The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 5 months ago

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 Pavilion podcast. This is the podcast where revenue leaders come to learn about the tips. 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 get into today's episode Before we do that. Let's give a quick shout out to our sponsor. Uh sponsoring today's episode is Sandoz. So Sandoz so the leading sending platform is the most effective way for revenue generating teams to stand out with new ways to engage at strategic points throughout the customer journey. By connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies can engage acquire and retain customers easier than ever before, definitely show some love to our friends at Sentosa. Can also learn more. I post every single day on linked in. My name is tom Elena you can learn more about me there. Let's get into today's episode. All right. On this week's episode I've got an interview with Neil's martin Rockne er uh meals is the Ceo and co founder of contract book um contract book helps small and medium sized businesses manage their life cycle of contracts in a single streamline workflow. Um We had some great conversations, he's done some written some really good posts on Forbes that we get into most particularly around startup. I. Q. Is something that he hires for. Right not the uh Mckinsey consultant right? Or the bain consultant or even the person that you know was a director at Salesforce for 20 years. He's looking for a very particular type of startup. I. Q. When he's hiring and takes that grit and that tenacity over um, you know, experience at larger firms. So we dive deep into that. If you're hiring, if you're thinking about joining an early stage company, if you're running an early stage company, I think you're really going to enjoy this and you're gonna feel the intensity and the passion coming from kneels on the other side of the line here. So without further 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 side of the world. Yeah. So, so I'm living Copenhagen and our headquarters and controversies in Copenhagen. I'm sitting here right now actually, I kind of want to turn the screen so you can see it, but it might be a bit on inappropriate certificate because the compliance and stuff. But uh but I'm sitting here, it's evening, but I'm very much looking forward to this. This could be fun before we get into business topics. You brought up Copenhagen, that's on my bucket list to go there. I've seen pictures, looks beautiful. I've heard it's a Foodie city, is that right? It's an insane food city at this point high there, we got, I think we've got two of the top five normal restaurants or something like that and The whole kind of industry shifted 5, 10 years ago. And then it became very qualitative became like, it's not just food doesn't, it's an experience in many places. So I don't know why it happened, but suddenly it's a very cool place and if you like pastry and bread and that kind of stuff, it's a really good place. And obviously if you like, you know, mission in restaurants and but no matter 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, like we have high when they're in Copenhagen I think continues to go back to this place 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 good that 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 the week. The basics is not open. There was like, we're making enough money, we're serving enough finds during these five days. Like we're all, I love that. Well that would be my first stop when I go...

...there. So to, to make a hard segue over to business was doing some research on you before the interview today. And and reading some of the excellent articles and posts that you've had with in Forbes and a few items caught my attention. And so one thing I wanted to talk to you about was in your most recent posts, I believe it's your most recent one. You talk about the idea of outcomes versus output and I think in in a world where a lot of leaders are focusing on output, they're focusing on tasks. They're focusing on a to do list. You kind of have an alternative approach right? Of like that, at least from my perspective, it's not about that, it's about what's the actual outcome at the end of the day, at the end of the year or the quarter or whatever mission that you're on. Um what did you accomplish versus maybe how did you accomplish it? Yeah. So I think 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 us very far to having fantastic investors and a lot of clients and even more users. So we can't complain about it. I think that at some, some point we just took kind of a turn and then I noticed some stuff and how we develop products and how the sales team were acting, how we did see us and I was like there's some kind of, you know, pattern matching where you can see that some of the stuff you've been doing for years doesn't really work the same way. So suddenly it becomes line more clients results in more c as people like to get more sales, you just need more people, you're not becoming better at selling or selling at a higher A C. B. Or you're not producing not you just producing more product instead of creating a better experience. And I think that we just saw and I was like okay fun, we have enough product, we need we need to figure out how to give not build more products but how to give a great experience and we need like we have enough leads, let's not talk about getting more leads but getting more out of our leads. Like and see as we have enough clients like how do we Upsell to them, how do we how do we actually show the real value of the platform? How do you get them on board it better than just getting them on board? And how do we make sure that they get the best possible outcome? So when you're assessed driven business, you have to make sure that your client is getting the outcome that they deserve and you do that by being outcome focused. So you think the outcome outcome of on behalf of them basically and tactically, how do you go about doing that? Because we'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 better quality product that you're putting out. Talking about higher quality leads versus quantity of leads. We're talking about sales training probably, or sales excellence, that's going to allow you to close high bigger contracts versus just more contracts. So how do you tactically maybe prioritize that and then actually execute their tactically? We start from the top. So you connected to the vision, you figure out what's the vision? Vision product product strategy. 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 the quarter, 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 you know, and I'm going and so so sales are measuring outcome already, but they're not really thinking about it becoming because they they're going from, in my opinion, from output, which leads to KR which the key result which is closed one. They're not really thinking about what's a good process in between. And in my opinion, the product is key here to make sure that you're actually getting the right people to sign close one. So it becomes more of an overall thinking 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 super focused 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 like and I think about and I have to explain...

...it like, so because you're often sitting 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 that it needs a screen, it needs a wifi needs heating, needs a window, it needs doors and walls, you know, some plugs and you know, chairs and what not like a table and stuff. But if the tables, you know, upside down and the TVs of the monasteries on the on the floor and and and and the window is where where there's no light and the let's say the door opens inwards, you know where the doors where you think they have to, you push it and then you actually have to pull it like that stuff. So it becomes then it becomes output wise, it has everything but outcome wise, it's bad. Yeah, and it's a super way because what you need to build is that you need to take all the output and then you need to test for outcome. Obviously you need to be focused on creating the best outcome, you know, when you do it, but quite often when you are in the highest pace company and you have to do this, it's just output output output, I need to deliver conference room, conference room, next conference room like and then you don't care how well it works. All right. So, so from a, from a company perspective, if you start thinking about every time you make a conference 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 for breaks of of lunch, for whatever is intended for like, like, like all kinds of stuff. So just being basically aware, it's kind of, it's pretty rational but when you're in a company where everything is moving super duper fucking fast, then you kind of forget it. Sometimes you just do it. So it seems banal. And when you read the article, I don't think it's banal. But but I also think it is Ben. Oh yeah. Like how often do you, you mentioned like things are moving so quickly, right? And I think anyone listening to this podcast is probably like raising their hand like yeah, things are you know, I'm spinning plates all over the place. So how frequently do you have do you and your leaders take a step out from the step step back from the output and 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 step back and understanding like how some of these tests are actually affecting outcomes. The cadence for us right now is 2/4 at the time, but if something you've realized, you know, packaging of plans or something doesn't work and we can see it after a month and obviously we're going to change it right? But like the realization is that you have output outcome and chaos that you have like you have key results at the end and that's measurable and that should be measurable for outside auditor, I'm winning or losing. That should be very clear like like, like but right now you most likely doing output only as a startup 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 at some point. Like it's not like you're like set up a cadence. So for us, like for us it's very new this way of thinking still. Like it's it's just something I realized over the past kind of this year only like that that we were maturing or graduating for an output strategy to into outcome strategy. So it's not, it's very new for me. So I have to kind of come back on the podcast and tell you how it works like in this cadence it might be that the cadence if the outcome is better with testing at a quarterly instead of half year, then we start doing that uh the the other kind of mental shift that you talk about in some of your writing is what you call startup I. Q. Which is different than, you know, you kind of talked to the scenario where it's the cliche of you know, startup hires a former mckinsey consultant or you know something like that that's never spent time in that actual startup environment while they might be very intelligent and have a lot of great experience in another...

...realm. It doesn't necessarily relate to what makes you successful in a startup. I'd love to hear you elaborate a little bit on what you mean by the startup like you that you look for, Especially in young days like when you're super young and you're kind of less than 20 people or people like you really need people in my opinion with the highest art about you started like you it's just not people who are fine with everything being in the air and moving fast in the that environment, like people who are not complainers but Doers, it's like, like it's a mentality more than anything. I think that you could recognize it in a second. Like sometimes we'll try to hire people and then we're like, oh so this guy doesn't fit it at all. Like he was great in the conclusion but you know, he doesn't fit in all, you don't really know what it is because on paper is great but that might be the start of by Q. And sometimes it's just lack of chemistry and that kind of stuff that you figure out after a while. But for me the start of I. Q. Is very very related to past experience and if you are already, if you have been, let's say in mckinsey for three years like your groom to think in a certain way where if you get them in younger ingredients super intelligent then you can actually influence them in more kind of, you can you can make them understand what you do and how you work and what's expected of them. So it's easy to take them in earlier. But there's also people like we have our median sales director, he's an ex lawyer working some of the biggest corporate lawyers and biggest emanate houses and like his startup I. Q. Is insane like his hustle his approach like to figuring stuff out like that that that's not accepting failure. Like you there's a there's a world 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. I tried and then come back and say I didn't really work very sorry like we need we need to like you need you sit on a mission, you know figure out how to you know solve the mission and that's not just not giving up. It's difficult for me to explain and it's a while since I was really thinking a lot about it. So so but for me it's it's an approach to how you work and being being a greedy, very greedy individual in reality and not not settling at any point as one and you teach that or do you think that's a name? That's a great question. I think you can teach it if you get them earlier. Uh I think that if if you've been in a corporate for 10 years and you're used to whatever perks there isn't a corporate and the security and the stuff that this, it's gonna be very difficult to get them back to earth basically, Which is startup life, right? So so as I I think that you can teach, but if you're used to getting insane salary at some insane company and having a million perks and then getting asked to work 14 hours for half the salary and being greedy about it to earn your position in most likely stick. Yeah. Well what would you say to someone that either is new in their career and at their first startup or um has spent time at a larger company, you know at, I don't know like Salesforce or 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 world and they got their first job there and they are seeing all these balls in the air and it's it's constant chaos, right? Like what would your advice be to that person that does want to make it work, That's hungry to make it work. But is it feeling a little bit uncomfortable with all of the chaos that pretty much constantly goes on at a startup? I think you really need to want it. I think that if you've been, let's say in salesforce for three years and you are unhappy or want more influence And you don't just want to go through kind of the common known kind of development of the sales. Like you go from SDR two senior str to manager as they are and then you start at the bottom of a and you're like, yeah, so in 15 years I'm going to get a manager, right? So you're like, that's not for me and you realize that and you're not like you're not completely cold in the hamster wheel of of of the economy and then you can break out, I think it's very...

...difficult to go into any startup without ruining the financial setup and the not the P and L. But the dynamics that 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 to show that you really wanted, you need to compromise and the startup needs to compromise. You need to play like that. The truth is somewhere in between the two. 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 the middle and so I think that it's very much about expectation kind of management and understanding kind of understanding each other and where they're going from. So when I hire senior people, I spent a lot of time with them before hiring them. I really spent a lot because I need to know that let's say they go from Salesforce and I'm hiring a sales direction. I need to know that they can be we with contract book and that they can love working here and they can love the culture of the writing of the wall. Like they love that 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 new foundation, if they can't buy into that and they're like, oh I actually think it's pretty good and you're not, you know, you're not getting it like you're not getting it like, like, like, like that's that's it. Like I need to understand that they can be the rebel tv anchor list and when you've been in a 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 back and people who are in that stuff like who are three years into it, can they be a evangelistic and like they might have been when they were younger like you know like, like can they don't know? You say you spend a lot of time with leaders before you hire them. I'm curious are there specific questions that you tend to ask or ways that you try to uncover if someone has that started 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 assessments that 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 concrete where I'm like that. This is one when I asked this and they say no or yes to this, it's 1/5. It's for me it's always been about a psychological contract. I need to, I need to trust them without a documented between us and then this person needs to trust me without a documented between us If that makes sense 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 to trust you from the sucking bone, I need, I need to, I need to get it, I need to get you and you need to get me if we need to work together 10 plus hours every day fighting for this together, like we need to get each other and we need 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 gonna feel, there's some God feels dollars, right? There's paper then there's got field and if you go further, you know, you go out and have a drink or beer and or you know, eat dinner together, maybe breakfast as well as important and just kind 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, understanding that there's somebody super wise who told me very early in my career that they only wanted to do business, this person when he wanted to do business with 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 they wanted to sit together and share their experiences. This is how well you should, you should think about, do, I want to sit down five years and talk about 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 to each other and have a beer and talk about and laugh about it, what went to the ship or what made you a millionaire. I love that. The fact that you need to kind of connect on that level that you really think about, would I actually bother sitting and talking to this person in five years time if we're not working together? No, like no, nothing. That's a great test. I love it. To switch gears a little bit. You know, something that is big for this podcast for this community of Pavilion is, it's a community where we're all trying to help each other out. Right? That's kind of the fundamentals of it. And so I'm curious when you think about Your career and networking and building business relationships in finding people like that, right? That, that you do want to, you know coincidentally run into at the airport restaurant 10 years from now. Do you have any tips for folks just as they are building out their professional network, networking, any any tips or strategies that you use for that? Yeah. It's been like when fundraising, in my opinion that you need, 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, really wild in my opinion. If you have to kind of fake your personality for that many years. 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'm authentic towards you and I call you at some point and say hey like I really need a BDR something, something and you really feel that you know me, like you really truly feel that you can trust me because I'm authentic, then I think that the networking effect is stronger. Whereas if I'm being superficial, like just showing what I think you want to hear your like is this really like is it true or is it just saying what what I want him to say? So being authentic is a risk but I think it the reward is bigger because in my experience like with my network and the people that we found, I know we're spending very few dollars on recruitment and that's because we're focusing so much in culture and we're being very true to ourselves. People might not like it and think we're too wild and safe luck too much or whatever, but at least they know what they get and that's easy to kind of understand and so being true to yourself is super important in all aspects of life in my opinion. Also networking, I just want you to know I'm from boston so you can't possibly say fuck 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 says that a lot of that's just that's part of the part of the culture. How about in terms of resources and learning. You know whether we're talking about startups, leadership, personal development, really any topic here as if there's been any like, you know, books or or resource people podcasts, anything that has been like particularly influential on your path or anything that you're you're into right now that you know might be a good resource for people to check out. No. So I think the podcast series that has been the most influential now, I have a master's degree from London and you know obviously that points in one direction of understanding business, right? That influences you want like in one direction. But the thing that changed my way of thinking the most and where I really listened was the friction 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's quiet, it's smart, there's some really smart people there but it's also you know, there's just like there's just some really kind of uh there's some really good, I don't think they made a podcast for a couple of years at this point. But I listened to the whole series once back in the days and then I listened to it a year ago or something again all I think that's 20 episodes or something and there was one where it was like the people head of culture and people in netflix. And she was really...

...really funny first of all. And then she said something about she said something about the thing about back stepping. Like she hated back stepping. Is and there was like back the thing about back 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 we have 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 of radical 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 back stepping is complex. Were being like Canada is is not. And she was like, she was like and and and it was not about they talked a lot about it. We talked about recruitment started by Q. That we hire grownups. And grown ups. Is not age grownups is the way you think and act like we can have a 19. We have 19 year old people here, 18 year old people here were more grown up than 40 year old people. I know who take their lives and the personal development much more serious and their approach to think about is that you just need to hire grownups. Like higher grownups that understand that they have something they need to do in life and that's that's just what it is. Mm I love that. My last question for you, you mentioned the N. B. A. That you got um 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 on that. Getting an M. P. A. Yeah. Yeah mm I have a master's degree. I uh I think the bachelor is more than enough. I think the if you're in a in a in a big corporate I think it's more valuable than in a startup. I don't have a lot of experience with it to be frank in in in Copenhagen and in Denmark mph is not that big. It's more normal that you actually do, you do straight over, you do a bachelor and then you continue doing a master like in a row like five years in a row you don't you don't do that, don't break and everybody has a master's degree and if you have a master's degree it doesn't make any sense to do the NBA right? So then the NBA just becomes two years of vacation which is also very cool. But so for me I don't have like I don't have a really kind of really good same advice. I think that my advice to people consider doing a master straight off the bachelor would be, don't do it then do the NBA route instead. I think the NBA route or master at a later stage makes more sense than doing it in like straight up. This is some great content. I appreciate you spending some time with me today and with the audience before we go, folks want to connect with you. If they want to learn more about contract book, what are some of the best places to do that? Yeah, so you know, in England, I always, I try to reply everybody and and who reached out who's not trying to spam and sell me stuff, but but I tried to reply people who actually asked for general advice 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, can find 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. So depending on the need, like we're pretty available on the, on the, on the internet awesome meals. I appreciate you coming on dropping a few f bombs with me and uh, and sharing your wisdom, I hope that it was okay man, I tend to do it too much yesterday a meet up in Sicily and when I gave a presentation when I gave speeches like to like they were they were drinking like they were sipping 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 with another episode. If you see something hanging, thanks so much for checking that episode 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 physical impressions that make your outreach more personal. Until next week, we'll see you on monday. Get after a piece if you see something and they say.

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