driven and honestly, the best way we do it is to encourage our team to be obsessed with our clients’ success, not our success, our clients’ success, and it’s really paid a lot of dividends.
Rick Knudtson 17:02
Yeah, you’re nailing a lot of like, what makes me excited about this new company in Germany with Workshop is that, I think that a lot of companies, the amount of money and time and investments into you know, what I describe as external marketing, compared to how much time and intense and effort they put into inspiring their internal teams is dramatically different typically. And of course, like, we could sit here all day and talk about why great cultures drive great results. But for me, it’s, it’s more about how do you how do you, you know, wake up and you realize, yes, you’re right, that your employees will never care as much about your business as you do as a, as an owner or a co founder of a company. But, but I do think that you can inspire them to care deeply about your mission, your values, to understand why you actually exist and put it into terms that like each segment of your organization can see themselves in that mission statement. So one thing that we see a lot is like, is something I think listeners can think about their own organization is like, where are you at on this, this internal communications journey? And how, how engaged are your teams with the content that you’re pushing out? And you know, how aligned are they? We see a lot of organizations that are a lot, you know, their top down, they’re kind of like one message fits all, you know, in and in a while, right? Yeah, you get 20?
Matt DeCoursey 18:20
Does it doesn’t work, though? I mean, it might feel like it does. But I don’t think it works at all, unless you have like you mentioned a 10 person or any person, number of companies unless they are like, the exact personality type and live and exact similar reality.
Rick Knudtson 18:38
Yep. So I always say like, if you’re doing that today, then just simply add the word intentionality to the front and start thinking a little bit more critically about even in a 20-person organization. What does each segment or each individual care most about? And how can I communicate in a way that inspires them? It gets more challenging at scale. You have 200 employees, you have multiple departments, you have teams, within departments, you have layers in the organization now, and segmentation becomes super important. And you have to start thinking about if I’m going to align teams, what generally speaking does, you know, our finance organization care about compared to our product organization, what inspires those teams to really attack these goals? And what we see with a lot of companies is they struggle with that transition, where they’ve been doing a lot of like one size fits all communication. And I think a question that we should all be asking is, you know, how do we break this up into smaller chunks cascaded down effectively, in realize that the message that you just talked at all hands to 200, 500 employees, it works great, but at some point, it’s so watered down, that it’s, it’s not going to inspire anyone to like, work harder for the customer or chase that goal. What you have to do is actually break it down and say, as a product organization, how do I align with that? How do I how does my like work affect that goal? You know, and how can I see myself in the success of the organization And so one thing that we focus on with our product is like segmentation in understanding how engaged these teams are, as cascades down. So a question that I would just ask listeners to think about is on this journey, you know, are you being intentional about the top-down stuff? Are you hitting a wall where your stuff a little bit too watered down as far as content is concerned? And you need to start segmenting, and how are we cascading that information? And then I think the best organizations eventually get to this state of employee-led communications, which, which really only happens when you have what I would describe a culture of communications and autonomy to support that, where you have leaders or employee resource groups, deepen the organization, understanding the value of storytelling, and inspiring teams around their smaller mission, right. And I see companies that do that as the most highly engaged, highly aligned organizations, because every individual in the company understands that the people around them you to care about work more than externally, like customers and prospects, because if we all agree on what we’re trying to do, customers win, right? We end up building better products, and communicating more effectively with them. But really stress internally, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to solve for, is this transition from you call it sales, which I agree, being very focused on external sales and marketing, you know, and saying, actually, if we take a lot of those principles, in realize that we’re doing the same for organizations internally, we can build better companies, better products drive better results, by having better-aligned teams that way.
Matt DeCoursey 21:38
There’s, there’s a key component to that, I think it went missing to everything you said, Bullseye. However, there’s, I’ve, in my own experience, there’s one, there’s one little twist in that, that if it’s missing, reduces the effectiveness of your delivery, all of it. A lot of people, so the world’s most popular radio station is WIII FM call signals, what’s in it for me, some people will refer to that as well, awesome. You’ll even hear that. And that’s the artful part of this kind of communication. Because, really, and I joke that that’s what the world’s most popular radio station, because everyone you are, as a listener, you are dialed into what’s in it for me, what’s in it for you right now on this show, us giving you tips, advice and input based on our experience, that’s why you’re listening. If we don’t, if we don’t provide that, then the value proposition of what we’re doing here just turns into two dudes talking about something that no one gives a shit about. Now, the weapon part of it is is tricky sometimes, because you like I said, I really just want to encourage anyone listening to always consider, that’s really what people listen to. And you know, another thing too, is is and this is where it gets kind of tricky. So I mentioned earlier, I’ve written a couple books, one of them is called balanced me, it’s a realist Guide to Successful life. And so much of where people run into problems in their life is related to communication. And that communication is absolutely influenced by your personality style, compared to the person that you’re speaking to. So me, I’m like a highly driven, I’m a type D, or driven or dominant personality, my wife is on the other end of the graph. And she is conscientious and compassionate, she’s a great listener, which by the way, is the only personality type that can be in a relationship with me without going nuts. But with that, her delivery and what the way I say things to her the way I sell my message or market, it has to be different, like, like her personality type cares about the steps, I usually don’t, I’m like, What’s the result can be the bottom line, and I and I’m fast and abrupt and like, and I literally have to stop myself and think about that when communicating with employees. And that’s whether it’s face to face, on the Zoom call on a video or any of it. So, you know, give some consideration to that. And there’s a lot of info out there. It’s mainly like, if you want to be super simplistic about it, if you’re type A, you have to have a different approach to type B or the other way around and knowing and being able to shape your message. It look it’s your job to shape your message in the way that it’s best received, not the other person’s job to decipher it and that’s where it breaks down. That’s where like the interpretation of it just feels different. And it’s really really easy if you’re a type A person to blow away the Type B people because you just the other way around too.
Rick Knudtson 24:47
I’m probably more than that. I think probably more than that category too. So I’m very, very aware I’ve talked more than I listened, and I probably should do better at that. And what’s hard about that company, though is a lot of those types of conversation. Questions, when you get at the deep personal level, are done, you know, in one on ones or with managers, and is a little bit disconnected from the kind of like, you know, I would say, global or large score company, large scale company alignment, right. Because what we’ve seen over the years, you know, Flywheel was a company that had incredibly high engagement scores, right? Do we focus, I am not, you mentioned, like, maybe humble about a flat one thing that I’m not humble about elements speaking about Flywheel is that I believe, you know, it was the best place to work in Omaha in the Midwest, maybe the country, because we spent so much effort on building a great, great culture. And in our engagement surveys, the results kind of definitely represented that culture. But one thing that we always saw was that, you know, no matter how good we were, across the entire spectrum of these themes inside of engagement surveys, communication was always the lowest. And it would be things like I don’t quite understand why we’re doing XYZ or, or I don’t understand how my work is rolling up to, you know, the broader goals of the company, I don’t see myself in that work, you know, and those are things that you know, as an organization, you can affect outside of one on ones, because I think that, at some point, when you have 1000 employees, your large scale organization, it gets really hard for a leadership team, to have that like one on one personal connection. So one thing that another thing that we see a lot of companies kind of struggle with is you have everybody has, you know, what’s in it for me, everybody has like their own goals, right? They have their own projects they’re working on across the organization, a lot of them are rolling up in certain ways to the top level goals of the company. But a ticket company newsletter is an example. You know, we always describe that as like the website, to marketing is the newsletter to internal comms, like, if you’re doing nothing else, you should have a really effective good newsletter to inform people what your company’s doing every week, and really bubble up the most important topics. The problem with that, though, is that in large companies, they tend to, they tend to just put too much stuff in it. Right? You know, I think that one one other
Matt DeCoursey 27:10
TLDR baby TLDR,
Rick Knudtson 27:14
exactly like it long didn’t read. If nothing else, you know, your your employees should be able to walk away each week and be able to say what is the most important thing, or two or three things that most of the companies focused on this week, or this month or this quarter. And if they can’t recite those things, in, you’re mostly assimilating that information, disseminating that information through, you know, email, because your remote and hybrid, then simplify the message, it’s that it’s really that simple. And unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that some pockets of the organization might feel like their work isn’t important, because they’re like, I need my information in that newsletter. What that means, actually, is that you need to work with them to understand how their work actually does roll up to that so they can see themselves in the top goals. But, you know, base case, if you’re trying to kind of improve internal comms, certainly in a hybrid way, I would cut half of the content immediately, focus on three things, test your organization, and pull surveys in one-on-ones about what’s most important, and see how aligned your organization is. And if and if you’re seeing that it’s not quite aligned, then simplify further. So that you can really ensure that alignment actually, from the top goals, or you know, mission, at least, that is there, and then and then you can help managers and one-on-ones separately.
Matt DeCoursey 28:38
As I approached my 47th birthday this summer, I openly admit that I, I have developed a newfound respect and use of brevity, part of the fact-shaping mission is to simplify it and I want to, I have a simple test. I mean, I, this is kind of my own thing, but I call it the flashcard test. So whether it’s the home, like the homepage of your website, an email, whatever it is, you know, if I react if I give you a flashcard I’ll show it to you have like three, four or five seconds, and then I take it away. And the thing is, is like show it look at it, like literally do that for three seconds. Or another good part. Another good flashcard test is the scrolling like on phones, you know, like scroll past it. And here’s the thing so like on your website, would someone that saw your website for three seconds afterward be able to define what your company does, and like, and you’re you’re killing it like me, you literally make every internal email a great experience. That’s what you do. Okay, like with Full Scale, build, build, build a software team quickly and affordably like and there’s nothing there’s not there’s no noise or anything around it. It’s not a bulleted list. It’s like this is our message this Here’s what we do now, look, this stuff is important for your employees to I am overwhelmingly shocked on so many days, when I talk to people that I know just in life, and I’m like, Well, what are your what is your company do? Or where do you work? Or, you know, what, what do you do? And like, and do they? It’s like, you know, first off five minutes later, I quit listening four and a half minutes ago. And they can’t tell me, you know, and that’s, that’s because the the message is watered down. It’s not direct. It’s not it’s not there’s no intent with it. And, you know, that’s it. So like, I mean, I also will let you talk about, okay, what does Full Scale specialize in? We use an acronym rare, recruiting, assessing, retaining, employing Not, not any other words like those are intentionally one word. And, and that’s it. And, and don’t bury it. Because, you know, for me, like I’m so I’m an add person admitted, and I wouldn’t give it back. But I will look at your big block of text. And just immediately, it just, it freaks my mind. You know, like, I don’t even want to read it. I’m like,
Rick Knudtson 31:10
This is why I love, you know, thinking about internal comms as a marketing challenge. You know, I think that again, if you were working internal comms 10,15 years ago, it was probably something that was kind of dumped on your plate, because you work in HR and the people departments. Now organizations are hiring marketers to do this work, right. They’re content experts, they’re writing really great, succinct information. And the funny thing about our website that you bring up, and this is just starting another company, after, you know, growing one pretty quickly, and having lots of resources, you know, we, the amount of effort it takes to write that headline, like that that headline is, is six months in the making. I mean, we’ve done nothing but simplify our marketing language, to get down to the heart of what we actually do and what, frankly, what makes, you know, prospects or people that we’re trying to onboard as customers let their ears perked up, when we talk about it, you know, you, you really can only learn those things over time when you’re when you’re marketing your organization. But I think internally, it operates in the same exact way, and I was actually gonna bring up our website, because I am, I am proud of it. Now at this point, because I do think the flashcard test, it would, it would, we’d pass you know, I mean, you get three seconds to look at it, and you’d have a really good idea of what we can do to help your company. And I think that internally, it’s it’s as challenging, if not more, because you have hundreds 1000s of people with their own goals. Trying to communicate and in that’s a that’s a tough thing to kind of simplify. But I think if nothing else, that’s another area to kind of, like focus effort is like,
Matt DeCoursey 32:48
there’s a subtle thing on your site to like, so it says make every internal email a great experience, and then internal email is blue, as opposed to black. Now that look that really stands out because I look at that. I’m like, like, literally when I opened your site, okay, so they have solutions for internal emails, right? So, you know, you got to be careful with that because your your message shouldn’t look like, like a bag of Skittles, either. But I do that a lot too, man, like I do a lot of I do a lot of like, you know, highlighting just a couple words. Alex are are different things if I have to write longer correspondence, because I want to make sure that the actionable side of things sticks out Now you talk about the headlines six months in the making. I want to challenge Rick and everyone listening. Go try to write your own bio as if it were going to describe you and the book about yourself. Dude, that’s like 100 years in the making. I literally had had the most difficult time. In fact, my editor who Patrick price go to ask a book editor.com Patrick’s Awesome. Yeah, he wrote he wrote it for me because, like, I literally could write 225 pages and I was really struggling. It was weird.
Rick Knudtson 34:09
I believe it’s just even things like this where like, I get people gonna ask like, Edie, can you write your bio for this website or something I struggle with that I every single time it’s it’s nearly impossible. So I can definitely relate to that. But yeah, I think that generally speaking, though, you know, a couple of highlights throughout this conversation is you know, intentionality matters the simplification matters. And really, you know, the day like aligning teams requires those things in in the other thing that is interesting to me about you know, starting this company, again, is if you if you take that headline off of our website, CoA, anybody who wants to go look at it six months ago, actually a year ago, it’s it’s funny to watch the progression of simplification because when we started Workshops, you know, I started with a mission statement, and that mission statement is to help provide Happy Mondays to employees everywhere. I think you do that through effective communication. And so we renew, you’re going to try to help with communication, we didn’t really know what the exact problems that would be inside of that we’ve evolved their product pretty dramatically. But because of that, again, every single month, you hone in this, this, this message, and internal comms leaders should be doing the exact same thing as it relates to why the company is why all these people in this company are getting up in the morning and going to work, you know, what’s that mission? What’s that story? How do you inspire them no different than marketing?
Matt DeCoursey 35:46
You know, there’s one other thing for because I, I openly admit that I’m a salesperson, you know, like that’s, that’s one of my superpowers, actually. But one of the things that I advise a lot, in fact, I actually published I did a real on Instagram and Facebook, they got 1000s of views on this. But rookie salespeople are people that aren’t good at messaging and delivering communication, focus on the features of whatever it is. Now look, this applies to internal communication. People don’t care about the features, they care about the benefits, said, Pete’s features provide. I’ll give you an example. I went through this evolution because you know, I’m also the founder of giga buck, and you use it to schedule to be on the show. And at first, I was like, man, people love efficiency and automation. No, they don’t. They want to have their life back. You’re selling peace of mind, if you can sell peace of mind, you have an unlimited addressable market and a price that you can name. Because that’s really, that’s the width from what’s in it for me, what’s in it for you is that like, in Gigabooks case. So like, so we actually created a tagline to unchained yourself from your business. As we talked to people, you know, people like especially like the sole proprietor type, they were just like, up on either, it was a mess, it was a mess, kind of like you’re talking about internal communication, like text messages, emails, different calendars, all this all that all they wanted was a little peace of mind. So you know, remember that if you can, if that part of your message is is what is really conveyed and received, that is the most welcome thing and internal communication. So you look at like two years of turbulence. Oh, man, I mean, I literally had, I felt at one point at the pandemic. So I was in the Philippines in March of 2020, when COVID really hit, and I actually was supposed to leave on the 14th. I ended up staying for six more days, because I didn’t feel like I could just. I didn’t want to just be like, Hey, let’s all band together, and then jump on a jet plane and go home. You know, so like, talk about like this communication. And I felt like I was uncertain times, are the times when the best leaders show why they’re the best leaders. And it’s communication and peace of mind. And, you know, you have to have as your if you want to build a big company, and you want to be an effective leader, not unlike the better.com guy who fired 900 people on a zoom call, you know, like, if you want to be received? Well, you need to, you need to be able to know when you have to put the burden on your shoulders, as well as when you need to take it off and give that credit back to everyone else. Now, here’s the thing. I don’t care how big your company is, without the people that work there, you’re just someone looking for something to do. So it’s the people at your company that make it happen. You are privileged that they show up and help you make your dreams come true. So you have to take that mentality with it and like, and also with the peace of mind. And it’s like I literally sit in front of my company and said, I can’t tell you how this is going to end up because I’ve never done this before, much like you. And but I know one thing is we’re going to continue to make decisions that are based on the best interest of ourselves, our family, our clients, and our company. And our goal is to get through this without imploding everything that we’ve worked two years to build. And I can’t give you all the answers right now. Now without that transparent, open approach, went 100. The people that made people feel a lot better is peace of mind is like, Okay, so the dude that I’m looking to for leadership is saying, hey, look, we got to figure this out together. I don’t have all the answers, and that’s okay sometimes too. You know, it’s just the way it goes. Now, what is also Okay Rick is a quick reminder that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by fullscale.io. Now I like to end my episodes of the show with what I call the founders freestyle. I say my episodes because I’m not the only host of the show. My often co host and co-founder at Startup Hustle and Full Scale Matt Watson has his own weekly show that is coming out in March. He and I are going to continue to do our weekly bit together and tune in with Lauren Conaway, the founder of InnovateHER KC, they just got their 5000s member, I think that’s pretty cool. Lauren’s got a weekly spot. And so is Andrew Morgans, our resident expert on E-commerce and Amazon brand acceleration is the CEO of Marknology. Now, I mentioned the founder’s freestyle, Rick, you know, here we are. I could probably continue this conversation for about two more hours. You know, because there’s just like, it’s like, hold my beer. Where do we start? Because this was the, I think we really had some good stuff here. Like I said, we’re kind of a surface level of understanding of it, because there’s so many things you can go with. But, you know, on our way out of this episode, what is there anything that you wanted to bring up? Or some key points that we need to? We need to tap on again, before we end the show?
Rick Knudtson 40:46
No, I think you’re right. We could talk for days. And I certainly can about this topic. But I think that, at the surface level, kind of where we’re at with this episode, I would just ask everyone, who is, you know, growing a company, scaling an organization to ask themselves, how intentional are they being that’s the base, the base case for me is, is if you can, if you could just be slightly more intentional, your internal comms will land better. And then if you’re now in this world, where you’re living in a hybrid, remote kind of world, which most of us are still, you know, are you even measuring anything to understand how engaged your teams are with all the messages you’re sending out? A lot of organizations aren’t. And I, and I think that those two things alone can produce pretty, pretty awesome results. And the last thing I’ll say, and this is something we talked a lot about, is you’re probably spending if you just chop up your day, or your week of your entire company and ask yourself, how much time and energy am I spending on external messages versus internal content, I bet it’s lopsided dramatically. And I would argue like you said, you know, you’re chasing your dream, the only reason you get the opportunity to do that in an organization in a company or building is the people that are there. If they’re excited to be there tomorrow and work with you, you guys can chase your dreams together, you should just flip that and spend more time trying to inspire your teams around why their work matters. And good things tend to happen. So imagine, you’re probably pretty lopsided I’ve been in the past at times. But once you flip that switch, and you spend more time worrying about how to craft this message for your team, good things tend to happen for that.
Matt DeCoursey 42:32
Once again, and that’s Rick Knutson, the CEO and founder of Workshop, go to use workshop.com. There’s a link in the show notes, a couple of things that I wanted to follow up on. So we use the word intent, intention, intentionality, definition, if you are intent on doing something, you’re determined to get it done. If you have an intent, you have a motive or a purpose. So basically, intention and intent are synonyms but with a subtle difference. So intention implies a general desire or plans to accomplish something, while intent is a little stronger, indicating a firm resolve to get it done. So you know that that’s something that it’s a noun and an adjective, and many in according to vocabulary.com. So just to give them a shout-out, not sure how vocabulary.com makes money, by the way, because I’ve got what I needed here that’s a different subject now. Now without like, and they literally saying that the intended meaning of a communication and that is literally their number two example here. And I think that you know, the intention is as a very wide and broad term and a lot it’s if you’ve ever been to a yoga class, that your instructor probably calmed your mind and, and encouraged you to focus on your intent and to be your intention. And then you probably talked about gratitude and then realized how not flexible you are. That’s at least my experience with a yoga class. I’m like, wow, this is a lot harder than just stretching. But you know, I think the intent is, and you know, also like intentionality for me in the things that I mentioned I wanted to rehash is like, do you understand that people receive your message differently, think about how you deliver it. And it can be as simple as like is this received? Well, by type A and type B meaning introverted or extroverted people, and I’m telling you, there is a huge difference between the way a message is received and what’s taken away from it from just those different personality styles. I do also want to encourage you to follow Rick’s advice and think about are you having lopsided communication now. You know, every it’s so easy to say stuff and not do it, and then all of a sudden you have a 250-person company. And you’re like, wow, okay, so I’ve got to really kind of look at this. Now look, all you can do is all you can do. If you want to build a goal, my goal as an entrepreneur is always to build something bigger than myself, which means I need more than just me. And if you aren’t looking at the people that work at your company as the company’s biggest assets, then you have a flawed view of your own enterprise. And you see people literally just do not even walk or run like, like, dive straight headfirst off a cliff by not understanding that stuff. And then it really is a failure in communication. I’m a fan of what you’re building here. I love, you know, a couple of things as well as we didn’t really talk too much about the product. You can go to use workshop.com and check it out. But you know, I think it’s cool that you’ve Okay, yeah, good software does a lot of you say it’s intuitive, they have templates, they have recommendations will even help you design some of it. So here’s the thing is like, lean on the expertise of someone else, knowing and understanding. You don’t have to figure it all out. Like there’s a fill-in-the-blank for this stuff, folks. So, you know, like, that’s, I think the beauty of the world of technology and the internet is you can harvest like all these things, and you know, like, and not have to figure all of it out on yourself. So I really liked what you’re building. I’m amazed that you guys are this far along, after a year. And you clearly have a grasp on the importance of this. And like I said, for those of you listening, don’t overlook it because crap communication is usually prevalent in a crap company. So don’t be crappy. I’m out of here, Rick. See you next time.