IAM1660 – CEO Creates a Human Connection Platform that Cultivates Engagement

Podcast Interview with Peter Schramm

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Peter gets how important it is to connect with people so it's awesome to hear everything that he has been able to build with the awareness. He also has loads of CEO Hacks and books he shared in this episode.

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Peter Schramm Teaser 00:00

We'll talk to you about a mentor, a buddy, a champion, a sponsor different ERGs, employee resource groups. How do you find those people? How do you track those conversations over time?

Intro 00:11

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 00:38

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes under certain categories or topics that we think are gonna be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. This month is going to be about not forgetting about the human part of the business. Often we forget about the human part of life. We often forget about the human part of the business. So look forward, to self-care tips, fitness, burnout, purpose, biz and personal, personal branding, motivation, drive success, understanding your why, and of course, how important customer service is. But at the heart of it, it's all about, remembering the human part of the business. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today I have Peter Schramm of Lattus. Pete, it's great to have you on the show.

Peter Schramm 01:35

Gresham, thanks for having me on. Excited to chat and look forward to what we're gonna dig into today.

Gresham Harkless 01:40

Yes, absolutely. Excited as well too. And before we jump into that, I wanted to read a little bit more about Pete so you can hear about some of the awesome things that he's doing. And Pete grew up on a farm, in Butler Pennsylvania, studied mechanical engineering at a college in DC, played basketball and track, and then studied abroad in Hong Kong. While finishing his master's, he started working at Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor and traveled around the world building systems and leading teams to help keep our soldiers safe. He then worked at a smaller defense contractor leading a team of a hundred people building robots for the Army. And he realized that his true purpose was connecting people. And so in March 2018, Pete decided to start a company around this. Pete has been working at Lattus full-time since October 2020, and as of December 20, 2021, Lattus is working with 60-plus organizations around the country, and will be launching with the Army in early 2022. Pete, exciting news, all to hear about the opportunity that you're creating and the connection that you're doing. So looking forward to, you know, connecting with you as well too. Are you ready to speak to the I a CEO community?

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Peter Schramm 02:39

Let's do it. Yeah. So it all starts with why, and it all starts with kind of my mom and dad, right? So growing up on the farm I was always told that our purpose is to better the lives of others. And to make their life easier. And, Gresham, it didn't really make sense to me, how in the world am I gonna do that by, you know, all this manual labor? And I realized that you can do it at different pieces of your life. And for me, I found the most satisfaction in connecting people and bringing them together. So in grade school, right? Middle and nowhere, Western Pennsylvania, it was, hey Pete, how can we get connected? Somebody to help me with my math homework, where can I go play basketball? You know, who can help me get my tractor fixed? Because that's what the conversations were around. And as I got into high school, first to Public High school and then a private high school, I realized that there was more than just those first three topics.

There's like this thing called life after you know, high school. There's this thing you need to get a job, right? You have to go to college at some point, right? Optionally, I thought at that point you had to go to college, but now I'm learning there are a million different paths that you can take and it's not a one size fits all. So as I continue to meet more people and hear about new experiences, I'm just getting super excited because I can make all these more connections, right? And then I go down to the big city of Washington, DC and I'm like, whoa, check this out. People from all over the world that I'm getting to meet. And Gresham my first year at Catholic University and second year at Catholic University, I met at least one new person each week. And you go back to talk to anybody, you know, freshman year, sophomore year, they're like, yep, that was Pete. Always doing stuff, you know, getting involved with different activities.

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But it's because that's where I got fired up, right? I feed off of the energy of others when the people around me are excited, they're catalyzing those aha moments, right? Tapping into those opportunities they didn't know existed, opening up those doors, they didn't think they could. That's when clearly I get excited about it. Right? So that's, that's what was going on. And so as I'm going through undergrad you know, studied abroad in Hong Kong and I realized, oh my gosh, people from all over the world are having these questions. What can I do with my life? Who's there to help out? Who can I talk to? Who's available? When can I talk to them? How do I attract these relationships over time? And I'm like, huh, okay. So I had this issue when I was growing up on the farm, right? People in these public high schools, private high schools, having this issue. People in college right down in DC. People all from all over the world, because there are people from like, I don't know, 35 different countries in our exchange program. So it's not like this is just a micro you know, case study if you will. This is about as macro as you can get. So I come back and I decided I'm gonna quit college sports so that I can focus on doing my master's degree. Because again, I never wanted to hear the word no, you can't do that because you don't have enough experience. You don't have enough training, you don't have enough education.

So it's all about challenge, opportunity, and adding more and more transferrable skills to your toolbox. So as I'm working at Lockheed Martin, I find that the people that you surround yourself with really define who you are and where you can go. You've probably all heard of the, it's not what you know, it's who you know. And I said, no, no, no, no. Let's do both. Let's get you the who and help you with the what as well. And so over those four years, that's whenever this idea of Lattus came to be. And as you mentioned, it's fully functional today.

Gresham Harkless 05:56

Nice. I absolutely love that. And so I wanted to drill down a little bit more. I know you did touch on it a little bit. I did as well too as I read your bio. Could you take us through what Lattus is, how you're making an impact, and how you're building those connections?

Peter Schramm 06:07

Yeah, so number one, Lattus is a human connection platform that cultivates engagement. We do this through conversations, people helping people, and imagine yourself Gresham, we just got into a new role at a company. Okay? HR is probably gonna talk you through your benefits, your insurance, your payroll stuff, but then they oftentimes will talk to you about a mentor, a buddy, a champion, a sponsor, different ERGs, employee resource groups. How do you find those people? How do you track those conversations over time? I'm a big-time notebook person, and you know, we think about it, we're now working from anywhere. You know, flexibility is paramount to any role that anybody has. So that's where Lattus fills the gap. Adds a lot of value, not a lot of time.

And if we think about it, it's a software platform. So you log in and in step one, tell us what you want to talk about to learn or to teach. Okay? Step two integrates to your calendar because we live and die by our calendar, and this is where you say, Hey, this is my Lattus office hours. I'm available to have a conversation on Tuesday mornings from 10 to 12, right? If something pops up on your calendar and you're no longer available, your Lattus availability gets removed. Step three, you get matched and have the conversation inside your trusted, private, secure community, right on the platform. No Zoom, no teams, no Skype, no giving out your phone number, your email address, no spam. Nobody's, you know, barraging, you, hey, you know, selling you this thing.

Then step four. You track your notes and provide feedback. So you are actually gonna prepare an agenda before each of these one-on-one conversations, right? You can go back and reference what you talked about in the past. So whenever we think about like the secret sauce and what really sets us apart, it's the structure, it's the continuity, it's the fact that this is active, right? Not passive, right? We have, you think about slack, you have zoom, right? Those are great tools, but that's a passive engagement. Not as structured. You don't really know what we talked about the last, when did we last speak? What did we talk about? Right? I'm a big action items guy. So that's how Lattus works and the impact that we're creating, right? Saving people time. People love this because it's everything you need all in one place without the extra stuff. And that's how it's helped us grow. And the warm referrals along the way, it's like, Hey, this is what we do, and if that works for you, awesome. If it doesn't, that's okay. Right? So being genuine has been a big piece of it as well.

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Gresham Harkless 08:28

Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that and especially, you know, the secret sauce piece because I think I was almost envisioning like the duct tape and making sure like we have all these different tools and pieces, but as you said, they are not connected, they're not integrated. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Peter Schramm 08:50

Yeah. So let's talk about a couple of books. Let's talk about a couple of feedback pieces that I've gotten through different Lattus conversations. So one is focused, right? Most businesses, most small businesses fail in the first year. And then the ones that stay alive, a whole bunch of them are gonna fail in the next three years, right? A bunch more in the next five years. So the odds are against us guys, gals, everybody, right? But to focus on and really remember what is it that fires you up. So keep going back to your why. One of the books that talks about that is Simon Sinek. Start With Why, right? Another book that I recommend is Psyched Up by Dan McGinn. So, he works for Harvard Business Review, and I love this book. It's how do people prepare for the biggest moments in their life. How do you harness that energy?

I also will recommend Turn the Ship Around. How do you empower the people? So anybody that's a leader has a team out there to empower the folks inside of your organization. One of my previous managers recommended that to me and it's kind of like, aha. Another book is Essentialism. And this is a big one where you think about less but better. And, my different mentors will continue saying, Hey Pete, are you doing that less but better thing? You talk about it, right? Walk the walk and talk the talk. But something else that they talk about in there is yes, no, and hell yes, decisions. So whenever you're going through and you look at your calendar for the day, you're driving to a meeting or something, you're like, is this a yeah or a nah or a heck yeah. Right conversation. Do more of that heck yeah and surround yourself, with other people that are gonna be there for you. And not sugarcoat things, right? So to have your own personal board of advisors, of course, you have one legally for your business, but to have your own personal board of advisors is super impactful. In balance, right?

If you don't take care of yourself and you're working, you know, 80, 90, a hundred hours, week in, week out, you're just grinding, burnout's a real thing, and it's happening more than ever. And so I learned the hard way that you know, burnout and stress and worry can kill and can have a negative impact on you. So, take time for yourself. And that's something else that your personal board of advisors can help with. So, structure, focus prioritization of your time, and be in with those other people that care about your success, but they're not gonna sugarcoat it or you know, make, make things easy.

Gresham Harkless 11:02

Yeah, I absolutely love each of those hacks and how they have manifested themselves from the books that you read. I definitely have to check a lot of those out. I wanted to ask you now for what I call CEO Nugget. You might have already touched on this as well, but this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Peter Schramm 11:21

Yeah. So, It's life is what you make of it, and always take time to appreciate the journey that you've been on. And we talked earlier about climbing the mountain and whenever people ask me, what's this entrepreneurship journey like, by no means am I the best entrepreneur out there. By no means am I the smartest guy in the room. But I'll share my perspective and the entrepreneurial journey is like, you're starting off, on this adventure and you have to figure out what this adventure is. You got to figure out what does this map look like, and then chart your course. And imagine it's like, okay, we have to go from here to there, and you get to decide where that there is. You don't have a guide per se, that's telling you when to wake up and what to do and what your goals are, what your metrics are, what's your OKRs, right?

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Measure what matters. That's another good book. And, so that's a huge, huge piece of this. So then you say, okay, we got to climb this mountain. Well, I got to go find the mountain to climb. I got to figure out if am I gonna go this way. That way? And you might get to the top or what you think is the top of that mountain and oh no, we're supposed to be over there, we're supposed to be at that mountain, right? And then once you get, you go back down, go over there. And of course, you know, this whole time, it's rainy, it's dark. You don't have really good footing on this path, on this journey. But every so often you just got to stop and turn around and look and say, wow, look at all that ground that we've covered. Look at this, you know, all the different people that we've talked to, right? Everything that we've learned, the network, we've built, this opportunity that we've created for ourselves and others. And so that's a huge, huge piece that I keep telling myself, would tell my younger self and would share with everybody else. That's on this call as well.

Gresham Harkless 13:00

And I was asking you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO We're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show. So Pete, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Peter Schramm 13:10

You're steering the ship. You're removing the roadblocks for the people on your team. You're leading and motivating and setting the vision. You're getting people excited about where you're going, and you're backing it up with facts. You're meeting people where they are and doing what matters most for the business. And there's always the adage, right, do what's right, even when it's not popular. So the CEO, you know, think about the basketball reference, right? You're the first one in the gym and you're the last one out of the gym, right? And you have to lead by example because you never know who's watching and your actions speak louder than words. But the CEO is the one at the end of the day that's responsible for the good, the bad, and the ugly. And what actually you know, takes place.

Gresham Harkless 13:59

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Well, Pete, truly appreciate that definition. I of course appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you. Find out about Lattus and all the awesome things you are working on.

Peter Schramm 14:15

Yeah. So I just wanna say thanks, man. This is awesome. I love sharing the story, and to everybody else that's listening, reach out. Well, I want to hear from you if you want to get connected, right? Lattus is, providing this solution to a hundred-plus-person company. If you have a smaller strained HR team or organization, if you have a tech-savvy workforce, right? They know how to use a phone, tablet, or computer if they're distributed, right? Maybe not. Everybody's in the office. Are they having those water cooler conversations? And ask yourself this question, right? Are your people connected? If the answer is yes, I want to hear about it. If the answer's no, I want to hear about it. If the answer is I don't know, I want to hear about it. So Lattus will be kicking off a dozen more pilots some pretty exciting news to hear soon. So check it out You deserve to have access to that shot. So that's what Gresham is doing here, that's what this is doing here and I'm fired up to be part of this community as it continues to grow. So thank you again for this opportunity to chat.

Gresham Harkless 15:10

Absolutely. Appreciate you, Pete. And to make it even easier, we'll have the links and information and then show notes. And I truly appreciate your mission and everything that you're building, you're growing, and I thank you so much my friend, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Peter Schramm 15:21

Thanks Gresh. I really appreciate it.

Outro 15:23

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at 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 Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

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(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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