Our guest today is Tiltify’s VP of Strategic Partnerships, Larissa Rydin. Larissa brings over 20 years of experience in marketing, corporate development, and nonprofit leadership.Â
After quickly moving up the ranks at the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities for St.Â JudeÂ Childrenâ€™s Research Hospital, she held the position of Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, overseeing two offices and an annual budget of $13.5M. Following her time in that role, she held executive positions at both Autism Speaks and the Alzheimer’s Association, before becoming the Vice President of Strategic and Brand Partnerships atÂ UnitedÂ WayÂ Worldwide.Â
Larissa led a team responsible for securing $4.8B in annual revenue and supporting a corporate portfolio that included 427 of the Fortune 500 companies. During her tenure, she secured hundreds of new enterprise-level partnerships including Lyft, Starbucks, Google, Pepsi and DoorDash, established the brand partnerships function for the organization, supported the development of a network-wide innovation program, and served as a key leader in driving the organizationâ€™s global strategy and digital transformation.Â
Larissa received a B.S. in Social Science and Economics from Florida State University. Originally from Tampa, she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- How to bring the entrepreneurial pivot in quickly into an organization like TiltifyÂ
- Who Tiltify sells to out of the Fortune 500 companiesÂ
- How to optimize time when reaching out to companies who are not interestedÂ
- What tools Tiltify uses to manage all the relations in the sales and post-sales cycleÂ
- How Tiltify is funded and growsÂ Â
- What Larissa learned working with people from different countriesÂ
- How the work-from-home adjustments since the pandemic have changed the work culture and operationsÂ
Connect with Larissa Rydin: LinkedInÂ
Tiltify – http://tiltify.com
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Our guest is Tiltifyâ€™s VP of Strategic Partnerships, Larissa Rydin. Larissa brings over 20 years of experience in marketing, corporate development, and nonprofit leadership. After quickly moving up the ranks at the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities for St. Jude Childrenâ€™s Research Hospital, she held the position of Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, overseeing two offices and an annual budget of $13.5 million.
Following her time in that role, she held executive positions at both Autism Speaks and the Alzheimerâ€™s Association before becoming the Vice President of Strategic and Brand Partnerships at United Way Worldwide. Larissa led a team responsible for securing $4.8 billion in annual revenue and supporting a corporate portfolio that included 427 Fortune 500 companies.
During her tenure, she secured hundreds of new enterprise-level partnerships, including Lyft, Starbucks, Google, Pepsi, and DoorDash, established the brand partnerships function for the organization, supported the development of a network-wide innovation program, and served as a key leader in driving the organizationâ€™s global strategy and digital transformation. Larissa received a BS in Social Science and Economics from Florida State University. Originally from Tampa, she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Larissa, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me. Itâ€™s great to be here.
You’ve got an interesting background to run from the non-profit world and then into the profit world and deal with some of these major organizations. Walk us through a little bit of your path and what you learned along the way. Give us a short verbal bio about what you learned at each of the stages.
I began my career in the hospitality industry and marketing in special events. Peak of the economy, so a lot of fun. It was wonderful. I didn’t know there was a downturn coming but I learned quite a bit there more than I realized. Certainly, marketing in that sector is difficult. There was a lot of competition. I fell in love with special events.
I did my first charity event a few years in and realized that I can put all of this hard work into making the world a better place. I spent the last twenty years in the non-profit sector in a variety of different leadership positions at Autism Speaks, Alzheimer’s Association, and St. Jude. A lot of my work was focused on the special event side and the fundraising event side of charity partnerships.
That’s where I learned how to manage a team and how to grow. I had my own P&L, and it grew up a lot during all of that. My most recent position was with United Way Worldwide prior to coming to Tiltify, where I got into the corporate sector, working with all of those Fortune 500 companies and managing the global team at that point. It expanded my career quite a bit.
In that role, I discovered Tiltify and realized that was where I needed to go with my career. It was the perfect merge of what I learned in my career from a charity perspective and from the corporate perspective, and being able to bring that together. I worked with them on an initiative called Hope from Home right when the pandemic hit. It changed everything.
It was this great digital fundraiser where you saw celebrities and everyone getting involved, and it was a whole new world for me. I saw so much potential to grow and expand that, but unfortunately, I was not done with my work at United Way at the time I was overseeing our global COVID response. I couldn’t pick up and leave and go to Tiltify. Towards the end of 2021, I made the jump. I have been so excited and happy to be part of that team and take my knowledge and apply it to a whole new industry and sector.
We’re going to get to Tiltify in a second. You said the downturn. Was that the 2000-2001 market crash or was that the 2008-2009 financial crisis that you were talking about?
The early 2000s.
You didn’t look old enough to be there but well done because you’re a 12-year-old back in 2000 doing your job. That was a crazy time when the dot-com era blew up. I remember the NASDAQ crashed by 78%, and I was living in Seattle at the time. We said, “The last person to leave Seattle, please turn out the lights.” It just seemed like a big explosion. When 2008-2009 crashed, then you’d already been through it once. What do you think that you brought to that downturn from having been through it once already? I know it’s hard to remember back several years.
It is hard to remember back that far. I think it’s about knowing that everything’s great now, but you need to think ahead. The market can turn so quickly. Everything can change at the drop of a hat. You have to stay agile and adaptive. You have to think 2 to 3 steps ahead of what’s coming. Even then, you may not be able to predict it. Who would’ve predicted 2020? We all had different plans for 2020. It’s understanding that everything can change quickly. Throughout my career, that’s probably one of my biggest learnings, how to adapt, how to change, and how to be able to pivot quickly and be okay with pivoting quickly.
You really need to think ahead. The market can turn so quickly; everything can change at the drop of a hat.
How do you bring that entrepreneurial pivot and change quickly inside of a larger organization? How do you do it inside an organization like United Way Worldwide?
It’s a lot of testing new ideas and seeing if they work. It feels like once you have the case study, then everyone starts to listen. It’s about building consensus, building trust within the organization, and being right a lot of the time. I tested a lot of things. I was lucky to be right on a lot of those tests. I gained credibility in that and was able to move a very large shift in a different direction.
One example, they didn’t have a Cause Marketing Department when I started. That was not something that United Way did. Yet there was an amazing list of corporate partners who were looking to do more brand engagements. It started with me and one other member of the team, and we built that entire function that ended up raising a significant amount of money. Especially during COVID, we saw a huge response there. It’s testing, changing, and going with the flow.
Do you think Cause Management or that Cause Fundraising transfers into companies getting sponsorships, or is it so specifically tied to causes? Do you think you learned anything that would apply to people that look for sponsor dollars as well?
It’s understanding what the partner is trying to accomplish, the audience that they’re trying to reach, and what the hook is in order to get to that audience. We’ve seen a lot of times in the Cause Marketing space that that hook happens to be a social impact or make a change in the world. That can be applied to anything. It depends on the business and what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s so important to understand what your partner wants to do, and I can’t stress it enough. Understand their business from a very genuine place and try to match solutions to accomplish that.
I saw someone post the other day on social media, “I want to start selling to Fortune 500s.” Here you are, you’ve sold to 427 of the Fortune 500. What did you learn from doing that? You were doing it for such a hard part of the non-profit sector as well that fundraising tends to be the role that nobody wants. “I don’t want to go ask people for money. I just want to help give it away and do good.” You took the tougher role in that organization as well.
Even if it was tough, I certainly loved it. It was like a puzzle that you had to put together. You had the corporate partner on one side. The Fortune 500 always has problems they’re trying to solve, whether that’s an internal problem or a brand problem that they are trying to accomplish, or it’s a social impact issue that they’re trying to fix. They care about homelessness. It’s a matter of understanding that, and then being able to connect them to a solution to fix that problem. That’s what it is. It’s listening, understanding, matchmaking, and putting the puzzle pieces together.
Your network must be massive. I had a friend of mine that did fundraising in Manhattan for the Guggenheim and The Met. He did it because he wanted to get to know all the high-net-worth individuals in New York. He was able to call every single high-net-worth individual and say, “Hi, I’m with the Guggenheim.” Sure enough, he’d walk in their door and meet everybody. Who do you sell to in the Fortune 500? Is it the marketing? Is it the CFOs? Who are you talking to?
It depends. A lot of times, it’s the social impact team, but that expands to marketing. Sometimes it’s the human resources department if you’re talking about employee engagement. It runs the gamut just depending on what they’re trying to accomplish. I pride myself on my LinkedIn network. I can pick up the phone pretty easily and get to just about anyone. That’s been a career of building relationships and maintaining those relationships.
In talking to these groups, you know when you get in with a big corporation and they tend to say, “We’re interested,” but they’re not interested. They’re just taking along because they’d rather not say no or they’re busy being busy. How do you know when to cut and move on? How do you know when it’s not going to go anywhere?
Sometimes I don’t think you do know, but I’m not one to keep coming back with the same thing. I tend to be a very straight shooter. I have built very honest and interesting relationships with my partners even early on to where I will point blank ask, “Is this just not something you’re interested in? What about this proposal is wrong or not working for you? Can I follow up again at a later time?”
I believe that you’re always planting seeds. Sometimes those seeds will grow and sprout right away. Sometimes you’ve got to water them over a period of time. Sometimes they’re bad seeds that are never going to grow. You don’t know right away, but through a few conversations, you’ll be able to pick up on that and have an idea of where you are within the spectrum. As I said, it’s about building those very honest relationships and having those honest conversations. At the end of the day, I just want to help them solve a problem. If I’m not the one to do that, I’m okay moving on.
This may be a little tactical and then we’ll jump from this into Tiltify in a second. What tools were you using to manage all of those relationships in the sales cycle and also post-sale to maintain the relationships? As you mentioned, you can reach out to any of them now. We can’t always reach out and say, “Can you help me?” We have to stay in touch and stay connected, adding to the social capital we have with them before we want to withdraw. What were you doing first on the CRM side or the contact side, and then secondly to maintain afterward?
Pre-COVID, the benefit was that I saw a lot of these folks at the same conferences and in different networking settings. It was very easy to stay caught up and connected. I had to get a little more creative in terms of maintaining those relationships. I’ve always found that birthdays are a great way to stay connected with folks. It’s a very personal day. My calendar is filled with so many people’s birthdays.
I try to do a good job of reaching out very genuinely to wish them a happy birthday and see how things are going. My closest contacts, I try to stay in touch on a regular basis from a personal level. “What’s going on in your life? How are things going?” I’m very active on LinkedIn in terms of interacting with folks that way. I try to stay connected in that respect.
From a back end, very tactical management side, CRM tools are great in terms of managing relationships and managing the different prospects in the queue. I don’t believe in bots and automated messaging. I’m probably a little old school. I’m writing all of my own emails. You’ll never get an automated email from me, it’s always personal, genuine, and relevant.
What conferences do you connect with them all at?
There were some great ones. South by Southwest is an awesome conference. Engage for Good is a great conference. Social Capital is a great conference. A lot of the big social impact conferences centered around corporate engagement. It’s a lot of the same folks that I attend.
I’ve been going to the main TED conference for the last nine years. It’s filled with your audience as well, the C-Suite for sure. Tell us about Tiltify. What’s the organization? How did they grab you after building up such an amazing background and set of experiences? How did they get you? What grabbed you?
It was the work that they do. It was such a special blend of everything that I’ve learned. If you look at my career progression, I’m always wanting to try new things and what’s the next step. I believe what in my past has led me to this point. I always try to keep forward momentum. I built a great relationship with the CEO in passing and then in our working together. I was fascinated with the company that they built.
We started in the gaming space, pioneering the whole livestream fundraising campaign initiative. They were established in 2015 and have seen consistent growth over time. Certainly, with COVID, the livestream industry changing so significantly, and everything moving more into the digital space, they had huge expansive growth. We’re doing a lot of great things.
I saw a great opportunity to expand that world in the corporate and brand engagement side. That’s a big part of my focus. How can we start to leverage more brands and more companies within this space? How do we start to expand this into new audiences, platforms, and integrations? I was excited about the feature that they had ahead. I thought it was a great mix of my experience and that I could bring a lot to the table. They’re not quite in startup mode. We’re more in the pimply teenager stage. There was the excitement of building something and hoping to grow something where all of my previous roles, I’ve been at very established organizations.
For everybody who’s not aware, what does Tiltify do? What’s the core focus? Who’s your target client?
It’s a digital fundraising platform that is leveraged on social sites like YouTube and Twitch. It’s the exclusive fundraising button for TikTok and others. Content creators will leverage that to fundraise for the causes that they care about. It’s everyone from mainstream content creators. We did some events with Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler, the cast of The Goonies, to your more traditional content creators in the Twitch world, Jacksepticeye, Multiplier, and DrLupo. We’ve got great fundraising tools that you can leverage to raise money. We live at the intersection of those content creators, charities, and brands. Those are our main segments.
Is it a crowded space?
Not particularly. Our offering is unique. I’m sure everyone thinks and says that, but I do believe it. I did a pretty lengthy competitive analysis before joining the team. There’s a lot of technology out there. They’re not quite harnessing those three donor segments in the way that Tiltify is. They don’t have relationships with content creators. They don’t have the list of charities that are using them, which right now we have over 3,000 and it’s growing on a daily basis. The ability to bring in brands and leverage them on the platform is a game changer as well.
What’s the difference between working with some of these influencers and the brand names on Twitch that you rattled off versus the brand names that you’ve been working at in the past? Is there a difference in terms of working with them, getting in their door, and building those relationships?
Not necessarily. What I love about everywhere I’ve worked in my career is big-name celebrities or even small-name celebrities. They’re coming to you to make the world a better place. That’s what I love about the non-profit sector. People are coming from a good place in their hearts. There is a big difference between digital content creators and mainstream celebrities in terms of their familiarity with how to operate on a digital platform. There’s a bit of a spectrum there.
The nonprofit sector is where people come from a good place in their hearts.
Digital content creators know how to engage with their audience. They’ve been doing it for years, more one-on-one live recordings. Whereas traditional actors are used to pre-recording, multiple takes, and not having as much of that one-on-one interaction. I love to see when those two worlds merge. That tends to be a fun thing to watch. You have a content creator bringing their 25 million subscribers to something with a more mainstream celebrity that may not have the social following, and then the interactions that can happen from there.
How big is the team now?
We are 40 people. In 2019, it was twelve. Prior to that, it was about a handful of folks. We’re hiring a lot of roles and continuing to grow.
That is the teenage stage. It’s a good name for it. You’ve got your management team, but you’re not quite the full-established leadership team yet. You’re bringing in some senior leaders. What’s it like bringing in some of the more senior seasoned talents into the company around some of the more junior jack of all trades, master of nones that have been there for a while? How do you socialize that you’re bringing them in and integrate them into the organization without causing a lot of disruption?
It’s been quite seamless. The more junior staff is eager to learn, grow, expand, and gain different knowledge, even the more senior staff. A lot of our content creators and people who use all these platforms and are good have a tendency to be the more junior staff. We’re bringing in folks like myself that are more traditional corporate or working in the charity space. We all bring different perspectives to the table and we’re learning from each other. It creates this beautiful environment where you share ideas. There’s not a lot of competition because we’re all marching in the same direction and learning and growing from each other.
Pre-COVID, were you an office location-based company? Were you remote already? What was happening there, and where are you now?
Tiltify has always been a very remote organization. Our development team is located in Tucson, but the business side and the majority of others are all over. We have folks in the UK. I’m one of the few on the East Coast. A lot of folks live on the West Coast. We have a very remote culture. This is my first fully-remote position, so that’s also been an interesting adjustment, especially when you’re managing a larger team and getting to know everyone and aren’t able to have those in-person interactions.
How are you managing the team? How are you dealing with some of those interactions?
A lot of one-on-one conversations. We do a lot of team-building events. We had a digital magic show, which I thought sounded super cheesy, but was incredibly fun that we did. It’s taking the time to get to know people on a personal level, not just Zoom practical meetings every day talking about the business. Itâ€™s pausing and getting to know them as a person, what motivates them, and what’s life like outside of their job. That’s been great. It hasn’t been as challenging as I thought, but still, there’s that going and having dinner or grabbing a beer with your team and your fellow colleagues. That’s been missing.
It’s a little different. We run a couple of events recently for COO Alliance. We used a group called JAM = Work + Play, and they run some fun remote events for companies. We’ve run a few events with them, which have been fun. How is Tiltify funded?
We have Series A funding that we acquired middle of 2021, so that’s been helping to spark some of the expansion. We make our revenue off of a processing fee for all of the donations that funnel through the organizations. There are some ala carte services and some partnership fees as well as far as how we generate our revenue, but the majority is that processing fee.
What is the processing fee? What percent?
It varies depending on the partner, but it’s usually around 5%.
That’s small. Does that include whatever the merchant fee is, like the Visa or MX fee? That’s a plus, right?
There’s an organization out there that rates charities. Do you know what it’s called? Is there a couple of them?
Charity Navigator is probably the biggest one I’ve heard of.
It gives you a rating, like a number of stars, and it says how much percentage of your dollars are being pushed out. Do you guys fall under that at all? Probably not, considering you’re more of a technology tool for people donating to charities.
We’re considered a for-profit organization, but the charities that leverage and use our platform are part of Charity Navigator and do get stars on that. All of our charities that use our platform are vetted in 501(c)(3) organizations, so they would be found on that.
Your platform is only for charities, right? You’re not tying into other ways for these influencers, users, or whatever to raise money.
It’s all about fundraising dollars. Our entire goal is to drive revenue to charities and to give them the tools and the platform to be able to do that.
Does anything like that happen at the merchant level? When we’re at a coffee shop and we’re being constantly asked, “Would you like to add money for the tip?” Has anybody ever been doing anything there like, “Instead of adding money to the tip, I’d rather donate to charities?”
That’s a pretty basic Cause Marketing. You see a lot of round up and donate. I’m sure you’ve been at the grocery store where they ask you, “Would you like to donate a dollar to this cause?” I don’t know about you, but I usually look behind me to see if anyone’s looking. If it’s a cause they care about, I’ll donate and then move along with my day.
There are different technologies that are automating that process a little bit more. Even with some of the work I did at United Way before I left, we were working with partners like Lyft, which was implementing Round Up and Donate. Every ride you took, you would round up your dollar and it would go to different transportation initiatives.
You did your Series A. What was that like when you were doing that? What was it like when you were raising the money? What was it like post? How much did you raise?
I was not there at the time, so I don’t have a lot of information on that. I remember talking to Michael, our CEO, and I just know he was very stressed about it. but was very excited when it all came to fruition. He was working on it for several months.
Do you know what changed for the organization? Did the culture change? Did you start hiring more quickly? Did it change anything in a bad way?
Not in a bad way. I saw some slight culture shifts, but only because we were expanding the team quite a bit. It also helped us to invest in a lot of processes and technologies where we didn’t have a CRM to manage all of our clients. Implementing different systems that could allow us to grow and manage our business in a much more efficient way.
What is your tech stack? Can you walk us through some of the different software applications used?
We’re in the middle of switching our CRM. We were using Pipedrive and are now switching over to Freshworks. We use Freshworks because that’s also what we use for our help desk tickets to be able to connect some of our customer service technology with our general CRM database. That’s it. We use a lot of Microsoft Suite products. We have Zoom and we have Teams, that’s how we get our business done. We’re looking to continue to grow, expand, and leverage more. We’re looking at project management software and some other things right now as well.
We’re putting Freshworks in place to manage all of our clients for the COO Alliance as well. My EA has done a ton of research around it. That’s where she landed and she was briefing me on it and I was super excited because she’d gone six ways figuring it all out. It did everything we wanted and it was easy enough to use, which was great.
Talk to me about this global team that you were running back when you were at United Way. What was it like working with people in different countries? Clearly, you’re having to work with many of them remotely. What did you learn from some of the different countries? How do they do business differently or even better in certain ways than we do?
Philanthropy, in general, across the globe is very different. That was something I learned pretty quickly, even US and Canada, because marketing laws are very different just in North America. International giving laws are very different depending on the country that you work in. The propensity to give is also very different country by country and the causes that they care about.
I don’t know if that’s an easy answer. It’s probably its own podcast on its own to go through all the details there. It was an incredible learning experience to be able to experience those cultures and to understand what the different nuances were. I had the chance to visit a lot of those and enjoyed my time there.
Managing a global team can be hard from a time zone perspective. I remember we’d always say, “Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good day.” You never know when you started a call. It did require you to be available all the time for crises. I’m still never very far from my phone, but there would be times when you’d have to wake up in the middle of the night to address an issue.
We just had an event for our COO Alliance. One of our members was saying, “I got to sign off for the three-hour call. It’s midnight here in London. We’re all like, ” it’s so great you stayed up.” One of the women started laughing, she went, “Midnight? It’s 6:30 in the morning here right now. I’m just going to sleep. I had to wake up at 3:00 to do the call.” I’m like, “That’s ridiculous.”
Here I was in Vancouver, like, “It’s 2:00 in the afternoon, going to get some more work done.” It’s been pretty interesting in COVID. I’m curious about what your thoughts are. Do you feel like, as leaders, we’re more empathetic to the human condition or the humanity of our workforce than we’ve ever been? I feel like I’m more connected to people.
I saw you with your cat walking across your desk. I’ve had kids walk through in the middle of an interview. A year ago, we’d be laughing at that poor guy on CNN. His kid came in. Now, it’d be like, you wouldn’t even blink or, “I got to go home early because I’m taking care of my kids.” Are we more empathetic than we used to be?
100%, no questions. As you said, I would be mortified that my cat walked across my desk right now. That’s the norm. She responds to whenever I’m on Zoom. She’s always on camera. It’s just desensitized as that. My kids have walked in, I don’t know how many times, to ask questions. The majority of us are working from home.
You’re getting to see inside whomever you’re talking toâ€™s world a little bit more, and it’s all then more real. Major CEOs are having their kids walk in and their cats walk across their desks. It normalized everyone and allowed us to be a little bit more of ourselves and show a little bit more of ourselves because we’re operating in this virtual world.
That’s funny. One of my teenager became more empathetic to me doing business from home recently. I’ve been doing business from home for many years, but because he had to start doing his last year of school online, he’d be like, “Dad, I’m in the middle of a Zoom call.” I’m like, “Right.” I was now being empathetic to him.
One day, he went outside to make a smoothie and I saw him carrying the Nutribullet out the backyard and closing the door. He’s out in the rain making a smoothie, so I wouldn’t hear it. That’s so cool that he got the wake-up call. Let’s talk about you working with the CEO of a growth firm. You said his name is Michael. What’s it like working with an entrepreneurial CEO versus working in a big organization first off? What are the differences there?
The biggest difference is he’s worn all the hats before. Sometimes he was the only one wearing the hats. He holds a ton of institutional knowledge which has been great, also I pepper him with a lot of questions to try to pull out all of that information quite often. We both have entrepreneurial minds. He built this from the ground up.
It’s not like at United Way or another organization where a CEO came into an established organization. This is his pimply teenager. He gave birth to it. He’s grown it and groomed it. I’m also very respectful of that and probably a little bit more cognizant of, “What direction do you want to go? This is your baby. How do you want to groom it, grow it, and change it?” He definitely surprisingly gives me a lot of runway to manage my teams and provide insight. I guess that’s why he hired me. It’s been a great relationship and a shift.
You were in the corporate world and non-profit world for many years. It’s pretty rare that people can go from that environment into the entrepreneurial environment successfully. It’s a completely different culture. It’s almost like living in the United States and then deciding to go live in Thailand. It’s a different world. What do you think made you successful in making that leap? What did you struggle with in making that leap?
I’ve been lucky to work in innovation teams in other areas within the non-profit space. I’ve always had to build something. I knew what it was like to have to build something from scratch and to grow it. I thought, “This is the same thing, same environment.” The biggest shock was not having some of the brand guidelines I was used to at previous organizations that haven’t been created yet, which we have now, or different processes and things that I was used to that I may have had in previous roles.
I was successful because I acknowledged that. I was self-aware enough to realize I have transitioned into a new environment. This isn’t the same as I’ve worked everywhere else. Allowing myself and the people around me some grace to be able to adapt and put those systems in place and establish them. Rather than saying, “I’m so disappointed we don’t have this.” It’s, “Let me help build this. Let me draft its procedure. Let me look into a system that can solve this for us.”
I love that you once described the company as a teenager, and then you second described it as a pimply teenager, which is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. That’s even better, by the way. What do you think was the tough parts of you? Has it always been easy you working with Michael, or have there been highs and lows in that relationship? If there were the highs or lows, what do you think got you through them? It’s fairly normal.
It’s being real. Having mutual respect and trust and being transparent with each other. That’s the key to any relationship, especially an employee-employer relationship. We’re able to call each other on it. If I disagree with something he says, I’ll say it, and vice versa. We’re respectful of each other’s opinions and we’ll come together to find a solution. The good thing is we were friends before and so we had a relationship and had worked together before, so it wasn’t completely new. It’s been great and we have a lot of fun. You also have to laugh at yourself. Send a lot of memes back and forth and make jokes. That helps make it more enjoyable.
Having mutual respect, trust, and being transparent with each other is really the key to any relationship.
We’re different personality profiles, the COO and the CEO, or the second in command. What do you think drives him crazy about you?
I ask a lot of questions. I imagine that that might be it, especially early on. I’m sure he probably rolls his eyes like, “Here’s another eighteen questions from Larissa.” He acknowledges that by sharing that information, I now have that knowledge and can impart that to my team and won’t ask him again. I usually don’t ask the same question twice.
Do you ever do any personality profiles on yourself or on your team?
We have not yet, but that’s a great idea. I would love to do that.
There’s a great one called Kolbe. It’s a Kolbe A-profile. They’re based out of Arizona as well, but they’ve been around for about many years. Kolbe A-profile talks about how you start projects and how you initiate things. What you’re talking about is being a high-fact finder. You ask a lot of questions to initiate. Most COOs are very high-fact finders.
They call it follow-through, but what it means is they put systems or playbooks in place to start something. Most entrepreneurs start. They just start and they plan later They’re winging it, they’re shooting from the hips. It’ll be interesting. He’s a very high quick start. I’ll bet you, if you do the Kolbe, his profile will be something like 4393.
I’ll bet you, yours will be something like 8743, which is amazing, but how do you stay in sync with each other and understand each other? What he probably drives you crazy on is he’ll say, “I don’t care. I don’t need that.” You’re like, “No, I want to give you more data.” He’s like, “No, I don’t need it,” because his brain’s full. You’re like, “I want to share.”
Anyway, check it out. It’s powerful. We have all of our members of the COO Alliance, and then all of their CEOs do it. I’ve been using Kolbe for many years. It’s powerful. I’ve got one last question. I want to know about you when you were just starting out in your career. Talk about Sheryl Sandberg saying “Lean in.” If you were to lean back 20 years and give yourself some advice, what advice would you have loved to have known 20 years ago that you know to be true now?
I’d probably say that you don’t have to be perfect. I have a tendency to be a bit of a perfectionist and have always been. Very early on in my career, I wanted to be perfect, get noticed, and get ahead. I thought that if I do everything right, then good things will happen. That may have helped me move along in my career. I put way too much pressure on myself at too young of an age to be perfect and to get it all right. Looking back, it’s interesting because now, it’s much easier for me to admit mistakes or say, “I don’t know the answer.” I would’ve never, early on in my career, admitted that I didn’t know the answer to something.
That’s awesome. That’s huge advice. Thanks very much for sharing with us on the show.
Thank you. It’s been great.
I appreciate it.
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