🚀 Breathe.



Ensure that the whole company understands that in order to develop your career in your organization, you don't necessarily need to become a manager. If the only way you can progress inside a company and take on more responsibility to increase your impact is to manage people, you end up with a lot of people who aren't energized by being managers.

In this episode

How can you ensure consistency in the workplace?

By using frameworks, building systems, and sharing feedback.

In episode #119, learn how Mike uses an async mindset to increase productivity, clarity and decision-making with his team. 

Mike Murchison is a 5 time founder and today he is the CEO and cofounder of Ada, the leading Artificial Intelligence platform for enterprise customer service teams.

We dive into tactics like Start, Stop, Continue, and a feedback session between Ada’s executive team that you may find interesting! 

Tune in to hear all about Mike’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Permission to be wrong


Creating a company’s first executive team


Productivity systems at Ada




Business goals as memes


Level up by listening to your reports’ feedback



Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  00:36

Mike, welcome to the show. Great to be here. I didn’t Yeah for I guess for a lot of people who didn’t hear which would be actually everyone who didn’t hear before we Press record sounds like we had a lot of commonalities you grew up in New York, I grew up in New York. And here we are recording many years later, after interacting a lot on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is been pretty fun from a, you know, meet cool people with interesting ideas these days

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  05:23

Actually, you want to know a fun story, which is such a random fact. But guess number one on the Supermanagers podcast was David cancel of drift. And fun fact, it was so random. As we started the conversation, I found out that he also grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, which was so random, but yeah, I think anyway, I guess great minds travel alike. Perhaps maybe it’s something one could say. But yeah, Mike’s thanks so much for doing this, I think you know, been very excited to get in a conversation with you, you’ve you’ve been at quite a few companies, mostly as the founder and CEO. And today, you are the CEO and co-founder of ADA, which is an artificial intelligence powered platform, which is mostly about business communications, you know, keeping touch with customers. And there’s a lot that I want to talk to you about today. But one of the things we like to do on this show is start from the very, very beginning. And we like to talk about mistakes. So in those early days, when you first started to lead a team, do you remember some of those early mistakes? Maybe some of the cringe worthy ones that you don’t make any more?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  06:31

Oh, yeah, there’s many, I’d say the first key mistake I made looking back, the first thing that I got wrong regularly earlier in my leadership career was a I felt like I always had to be right, I felt like I had to have the right answers as a leader. And I’ve since learned over time that I think great leaders give themselves permission to be wrong. And instead of feeling a pressure to know a given answer, they empower their team to figure out how to arrive at the right solution. And so it’s a real shift for me away from their sort of leader as expert to the leader as an enabler of eventual expertise for eventual solution that works. And that that shift has been continues to be, I think, a really core part of how I lead teams today and how I think about growth data.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:20

I think that’s a really, really good conclusion. I wanted to maybe dig into that a little bit more. So what’s really interesting about your background, again, founded data, probably a handful of people, when you guys first started, you know, over 500. Today, would you say that that conclusion is valid when the team is super small, versus when it’s as large as it is today and growing?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  07:43

Yeah, I would actually say at least for me, in my own leadership, it’s even more true today. So much of my leadership growth today comes from learning from my surrounding team. That’s I think the leaders ability to be curious and to be vulnerable in front of their team, their acknowledgement of when they have high conviction. And when they don’t, I think is a is like, absolutely core to embodying a growth mindset and continuing to scale faster than your company is, I think that’s a core thing to be mindful of, in a high growth environment is how quickly are you growing relative to the rate of your of your company? And I think we all want to be in a position where we’re growing at least as fast as the company itself.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  08:26

Yeah. So do you remember an example or when you first clued in on, you know, you don’t need to, I guess, have all the answers. And it’s much better to be an enabler of a problem being solved as your particular problem or phase in the company where it like this really hit home for you.

Mike Murchison (Ada)  08:44

Sure. I remember when we, when the executive team became a thing in our company’s history, which was something I was actually deeply uncomfortable about, because we’re at this point where, you know, most important meetings happened company wide, everyone felt involved in the core decision making. And, you know, I was running really my first executive meeting where the purpose was to make some core decisions about the company and actually not involved everyone. And the meeting, I think, went absolutely terribly. You know, I thought I knew how to run the meeting, I thought I had the right agenda. I thought, you know, I was relatively clear around whose decision it was to make. I thought I’d applied some basic rapid like framework that I’m sure many listeners are familiar with, but it did not go well. In fact, I felt like the meeting was actually much less productive than there’s more consensus driven culture we had before that was, you know, involves so many more people. And the learning for me was I simply went and asked every member of my team one on one, and I just I just asked them, you know, how can we do this better? How do we apply for this meeting and Like, literally within one week, we ran the meeting every week, just simply applying that feedback from every individual just completely transformed the structure of the meeting and led to just a far, far more productive meeting that move the business forward. And I mean, it’s sort of an obvious statement, like, learn from the feedback and apply it. But I do think that a lot of leaders, myself included, tend to feel pressure that you need to get it right on the first try that you need to have the right framework, you know, out of the gate. But really, I think so much team unity, and team productivity comes from you consistent, relentless improvement. And it’s great to start with a baseline. So the next thing we started to institute and every meeting is we rate every meeting at the end of it. And so every exact meeting continues to this day to have an actual score connected to it, that gives some form of data, that feedback to the person who’s running it around what was effective, and what could be better for next

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  10:51

time. You know, I have to ask, do you remember what was one of the key changes that you made that made it a lot better from that very first iteration?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  10:59

So yes, there are a few things that were I got wrong. The first was the agenda itself. And I know we can go deep on what a great agenda is, and, and why. And, you know, I felt I think I didn’t do a good enough job of as I solicited the right topics, from the team, but we didn’t crystallize the topics into core decisions that needed to be made. And I didn’t do a good enough job of clarifying for the team, and helping the team clarify whose decisions specifically it was to make. And so we ended up with his meandering, long winded conversations that really didn’t end and with any clear outcome, and, you know, that was sort of one key change. And that since by the way, it has evolved into the system. And you know, we’re we now actually have these cards, that every meeting exists in every meeting, and the physical cards that people will be given to everyone at data. And one of the cards is a rabbit hole card. And at any point in the meeting data, you can throw up the rabbit hole card and say like, we’re going down the rabbit hole, and it triggers everyone to say, okay, maybe here maybe because everyone permission to call out what they’re seeing. And so there’s, that’s been that’s been very effective. Now, most meetings today that don’t involve physical cards or metaphorical card that people are signaling.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  12:11

That’s a great story, and very clever to have those cards. You talked about, you know, briefly just now you said when executives became a thing at the company, when was that in the company’s growth? Was it when you were 30? People? 50 100? When did you first add on executives, and maybe tell me a little bit about what that felt like, as a founder.

Mike Murchison (Ada)  12:32

So we had for maybe the first year to an ADA, we had heads of department. So the department heads. And I don’t think we really had an executive team until probably three or four years. And we’re about a six year old company today. So executive team is relatively relatively new. And the distinction for me the core distinction between having a collection of having, you know, a series of leaders who are heads of department and an executive team, I think is best reflected in the answer to any individual team members, their answer to the question, Who is your first team? Like, which Which team do you belong to? And if your head of marketing says that I belong to the marketing team, then you don’t have an executive team? In my opinion, the answer to the question is, I belong to the executive team. This is my first team, which is, of course, the Lencioni concept that we embody data and has been, I think, very, very constructive for us. That didn’t really happen until it was at least 150. People I would say, and for me, in terms of how that felt, was really was the first time for as a leader, where it really started to feel as though we had a decision making apparatus that worked, where if there’s clarity around the decisions that are being made, there’s clear ownership of those decisions, and clear rationale around why they’re being made. And that, to me, is just so core to what makes an executive team function and what leads to successful decision making in a company. For me my experience so far, I sort of think you it’s one of these things where you kind of know it when you actually have it. And it feels qualitatively different than a team dynamic, where folks are really making decisions on behalf of their department. They’re not making decisions, you know, in service of the company first, and they feel true ownership over this executive team. First and foremost. Yeah, I

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  14:29

think that’s a really good way to put it. So it’s, the first team becomes the executive team. And I really liked the term that you used, it felt like it because you had a very strong decision making apparatus and I think all of that is very indicative. Some people find this stage of when you first bring on that middle management layer to be a very difficult transition to go from, like you said from heads of departments or to adding a middle management Leia, and you know, part of it is maybe because of relinquishing control, maybe sometimes it’s really difficult. And you know, as a company, you might have misfires, would you say a difficult transition for you or it was smooth sailing, and you hired some great people and everything just went to the moon? No, it

Mike Murchison (Ada)  15:18

was definitely, definitely challenging. I think it’s challenging. And every company, I think one of the key things that I believe is critical to get right is to ensure that the whole company understands that in order to develop your career in your organization, you don’t necessarily need to become a manager think that’s absolutely critical. And the reason for that is because if the only way you can progress inside a company and take on more responsibility to increase your impact is to manage people, you end up with a lot of people who don’t aren’t energized by being managers. And that undermines the the effectiveness of teams that operate underneath those people. And so I think that the core thing to get right initially is a make it really clear to everyone that there are at least two tracks here, there’s an individual contributor track where you can grow your expertise and your impact without managing people. And then there’s a second track, which involves increasing your impact via managing folks. And so I think in the early days of Atia, there was definitely some ambiguity about that, that we quickly identified and, and sorted out. And I’d encourage everyone who’s in a similar stage, we were back then to make that clear to

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  16:28

Yeah, to build the different career paths. So that you know, people understand that it’s not that the only way up is to manage people, and then so on and so forth. Yeah, that is a definitely an important step to take. While we’re talking about this concept of productivity, maybe to set the stage because I want to shift the discussion into how you have built systems at Ada to keep people productive to set the stage. What is Adas form of working today? Is it all remote? Is it hybrid? Maybe you can kind of describe how you go about things these days.

Mike Murchison (Ada)  17:04

Sure. So Ada is a digital first company. For us. That means that our Northstar is that anyone’s geography, geography cannot confer anyone a career advantage data. That’s our core belief around how we work. So meaning and Ada, we build the systems and communication infrastructure so that you can work from anywhere in the world and have as big an impact as anyone else anywhere else in the world working to data. Now, in order to enable that we’re very intentional with default communication style, that everyone has the data and the default data is asynchronous. So if you’re, if you and I are collaborating, I’m working with you, by default, via Google Doc, via a an asynchronous video, I’m recording and sending it to you via Slack message or an email. And secondly, we provide very clear guidelines around when synchronous communication or synchronous work actually makes sense. And for us synchronous work defaults to being virtual. And the guideline is to participate in a meeting virtual meeting to make a decision. That’s the default, our default view should only really we should only meet up in real time if we actually have something to decide. And we shouldn’t be familiar with what we’re trying to decide well in advance because we’re defaulting to communicating and working in asynchronously. Now, we also regularly meet up in person, but we are very intentional about the cadence at which that happens. And how we make use of our in person experience, we just recently had our our first post pandemic Stravaganza, or a company wide off site in Toronto, we brought everyone in for three days of planning, high energy team building, values, alignment, just such a great in person burst of energy that we all experienced together. And then we all went back to our respective homes around the world and continued to back into our default. And

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:01

also just for some context, so how many time zones would you say that the employee base spans?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  19:07

We were across four or five times. Okay, so

Aydin Mirzaee  19:10

I guess, are there a lot of time zones that are maybe you know, 12 hours apart? or more? Or do you have some of that, too?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  19:17

We do we have folks in in Singapore, for example. And I mean, no,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:22

cool. So this is really interesting. So I guess the the default that you would start with is async. So everything is async. And there’s select reasons why you would have something synchronous, obviously the, you know, the strata gains, as he called it, you know, was a really good energy boosting way to get everybody the whole company together. But other reasons why you might get together at the exact same time is to make decisions. Are there certain types of decisions that warrant that and you know, for example, my question is for your executive meeting, how often do you have that and is that always synchronous or Are there times where it might not be? I’m just curious how how you would further distinguish that and also teach people at Ada, which mode they should default to a lot

Mike Murchison (Ada)  20:09

of decisions, it turns out can actually be made asynchronously. That’s why it’s really valuable that they default to the async. Communication. One way this manifests for us is in our executive team, we meet weekly, and we have a weekly synchronous, like real meeting over zoom. And prior to that meeting, two days before, we all commit to filling out a, essentially a, we hold our exact team notebook, but it’s a list of we call them staging decisions. So these are decisions that are sort of in this staging environment, waiting to be pushed to production. And everyone, if they have a decision to be made, they are putting it in there. And they’re soliciting, they’re making it really clear the outcome that they’re looking for from that, from that decision that’s in staging. And they’re often soliciting input from the rest of the executive team. Now, it turns out that I would say about 30% of all decisions in the staging environment actually end up getting made before the meeting via comment, couple Google notes. And they actually aren’t even don’t even need to be discussed live, the rest of them end up being typically debated. But we’re able to, there’s very little information gathering in the actual meeting itself, we’re able to hop right in, everyone has the context, you’re able to hop right into the crux of the issue. And it’s much more productive, we’re very clear on what we’re trying to achieve. Because the outcome is clearly articulated. You know, so much of the effective meeting I’ve learned really comes from, I would say, like 90%, of what makes a meeting successful is actually the upfront work and preparation for it. The meeting itself is really just like the it’s the push to production, like that’s the easy you get, you know, the hard part is writing the code, hopefully not not pushing it to production, same thing I think is true, and even when it comes to effective meetings, so the suggestion at Ada is to default to that way. And we’d really try to encourage folks to do that. Now, we’re not so prescriptive as to mandate that everyone work this way, 100% of the time, because there are exceptions. There are some times where you know, you and I are working on a problem, you just feel right that we actually need to get together, we may need, we absolutely need to hop on a call just to work through something, I think everyone should be empowered to do that. But we approach it from most of the time you don’t enter the productivity unlock, and the collaboration unlock and the equity and accessibility unlock comes from changing the default state.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:31

Hey there, just a quick pause on today’s episode to let you know that we really appreciate you helping us spread the word about the Supermanagers podcast, if you’re enjoying what you’re hearing so far, dial into your podcast app of choice, whether that’s on Apple or Android or Spotify. And just leave us a quick review. Now back to the interview. Got it into I think the value then is a lot of people have the context and or most of these decisions, things like I intend to do this or go about things this way. What are some thoughts or objections? And you know, do some of those objections arise even before you get together? Or is it that by hearing someone else mentioned something that basically triggers other people to have ideas that would basically add to the discussion and and then do people make the decision right then and there? Or do they say thank you, I have my information, let me think about it. And I’ll report back where we go,

Mike Murchison (Ada)  23:31

we aim to make the decision in the meeting, and literally cross it off. There’s a feeling of accomplishment when that when that happens. And often the meetings rating is connected to how many things we’ve actually accomplished together. I’d say you know, there’s a there’s a desire to move forward. And an example of this might be our Dan or CRO might put a recently put a staging decision around. I’m making this up right now. But something like I’m proposing the move sales enablement into product marketing today lives in the sales organization, it should live in product marketing, and I think this is the right reason why. And in order for us product marketing is part of our product organization. In order for this to make sense. Like, Mike, our CEO needs to be bought into this. I’m supportive of this. Everyone else is supported as Mike, what do you think this is? Clearly this is even though, you know, ultimately, our CEO, Mike is the decision maker on this on this organizational move. Clearly the core person who needs input and buy in from is is our CPO. So that’s an example of where the discussion will happen asynchronously before the meeting. And well, by the time the meeting actually happens. There’s often very little that needs to be discussed. And unless that’s on Earth, another related problem or something we need to tackle in advance.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  24:44

Yeah, and so that’s interesting into a tactical thing here. So the rating of the meeting, is this a one to 10 score, and you go around and ask each person what is your rating or do they write it down

Mike Murchison (Ada)  24:57

and have every meeting and I asked what did we rate this meeting today? are obsolete or Bronwyn runs our exec team meetings. And she asked everybody at the end of the meeting, how what do we raise me one to 10. And the outlier has to explain why

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  25:10

I like that. That’s pretty awesome. So as we’re talking about feedback, because I think this is a this is interesting, and also similar, you recently had, I think, I don’t know if this was part of the larger company off site, or if this was just an executive off site that you had, but you did a very special type of feedback session with your executive team, maybe you can explain what you all did. And, and why.

Mike Murchison (Ada)  25:36

So this was a our exec team off site about a month ago. And we ran a what we call a start, stop, continue exercise, which is the common framework, we use it a to, to give and receive feedback to one another. And this goes way back to David, my co founder, and it is very early days of our partnership, where every week, the end of the week, we sit down with one another. And we do this SSC. And what SSC is, is it’s a structured way in which I give you clear feedback around one thing I want you to start doing, stop doing and continue doing to improve our working relationship and increase our our impact on the company. And in return, I asked the same from you. And the rules are very simple, you can only respond in one of two ways when you are receiving the feedback, you can either say, Can you give me an example, please, or please share more, you’re not allowed to engage with it, you’re not allowed to debate it, you have to receive it and accept it. And that ensures that you don’t go down rabbit holes, and that there’s a true forum for the feedback provider to to share what’s on their mind. And we do this both one on one within our teams. And we do it collectively as a team. So recently, we did this as an executive team, where each one of us as member of our executive team took turns receiving SSCs from the rest of the team, like openly. And the value of doing it openly was it provided a way for other team members to essentially upvote other people’s feedback. So if you were giving me feedback that, Hey, Mike, you just really find me I need you to start being clear with your priorities. You’re giving me like eight priorities right now I need you to be more mindful of how many we’re actually working on. Someone else might say, I totally agree with that, by the way, my son, I experienced him. So you’ve got us use the receiver get the day sort of like real time up vote, you get to see from your your peers. And that’s just that’s super valuable from a feedback in terms of receiving feedback, it has a secondary value of really feeling, I think increasing the unity of your team, at least that’s our experience, it’s a very vulnerable state to put yourself in. on the receiving end. It’s also very challenging to share difficult feedback publicly. But it exemplifies the first team mindset, it demonstrates very clearly that, hey, we are all so committed to make operating better as a team, we recognize that each of our individual relationships need to be strengthened, that needs to be a a robust lattice work for us to actually operate effectively as a team and sir and in turn, execute in the best way for the company. And we’re going to put ourselves through this exercise to be able to do that. And it becomes much easier over time. It’s a you know, it’s a muscle you strengthen anyone who’s trying it, I’d highly encourage you, if you’re if you’re leading the exercise to go first. That’s the only only tip I offer.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  28:23

Yeah, it definitely can be very vulnerable, especially if you receive feedback and everybody else votes. It’s why didn’t anyone tell me this? But I am curious, what would you say is like the main benefit a lot of what you’re saying, I get to understand that it promotes the first team mindset, it creates stronger bonds, and really allows everybody to think that, hey, this is one team, and we’re in this together. Why in person? One of the reasons that, you know, ask this question in person in real time, is, I guess your part of it is, is it harder for people to ingest the feedback and be able to say something about it? Or maybe that’s the part that I’m unclear on. So you can only do things you can ask a question. You can maybe ask for an example. You can’t respond. So at the end, you just say thank you what if you and this is a funny question to ask, but what if you go home and you’re like, you know what, I think that doesn’t make any sense. Or you have you know, further things to discuss, what about the follow up to these things? So is it just about hearing and ingesting? So

Mike Murchison (Ada)  29:30

I think great, great point. So one thing I think is absolutely core to set the expectations around if this exercise is going to be successful for you is making it very clear that feedback is just input. You know, feedback, doesn’t eat doesn’t need to be acted upon you as a feedback giver should not expect that the feedback you’re giving is necessarily followed. And that’s an important condition, I think, to set for this exercise to work and I think for feedback cultures in general to flourish because the expectation that is that every time I give you a feedback you’re in Do exactly what I say like, I’m just not going to give you feedback over time, because you’re not going to listen to everything I suggest. And that I think exemplifies another form of trust, like I’m trusting you to be able to take the signal out of what I’m sharing, knowing full well, that there’s going to be some noise and what I’m sharing with you and trusting you to calibrate that across your team and our company and make the necessary changes to uplevel. So that’s the first thing I think the second thing is that you asked about, hey, does this need to be done in person? I don’t think it does. We do this regularly async. Or regularly, digitally, synchronously, of course, but I don’t think it needs to be done in person, I do think there’s added benefit to it being done in person within a team context, mainly because you guarantee that there’s no distractions, you know, everyone’s fully present, there’s not another window on their screen, and you get much more data, you get that in person, body language is I think provides such valuable data in that kind of exercise, you really do learn a lot, that’s a finally you get the experience of in the room, sharing this all together, that I think is a little more visceral, when you’re doing it in real life than when you’re doing it on a call, not to say that it can’t work on a call, I think it’s still effective. And we, you know, well, but how well, this can work asynchronously, this kind of feedback to the, you know, fellows 360 product. So I think that there are definitely different ways you can do this, and you’re just trading off the, you know, the like friction versus the maybe the like, the impact

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  31:32

should be really interesting. So your tip on, you know, if you’re facilitating this go first, I really liked this tip. And it sounds like and it’s very interesting, it sounds like you’ve been doing this with your co founder for a long time. Which is, which is admirable, because generally speaking, I would say that structured forms of feedback exchange are maybe not a thing that most, you know, co founding teams do. So it’s very admirable that you have done that. But since you’ve done this, a lot of times talk to me about the energy in the room. So is this the sort of thing that eventually when you do enough times, you know, people can be very positive about it, or depending on what’s communicated, you know, it’s, it can go in any direction. I’m just curious, like, what it feels like to sit in that room as this is happening.

Mike Murchison (Ada)  32:18

So I’d say, if you haven’t done it as a team before, the first time, absolutely, there’s a nervous energy. And a lot of folks speaking in body language will have their arms crossed. And they’re really uncertain about this. And that’s why it’s so critical that I think you set the expectation of going first on the receiving end. And I go so far as to say is, I would set the expectation that you go first, and I’d actually meet with one of your team members, and ahead of time, and work with them to ensure on the feedback that they’re going to share publicly make sure that the first example that is shared is a really good meaty example of hard to hear feedback that’s shared publicly. And so that I think is a critical sort of precedent setting that you you do. And so I think, once you do that, like, what I tend to notice is, your team starts to realize, like, Whoa, that was an intense thing to hear. Nothing bad happened, because all all Mike did was respond with a simple question, you know, can I have an example and moved on to the next feedback and said, Thank you for the feedback. And so the, there’s a clear demonstration that really, you know, there’s there’s rules in place here, there’s a celebration of the feedback having been shared. And there’s an acknowledgement that like, it’s input, it’s not going to be followed, necessarily followed blindly. And then, you know, people tend to open up and start to perform it themselves, you know, and suggest people, you don’t mandate that everyone perform, they get into the hot seat, so to speak, tend to be my experience that everyone ends up wanting to do it. And then finally, you touched upon this earlier, you know, well, in the moment, I think it’s important to not to set the ground rules that you can’t respond to the feedback in real time. What I do like to perform is a is a sort of debrief exercise, or after we’ve all done it, we say how was that for everyone, any reflections, and folks do tend to come out and say, well, it was so interesting to hear from you eight, that you felt like, you know, I’ve been not a good partner to the marketing organization. And I need to step up, and I’m really grateful for that. So I’m really just, I just want everyone I’m gonna work really hard on that. I really appreciate you all holding me accountable top level in there. And Jessica was so valuable for you to hear that, like you just you get that real time debrief that you hear people sort of clear their thoughts, and it’s quite unifying. It’s a really, it’s a I think it’s a very powerful experience.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  34:29

Yeah, this stuff is really starting to I think our whole conversation is really starting to come together. I’m getting the sense that it’s really important for you and your executive team to just form this very tight bond. And one of the things I know about relationships in general is that there are things that strengthen relationships. I forget what book it was that I read this in, but basically, it’s a few things it’s frequency of interaction. You know, if I only see you once a year, chances are we’re not going to have strong relationship. So frequency is important, but also in density. And what I would say is, this is probably a very intense hour, two hours spent. And so this stuff really, really adds to the mix. The other thing I’ve noticed about, you know, some of the discussions that we’ve had so far is that you also care a lot about clarity. You know, you talked about it in terms of, you know, meetings as decision status as a way to stage decisions. You’ve also talked about being very clear about who has different rules. I also know that when you think about goal setting, you think about clarity a lot, and you’ve likened business goals, or you encouraged people to think about them in terms of memes. I would love for you to elaborate how you do that at ATIA. And you know how it works out?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  35:44

Sure. I love thinking about business schools as memes, because a meme is something that just travels that people want to share that is lightweight, and very memorable. And I think so much clarity is the way clarity is achieved in an organization and a team is when it’s really easy to digest and know what you’re actually going after, and why. And so I like to think about goal clarity as a the goal of goal clarity being a mean, mean like state. And some ways that we certainly tried to embody this are through one example is what we call soaps strategy on a page. And this is a concept I learned from Samir at SendGrid. Twilio now it at Bessemer. And what a strategy on a page is a single slide or picture that includes your company’s mission, your company’s values, the core health metrics that tell you your company is working well. And then your core company objectives and key results. And we try to circulate that across a data digitally all the time, it’s pinned to the top of every key Slack channel. It’s a zoom background, I could change to it right now he wanted. It’s something that’s easy to digest, and easy to share. And we try to make the actual goals themselves snappy and short and succinct and easy to remember, for similar reasons do so that’s one example.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  37:11

So I really liked this concept. Is there an example of you know, a time where you did this really well, like a goal that, you know, you know, was a meme? And do you remember what you used? And, you know, one of the more effective times that you’ve done this?

Mike Murchison (Ada)  37:25

Sure. So one of the goals that comes to mind for me is, is we called 30 and 30. That was the goal at at Ada. And the goal was we’re going to automate 30% of our customers customer service inquiries in 30 days or less. And this sort of drumbeat of our company was, how are we doing on 30? And 30? What’s the track? It turned 30 and 30. Right now we’re like 50 and 30, power 48 and 30. How do we get to 33rd? Or I guess we were 30. And 50, I guess would be the other way around. And that sort of simple to say it’s almost just like comms exercise, but the internal momentum that came behind 30 and 30 ended up translating into an external go to market motion for us. That continues to be part of how ADSL did software today. Now, it’s something that our clients often repeat and becomes part of prospective client conversations. Oh, 30 and 30. That’s cool. That sounds like quick results, and that are easy to achieve. Your software must make that relatively easy. So there’s a I think you start to see the impact of goal clarity, actually manifest and your customers if you do it right.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  38:36

That is really cool. I have to ask, was there like an image or graphic that also came along with this or I guess the catchiness of the goal itself? A lot it to spread.

Mike Murchison (Ada)  38:45

In this case, just like the catchiness, I think you could take it, we could even done it better. I think you could imagine some like literal memes that you could create with it. We didn’t see like a bunch of you know, one thing that’s so cool, I think about digital first cultures or one way they manifest is I’m sure this is true. It fellow is the custom emojis. Yes, custom emojis for sharing it out. So you we started to see 30 and 30 custom emojis for example, let’s say, you know, it’s working and traveling, people are responding to stuff with 30 and 30. And there’s, you know, some funny image that someone’s come up with for 1330. So that sort of stuffs happening all the time. And I think it’s a I think that’s a good indication that the goal is clear enough and is mean like

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:24

that’s so true about digital cultures. Mike, we’ve gone through so many interesting, interesting topics today. You know, we talked about synchronous versus asynchronous. You talked about you know how you use cards for meetings, like the rabbit hole card, and how meetings are meant to stage decisions. We’ve talked about memes. We’ve talked about strategy on a page or soaps, so many so many interesting discussions. One final question that we like to end with is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips or tricks or parting words of wisdom that you would leave them with

Mike Murchison (Ada)  40:00

to level up as a leader, look internally first, that’s my one of my core learning that continues to be something that I tried to do to continually level up. And what I mean by that is that I think so many of us assume that the way we grow as a leader is to seek outside counsel outside advice from how, you know, others have led companies before and without a doubt like that is super valuable. And there’s so much so much great stuff to learn. But I think we regularly under appreciate how much we can learn directly from the people that we’re managing. And so much of my knowledge and growth as a leader has come from truly soliciting the feedback from the people I work most closely with. And I think that that is the first source of feedback is a a great place to start if you’re looking to

Aydin Mirzaee  40:46

level up. That’s great advice and great place to end it. Mike, thanks so much for doing this. Great to be here. And thanks for having me. And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at www.Fellow.app/Supermanagers. If you liked the content, be sure to rate review and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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