Ep. 28 - Global Tax Network, COO / Data Privacy & Security Officer, Craig Dexheimer

Ep. 28 - Global Tax Network, COO / Data Privacy & Security Officer, Craig Dexheimer

Global Tax Network is a mobility tax services firm focusing exclusively on tax consulting and compliance for corporate global mobility programs, expatriates, and foreign nationals. Craig Dexheimer, Chief Operating Officer/Data Privacy and Security Officer of Global Tax Network, shares how he and his CEO work hand in hand being the integrator and visionary in their respective positions. Dex reveals that the implementation of tools and systems like Vision/Traction Organizer and Prevue HR help them achieve their goals and getting the best employees. In the end, he says what matters is openly communicating on everything, whether it’s a small decision or big decisions that will benefit the company.

Global Tax Network, COO/Data Privacy And Security Officer, Craig Dexheimer

We’re interviewing Craig Dexheimer who’s the COO from Global Tax Network. Dex received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. He is the Minnesota Family Team’s Chair for the March of Dimes and the head coach for the Osseo Maple Grove Boys Traveling and Basketball and Baseball Associations. His professional experience includes starting his own internet-based business and playing key roles to entrepreneurial firms, a Fortune 50 organization and a global multi-disciplinary professional services firm. He has been affiliated with national wellness programs that have received international attention and accolades, including the Mayo Clinic’s first ever study on the thesis of movement and activity while working. Dex began his career with GTN in 2012 when he joined the Executive Leadership Team as Senior Director of Operations and he received a promotion to the COO role. Let’s welcome Dex to the show.

Thank you, Cameron. It’s great to be here.

It’s great to have another one of our members from the COO Alliance on the show as well. Dex has been busy with his business career and personal life. Why don’t you give us a little bit of a helicopter tour as to what GTN is, what your role is there because every COO tends to have a very different role inside the organization.

I am now the Chief Operating Officer for Global Tax Network. We are headquartered out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have offices all throughout the country, about 75 employees right now located in the United States and we’re doing a lot here to continue to expand out our global network. We can perform tax services in over 100 countries with our affiliate offices that we partner with. Our primary focus is mobility tax. Focusing on tax compliance and consulting for our clients that have an international assignee. People that are cross-border and traveling for work. It’s a pretty cool niche that we’re in here and we are continuing to grow exponentially here as a firm. It’s exciting. I started off as a Senior Director of Operations a few years ago and over the years, I was promoted into the COO role here. My primary responsibilities are focused on our managing directors and the operations for the firm, which includes our finance functions, technology, human resources and all of our MDs that are located throughout the country.

You run the finance and engineering sides. Some of the COO’s don’t do that. That sometimes reports into the CEO and that’s what’s interesting around our role is that we often have very different functional areas. What does the CEO have reporting to them?

Dave is our founder and our CEO. He is primarily tasked with all of the visionary aspects. We are a traction company. We were the second company in Minneapolis to implement traction a few years ago. His role is the visionary. I’m the integrator and Dave is primarily tasked with driving the overall strategic aspect of GTN forward as well as our international and global network and relationships.

With him being the visionary, you being the integrator, how do you tap into Dave’s vision so that you’re clear on what you need to execute on because that’s always the key? I teach people to use something called the vivid vision. What do you guys use to ensure that you are connected with the vision of where he wants the company to go?

We are looking at the vivid vision that you implemented, to put that together to have that as a baseline overall foundation for the direction that we are going. We’re working on developing that. We also use the Vision/Traction Organizer through the EOS Traction Tools. Dave and I will get together on a monthly basis to review the overall strategy of the firm and looking at it from a 10X mentality and Dave brings that mentality to GTN. We’ll look at his list and compare that to my list and then we’ll look at what makes sense to execute, what makes sense to move forward for our plan as well. We’ll go offsite every quarter for a four-hour session and that’s more of a 10X brainstorming session where we’ll sit there and whiteboard and come up with different ideas. For some it might be crazy, but it’s a great way for us to determine how are we going to continue to move this exponential growth forward.

Tell me a little more about your four hours. You said that’s every quarter or was that every month?

We do that every quarter and we’ll pick a different location, whether it’s a restaurant or a conference room somewhere where it’s private. We can go ahead and sit offsite and come up with what we have, the list. I keep track of all the different things that we’ve come up with over the years to say, “What do we want to accomplish? Where are we going? What’s the strategic direction of the firm?” It’s just a brainstorming white-boarding session. The first hour is more tactical, “Here are the things that we want to do around technology and the specific things that are more blocking and tackling.” We’ll reserve time where it’s just pure brainstorming, coming up with different ideas of things that we could do that are very interesting and different.

SIC 28 | Global Tax Network
Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less

I cover that in my book Double Double, my first book where a lot of companies talk about strategic planning. They said, “There’s no such thing as strategic planning. There’s strategic thinking and there’s business planning.” We need to uncouple them and it’s great that you are taking time for the strategic thinking, which is as you said, white-boarding and brainstorming and talking through some stuff, a lot of what ifs. You can percolate those through or filter them through and you end up with what you then want to plan which gets into the more tactical and specifics. Is it just the two of you involved in that session or do you bring in other members of your leadership team?

It’s just the two of us in that session as the visionary and integrator. We also meet as an executive leadership team. We’ll have our standard L10 meetings, which are an hour and a half. We’ll have our operations L10 meetings mornings at 9:00 AM and then we’ll follow that up with our executive leadership team. That way we have our cascading messages that we send back out to the firm. Whether we do that on our connectivity calls that we have with the firm or our all-hands calls. We have everyone on the firm on and we do those ones a quarter as well. One thing that we have learned is that we need to over communicate on everything that we are doing, whether it’s small decisions or big decisions. You need me to realize and understand that the firm feeds off that information. They’re very curious and want to know. We are trying to do a better job of over communicating with our entire firm.

Jim Collins in Good to Great talked about, “You need to over-communicate to the point that your people start making fun of you.” It’s only when they heard you repeat it that it’s started to stick in.

That’s just the ground through your book Meetings Suck. That’s been awesome from our standpoint as well to try to focus on some of the key concepts that you have in that book. We’ve had a chance to tweak some of our meetings based upon the findings in that book. It’s been awesome.

The whole point of that book was to have all employees and all companies read it as well. How many employees do you guys have at GTN in total?

We are 75 employees. Just to give some perspective, when I started a few years ago, I was employee number 37. Significant growth from an overall headcount perspective and then also from a revenue standpoint as well over the last four years.

When are you going to start to bring some of the members of your leadership team into that strategy session?

We do have a strategy session every quarter as well. That’s where we will meet for a full day and that’s our entire executive leadership team. We’ll do the standard operations team, which is our managing directors, and then our executive leadership team. We also meet every quarter there. That’s about a day and a half session where we’ll go over our standard overall agenda. We’ll look at our issues list and we’ll look at what are the top three to seven goals that we want to accomplish for the quarter. We’ll do that every quarter. We’ll also do our executive leadership team which was a one-day offsite.

That works quite well then. At some point, the leader’s job is to grow people. The more that we can grow our direct reports and their direct reports, the more the company gets propelled forward. Talk to me a little bit about that in terms of what your focus is on the day-to-day or what your company’s focus. How do you guys focus on growing people internally and growing your direct reports?

We have a very big focus on development here and we engage several different organizations to help with our executive coaching and professional development for our managing directors. We have used The Growth Partnership and Rainmaker for both of those development aspects for our managing directors. We also have more specific on Tax Technical Milestones. One of our managing directors who’s specifically tasked with developing that program. We also have specific CPE courses and development training. One thing that’s been exciting for me and going through the COO Alliance and having that cohort of group members there is I had a chance to take some learnings from the other COO’s and my peers in that group.

We are connected with several of the members to talk about how we can look to implement what we want to call GTN University. It would be a much more specific focus on the professional development for our employees. That’s one thing that we need to do a better job is continuing to enhance that. I feel like we have a good program but now we need to enhance that and the COO Alliance members have been fantastic in coming up with different ideas. The last session that I was at, I had a chance to take some great findings away.

I know the next event is all related to people and leadership development and building of teams. We’ll be covering a lot of that content if you’re at that event as well.

I will be attending that one. I’m looking forward to it.

Tell me a little bit about the recruiting side of the business. You have doubled the amount of staff over the years. Tell me about the recruiting side and how you, as a company, recruit and bring talent to the company.

We’ve got a couple of different things that we use from a recruiting standpoint. First is we do have a contract recruiter onsite here along with our HR contact. They focused on more of the sourcing and candidate finding for us here at GTN. We also engage in numerous different executive search firms. We did use Y Scouts, which you recommended out of Arizona and they helped place one of our managing directors in the south region. We’re a firm believer that when we want to have multiple different resources to go after talent and to make sure that we are bringing the right talent into GTN as we continue to grow whether that’s our contract recruiting efforts here, an executive search firm recruiting efforts or it’s our manager on the HR side who’s helping with that. We’re also implementing some new HR tools. We have a new assessment tool that we’re implementing as well as an applicant tracking system. It’s all brand new, we’re still in the process of getting the data loaded into that. That’s one thing that we want to do is to make sure that we can track all these candidates and make sure that we continue to get the top talent here at GTN.

What are the systems you’re using then? What’s the applicant system you’re using?

It’s called Prevue HR. It’s a tool that we had a demo process. We aren’t fully utilizing it. We’re in the implementation mode and from that standpoint, it’s also linked to an assessment tool. We’re going to be developing our specific assessments based upon our employees here. That will ensure that we are going through the process of the assessment findings and making sure we’re onboarding appropriately as well. We’re excited about this. This is something that’s brand new for us and we’re still in the early stages of implementation.

SIC 28 | Global Tax Network
Global Tax Network: Talking to other COOs or individuals that have gone through similar situations is a great way for us to share ideas and best practices that we can take back into our organization.

 

I was asked by a senior executive and he was asking me how he should move from the sales arena into more of a COO role? How did you make that trajectory? Was it something you were focused on in your career or how did you end up as a second in command?

It’s been persistence and learning. Starting off I have an accounting background and I started in accounting at Arthur Andersen back in the late ‘90s. After a couple of years on the accounting practice, I realized, “I wanted to take a different path and move down more of the operational aspect of the accounting structure and working with an accounting firm.” My career has been more of a jungle gym as it relates to moving around in different roles from a director of finance and HR over to a director of operations and then senior director and then the COO spot. One thing that I learned when I was at Fortune 5 organization here headquartered out of Minnesota, is to find someone that you can latch onto with their coattails and continue to learn from. That’s been a very interesting learning point for my career.

One of the biggest factors for me is to also have a cohort of peers or as we refer to them in our COO Alliance is the tribe. That has been very beneficial for me and my career to say, “What are other peers of mine doing in the marketplace?” It’s not necessarily based upon the same industries, but what I have learned is that by talking to these other COO’s or other individuals that have gone through similar situations, is it’s a great way for us to share ideas and best practices for how we can take those back into our organization. On the sales side, that was one thing before I came to GTN, I was affiliated with a smaller startup staffing firm here in Minneapolis that had significant growth over seven years. That’s where I learned more on the sales aspect and the aspect of business development and also more of the metrics-based reporting related to BD. That’s been a very beneficial aspect of my career as well.

Tell me about some of the learnings and the key learnings you’ve pulled from the COO Alliance that you’ve brought back in?

First off, the guests that we have had speaking have been phenomenal. When we have the whole process of the Giftology, going through that with John has been phenomenal. We have in our firm implemented more of a focus on gratitude as it relates to my weekly one-to-ones that I have with my managing directors. At the end of every call, we’ll say, “What are we grateful for? How are we recognizing that with our clients or our prospects and are we handwriting a thank you note?” We have these be adventurous cards. If someone’s going on a cool trip with one of our clients, we want to make note of that and handwrite a note and say, “Have a great trip. We’re thinking about you. Have an awesome time.”

I would say the guest speakers have been phenomenal. The automation process that we went through as well and that session was also fantastic. It was just learning and hearing these guest speakers coming through. That’s been fantastic. Going through and hearing the different members present on their findings and what they’ve done, the ten-minute talks and going through that process has also been great. I’ve gleaned a lot of information, specific details and things that I can take back to GTN there. That’s been great and it’s cool to hear similar situations and stories that people have gone through and I can take those back and adapt those back to GTN.

You got to hide camelback last time as well.

I’m coming out there for the next session and my wife was going to be joining because it’s our anniversary and we’re going to hike camelback after the Alliance. I told her we’ve got to do that again. That was a great team building exercise as well.

It was a great event. We’re doing it again because we’ve got another event coming up. We’ll be hyping it again with this one.

It was a little more difficult than I actually thought, just more from an attitude standpoint. Overall, it was a great experience.

You start getting to the very top and you realize there are a couple of false summits and you’re scrambling through. It was great to be able to hang out with everybody and have some good talks along it too.

The sunrise over Phoenix and Scottsdale from that vantage point was fantastic.

What do you attribute your success to? Are there any key one or two skills that you’ve been able to use over the years that have helped you in your career?

I think it’s continuing to stay up on business books and the latest writings in business. Your Double Double book has been very important from our standpoint and starting to lay out different things we want to look at from a vivid vision perspective. I also look at Coach John Wooden from UCLA back in the day and Wooden on Leadership and his Pyramid of Success. That has been a foundational aspect for my success as well. Referring back to those things and some of the key aspects that Coach Wooden has implemented over the years from a business standpoint. That alone and staying up on the overall latest writings have been phenomenal for me.

You’ve always got a pretty positive demeanor as well. How do you manage your stress in the workplace?

SIC 28 | Global Tax Network
Global Tax Network: There’s going to be peaks and valleys. You don’t want to celebrate the highest too much, and you don’t want to be down in the lowest too frequently as well.

 

I remember back to one of my colleagues when we were at the staffing firm days. She had mentioned, “You got to ride out the highs and ride out the lows” There’s going to be rollercoaster ups and peaks and valleys. You don’t want to celebrate the highest too much and you don’t want to be down in the lowest too frequently as well. It’s about trying to maintain the positives and getting the facts and trying to ride out and looking for those silver linings and things. Also, it’s outside of work and making sure that I can stay focused on my family. I’ve got two boys and my wife. It’s a matter of making sure that I love to volunteer and give back to the community. I’ve been on the board of the March of Dimes for the Minnesota State Chapter for many years. It’s about giving back and that element time. The attitude of gratitude back helps me keep things level set.

I started doing a five-minute journal about a few years ago and that’s all about practicing gratitude first thing in the morning. It’s powerful when you start your day off that way. I saw and I posted this in the COO Alliance Group. I also posted it on Facebook. I don’t know if you saw that list of the ten things that someone was grateful for.

I did and I share that with my family as well.

For our audience, it was a couple of examples where I’m grateful for all the crumbs under the table because it means that I have a family to eat with. I’m grateful for all the dirty clothes scattered around the home because it means my children still live with me. It was powerful in terms of spinning what could possibly be negative into something that’s positive.

It was a cool article to shed a different light on things. A different way to look at dirty dishes and dirty laundry.

At the end of the day, there’s still the dirty dishes piling up. I’d always taken gratitude at the very surface way. I’m grateful for cleaning sheets. I’m grateful for cleaning food. That’s easy but it’s tough to be grateful for the hard stuff. Tell me a little bit about Dave. Is Dave the typical entrepreneur. A little bit ADD, a little bit bipolar, a little bit scattered, the vision dreamer and wanting to start things all the way or is he a little bit more calculated and slower?

Dave also has an accounting background. The thing about Dave is he has that entrepreneurial spirit and the entrepreneurial drive. He has a lot of fantastic ideas. It’s been interesting in his role as a visionary is he will come up with numerous ideas and different thoughts. As the COO, it’s been interesting in my role here is to go back and say, “What are the items on this list that I feel make the most sense for us to drive forward? Which are the ones that we want to table for a later date or which are the ones that we’d say, ‘We’ve got to hold off on these maybe forever?’” He is very energetic. His passion is at the surface and that’s what’s been fun from my standpoint is to work with someone who is so passionate about what he does and driving this firm forward.

We have five core values here at GTN and be passionate is one of them. We want people to be passionate here at the firm but also in their lives outside of work. Whether they’re volunteering on boards or their coaching their kids’ soccer team. We want people to have that passion and that energy and that drive. That’s what Dave brings to the table. He is truly the ambassador and visionary for this firm. He is the one that comes up with these great ideas. His 10X mentality has been something that’s been great for me because just thinking about, “How can we take this to the next level times ten?” He brings that to the table, which is awesome.

They bring a unique ability to table for sure. Often, they want to start their ideas because they don’t know what else to do with them. They have the ideas, “Let’s do it.” How do you balance that with the plan that you’re already working on? How do you keep allowing him to free flow with the ideas? Do you have systems in place to green light or red light ideas or to keep them in a place that you don’t have to start them all when he comes up with them?

On our quarterly offsites where it’s just the two of us, where we go and talk about integrator and visionary items. I have a basic tracking of what I call “the list.” I will break those out between hot, warm and cold for us to determine if it’s a hot item that we say we need to move forward on this, what are the actions we’re going to take over the next quarter to make sure we are executing and driving this forward? If it’s something that’s listed as cold, we want to keep it on the list and say, “This is something that is of interest to us, but we cannot focus on this right now because it’s going to take away some of our other priorities.” It’s very similar to what we’re doing with our Vision/Traction Organizer on the traction side. We are focused on three to seven top annual goals and rocks our quarterly goals every quarter. Other than that, if it’s not in one of those top three to seven, we’re not going to touch it for the next quarter because otherwise, we realized if the list gets too long, we’re never going to accomplish anything.

You’ve got a good system in place to keep those under control. Otherwise, it does grow too quickly.

What’s interesting is things evolve and it’s so dynamic that in one quarter we might say, “This is on the list but it’s cold. We don’t want to touch it.” All of a sudden, there’s a change with the business or there’s a new client that we bring on board where we say, “This has got to take priority so now we need to shuffle the deck as it relates to what our list is bringing to the table here.”

I love the system of doing it on a quarterly basis and keeping it in this one place. Talk to me a little bit about failure. We’ve all struggled at certain points in our career where we’ve done something that if we could change it, we would. Tell me about a couple of failures in the big lessons that you’ve learned?

One of the big ones that I learned was when I was back with Fortune 5 organization where I was pulling together some metrics and data on a recruitment scorecard. This was back when we had our numerous acquisitions for this organization and different systems. When I was running some reports, when I first had stepped into my role, I pulled what I had thought was the full data set of all the information related to recruitment of metric. When I ran the report and went to report on that to the executive leadership team of the organization, I realized that there was one data set that wasn’t being pulled through one of these legacy systems. I learned the lesson of the need to go back and make sure that are the numbers and metrics reasonable before I go ahead and present those off to the executive leadership team?

That was a big a-ha moment for me to step back and say, “I was just relying on what I thought was correct but needed to go back and do the due diligence and research to make sure the data was flowing correctly.” I was also given the feedback, “You need to go slow to go fast.” I was always trying to go fast because it was such a fast-paced dynamic environment there. That was some good lesson for me as well. It’s just to say, “Let me step back, let me take a breath and let me take a look at all the facts here to make sure that I am in alignment with what I think is reasonable here.” That was a big lesson for me. I was always thinking it was about speed and getting speed and finalizing these reports. For me, it was, “Let’s step back, let’s take a breath and make sure that I’m reviewing this for reasonableness.”

SIC 28 | Global Tax Network
Global Tax Network: To have a tribe and to be able to connect with people and ask questions is great for getting different nuggets of information.

 

People that come and test drive the COO Alliance. Second in commands that are coming out to try out the event before they joined. What advice would you give someone who’s coming out to test drive the COO Alliance event so they get the most benefit of it, or if they’re just going to any kind of a mastermind or a conference, what would you tell them to do so they get the most out of the event that they’re going to?

When I first came out to Scottsdale for my first session of the COO Alliance, the biggest item that was successful for me was coming up with a list of five to ten different items or desired outcomes that I wanted to make sure I was getting out of the actual session. Several of those items were maybe different questions that I had related to what my peers might be doing. Other items were more specific on technology. There were certain areas of technology that I want to get a better understanding on. By coming out and setting my expectations right out of the gates, gave me an opportunity to come into the alliance and have my expectations absolutely blown away.

Making the decision to join up with the COO Alliance was very easy to do after that first session. I’m glad that you have the opportunity to do the test drive. There are several other individuals that I’m connecting up here in the Midwest in Minneapolis area who would be great fits for the COO Alliance because I got to tell you, from a professional development standpoint, for me personally, this has been the best by far organization or group that I have ever been a part of. To have a tribe and to be able to connect with people and to ask questions in our Facebook page group and our LinkedIn pages, it’s been great to get different nuggets of information even when we’re not meeting on a quarterly basis.

That’s what we’re noticing as well is that we finally do have our tribe. We think differently than the entrepreneurs and it’s nice for us to go to an event where it’s all second in commands versus where we tend to go, which is groups entrepreneurial organizations. We fit but we’re not quite in the same space as they are. We’re also not supposed to be. The integrators are in a different role.

One of the neatest things that I’ve taken away from the alliance, and there are numerous things. When we go through that list of what are the hot technology items that people are using right now in their organizations. It seems like every time I come out of there with ten different things that I have never ever been heard of before that other organizations are using. For me, it’s a great way to say, “What can I bring back? What can we adapt here at our organization and which are things that maybe don’t apply.”

It’s cool to see the group started vetting some of the technology solutions as well. Whereas we heard a couple of people talking about a certain technology platform and then all of a sudden there’s been a big shift. People are, “I used to use that, moved over to this one, way simpler, way less confusing. We don’t need the consultants helping us use it and it’s faster to integrate.” We say, “That’s easy. My mind’s made up.” It’s been fun to watch that percolating process or that filtering process happen.

The last session which was all around the people and HR and recruitment, there was so much great content on onboarding that we are revamping our entire onboarding process as a result.

What are you going to be changing? Anything major?

Having a much more structured process, a couple of things as it relates to the different interview questions as well, but then also just having a more specific agenda and a more formalized process for that first week to two weeks when we have someone coming on from an onboarding perspective. I’m working with by my HR manager to put these in place. It’s exciting because we felt we had a good onboarding process and there are things that we can enhance and fine-tune that are going to make it even better.

I don’t think companies spend enough time on the onboarding. They think that once they’ve hired the employee that a half-day introduction to people and they’re ready to go. The reality is they’re not even close to ready that it’s almost the longer you can wait to get the new employee to start in their job, the better it’s going to be. When we built the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? We put in place a four-week onboarding process that the new employee wasn’t even able to start in their job until the end of one month. We would put them through call center training and they would go through franchise partner training. They go and ride in the trucks for a week.

They would do all the marketing activities. They would go for lunches with all the directors and VP’s at different times. They read the entire operations manual. We put them through a huge intensive training process so they understood not just their role, but why the company existed. What our core values were and how we live towards our BHAG. They understood the Vivid Vision and they saw it in process. They’d sat in on different meetings and knew the players and stakeholders and saw how he worked as a team. That thought through onboarding process made everybody much more successful when they started.

I think to that point, Cameron, I know you posted some information about when you’re bringing on a COO. Don’t let them fully do their job right away. Let them dig in the business and learn every fundamental aspect of what is happening in the organization. That’s an important part of onboarding, but also for a COO. When they’re jumping on board, the COO truly needs to understand every single inner working of that organization in order to understand how to run the operation. I thought your post on that was very interesting.

Especially if you’re bringing the person in from the outside as if you’re hiring a second in command to come in over top of an existing team and into a certain business. That’s a critical hire and a very different onboarding process than moving someone up inside the organization. You were lucky to have a few years behind you to learn a lot of these roles and that you were a second in command, just at a different title up until January. You didn’t have the COO title, but you are effectively the second in command. Other than this strategy meeting and the time that you and Dave have one-on-one, what did you and he do to make sure that your trust is high to engage in good conflict around the business? What do you do to keep building that Yin and Yang relationship with the CEO?

The key is communication and making sure that we’re on the same page. The other item that’s been very interesting for us is going through rocket fuel power index and showing where do we each align on vision and staying in sync with each other. Do we have open and honest communication? What’s our role clarity? Are we engaged and making sure that we are on track for our 30, 60, 90-day plans? Just to go through that process of where do we rank out compare to that. That’s been very beneficial as well.

Do you do those meetings with your direct reports as well?

SIC 28 | Global Tax Network
Global Tax Network: Getting that positive energy and excitement is a great way to start a meeting or an agenda with a one-on-one.

 

With the managing directors, we will sit down and go through that process on an annual basis. It’s more of a temperature check, pulse check to make sure where are we at, where everyone goes through and ranks out different questions. That’s another traction tool that we utilize. We do that on an annual basis with my managing directors and our operations team.

How do you focus on giving lots of praise to your team? I’ve been trying to get a lot of the clients that I coach and mentor to focus on growing the confidence of their team. What is it that you guys do internally at GTN to build up the confidence of your employees?

It’s about being intentional. We do what’s called HR Pulse Surveys where we send these out. It’s not an exact schedule, but we request Kudos. What that is is where we want specific examples where someone went above and beyond where it’s linked to one of our core values and you can give a shout out or a Kudos and then our HR individual, we’ll share those on a connectivity call and we’ll also publish them via email back to the firm to say, “Here’s our list of Kudos for everyone.” That’s a pretty cool way for someone to give a shout out for someone who went above and beyond or did something very cool for a client or for another internal individual. One of the items that I did enhance through the COO Alliance is my one-to-one agenda and shoring that up. One of the things that we do with my managing directors when we go through the process is let’s talk about wins. What are some successful items that we’ve had? What are some wins? Let’s celebrate those. That’s the first item that we talked about.

When you do celebrate the wins, that’s key. Something that a lot of companies forget is that we keep setting new goals. We set new annual goals, new quarterly goals, new monthly goals, new weekly goals. We often forget to celebrate the successes we had. One of the things I’m trying to get people to do is to set a goal and then also celebrate something that happened for a similar period going backward. If you set new goals for the month, celebrate a couple of things that happened in the last month. If you’re setting new goals for the quarter, celebrate a couple of big successes from the last quarter. That allows everyone to feel excited about how far we’ve come and not get trapped with thinking that we’re only going to be happy when we get to the horizon because that horizon keeps moving.

What a great way to start a meeting or an agenda with a one-on-one where you’re getting that positive energy and it’s exciting. People are geared up. They’re excited about that, which is awesome.

Ray Kroc who built McDonald’s said, “When you’re green, you’re growing. When we’re ripe, we’re dead.” Do you have any key areas that you’re still focusing on growing in your role?

It’s still the continued focus on business development and growth related to overall sales and marketing. It’s because in all of my experience, whether it be my educational experience and also my professional experience, I have had some experience in the sales and marketing side, but not enough. That’s an area where we’re going through a significant exercise right now as a firm where we are digging into our client personas and journey mapping. That’s been a great learning opportunity for me to understand what do our clients look for and how do we go from someone who knows nothing about our firm to then becoming the most loyal customers that we have. That’s been a very interesting process for me to learn the journey mapping exercise. That’s an area that I’m going to continue to focus on here because I have not had as much professional experience with that as I have had in other areas.

It’s important for us as leaders as well, not to always be strong in every area that we run, but at least to understand the areas. To understand that not even at the level of confidence, but we need to know what we need to be working on, not necessarily know how to do it. I’d like to wrap this up with one key point that you would love any second in command or aspiring second in commands to learn from. If you could leave us with one core lesson, what would it be?

It is the relationship between the COO and the CEO. There has to be a direct line of communication, whether you’re meeting on a monthly basis or a quarterly basis. To have your specific items laid out that you want to make sure that you’re communicating. The more you can communicate between the first and the seconds in command, the better and the more in alignment you will be. That’s one of the critical elements that I’ve learned here over the last several years. It’s to continue to have that open dialogue, that communication, and to be able to connect up. Also, the ability to say, “These are great ideas, but these we maybe need to hold on. Because if you’re going to try to do everything, you’re not going to get anything completed.”

Thank you very much for joining us on the show. Craig Dexheimer, the COO for the Global Tax Network. Thanks for joining us, Craig.

Thanks, Cameron. It was awesome. Have a great day.

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About Craig Dexheimer

SIC 28 | Global Tax Network

“My six-word memoir is ‘Create memories that last a lifetime.’ I believe everyone should be focused on doing this in all aspects of our lives.”

Dex’s professional experience includes starting his own internet-based business and playing key roles in entrepreneurial firms, a Fortune 50 organization, and a global multi-disciplinary professional services firm. His foundation in accounting provides a metric driven mindset that supplements his Operations and Human Resources expertise. Dex has also been affiliated with national wellness programs that have received international attention and accolades, including the Mayo Clinic’s first ever study on the thesis of movement and activity while working.

Dex began his career with GTN in 2012 when he joined the Leadership Team as Senior Director, Operations and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer / Data Privacy & Security Officer effective January 1, 2018. Dex currently leads the firm’s Managing Directors/Operations, and GTN’s Finance, Technology, and Human Resources functions.

Dex is most known for:

  • His capability to drive organizational efficiencies;
  • The ability to break down functional silos, improve collaboration and achieve business and operational results;
  • Being a charismatic leader with an enthusiastic, engaging, and empowering style that creates environments that are focused on clear goals and built on trust, accountability and a healthy dose of FUN.

Dex received his Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. He is the Minnesota Family Teams Chair for the March of Dimes and a booster club leader for the Maple Grove Boys High School Baseball, Basketball, and Swimming programs.

Dex currently resides in Maple Grove, MN with his wife and two boys where he enjoys coaching his sons’ sports teams, traveling, attending concerts, and spending time with friends and family.

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