The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

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Ep 166: Identifying Startup IQ w/ Niels Martin Brochner, CEO Contractbook

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Ep 166: Identifying Startup IQ w/ Niels Martin Brochner, CEO Contractbook

Part of the TGIM (Thank God It's Monday!) series hosted by Tom Alaimo.

All right welcome back to the Pavilionpodcast. This is the podcast where revenue leaders come to learn about thetips. The tricks the tactics that can make them successful in their roles.I'm your host table M. O. T. G. I m thank God it's monday excited to getinto today's episode Before we do that. Let's give a quick shout out to oursponsor. Uh sponsoring today's episode is Sandoz. So Sandoz so the leadingsending platform is the most effective way for revenue generating teams tostand out with new ways to engage at strategic points throughout thecustomer journey. By connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies canengage acquire and retain customers easier than ever before, definitelyshow some love to our friends at Sentosa. Can also learn more. I postevery single day on linked in. My name is tom Elena you can learn more aboutme there. Let's get into today's episode. All right. On this week'sepisode I've got an interview with Neil's martin Rockne er uh meals is theCeo and co founder of contract book um contract book helps small and mediumsized businesses manage their life cycle of contracts in a singlestreamline workflow. Um We had some great conversations, he's done somewritten some really good posts on Forbes that we get into mostparticularly around startup. I. Q. Is something that he hires for. Right notthe uh Mckinsey consultant right? Or the bain consultant or even the personthat you know was a director at Salesforce for 20 years. He's lookingfor a very particular type of startup. I. Q. When he's hiring and takes thatgrit and that tenacity over um, you know, experience at larger firms. So wedive deep into that. If you're hiring, if you're thinking about joining anearly stage company, if you're running an early stage company, I think you'rereally going to enjoy this and you're gonna feel the intensity and thepassion coming from kneels on the other side of the line here. So withoutfurther ado, let's get straight into my conversation with meals. All right,NEal's welcome to the Pavilion podcast. How are you? I'm very good, thank you.How are you? I'm doing well, I'm doing well talking to you from the other sideof the world. Yeah. So, so I'm living Copenhagen and our headquarters andcontroversies in Copenhagen. I'm sitting here right now actually, I kindof want to turn the screen so you can see it, but it might be a bit oninappropriate certificate because the compliance and stuff. But uh but I'msitting here, it's evening, but I'm very much looking forward to this. Thiscould be fun before we get into business topics. You brought upCopenhagen, that's on my bucket list to go there. I've seen pictures, looksbeautiful. I've heard it's a Foodie city, is that right? It's an insanefood city at this point high there, we got, I think we've got two of the topfive normal restaurants or something like that and The whole kind ofindustry shifted 5, 10 years ago. And then it became very qualitative becamelike, it's not just food doesn't, it's an experience in many places. So Idon't know why it happened, but suddenly it's a very cool place and ifyou like pastry and bread and that kind of stuff, it's a really good place. Andobviously if you like, you know, mission in restaurants and but nomatter what Richmond you choose, it's awesome here to be fair. That's awesome.I mean, who doesn't like pastries and bread? I mean seriously? I don't know,there's a place called Juno, which is just insane. So all the americans, likewe have high when they're in Copenhagen I think continues to go back to thisplace called Juno and why did they go? They're like, what kind of food is that?It's breakfast. Like it's pastry and it's so good. It's actually so goodthat they, they are closed. I think it's monday, Tuesday Wednesday. Yeah,it might be only one day, one day and Tuesday, but it's like a part of theweek. The basics is not open. There was like, we're making enough money, we'reserving enough finds during these five days. Like we're all, I love that. Wellthat would be my first stop when I go...

...there. So to, to make a hard segue overto business was doing some research on you before the interview today. And andreading some of the excellent articles and posts that you've had with inForbes and a few items caught my attention. And so one thing I wanted totalk to you about was in your most recent posts, I believe it's your mostrecent one. You talk about the idea of outcomes versus output and I think inin a world where a lot of leaders are focusing on output, they're focusing ontasks. They're focusing on a to do list. You kind of have an alternativeapproach right? Of like that, at least from my perspective, it's not aboutthat, it's about what's the actual outcome at the end of the day, at theend of the year or the quarter or whatever mission that you're on. Umwhat did you accomplish versus maybe how did you accomplish it? Yeah. So Ithink my thoughts are that there is a, there's a time and place for everything.I think output being driven by output for a long time and that has gotten usvery far to having fantastic investors and a lot of clients and even moreusers. So we can't complain about it. I think that at some, some point we justtook kind of a turn and then I noticed some stuff and how we develop productsand how the sales team were acting, how we did see us and I was like there'ssome kind of, you know, pattern matching where you can see that some ofthe stuff you've been doing for years doesn't really work the same way. Sosuddenly it becomes line more clients results in more c as people like to getmore sales, you just need more people, you're not becoming better at sellingor selling at a higher A C. B. Or you're not producing not you justproducing more product instead of creating a better experience. And Ithink that we just saw and I was like okay fun, we have enough product, weneed we need to figure out how to give not build more products but how to givea great experience and we need like we have enough leads, let's not talk aboutgetting more leads but getting more out of our leads. Like and see as we haveenough clients like how do we Upsell to them, how do we how do we actually showthe real value of the platform? How do you get them on board it better thanjust getting them on board? And how do we make sure that they get the bestpossible outcome? So when you're assessed driven business, you have tomake sure that your client is getting the outcome that they deserve and youdo that by being outcome focused. So you think the outcome outcome of onbehalf of them basically and tactically, how do you go about doing that? Becausewe're talking about a lot of different disciplines, right, we're talking about,you know better on boarding, we're talking about uh you know betterquality product that you're putting out. Talking about higher quality leadsversus quantity of leads. We're talking about sales training probably, or salesexcellence, that's going to allow you to close high bigger contracts versusjust more contracts. So how do you tactically maybe prioritize that andthen actually execute their tactically? We start from the top. So you connectedto the vision, you figure out what's the vision? Vision product productstrategy. And then you have like in sales you always have key results,right? Basically you have outcomes that you want. Like you want to end thequarter, as you say, at X, Y and Z. And you wanted to be the best quarter ever.And it needs to be three eggs, three eggs of three eggs and three and youknow, and I'm going and so so sales are measuring outcome already, but they'renot really thinking about it becoming because they they're going from, in myopinion, from output, which leads to KR which the key result which is closedone. They're not really thinking about what's a good process in between. Andin my opinion, the product is key here to make sure that you're actuallygetting the right people to sign close one. So it becomes more of an overallthinking as a as a company because salespeople are measured pretty high,but but product people in our team at least wasn't we weren't really superfocused on, you know, in the article, right? Like a functional house, like,like I really I used the analogy of a conference room a lot personally likeand I think about and I have to explain...

...it like, so because you're oftensitting in conference room when you're having calls and or at meetings, right?So the conference room, like where he says, so it respects the output is thatit needs a screen, it needs a wifi needs heating, needs a window, it needsdoors and walls, you know, some plugs and you know, chairs and what not likea table and stuff. But if the tables, you know, upside down and the TVs ofthe monasteries on the on the floor and and and and the window is where wherethere's no light and the let's say the door opens inwards, you know where thedoors where you think they have to, you push it and then you actually have topull it like that stuff. So it becomes then it becomes output wise, it haseverything but outcome wise, it's bad. Yeah, and it's a super way because whatyou need to build is that you need to take all the output and then you needto test for outcome. Obviously you need to be focused on creating the bestoutcome, you know, when you do it, but quite often when you are in the highestpace company and you have to do this, it's just output output output, I needto deliver conference room, conference room, next conference room like andthen you don't care how well it works. All right. So, so from a, from acompany perspective, if you start thinking about every time you make aconference room that you're thinking about making a great conference room,that's awesome to use, not only for sea level, but also for management forbreaks of of lunch, for whatever is intended for like, like, like all kindsof stuff. So just being basically aware, it's kind of, it's pretty rational butwhen you're in a company where everything is moving super duperfucking fast, then you kind of forget it. Sometimes you just do it. So itseems banal. And when you read the article, I don't think it's banal. Butbut I also think it is Ben. Oh yeah. Like how often do you, you mentionedlike things are moving so quickly, right? And I think anyone listening tothis podcast is probably like raising their hand like yeah, things are youknow, I'm spinning plates all over the place. So how frequently do you have doyou and your leaders take a step out from the step step back from the outputand look at the outcome Like is it once a month? Once a week? Once a quarter,Like where you're all connecting together or you know, taking a stepback and understanding like how some of these tests are actually affectingoutcomes. The cadence for us right now is 2/4 at the time, but if somethingyou've realized, you know, packaging of plans or something doesn't work and wecan see it after a month and obviously we're going to change it right? Butlike the realization is that you have output outcome and chaos that you havelike you have key results at the end and that's measurable and that shouldbe measurable for outside auditor, I'm winning or losing. That should be veryclear like like, like but right now you most likely doing output only as astartup and not about you to others, you might have chaos and you're like,so I created this and it doesn't work like and then you just figure it out atsome point. Like it's not like you're like set up a cadence. So for us, likefor us it's very new this way of thinking still. Like it's it's justsomething I realized over the past kind of this year only like that that wewere maturing or graduating for an output strategy to into outcomestrategy. So it's not, it's very new for me. So I have to kind of come backon the podcast and tell you how it works like in this cadence it might bethat the cadence if the outcome is better with testing at a quarterlyinstead of half year, then we start doing that uh the the other kind ofmental shift that you talk about in some of your writing is what you callstartup I. Q. Which is different than, you know, you kind of talked to thescenario where it's the cliche of you know, startup hires a former mckinseyconsultant or you know something like that that's never spent time in thatactual startup environment while they might be very intelligent and have alot of great experience in another...

...realm. It doesn't necessarily relate towhat makes you successful in a startup. I'd love to hear you elaborate a littlebit on what you mean by the startup like you that you look for, Especiallyin young days like when you're super young and you're kind of less than 20people or people like you really need people in my opinion with the highestart about you started like you it's just not people who are fine witheverything being in the air and moving fast in the that environment, likepeople who are not complainers but Doers, it's like, like it's a mentalitymore than anything. I think that you could recognize it in a second. Likesometimes we'll try to hire people and then we're like, oh so this guy doesn'tfit it at all. Like he was great in the conclusion but you know, he doesn't fitin all, you don't really know what it is because on paper is great but thatmight be the start of by Q. And sometimes it's just lack of chemistryand that kind of stuff that you figure out after a while. But for me the startof I. Q. Is very very related to past experience and if you are already, ifyou have been, let's say in mckinsey for three years like your groom tothink in a certain way where if you get them in younger ingredients superintelligent then you can actually influence them in more kind of, you canyou can make them understand what you do and how you work and what's expectedof them. So it's easy to take them in earlier. But there's also people likewe have our median sales director, he's an ex lawyer working some of thebiggest corporate lawyers and biggest emanate houses and like his startup I.Q. Is insane like his hustle his approach like to figuring stuff outlike that that that's not accepting failure. Like you there's a there's aworld where the mentality that in many big corporations I tried and failed.It's okay it's not up there. You do it don't you can't really live with. Itried and then come back and say I didn't really work very sorry like weneed we need to like you need you sit on a mission, you know figure out howto you know solve the mission and that's not just not giving up. It'sdifficult for me to explain and it's a while since I was really thinking a lotabout it. So so but for me it's it's an approach to how you work and beingbeing a greedy, very greedy individual in reality and not not settling at anypoint as one and you teach that or do you think that's a name? That's a greatquestion. I think you can teach it if you get them earlier. Uh I think thatif if you've been in a corporate for 10 years and you're used to whatever perksthere isn't a corporate and the security and the stuff that this, it'sgonna be very difficult to get them back to earth basically, Which isstartup life, right? So so as I I think that you can teach, but if you're usedto getting insane salary at some insane company and having a million perks andthen getting asked to work 14 hours for half the salary and being greedy aboutit to earn your position in most likely stick. Yeah. Well what would you say tosomeone that either is new in their career and at their first startup or umhas spent time at a larger company, you know at, I don't know like Salesforceor or something like that, that is a large company. Um not for 10 years,maybe for 3 to 5 years, right? And they're breaking into the startup worldand they got their first job there and they are seeing all these balls in theair and it's it's constant chaos, right? Like what would your advice be to thatperson that does want to make it work, That's hungry to make it work. But isit feeling a little bit uncomfortable with all of the chaos that pretty muchconstantly goes on at a startup? I think you really need to want it. Ithink that if you've been, let's say in salesforce for three years and you areunhappy or want more influence And you don't just want to go through kind ofthe common known kind of development of the sales. Like you go from SDR twosenior str to manager as they are and then you start at the bottom of a andyou're like, yeah, so in 15 years I'm going to get a manager, right? Soyou're like, that's not for me and you realize that and you're not like you'renot completely cold in the hamster wheel of of of the economy and then youcan break out, I think it's very...

...difficult to go into any startupwithout ruining the financial setup and the not the P and L. But the dynamicsthat is in the piano. Like if you want to get twice as salary as anybody else.So you need to be aware that there is going to be a change and you need toshow that you really wanted, you need to compromise and the startup needs tocompromise. You need to play like that. The truth is somewhere in between thetwo. Like it's not in the sales false realm and it's not the startup thing.So if both are in love with each other, they need to find each other in themiddle and so I think that it's very much about expectation kind ofmanagement and understanding kind of understanding each other and wherethey're going from. So when I hire senior people, I spent a lot of timewith them before hiring them. I really spent a lot because I need to know thatlet's say they go from Salesforce and I'm hiring a sales direction. I need toknow that they can be we with contract book and that they can love workinghere and they can love the culture of the writing of the wall. Like they lovethat the fact that contracts are dead at night that's broken that contract,the funding broken pdf is the funding problem to it and with the newfoundation, if they can't buy into that and they're like, oh I actually thinkit's pretty good and you're not, you know, you're not getting it like you'renot getting it like, like, like, like that's that's it. Like I need tounderstand that they can be the rebel tv anchor list and when you've been ina corporate for many years, you're not really rippling right? You're pretty,you're you're you're you're conform in some way another so can they go backand people who are in that stuff like who are three years into it, can theybe a evangelistic and like they might have been when they were younger likeyou know like, like can they don't know? You say you spend a lot of time withleaders before you hire them. I'm curious are there specific questionsthat you tend to ask or ways that you try to uncover if someone has thatstarted by cuba let's say that they have worked at other startups, you know,on paper, they look good. But are there any sort of like character assessmentsthat you try to make to make sure it's going to be a good hire for you? Yeah,but it's more, it's more, I don't I know there's not nothing super concretewhere I'm like that. This is one when I asked this and they say no or yes tothis, it's 1/5. It's for me it's always been about a psychological contract. Ineed to, I need to trust them without a documented between us and then thisperson needs to trust me without a documented between us If that makessense because otherwise it becomes 100% transactional And if it's 100%transactional, it might as well be salesforce if I work for you, I need totrust you from the sucking bone, I need, I need to, I need to get it, I need toget you and you need to get me if we need to work together 10 plus hoursevery day fighting for this together, like we need to get each other and weneed to know and trust each other and we, that we're on the same kind of team.How do you get there with someone in an energy process or maybe it's just gonnafeel, there's some God feels dollars, right? There's paper then there's gotfield and if you go further, you know, you go out and have a drink or beer andor you know, eat dinner together, maybe breakfast as well as important and justkind of really, there's some pastries and like Juno and have a coffee now,but the coffee isn't that good, by the way, you can only get back for coffee.No, so, so I think that the building, building, the chemistry, understandingthat there's somebody super wise who told me very early in my career thatthey only wanted to do business, this person when he wanted to do businesswith people that they liked so much that when they met them at a, you know,at a airport restaurant or something like that in five or 10 years that theywanted to sit together and share their experiences. This is how well youshould, you should think about, do, I want to sit down five years and talkabout all the fun experiences and bad...

...experiences we had because even though,let's say it all goes to the shooter, you still should want to sit next toeach other and have a beer and talk about and laugh about it, what went tothe ship or what made you a millionaire. I love that. The fact that you need tokind of connect on that level that you really think about, would I actuallybother sitting and talking to this person in five years time if we're notworking together? No, like no, nothing. That's a great test. I love it. Toswitch gears a little bit. You know, something that is big for this podcastfor this community of Pavilion is, it's a community where we're all trying tohelp each other out. Right? That's kind of the fundamentals of it. And so I'mcurious when you think about Your career and networking and buildingbusiness relationships in finding people like that, right? That, that youdo want to, you know coincidentally run into at the airport restaurant 10 yearsfrom now. Do you have any tips for folks just as they are building outtheir professional network, networking, any any tips or strategies that you usefor that? Yeah. It's been like when fundraising, in my opinion that youneed, you need to be authentic. You need, you need to stick to who you are,you can't fake it over 10 years. I guess you have to be really, reallywild in my opinion. If you have to kind of fake your personality for that manyyears. So when you are interviewing, give them a good sense of who you are.So like because if your authentic is also a lot easier, like if I'mauthentic towards you and I call you at some point and say hey like I reallyneed a BDR something, something and you really feel that you know me, like youreally truly feel that you can trust me because I'm authentic, then I thinkthat the networking effect is stronger. Whereas if I'm being superficial, likejust showing what I think you want to hear your like is this really like isit true or is it just saying what what I want him to say? So being authenticis a risk but I think it the reward is bigger because in my experience likewith my network and the people that we found, I know we're spending very fewdollars on recruitment and that's because we're focusing so much inculture and we're being very true to ourselves. People might not like it andthink we're too wild and safe luck too much or whatever, but at least theyknow what they get and that's easy to kind of understand and so being true toyourself is super important in all aspects of life in my opinion. Alsonetworking, I just want you to know I'm from boston so you can't possibly sayfuck too much for my life, if anything were well under the f quota 22 million,Fair enough, I listened to the Bill Simmons podcast sometimes but he saysthat a lot of that's just that's part of the part of the culture. How aboutin terms of resources and learning. You know whether we're talking aboutstartups, leadership, personal development, really any topic here asif there's been any like, you know, books or or resource people podcasts,anything that has been like particularly influential on your pathor anything that you're you're into right now that you know might be a goodresource for people to check out. No. So I think the podcast series that hasbeen the most influential now, I have a master's degree from London and youknow obviously that points in one direction of understanding business,right? That influences you want like in one direction. But the thing thatchanged my way of thinking the most and where I really listened was thefriction podcast. Like Stanford's friction podcast. It's looking amazing.It's really cool. I'm not familiar. No, but it's funny. It's it's it's it'squiet, it's smart, there's some really smart people there but it's also youknow, there's just like there's just some really kind of uh there's somereally good, I don't think they made a podcast for a couple of years at thispoint. But I listened to the whole series once back in the days and then Ilistened to it a year ago or something again all I think that's 20 episodes orsomething and there was one where it was like the people head of culture andpeople in netflix. And she was really...

...really funny first of all. And then shesaid something about she said something about the thing about back stepping.Like she hated back stepping. Is and there was like back the thing aboutback stepping. He said you really have to make sure that you killed them,otherwise they're gonna come back. And she explained this amazing way where wehave to hide the knife and then you have to kill it. Like you have to like,you know, it's a very complex process where if you do practice kind ofradical candor instead we're like, hey bob you're sucking idiot, stop doing it.It's a lot better than doing back stepping. You know like because backstepping is complex. Were being like Canada is is not. And she was like, shewas like and and and it was not about they talked a lot about it. We talkedabout recruitment started by Q. That we hire grownups. And grown ups. Is notage grownups is the way you think and act like we can have a 19. We have 19year old people here, 18 year old people here were more grown up than 40year old people. I know who take their lives and the personal development muchmore serious and their approach to think about is that you just need tohire grownups. Like higher grownups that understand that they havesomething they need to do in life and that's that's just what it is. Mm Ilove that. My last question for you, you mentioned the N. B. A. That you gotum I feel like that's a a highly discussed topic or controversial topic.Like is getting an M. B. A. Worthwhile for someone that wants to be a founder,wants to work in a startup versus at a super large company. Any any opinion onthat. Getting an M. P. A. Yeah. Yeah mm I have a master's degree. I uh I think the bachelor is more thanenough. I think the if you're in a in a in a big corporate I think it's morevaluable than in a startup. I don't have a lot of experience with it to befrank in in in Copenhagen and in Denmark mph is not that big. It's morenormal that you actually do, you do straight over, you do a bachelor andthen you continue doing a master like in a row like five years in a row youdon't you don't do that, don't break and everybody has a master's degree andif you have a master's degree it doesn't make any sense to do the NBAright? So then the NBA just becomes two years of vacation which is also verycool. But so for me I don't have like I don't have a really kind of really goodsame advice. I think that my advice to people consider doing a master straightoff the bachelor would be, don't do it then do the NBA route instead. I thinkthe NBA route or master at a later stage makes more sense than doing it inlike straight up. This is some great content. I appreciate you spending sometime with me today and with the audience before we go, folks want toconnect with you. If they want to learn more about contract book, what are someof the best places to do that? Yeah, so you know, in England, I always, I tryto reply everybody and and who reached out who's not trying to spam and sellme stuff, but but I tried to reply people who actually asked for generaladvice or who wants to reach out or connect or partner up or something,otherwise they can find my email on, on the World Wide Web. It's pretty, canfind that on our website. Uh, if you want to test our contract book, you can,you know, you can go in a book because session with us. It's pretty simple. Sodepending on the need, like we're pretty available on the, on the, on theinternet awesome meals. I appreciate you coming on dropping a few f bombswith me and uh, and sharing your wisdom, I hope that it was okay man, I tend todo it too much yesterday a meet up in Sicily and when I gave a presentationwhen I gave speeches like to like they were they were drinking like they weresipping their beer every time I said, suck people were drunk. I hope not.That's funny, appreciate it. Everyone...

...else will be back next monday withanother episode. If you see something hanging, thanks so much for checking thatepisode out of the Pavilion podcast again, you can hit me up on linkedin.My name's Tom Alamo. Otherwise, this episode was brought to you by Sandoz.So they deliver modern direct mail, personalized gifts and other physicalimpressions that make your outreach more personal. Until next week, we'llsee you on monday. Get after a piece if you see something and they say.

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