Our guest today is COO Alliance Member Brian Gaouette, Vice President of Operations at V Shred.Â
Brian began his career as a financial analyst with a Fortune 100 financial firm doing accounting and reporting for investment portfolios. Brian eventually partnered with a group of people to form a digital marketing agency, where he got to see the inner workings of many different businesses at once, which was a great learning experience. Together, they created one of the largest networking and young professionals organizations in the greater LA area. Within a year, they had over 50,000 members, sponsorships with Google and Microsoft, and were hosting sold-out events at top LA venues.Â
Brian joined V Shred in January of 2018 and was the 2nd employee. A few years later he became the VP of Operations overseeing Finance, HR, CX, Supply Chain, B.i., Legal & Compliance, and more. V Shred has over 100 full-time employees, along with a large team of personal trainers from across the country, a phone support and sales team down in Texas, and an offshore team in the Philippines.
Outside of work, Brian loves to be active outdoors, cooking and practicing holistic healthy habits. This year, Brian was blessed with a bunch of new family members. He became an uncle and unexpectedly discovered a half-brother via 23andme which has been the most incredible blessing for him and his family.Â Â
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- What systems or ideologies that Brian previously used which he is now implementing with V ShredÂ
- How Brian created excitement for V Shred in the early stages of the buildoutÂ
- What systems are in place to ensure a stable customer service as the company grows
- What Brian had to learn and adapt in his roleÂ
- Brian transitioning from COO to Chief of Staff and what that will look likeÂ
Connect with Brian Gaouette: LinkedInÂ
V Shred – https://vshred.com
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Our guest is COO Alliance member, Brian Gaouette, Vice President of Operations at V Shred. Brian began his career as a Financial Analyst for the Fortune 100 financial firm doing accounting and reporting for investment portfolios. Brian eventually partnered with a group of people to form a digital marketing agency where he got to see the inner workings of many different businesses at once, which was a great learning experience. Together, they created one of the largest networking and Young Professionalâ€™s Organizations in the Greater LA area.
Within a year, they had over 50,000 members, sponsorships with Google and Microsoft, and were hosting sold-out events at top LA venues. Brian joined V Shred in January of 2018 and was the second employee. A few years later, he became the VP of Operations, overseeing Finance, HR, CX, CUST, Supply Chain, Business Intelligence, Legal and Compliance, and more. V Shred is over a hundred full-time employees now, along with a large team of personal trainers from across the country and a phone support and sales team down in Texas and an offshore team in the Philippines.
Outside of work, Brian loves to be outdoors, being active, cooking, and practicing holistic, healthy habits. Brian was blessed with a bunch of new family members. He became an uncle and unexpectedly discovered a half-brother via 23andMe, which has been the most incredible blessing for him and his family. Brian, welcome to Second in Command Podcast.
Thank you for having me.
Let’s start with discovering the half-brother. That’s pretty amazing. How did that all happen?
I took the 23andMe test because I wanted to figure out if I was gluten tolerant. I was in it for more of the health aspects. I wasn’t even thinking about the actual uses of this DNA database that they’re doing. I looked at the results and it was cool. A year later, I got a notification after not looking at it for a year and it said, â€œYou have a new relative.â€
I thought that was interesting and I opened it up and there was this person that had the DNA matching of somebody who’d either be an uncle or a half-brother. I was like, â€œI’m pretty sure I know all my uncles. I think, I would’ve known if I had a half-brother.â€ He eventually messaged me and I messaged back and we got to talking. I come to find out. My dad when he was in college, he met a girl and they got together. It was the â€˜70s in college, there was not a lot of communication. Long story short, because of her religious background, her parents were very adamant that she give the baby up for adoption and my dad was never informed.
It was weird at first, but everything, every aspect of the story, it went in the absolute most perfect direction that it could have gone. This was years before my parents had met, so there wasn’t anything like that. The moment my dad found out that Ryan, my brother, existed, at first he was shocked and had to understand it. It took me a while just to get my dad to understand, â€œYou submitted your DNA to a website and they told you, you had a brother? Is this a scam?â€ I’m like, â€œNo, it’s not a scam.
The day we finally all were able to meet in person because this all happened during COVID. We weren’t able to even meet physically at first. It was just instant love. My dad jumped up out of the booth. We were at a restaurant, they hugged instantly. My mom was tearing. I was tearing up. It was just the coolest experience that I’ve ever had. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. That was about a year ago at this point. Since then, his adopted family and my family, we’ve done barbecues together. He came on vacation with us this year. I spent an hour on the phone with him the other day.
That’s super cool.
It’s the whole nature versus nurture thing. It’s so crazy to me. There are many similarities. Career-wise, he’s me, just more advanced. He’s a few years older. He’s done things that I want to do. He’s somebody that I’ve been able to learn from. I grew up the oldest, I never had an older brother.
The nature versus nurture thing is real for sure. You can see it across siblings. You can see it across cousins, aunts and uncles. It’s crazy how that stuff is real. That’s really a neat experience.
Yes, I was able to see it across siblings I had never met.
It blew my mind.
I’m glad it all went well as well. It could obviously go in the other direction too. Tell me about the organization that you built out in LA. Taking a business with a membership kind of business, and you took it to 50,000 people. What was that business all about?
We had started the digital marketing agency while we were doing social media campaigns and just basic branding development. We were going to a lot of networking events to try to meet clients, get familiarized in the Silicon Beach space, they called it. We just lit a light bulb clicked one day. Why are we going to 2, 3 events a week paying these entrance fees? Why don’t we just have our own event?
The first one, we had three people show up. It was at a happy hour at a beach bar in Hermosa Beach, California, not the kind of place where you have a professional networking event. That was event one, and within a year, we were having it at some very nice venues in Santa Monica. We had lines out the door. We created a free event and we didn’t collect any money from any of the people coming.
We partnered with the bars and said, â€œWe’ll bring all these people here, give us a cut of the bar. They’ll all come in for free.â€ We started off that way. Then some Google employees came to the event. The next day, somebody from Google reached out to us and said they wanted to sponsor. Once we had our name attached to that Google name, it just took off from there.
Could you have done that if it was a paid organization or it was the leverage because it was unpaid and it was sponsorship?
It was definitely unpaid and it was sponsorship. I’m sure we would’ve been able to build attendance, but the fact that those first six months or so were just completely free and we were telling everybody and anybody we could. We were getting thousands and thousands of signups. Not everybody would show up because everybody signs up for a free event and when the time comes, maybe they’ll go, maybe theyâ€™ll not.
Everybody signs up for a free event. Itâ€™s an opportunity to build up a community.
For the following month, we were able to email them. We had their information. We were able to say, â€œWe’re doing another event, come in.â€ We just built up this community and we started doing private Facebook groups and building it that way. Took the happy hour events and started doing paid panel discussions and more educational type events as opposed to just networking events. We were able to build it up from there. It was a really cool experience and got to meet a lot of interesting people. When I look back, I can think just off the top of my head, one or two companies that are now multi-billion-dollar companies where I met the founders at that event.
I remember that in the early days of the dot-com era, in the mid to late â€˜90s when we were going to some of the networking events, and that was the style they did back then. What did you pull from running that organization into what you’re doing with V Shred now? Are there any of the systems that you used or any of the ideologies or the ways that you grew that business that you’re still using today in V Shred?
Yes, definitely. When we started it, we didn’t have any money. Everything was kind of gorilla style marketing. We had to just spread our influence across the web and cultivate that conversation within the private groups that we had and then build it up into this thing in this digital landscape with people that didn’t know each other. On the V Shred side, we have our private member Facebook groups, and we have grown that into almost a million people are in those private groups.
Keeping that conversation on point. With V Shred, it’s a much different goal with the community’s trying to get from what they were doing there. Now is youâ€™re trying to network and build business, but with V Shred, we’re dealing with health and fitness. We’re dealing with something that is very personal to people. It’s something that is very close to the heart. In this business, you have to take that new account.
Is the membership community that you’ve got, the million people on the social platforms, do you monetize that base by bringing them into your funnel? Or are planning to start to charge for some of those as well?
That group is actually customers only. You get access to that group once you become a customer. We’ve leveraged it in a lot of different ways. One, the main group, it’s where all of our people, the people doing our programs, it’s where they go. It’s where they talk about the programs. All of our trainers are in there answering questions. Our trainers do live videos, live Q&As every day, live workouts in the morning.
That is the whole basis then for V Shred is that community and you build everything off of that. What was it like in the early stages of building that out when you didn’t have enough members to make that community sticky or to make it engaging? I remember when we were starting the COO Alliance, or even last year in the COO Alliance, because the model was changing. When we launched the internal Slack for our members to communicate with each other, we didn’t have enough members for many of the posts to go anywhere. Now, anybody puts a post up, and instantly there are comments and likes and emojis coming up. What did you do to get the base excited when it was still pretty early?
Again, because it’s paying customers, it was easy to get them motivated for two reasons. One, our front end, our acquisition strategies are extremely effective. When we launched that at that point in time, we were anywhere between 5 to 10,000 new customers a day. Theyâ€™re pretty much all going into these groups.
Most of them going in there, they just got a new fitness program. It’s a lot of people that aren’t gym-savvy. They’re not health-savvy. They had a lot of questions. They created all the communication. It was instant. Our trainers in there as well answering those questions in real time. When we launched it, we were like, â€œThis has to go well.â€ To our trainer team like, â€œMake sure we’re giving good feedback, good answers to questions. Don’t let anything slip. Don’t let any questions go unanswered.â€
Obviously, any business, they never want to see questions go unanswered. Again, going back to the type of product that we’re dealing with, the type of community that we’re dealing with, an unanswered question is instant loss of motivation. It’s instant like, â€œI don’t know how to do this thing. I can’t get an answer. I give up, I quit.â€ I was actually a customer myself two years before I joined the company.
Nick and Kevin and Vince and Roger, the four partners of the company, they were friends of mine before I joined. When they were getting off the ground, they knew that I wanted to lose some weight. Nick called me up and said, â€œWe we’re trying to get this business up and running. We need friends and family to do the program, so we can get some good before and after pictures. Would you want to do it?â€ I said, â€œYes, definitely. I need to lose some weight.â€
Nick makes me laugh thinking get back, because he was like, â€œIf you do this, youâ€™ve got to take it seriously. Youâ€™ve got to have some skin in the game.â€ He goes, â€œI want you to bet me your car that you’re going to finish the program.â€ He was like, â€œNot that you’re going to finish any amount of weight. Not that you’re going to complete anything or lose a certain percentage body fat, just that you will stick to the program. That’s the bet.â€ I laughed and said, â€œOkay, yeah. Sure enough, you can have my car.â€ At that point in time, I didn’t take him seriously. â€œYou can have my car if I don’t do this,â€ knowing Nick as well as I know him now.
He would have taken it.
Yes, he 100% would have taken it. He would have showed up at my door expecting the keys to my car.
Has that culture permeated the entire organization from the employee and the operation side and into your customer side as well? Do you have that kind of like, â€œWe’re not f****** around here?â€
Big time. That tenacity and the way we just aggressively push towards goals, it’s something that we protect. I’ve worked at a lot of different places. I’ve consulted for different places and getting a culture like this, it’s hard to get in the first place, and it’s even harder to maintain. It’s something that we’ve never taken lightly and it’s something that we take very seriously. We protect it with everything we can.
I like that. Tell us what the core of V Shred right now, and then where are you taking the organization?
The core of V Shred in regards to?
Your revenue model and the core focus? Is it just product? Is it just service? Is it just training? Is it the community? What are the core revenue models and where are you growing the organization going forward?
When it started, and when I came on board in early 2018, it was just V Shred and that was digital programs. The personal coaching was just getting off the ground. At that point, I think, we had three trainers. They were doing customized programs. It was mainly all static digital programs. Then in 2019, we launched, Sculptnation, the supplement side. That took off really fast.
It was interesting because in 2020, it went from being predominantly all V Shred digital-based to almost 60% eCommerce supplement-based. It was such a big change into the day-to-day operations. We didn’t have the factor in COGS. We didn’t have the factor in inventory before that. These were all new things that eCommerce has, that digital products don’t have.
We saw firsthand the profitability and how that inventory and cost of goods sold affects your bottom line, your EBITDA. We took a step back and said, â€œWhere do we want to refocus and reprioritize?â€ Because there is a lot going on with the supplements. They are moving fast, but the digital is still more profitable, and digging into the numbers a little bit deeper, I was able to see, â€œWeâ€™re also on top of that.â€
A Sculptnation customer isn’t necessarily going to become a V Shred customer. Because somebody’s buying supplements, they’re not always looking for a program. Theyâ€™re maybe a few steps further along than V Shred. V Shred customer is somebody who is ideal to go from the program to the supplements. This last year, we added on the clothing line, as well. It’s small, but it’s growing fast. That again is another arm of the V Shred customers where you got your program, your supplements, and now you need some workout clothes. If you just bought golf clubs, you’re not going to stop there now. You want to buy golf shoes, clubs, tees, balls.
Did I hear you right that you’re focused in going back to growing the program because knowing it leads into everything else? Or are you focusing on growing the supplement part of the business?
We’re focused on growing both, but V Shred as the primary mode of entrance and really trying to develop an entire ecosystem, the whole health and fitness lifestyle through that at V Shred. We’re working on a redesign of our app and paid an entirely new approach to how our app is set up in a new subscription-based app model that’s going to create really that ecosystem of content and lifestyle. It’s not just going to be, â€œHere’s your program. We have supplement available,â€ but the whole lifestyle. When I look at health and fitness, it doesn’t just stop with diet and exercise. It’s how are you managing stress? How is your sleep? Are you doing any mindfulness practices? Are you meditating? Are you journaling?
It’s interesting because many people tend to be going, or seem to be wanting to go into the supplement space. I think it’s like 10 years ago they should have gotten in. I’m coaching four companies right now that are deep in the space in the athletic supplements space. I won’t mention their names, just because this podcast is about you, not them, but you’d know the names of probably a couple of them. You guys, I think have done it right and that you focused on the community first and then you have this as almost a vertically integrated company. Was that by design? When you started V Shred, was that part of the early model or did you just say, â€œWe’ve got all these people, what else can we sell them?â€
Yes. To be honest, it was that. We knew that supplements were very profitable. They were blowing up and, â€œWe’re already doing the program. Supplements make sense, too.â€ We never considered, at first it was, â€œLet’s make these couple different brands and eventually we can spin one off or keep making new brands after that and just have this farm system of brand building.â€
Seeing it grow and how they do interact with each other, it made so much more sense to develop this all-encompassing ecosystem. It seems to be consumer trends, that’s where it’s going. People want one-stop-shop. They don’t want to have nine different apps for one thing. They want to be able to go to one app and get all the things.
People want a one-stop shop. They don’t want to have nine different apps for one thing. They want to go to one app and get all the things.
They are and they are starving for community and you’re giving them that community, as well. You’re giving them that with your actual social platform where they’re connecting with each other. I think there’s some power in that. How do you forecast and build out the operations of a business where you’re adding 5 to 10,000 clients in a day? How do you plan around that?
It’s tough. Our front-end is going so strong that they’re able to do that. They’re pulling these levers in real-time based on Facebook prices, based on Facebook Ad model. Some days it could be 10,000, some days it could be 5,000. It’s all dependent on what’s happening on Facebook that day. Excuse me. There was a lot of volatility in those numbers especially, from the supply chain side, was difficult to plan for. If you have a stable growth rate or even just a stable amount of inventory that you’re moving, you can plan pretty well around that.
When July can be a 100,000 order a month and August can be a 60,000 order a month, because again, the volatility, it’s not just day by day. It looks like a stock chart almost when you think about it. That could be hard to forecast around it. We had to throw out some traditional models of inventory planning and just make it customized to our business. One, we never ran out, but two, were not so overstocked that we had too much capital tied up in inventory.
How are you funding the supplements business? The membership business is really largely cash flow. You understand your cost for acquisition. How are you funding the business? Privately funded?
Yes, one of the things I loved about the company was real self-like. It was just something that I hadn’t seen and I was really interested in being a part of when I joined was the fact that it was completely self-funded. Thereâ€™s been no venture capital cast. The four guys sold this company. They put a thousand dollars in the business bank account on day one, and there hasn’t been a cash injection since. That to me was just mind blowing how they were able to pull that off. The supplement side was funded directly from that. It was all self-built internally.
I think often when companies go through fast growth, they tend to throw people at the customer service side of the business, but it’s really inefficient. How do you prevent yourself from needing more and more customer service people when you scale this quickly? What do you do? What systems do you put in place? How do you think about your products and services so you don’t need to just keep throwing bodies at customer service? Or do you?
Yes, we did for a part of the time when we knew it was growing so fast that the only option was just to get more people to answer more tickets. At the same time, trying to be proactive in really taking in that data, figuring out, â€œWhy do we have this many support tickets? Why is there a need for this many customers to be reaching out to us after they purchase something?â€
Once we figured out those problems, they were easy to fix. A few years ago, I believe we brought on our Senior Director of Customer Experience who came from some amazing companies. He’s been a blessing to have on the team. I love working with him. I was not an expert in CX. I was managing it and managing it well enough to keep the lights on. When he was brought on board, it was such a weight off my shoulders because I was able to say, â€œYou’re the captain now.â€
He’s been a great addition to the team. He has really fixed that problem and he’s optimized. It’s interesting because most people they go the offshore route because it’s cost-effective. We went the offshore route, but it was email-based support only, which is not how people nowadays. That’s not the optimal customer experience. It’s interesting because while the offshore route is more cost-effective on the surface, he really quickly showed me, â€œNo. The onshore support is a little more expensive, but they’re closing tickets at a rate of four to one, and their one ticket close rate is 3 to 1.â€ He showed me all these metrics. It actually is much cheaper to keep it onshore. We are still utilizing both now, but the overwhelming majority of our support is onshore. It’s phone-based. Itâ€™s chat-based. It’s email-based.
I think where you started was you actually look at the root cause of the problem. Why are all these customers contacting us and how do we fix that? That’s really the core that I think most companies need to remember. I was listening to a friend of mine, Ryan Holiday, who wrote The Ego is the Enemy and Trust me, I’m Lying. He’s a prolific writer.
I have seven books stacked up right next to him.
He is great. We’re in a mastermind together called Mastermind Talks. He mentioned years ago that the only reason customer service is even needed is one of four reasons. Either your product sucks, your service sucks, you overset expectations with a customer, or the FAQs on your website aren’t complete.
When you think about it, if you could replace one customer service person, maybe that’s $45,000 a year. Spend $45,000 fixing the problems, and you could replace 10 people. Spend $200,000 fixing the problems and you could replace 50, 60 customer service people. It’s extraordinary to think about because when do we ever phone Amazon with a problem? Never. Unless you’re selling stuff on Amazon and then it’s like every 13 minutes. That’s a whole other issue.
In your role in VP of Operations, and you’re going to be in a transitioning role, we’ll talk about in a few minutes. In your role right now, what has it been like taking the company from the kitchen table to over a hundred employees and some international? What have you had to learn and how has the company had to change in that time?
I’ve had to learn a lot. Being a part of this group has been a huge, huge piece of that learning experience. It’s helped me field a lot of the questions, a lot of the unknowns. I was actually just talking to Nick and telling him that it’s crazy. I’ve had some cool experiences over the years since I started my career moving from finance to consulting to digital marketing.
I’ve got to see a lot and work with a lot of really special talent. It wasn’t really until I came here that all those past experiences started really manifesting into things I could utilize. I don’t have the proper words to explain it. Itâ€™s like the things I had to do here, overseeing everything and making the decisions, it took all those past experiences and tied them all together in a way that made sense.
Some of it is when you’re in a mastermind group of your tribe. When you go to an event filled with CEOs, you start thinking like a CEO. You’re coming to events every month for the COO Alliance surrounded by other COOs, you start seeing the business from that perspective. It just gets a lot clearer very quickly. I think we also sometimes don’t even know the questions to ask, so you learn from questions others are asking. You absorb through that. Is there anything specific you’ve had to work on in your skillset as a VP of Operations over the last couple of years?
Definitely my communication, my leadership. I’ve always been a very good one-man-army type thing, working as individual consultant. Even on consulting teams, I was part of a small group of people or individual. I was an individual going in and I had to solve a problem and it was on me to solve it. I didn’t have my own team to leverage. I didn’t have the additional resources to leverage.
When you’re in a position of leadership, going into hiding and nose to the ground, I’m just going to barrel through this problem. That doesn’t work well. It was so outside of my core strengths that it scared me a little bit to have to do that. It was getting over that fear of and figuring out how to delegate, how to properly communicate with my team and say, â€œNo, I don’t have to do this all myself now. I’ve got very capable people surrounding me that I hired specifically to do this thing.â€
That was one of my big ones as well. I knew how to delegate, but I was often running so fast that I didn’t slow down to delegate. Now, I realize it needs to get done, but not by me. I have a client that I used to coach years ago who did something pretty fascinating. Every Sunday night, she would plan out her next week, and then she would come up with all the projects or tasks she needed to do and assign a number of minutes for every task. Before she started working on any of them, she delegated 80% of the minutes. If she had 50 hoursâ€™ worth of stuff, she’d delegate 40 hoursâ€™ worth of tasks and then she’d start on the ones that were left. I’m like, â€œThat’s amazing.â€
Iâ€™ll write that down.
It’s such a great little methodology. You’re going through some changes right now. You mentioned in our warm up when weâ€™re just coming on, that you’re going to be moving from the COO role into the Chief of Staff role. What’s that all about and walk us through what you see as the differences between the two roles?
Taking a step back and kind of how we got to this point. We’re looking at the personality profiles of all the executive team members. There are six people that are in this quadrant of high dominance, high action, the entrepreneurial CEO type. Everybody is over on that corner and then there’s me on the opposite end, by myself.
Before that, I was trying and they were trying to get me to be more like that on its side. Working with some coaches and advisors, they were like, â€œNo, hang on, stop. Why are you trying to bury that difference? You need to leverage that. That is the lack of diversity on this chart is part of your problem. It’s why you guys are struggling at certain things is because you’re not leveraging these other sides of the quadrant.â€
When Nick and I realized that we’re in a way each other’s polar opposites, his core strengths are my core weaknesses and vice versa. We work really well together. When we put our brains on one problem, we see it from the opposite sides. Through a couple different experiences, we just saw so much power on that. This is going to give him, as a CEO, 25%, 30% of his time back, and it’s going to make my time a lot more effective. It’s something we’re both really excited for.
When we put our brains on one problem and see it from opposite sides and through a couple of different experiences, there is so much power in that.
We’ve been talking about it for a few months now, gearing up for it. We’ve got the role laid out how we want it to function. I’m actively interviewing and then looking for my back fills, who’s going to fill that role behind me. Ultimately, it’s going to be me as Nick’s proxy, his right hand. If there’s two meetings at once, he can’t be in one, I can go to the other and speak on his behalf. When he has an idea, a big vision, he can go into the meeting and say, â€œThis is what we’re going to do. Cool.â€ Brian now comes in and says, â€œNick just laid out a million different things with a big vision. Let’s structure this. Let’s organize it. What are the steps? What’s the sequencing?â€
What are the roles and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff in your company? Give us the top three things that you’ll be doing.
Special projects, just departmental optimization, and cross departmental communication. The first big initiative that I’ll be doing with this role is really all-encompassing internal audit. Going department by department, working with every team so we can get a workflow of all the processes, all the systems, everything that they’re doing, how they work departmentally, and then what deliverables coming in or going out, or connect with other departments and how do they connect? Are they connecting in the right ways? The way team A is doing something and delivering it to team B? Is that the same way team C is delivering it to team B?
How is that different from what a COO would do? Would that not be something that might be on a COO’s plate? How do you guys see this as different from something that a COO would do?
It’s very similar. I think with this role, it’s very ambiguous. There’s not a very clear single definition of what this role is. It can be very much like a COO and it can be very much like just the person who runs the Office of the CEO. In our case, and the way we want to utilize it, it’s going to lean heavily towards the COO side. The main difference being that the COO has a department and teams that run the day-to-day operations, whereas the Chief of Staff doesn’t have a team, a department. I will have a team, and we’re still talking about that, but it’s going to be a very small kind of internal Navy SEAL team.
Almost like a Navy SEAL project team versus a bunch of operational people doing daily, yearly, monthly projects.
If one of our departments is struggling or they’re not performing well or they have some clunky systems and that’s not theirÂ expertise is to build processes and systems. This team will be able to go in, help them solve those problems. The way we want it is when I, as the Chief of Staff go into a department, they’re like, â€œBrian’s here. We’ve got some help and assistance.â€ I can go in and help consult their problems, help put together the blueprint of how you get from where you’re at to where you’re trying to go.
At the same time, I’m the eyes and ears in the back of Nickâ€™s head. It’s, â€œThank God, Brian is here.â€ Not saying that this happens, but if anybody is underperforming or trying to hide under the radar, it’s like, â€œI know Brian sees everything and if he’s not seeing it, Nick sees it.â€ We’re really excited with how it’s going to help develop the company. Like what I was talking about before with maintaining and really protecting that culture. This is a big way that we’re going to help facilitate that.
You’re going to have to go out and backfill your roles. You’re going to have to go out and recruit and onboard your replacement. Are you looking internal for that? Are you looking external for that?
We’re looking externally. I’ve built this department up from just myself and I’m proud of that and I think I’ve done a pretty decent job. At the same time, I know I’m not the expert. I know there’s somebody who can do it a million times better than me. I really want to bring somebody with a fresh perspective, really, really seasoned experience who can help take what I’ve built and really perfect it.
How are you socializing that internally? With a hundred employees, there’s got to be a bunch of people that are putting their hands up or that will be putting their hands up saying, â€œCan I do the job?â€ How are you going to tell them that they’re not qualified, or they’re not ready or you’re looking external?
We actually haven’t announced this to the company yet, which that’s coming up real soon. Depending on when this airs, weâ€™re going to have to make sure we get that out ahead of time. I’ve spoken to some of my directors, my leads about it. They’re all experts in their own field, but at the same time, this just encompasses so many different departments. Nobody that I’ve talked to yet haven’t expressed interest in that and they see it from the same perspective as I see it. I don’t know how familiar you are with the whole Netflix culture deck that circled around online for years.
Yes, I remember the woman that pushed that out.
It’s very cool. If you get a chance to read it, definitely take a look. They say something in there that we’ve taken and make part of our culture. It’s like, â€œThis business, we’re not a family.â€ You get to choose your family and their blood and you’re stuck with them. We’re a pro-sports team. If I can get LeBron to play point guard at my team and I’m the point guard right now, I want LeBron because I want a championship.
You’re in it for the good of the company versus the good of your own self. Let’s go back to the 22-year-old Brian Gaouette starting out in his career. What advice would you give yourself as a 22-year-old that you know to be true today?
Invest. If I could go back and talk to my 22-year-old self, I would start that conversation with a giant stack of books. When I was 22, I was career-focused, but mostly just social and friends and party-focused, which a 22-year-old, you can’t blame them for that. If I had started reading some of the books that I’ve read now, if I had started reading them earlier, focusing more time on developing myself, I don’t know how much further in my career I’d be.
Everything I’ve done in this company, everything I’ve developed into getting to where I’m at now, into this role where I’m moving to the Chief of Staff. Itâ€™s a C-level title, that is an accomplishment that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get. It’s a huge milestone for me. It was the books and all the life lessons I took from those. Thousands of hours of tutorial and YouTube videos, joining groups like this. It’s read more books, leverage your network, and value wisdom and experience, because you’re a cocky kid. You don’t have experience.
I love that, by the way. Thank you for sharing that. When you said invest, I thought you were going to go into investing money into the markets and investing for the future. I love that it was actually more investing in yourself. I actually launched a course earlier this year called, Invest in Your Leaders. It’s the 12 core leadership skills that I believe every manager and every leader needs to get better at.
I just priced it in a way that it’s almost irresponsible for people not to sign up for it and take it. It’s the stuff around situational leadership and coaching and delegation, all the skills that we need. I agree. I was very fortunate early in my career that I had a company that really focused on growing me. I think it’s pretty perceptive that you saw that in yourself. You’re still young, so you still got a lot of time ahead of you. Congrats on your new role. Congrats on what you’ve done with V Shred. Thanks for being a great member of the COO Alliance as well.
Brian Gaouette, the VP of Operations for VS Shred. Thanks for sharing with us today.
Thank you. Take care. It was a pleasure.
I appreciate it.
About Brian Gaouette
Chief of Staff at V Shred