I AM CEO PODCASTProductivity

IAM206- Entrepreneur Helps Companies Improve and Retain Their Top Talent

Podcast interview with Jakob Heuser

Jakob Heuser wants you to love the journey of growing into your career. Over the last two years, he's worked with companies to get their Learning and Development programs off the ground. Today, he's here to chat about the challenges of employee development. Today, the best way to retain your top talent is to help them grow and evolve.

  • CEO Hack: Focusing on the people by keeping it low-tech
  • CEO Nugget: (1) Buckle up, it's going to be a long road (2) Giving a two-day away from the business
  • CEO Defined: Servant leadership

Websitehttps://www.leadsv.com/

Landing page for this show: https://www.leadsv.com/hi/iamceo


Check out one of our favorite CEO Hack’s Audible. Get your free audiobook and check out more of our favorite CEO Hacks HERE.

Transcription: 

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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:26

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresham from the I AM CEO Podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today, I have Jakob Heuser of Lead SV. Jakob, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Jakob Heuser 0:36

Hey, it's great to be here, Gresham. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:37

Yeah, super excited to have you on. And what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Jakob so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. And Jakob wants you to love the journey of growing into your career. Over the last few years, he's worked with companies to get their learning and development programs off the ground. Today, he's here to chat about the challenges of employee development. Today, the best way to retain your top talent is to help them grow and evolve. Jakob, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

Jakob Heuser 1:04

I'm totally excited, Gresham. Let's dive in today.

Gresham Harkless 1:07

Let's do it. Let's dive in deep. So the first question I had I know I touched on it a little bit. But I wanted to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. And what led you to start your business?

Jakob Heuser 1:15

Yeah, the funny thing is, I never really think most people can relate to this. I never planned on starting my own business. It was something that happened as a result of circumstances around me. I had been an engineer for about 15 years managing teams at LinkedIn at Pinterest. And one of the things that I noticed was a lot of companies, even big companies weren't really doing a lot when it came to employee development. And I started digging into why. And I realized a couple of things. One, employee development is usually one of the last things that company funds when trying to figure out what needs to be done on their roadmap, the idea of sitting down and going well, what do we need to teach people? How do they need to grow? That's always I don't know, seven on the list. And weirdly, number one is, well, how do we keep people? How do we retain our top talent? And it seems so weird to me that that would be like number one or number two…

Gresham Harkless 2:08

All right.

Jakob Heuser 2:08

And then the idea of investing in them is like number seven, number eight. So when I left Pinterest, I had been doing this for about 15 years, and I was looking back over my history. I actually had a master's degree in Instructional Design and went, why haven't we sat down and actually built things to help people grow? Like, why is it so late, I was talking with one of my friends who's a co-founder at Note Joy. And he said, Well, you seem best equipped to fix this. So maybe you shouldn't do something after Pinterest. And I was like, I guess I'm gonna do my own thing. And that was where Lead SV came from. It actually was a sort of the genesis of, hey, if I feel like I'm in a position to fix this, I'm doing a disservice to people by not getting out there and trying to solve this problem. And that's actually the origin story for Lead SV was kind of seeing the world around you seeing this disconnect between what people valued and where people were spending, and then trying to rewrite that story and be like, hey, if you want to retain top talent, you need to actually invest in growing them.

Gresham Harkless 3:06

And now I want to drill down a little bit deeper. I know we touched on it a little bit. But could you tell us a little bit more about how you're helping to serve the clients you're working with?

Jakob Heuser 3:13

Yeah, so I do a couple of different things. First off, one of the big things that I do is just a ton of career coaching and development. So I sit down with engineers and employees, we talk about careers, we talk about people's plans, and we talk about how those intersect with the company they're currently at. A lot of times companies haven't even done that first step of sitting down with employees, and really just answering questions about where these people are going with their careers, and how where they're employed today fits into that individual narrative. And it's different for every person.

Some people, this might be a, you know, one-hop job, they're here to learn a skill. They're here to build their network. Maybe they're here because they believe in the mission. But companies are so scared to have that conversation of what comes after because they know they're not a part of the after. And so they fixate on the idea of losing an employee, instead of how I actually take advantage of the intersection where their passion and my company's direction are aligned. So I do a lot of sitting down and helping employees and engineers especially work through those kinds of problems.

The second thing is sometimes companies say, well, we've had those conversations, we want to do development very frequently a soft skill development, but we don't want to take something off the shelf. We've looked at like five dynamics or the Myers Briggs system, and we say, hey, those are really good systems, but they don't really resonate with our culture. And so the other half the time I come in, and I work with companies around helping them sort of retool those things to reflect their company culture and their employee needs. This way. They're not a generic leadership seminar.

It's things that are based on actual problems in the company's real-world examples and fit more naturally with the way the company grows, and the employees are going with their careers. So those are the two things that I do with companies lately has been a lot more of the former than the latter just because the individual employees are so important the company needs are finally starting to come around and realizing, hey, we need to invest in these individuals. And that starts with figuring out where they're actually going and how we, as a company fit into that picture.

Gresham Harkless 5:09

Absolutely. And it sounds like, you know, something that's, you know, extremely important to have and kind of sounds like conversations that aren't being had. And a lot of times you have, you know, sounds like employees there are maybe unhappy because they haven't had those conversations. And then you also have the employers and the companies and organizations who are also kind of unhappy, because it kind of seems like the person is not fitting in. But a lot of times, it's just because that conversation isn't had and that kind of sparks, you know, everything it sounds like

Jakob Heuser 5:34

You know, a lot of times retention comes down to this idea that we have to hold on to somebody forever. And that's a really dated view in today's workforce, the average tenure is quickly approaching the two year mark, we're down from a little over two and a half years about, I think, 18 months ago.

Gresham Harkless 5:50

Wow.

Jakob Heuser 5:51

And a lot of companies look at this very remorseful, they say, Oh, this is terrible, we're losing top talent. And what they need to realize is not that they're losing top talent, but they're having the potential to create two years of great success for both the individual and the company. And that if you do this, right, this person will not only outgrow your company and go on and do even greater things, they'll look back. And they'll point at your company and say, This is why I got here. And that brings you in three more people from their network. When we were at LinkedIn, one of our best sources of growth was the fact that everybody that left in our organization felt so good about their experience at LinkedIn, they had no problem recommending it to other colleagues saying this is a good place to go. That's such a huge factor when it comes to recruiting and growing the team that one person after they leave your company has such a positive experience that they encourage other people to also go work there as part of their career journey. The alternative is somebody comes out and they're like, I hate this place, don't go work there. Now, not only have you lost one person, but you've lost their entire network too.

Gresham Harkless 6:54

Right. And I love that. And I love that perspective, just because it changes kind of the narrative and also changes what the metric and I guess the measure of success is as well, too. Because like you mentioned, it becomes from an organization or a company standpoint to make sure this person has a really great experience not so that they stay here for 40 years, but so that they might have a network that extends beyond 40 years or so you're bringing on what this person after this person is after this person just because you're creating such a great experience.

Jakob Heuser 7:21

Yeah. And it happens. It's the chance conversation where somebody you mentor comes back and says, Oh, hey, I was applying at this company. And you used to be there. What do you think that suddenly could be the next great employee you have? And how you treated that first employee when they were there at your company? A hundred percent has an outcome on that conversation.

Gresham Harkless 7:40

Absolutely. It's funny that you say that, because I know that one of the last jobs that I had actually went through LinkedIn, and I asked, you know, other people that had worked there exactly how their experience was. And I remember one person told me to run the other way. That said, kind of the bar or expectations of what I was going to experience, I thought going to that organization.

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Jakob Heuser 7:59

Yeah, it's really impactful like that, that individual. And those people that work there can either be your massive detractors on your recruiting pipeline, or they can be some of your biggest advocates. And that has a hundred percent to do with, what you do to help them grow and succeed while they're working for you.

Gresham Harkless 8:16

Absolutely, absolutely. And you might have already touched on this, but what would you kind of define as what I call it, like your secret sauce, or what you feel kind of separates you or your organization?

Jakob Heuser 8:24

So secret sauce is kind of interesting. And I think we touched on this a little bit, this process of engineering background, the ability to build answers, plus instructional design and the ability to look at how we teach how we learn. I'm bringing those together to create custom solutions to sit there and say, Hey, this is what your employees need for growth. This is what they're expecting. And then to come back as an engineer and say, This is how your tool isn't helping you fulfill that here's what your tool needs to do. And then to be able to say, do you need somebody to help you get there?

And I think the confluence of those three things is something that's really unique. It's something that we're able to do here at Lead SV because we have engineering backgrounds. We've been in product work, and we've all been leaders. So we know that, hey, you have to actually pull this stuff apart, you have to figure out what people need. And frankly, a lot of folks want to be able to solve this and kind of a one-stop shop like how do I go talk to somebody, do the investigation, get the answer, and start implementing the solution without necessarily having to bounce through a bunch of different people. And that seamless experience is something that we can do uniquely.

Gresham Harkless 9:25

I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this might be an app or book or habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Jakob Heuser 9:35

So one of the things that makes me more effective and efficient is I try to go low-tech as often as possible. I think we live in such a connected world. We've got watches on our wrists, we've got phones in our pockets, and we've got apps that can do practically anything, but when it comes to sitting down and having face-to-face conversations or it comes time to actually plan out something and look at the big picture. There is nothing more effective and more successful than getting low-tech, pulling out the flip charts, pulling out index cards, and putting things up on a wall for one of the things we're doing right now we've actually got all of our interview feedback, we collect it all from product interviews, we're doing some product development, right now, it's all in a Google Sheet. But when we talk about it, we've gone through, pulled the feedback out, turn them into physical cards, group them up, and put them up on the wall.

So we can talk about areas of related themes. And when you start looking at things as physical, like low-tech sort of displays, it gets you into a real conversation. And when you get to real conversations, you're not having a back and forth over slack, you're not arguing and comments on a Google Sheet, you're actually getting to the meat of the conversation. And if there's like one single hack, I think that has made Lead SV, as successful as it has been is that we default to low tech, we take notebooks into meetings, there are no open laptops, phones, stay in the pocket. And that helps a lot because it gets you focused on the people. And I think it's hard to be a people-centric company without actually walking the walk when the time comes.

Gresham Harkless 11:04

Absolutely, absolutely. And that makes perfect sense. And definitely a great reminder in this, you know, technology-driven world to be able to kind of take a step back and be low tech or no tech, and that can kind of help out creating that that closer connection as far as people.

Jakob Heuser 11:18

Yeah, it's a pretty effective hack. And as I said, we do this whenever possible to try and keep technology there as a tool and not as a crutch. I think a lot of people, unfortunately, look to technology to solve all their problems, including people's problems.

Gresham Harkless 11:31

Exactly, exactly. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or piece of advice. Or if you can jump into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Jakob Heuser 11:41

Oh, that's a good one. What would I tell my future business self, I guess if I could go back in time, probably the one thing that I would have told myself is to buckle up because it's a long road. When I decided to leave Pinterest and start my own thing. I honestly had the typical entrepreneur misconception of oh, you'll hammer away at this for a year, and it'll be somewhat successful. And you'll know what you're going to do from there. Gresham, I've been living by the seat of my pants for 18 months. And if someone had told me like, buckle up, you're maybe halfway through that first ride, I think I would have come into it with a little bit better-tempered expectations. I went through the first nine months really hard, like hitting the books, developing building networks doing outreach.

And frankly, I burned myself out, I was running a sprint when this was an ultra marathon. And while the enthusiasm was good, I almost wish I could have let the enthusiasm out in smaller and smaller chunks when I started. In year one, I ended up taking a month back from the business at the end and said, Hey, I need to step back for a minute, just catch my breath. And I came back at it with a much better and healthier pace. And it didn't occur to me that looking back now at like what's been completed since I took that break, I've been a lot more successful pacing myself and setting reasonable limits. And it's been a much, much healthier time. And if I could go back in time, I'd be like, hey, don't kill yourself. Because you're you're just starting this is this is a lot longer than you think it is.

Gresham Harkless 13:05

Absolutely. And it's hard to kind of do that, especially if you have you know, that passion and that vision for what you want to do to be able to kind of you know, scale that back or it's temper it down a little bit or like you said, Let it out in spurts. But it's definitely a great reminder because it is definitely a marathon. And I think everybody who probably gets started works, you know, the 25 hours in a day are tries to have that mentality. But that's, you know, not always the best recipe for success long term.

Jakob Heuser 13:29

Yeah, it's frankly, not sustainable. And one of the things that I finally ended up doing was explicitly giving myself a weekend doesn't matter if it's Saturday or Sunday, it could be Wednesday and Thursday. But there are two days off where I try really hard not to think about the business, not because the business isn't important, I think the business is, but if I don't take time back away from it, I don't get a chance to get the outside perspective that makes me more effective and doing my job.

Gresham Harkless 13:54

Exactly, exactly. It's taken a step away that allows you to kind of come back stronger, just kind of similar to what you said for your CEO hack is going low tech in order to help out with developing that people process.

Jakob Heuser 14:05

Definitely.

Gresham Harkless 14:06

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is a definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So, Jakob, I want to ask you what being a CEO means to you.

Jakob Heuser 14:17

I'm a big believer in the idea of servant leadership, the fact that as a CEO, I'm in this role to help make other people successful, I'm there for them, and through them, the company will be better. And I think a lot of times in terms of wisdom. I think people focus too much on sort of the tactical things like do this, do that, do this do that. The piece of wisdom that comes from that from the servant leadership model is you set the tone, you actually are the one that defines how the company acts, how the company will be, what the cultural norms are coming back to what we just talked about. I was setting a terrible example burning myself out on both ends. Thankfully, at that time, I was currently going solo though, but if there were other people in the company at that time, I would have been sending the worst possible message to them.

Gresham Harkless 15:06

Absolutely. Yeah. And it's kind of important to be able to have that perspective.

Jakob Heuser 15:11

Yeah, definitely.

Gresham Harkless 15:12

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Jakob, I truly appreciate you for taking some time out. What I want to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and our listeners know how best they can get ahold of you and hear about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Jakob Heuser 15:24

Yeah, so one of the things I did was just because I knew we would be talking today, Gresham, I put together a page over on the Lead SV site. See if I AM CEO community can go to leadsv.com/iamceo, and there'll be some ways to get in touch with me, it'll have links to like my Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and pretty much everything people need, plus some of the stuff we talked about today. I may even just take a picture of the wall like kind of this whole low-tech thing. It's kind of funny, you take a look. And it's like there's literally a whiteboard to my right and an empty wall full of post-it notes.

Gresham Harkless 15:57

Exactly. Yeah, that would be pretty awesome to see. And I truly appreciate you for taking some time out Jakob we'll have that link in the show notes and your contact information. But again, I truly appreciate you for you know making the office and everybody's career so much better. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Jakob Heuser 16:15

Awesome. I appreciate it. Gresham, thanks again for having the chat today. I appreciate it a lot.

Outro 16:18

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co

I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

Intro 0:02

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Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:26

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresham from the I AM CEO Podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today, I have Jakob Heuser of Lead SV. Jakob, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Jakob Heuser 0:36

Hey, it's great to be here, Gresham. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:37

Yeah, super excited to have you on. And what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Jakob so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. And Jakob wants you to love the journey of growing into your career. Over the last few years, he's worked with companies to get their learning and development programs off the ground. Today, he's here to chat about the challenges of employee development. Today, the best way to retain your top talent is to help them grow and evolve. Jakob, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Jakob Heuser 1:04

I'm totally excited, Gresham. Let's dive in today.

Gresham Harkless 1:07

Let's do it. Let's dive in deep. So the first question I had I know I touched on it a little bit. But I wanted to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. And what led you to start your business?

Jakob Heuser 1:15

Yeah, the funny thing is, I never really I think most people can relate to this. I never planned on starting my own business. It was something that happened as a result of circumstances around me. I had been an engineer for about 15 years manage teams at LinkedIn at Pinterest. And one of the things that I noticed was a lot of companies, even big companies weren't really doing a lot when it came to employee development. And I started digging into why. And I realized a couple things. One, employee development is usually one of the last things that company funds when trying to figure out what needs to be done on their roadmap, the idea of sitting down and going well, what do we need to teach people? How do they need to grow? That's always I don't know, seven on the list. And weirdly, number one is, well, how do we keep people? How do we retain our top talent? And it seems so weird to me that that would be like number one or number two...

Gresham Harkless 2:08

All right,

Jakob Heuser 2:08

And then the idea of investing in them is like number seven, number eight. So when I left Pinterest, I had been doing this for about 15 years, and I was looking back over my history. I actually had a master's degree in Instructional Design and went, why haven't we sat down and actually built things to help people grow? Like, why is it so late, and I was talking with one of my friends who's a co founder at Note Joy. And he said, Well, you seem best equipped to fix this. So maybe you shouldn't do something after Pinterest. And I was like, I guess I'm gonna do my own thing. And that was what Lead SV came from. It actually it was a sort of genesis of, hey, if I feel like I'm in a position to fix this, I'm doing a disservice to people by not getting out there and trying to solve this problem. And that's actually the origin story for Lead SV was kind of seeing the world around you seeing this disconnect between what people valued and where people were spending, and then trying to rewrite that story and be like, hey, if you want to retain top talent, you need to actually invest in growing them.

Gresham Harkless 3:06

And now I want to drill down a little bit deeper. I know we touched on it a little bit. But could you tell us a little bit more on how you're helping to serve the clients you're working with?

Jakob Heuser 3:13

Yeah, so I do a couple of different things. First off, one of the big things that I do is just a ton of career coaching and development. So I sit down with engineers, employees, we talk about careers, we talk about people's plans, and we talk about how those intersect with the company they're currently at. A lot of times companies haven't even done that first step of sitting down with employees, and really just answering questions about where these people are going with their career, and how where they're employed today fits into that individual narrative. And it's different for every person. Some people, this might be a, you know, one hop job, they're here to learn a skill. They're here to build their network. Maybe they're here because they believe in the mission. But a companies are so scared to have that conversation of what comes after because they know they're not a part of the after. And so they fixate on the idea of losing an employee, instead of how do I actually take advantage of the intersection where their passion and my company's direction are aligned. So I do a lot of sitting down and helping employees and engineers especially work through those kinds of problems. The second thing is sometimes companies say, well, we've had those conversations, we want to do development very frequently a soft skill development, but we don't want to take something off the shelf. We've looked at like five dynamics or the Myers Briggs system, and we say, hey, those are really good systems, but they don't really resonate with our culture. And so the other half the time I come in, and I work with companies around helping them sort of retool those things to reflect their company culture and their employee needs. This way. They're not a generic leadership seminar. It's things that are based on actual problems in the company real world examples and fits more naturally with the way the company grows, and the employees are going with their careers. So those are the two things that I do with companies lately has been a lot more of the former than the latter just because the individual employees are so important the company needs are finally starting to come around and realizing, hey, we need to invest in these individuals. And that starts with figuring out where they're actually going and how we, as a company fit into that picture.

Gresham Harkless 5:09

Absolutely. And it sounds like, you know, something that's, you know, extremely important to have and kind of sounds like conversations that aren't being had. And a lot of times you have, you know, sounds like employees there are maybe unhappy because they haven't had those conversations. And then you also have the employers and the companies and organizations who are also kind of unhappy, because it kind of seems like the person is not fitting in. But a lot of times, it's just because that conversation isn't had and that kind of sparks, you know, everything it sounds like

Jakob Heuser 5:34

You know, a lot of times retention comes down to this idea that we have to hold on to somebody forever. And that's a really dated view in today's workforce, the average tenure is quickly approaching the two year mark, we're down from a little over two and a half years about, I think, 18 months ago.

Gresham Harkless 5:50

Wow.

Jakob Heuser 5:51

And a lot of companies look at this very remorseful, they say, Oh, this is terrible, we're losing top talent. And what they need to realize is not that they're losing top talent, but they're having potential to create two years of great success for both the individual and the company. And that if you do this, right, this person will not only outgrow your company and go on and do even greater things, they'll look back. And they'll point at your company and say, This is why I got here. And that brings you in three more people from their network. When we were at LinkedIn, one of our best sources of growth was the fact that everybody that left in our organization felt so good about their experience at LinkedIn, they had no problem recommending it to other colleagues saying this is a good place to go. That's such a huge factor when it comes to recruiting and growing the team that one person after they leave your company has such a positive experience that they encourage other people to also go work there as part of their career journey. The alternative is somebody comes out and they're like, I hate this place, don't go work there. Now, not only have you lost one person, but you've lost their entire network too.

Gresham Harkless 6:54

Right. And I love that. And I love that perspective, just because it changes kind of the narrative and also changes what the metric and I guess the measure of success is as well, too. Because like you mentioned, it becomes from an organization or a company standpoint to make sure this person has a really great experience not so that they stay here for 40 years, but so that they might have a network that extends beyond 40 years or so you're bringing on what this person after this person is after this person just because you're creating such a great experience.

Jakob Heuser 7:21

Yeah. And it happens. It's the it's the chance conversations where somebody you mentor comes back and says, Oh, hey, I was applying at this company. And you used to be there. What do you think that suddenly could be the next great employee you have? And how you treated that first employee when they were there at your company? A hundered percent has an outcome on that conversation.

Gresham Harkless 7:40

Absolutely. It's funny that you say that, because I know that one of the last jobs that I had actually went through LinkedIn, and I asked, you know, other people that had worked there exactly how their experience was. And I remember one person told me to run the other way. That said, kind of the the bar or expectations of what I was going to experience, I thought going to that organization.

Jakob Heuser 7:59

Yeah, it's really impactful like that, that individual. And those people that work there can either be your massive detractors on your recruiting pipeline, or they can be some of your biggest advocates. And that has a hundered percent to do with, what do you do to help them grow and succeed while they're working for you.

Gresham Harkless 8:16

Absolutely, absolutely. And you might have already touched on this, but what would you kind of define as what I call it, like your secret sauce, or what you feel kind of separates you or your organization?

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Jakob Heuser 8:24

So secret sauce is kind of interesting. And I think we touched on this a little bit, this process of engineering background, the ability to build answers, plus instructional design and the ability to look at how we teach how we learn. I'm bringing those together to create custom solutions to sit there and say, Hey, this is what your employees need for growth. This is what they're expecting. And then to come back as an engineer and say, This is how your tool isn't helping you fulfill that here's what your tool needs to do. And then to be able to say, do you need somebody to help you get there. And I think the confluence of those three things is something that's really unique. It's something that we're able to do here at Lead SV, because we have engineering backgrounds. We've been in product work, and we've all been leaders. So we know that, hey, you have to actually pull this stuff apart, you have to figure out what people need. And frankly, a lot of folks want to be able to solve this and kind of a one stop shop like how do I go talk to somebody, do the investigation, get the answer and start implementing the solution without necessarily having to bounce through a bunch of different people. And that seamless experience is something that we can do uniquely.

Gresham Harkless 9:25

I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this might be an app or book or habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Jakob Heuser 9:35

So one of the things that makes me more effective and efficient is I try to go low tech as often as possible. I think we live in such a connected world. We've got watches on our wrist, we've got phones in our pocket, we've got apps that can do practically anything, but when it comes to sitting down and having face to face conversations or it comes time to actually plan out something and look at the big picture. There is nothing more effective and and more successful than getting low tech, pulling out the flip charts, pulling out index cards, putting things up on a wall for one of the things we're doing right now we've actually got all of our interview feedback, we collect it all from product interviews, we're doing some product development, right now, it's all in a Google Sheet. But when we talk about it, we've gone through, pulled the feedback out, turn them into physical cards, group them up and put them up on the wall. So we can talk about areas of related themes. And when you start looking at things as physical, like low tech sort of displays, it gets you into a real conversation. And when you get to real conversations, you're not having a back and forth over slack, you're not arguing and comments on a Google Sheet, you're actually getting to the meat of the conversation. And if there's like one single hack, I think that has made Lead SV, as successful as it has been is that we default to low tech, we take notebooks into meetings, there are no open laptops, phone, stay in the pocket. And that helps a lot because it gets you focused on the people. And I think it's hard to be a people centric company without actually walking the walk when the time comes.

Gresham Harkless 11:04

Absolutely, absolutely. And that makes perfect sense. And definitely a great reminder in this, you know, technology driven world to be able to kind of take a step back and be low tech or no tech, and that can kind of help out creating that that closer connection as far as people.

Jakob Heuser 11:18

Yeah, it'sa pretty effective hack. And like I said, we do this whenever possible to try and keep technology there as a tool and not as a crutch. I think a lot of people unfortunately, look to technology to solve all their problems, including the people the people problems.

Gresham Harkless 11:31

Exactly, exactly. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or piece of advice. Or if you can jump into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Jakob Heuser 11:41

Oh, that's a good one. What would I tell my future business self, I guess if I could go back in time, probably the one thing that I would have told myself is to buckle up because it's a long road. When I decided to leave Pinterest and start my own thing. I honestly had the typical entrepreneur misconception of oh, you'll hammer away at this for a year, and it'll be somewhat successful. And you'll know what you're going to do from there. Gresham, I've been living by the seat of my pants for 18 months. And if someone had told me like, buckle up, you're maybe halfway through that first ride, I think I would have come into it with a little bit better tempered expectations. I went the first nine months really hard, like hitting the books, developing building networks doing outreach. And frankly, I burned myself out, I was running a sprint when this was an ultra marathon. And while the enthusiasm was good, I almost wish I could have let the enthusiasm out in smaller and smaller chunks when I started. Year one, I ended up taking a month back from the business at the end and said, Hey, I need to step back for a minute, just catch my breath. And I came back at it with a much better and healthier pace. And it didn't occur to me that looking back now at like what's been completed since I took that break, I've been a lot more successful pacing myself and setting reasonable limits. And it's been a much, much healthier time. And if I could go back in time, I'd be like, hey, don't don't kill yourself. Because you're you're just starting this is this is a lot longer than you think it is.

Gresham Harkless 13:05

Absolutely. And it's hard to kind of do that, especially if you have you know, that passion and that vision for what you want to do to be able to kind of you know, scale that back or it's temper it down a little bit or, like you said, Let it out in spurts. But it's definitely a great reminder, because it is definitely a marathon. And I think everybody who probably gets started works, you know, the 25 hours in a day are tries to have that mentality. But that's, you know, not always the best recipe for success long term.

Jakob Heuser 13:29

Yeah, it's frankly, not sustainable. And one of the things that I finally ended up doing was explicitly giving myself a weekend doesn't matter if it's Saturday or Sunday, it could be Wednesday and Thursday. But there are two days off where I try really hard not to think about the business, not because the business isn't important, I think the business is, but if I don't take time back away from it, I don't get a chance to get the outside perspective that makes me more effective and doing my job.

Gresham Harkless 13:54

Exactly, exactly. It's taken a step away that allows you to kind of come back stronger, just kind of similar to what you said for your CEO hack is going low tech in order to help out with developing that people process.

Jakob Heuser 14:05

Definitely.

Gresham Harkless 14:06

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is a definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Jakob, I want to ask you what is being a CEO mean to you?

Jakob Heuser 14:17

I'm a big believer in the idea of servant leadership, the fact that as a CEO, I'm in this role to help make other people successful, I'm there for them, and through them, the company will be better. And I think a lot of times in terms of wisdom. I think people focus too much on sort of the tactical things like do this, do that, do this do that. The piece of wisdom that comes from that from the servant leadership model is you set the tone, you actually are the one that defines how the company acts, how the company will be, what the cultural norms are coming back to what we just talked about. I was setting a terrible example burning myself out on both ends. Thankfully, at that time, I was currently going solo though, but if there were other people in the company at that time, I would have been sending the worst possible message to them.

Gresham Harkless 15:06

Absolutely. Yeah. And it's kind of important to be able to have that perspective.

Jakob Heuser 15:11

Yeah, definitely.

Gresham Harkless 15:12

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Jakob, I truly appreciate you for taking some time out. What I want to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and our listeners know and how best they can get ahold of you and hear about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Jakob Heuser 15:24

Yeah, so one of the things I did was just because I knew we would be talking today, Gresham, I put together a page over on the Lead SV site. See if I AM CEO community can go to leadsv.com/iamceo, and there'll be some ways to get in touch with me, it'll have links to like my Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, pretty much everything people need, plus some of the stuff we talked about today. I may even just take a picture of the wall like kind of this whole low tech thing. It's kind of funny, you take a look. And it's like there's literally a whiteboard to my right and an empty wall full of post it notes.

Gresham Harkless 15:57

Exactly. Yeah, that would be pretty awesome to see. And I truly appreciate you for taking some time out Jakob we'll have that link in the show notes and your contact information. But again, I truly appreciate you I truly appreciate you for you know making the office and everybody's career so much better. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Jakob Heuser 16:15

Awesome. I appreciate it. Gresham, thanks again for having the chat today. I appreciate it a lot.

Outro 16:18

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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