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Our guest today is the COO of HomeToGo, Valentin Gruber.
HomeToGo is a marketplace with the world’s largest selection of holiday rentals, listing millions of offers across thousands of trusted partners. Valentin spent 2 years as CRO refining the Customer Support program by fuelling it with Salesforce to create a new B2B2C CRM tool across the company
Prior to joining HomeToGo, Valentin spent seven years with Audibene building up the company’s subsidiaries. This involved time spent internationally (Netherlands, Switzerland, USA) and building and scaling both the B2B & B2C sales teams. He then moved to the German headquarters as Country Head.
Valentin studied Management and Finance at the University of Kentucky for a year, before attending WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany.
In This Conversation, We Discuss:
What HomeToGo sets up and how it differentiates itself from others around its space
The state of the funding phase when Valein first joined HomeToGo
Some of the challenges of growth and how the politics in the organization are handled
How culture in the tech sector is viewed in Germany as it’s seen in the USA
Ways Valentin adapted from the CRO to COO role
Connect with Valentin Gruber: LinkedIn
HomeToGo – https://www.hometogo.com/
Connect with Cameron: Website | LinkedIn
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The post Ep. 180 – HomeToGo COO, Valentin Gruber appeared first on COO Alliance.
Our guest is the COO of HomeToGo, Valentin Gruber. HomeToGo is a marketplace with the world’s largest selection of holiday rentals, listing millions of offers across thousands of trusted partners. Valentin spent two years as CRO refining the customer support program by fueling it with Salesforce to create a new B2B to B2C CRM tool across the company.
Prior to joining HomeToGo, Valentin spent seven years with Audibene building up the company subsidiaries. This involved time spent internationally in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the USA and building and scaling both the B2B and B2C sales teams. He then moved to the German headquarters as Country Head. Valentin studied Management and Finance at the University of Kentucky for a year before attending WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany. Valentin, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Cameron. I’m very glad to be here.
Interesting that you went to school in Kentucky. What the heck were you thinking about going from Germany to Kentucky?
I was part of the undergrad program that I attended at WHU, so part of that three-year special degree there was to spend a semester abroad. As I have been to the West Coast and the East Coast before and knew what both oceans looked like, I thought, “For getting the real American experience, you need to go somewhere in the middle.” I thought Kentucky was quite famous. I assumed Kentucky would be about three things, and I got confirmed with that experience. I had plenty of all of Kentucky horse racing, Kentucky Bourbon, and Kentucky Fried Chicken and an amazing time there.
I would’ve guessed the bourbon, but I forgot about the horse racing naturally, and then the Kentucky Fried Chicken is hilarious. That’s great. You did some time over there. You’ve done some time internationally. Tell us a little bit about the brand, what it is that HomeToGo sets up and how it differentiates from some of the other brands that we know that are in and around your space.
We started the company with the original idea of booking a vacation home being quite difficult because there were so many local platforms and local heroes that always had the best vacation homes in a particular destination. It was extremely difficult to find those and to have a safe and trustful booking experience when being on these websites that it was always a hustle.
The idea was that, “If I want to go to a new travel destination and I don’t know who the local hero platform is, let’s bring them all together on one big platform.” This is how the entire idea of HomeToGo started and the idea of bringing all these travel platforms from around the globe together on one big platform. They are providing the biggest, most comprehensive selection of vacation homes around the globe on a single platform with the additional advantage of it being a trusted booking environment where customers enjoy both of the best world, trusted booking experience and the whole selection that is out there.
Is it different from Airbnb? How different is it from the Airbnb platform that at least we know in North America?
The key differentiation, and you see it when you look back into the history of Airbnb, is how it started. Airbnb started as a couch-surfing platform. I live in a big city like New York, and I have an extra couch or even a guest room available, at some point, even an entire apartment maybe, so I rent it out. Airbnb came rather from the point of co-living in urban spaces, whereas we traditionally already focus on strongly developed vacation destinations where Airbnb is still nowadays, not the most represented one, but that has always been our focus. It’s different from Airbnbs.
It’s true. When I think about it Airbnb’s strength is that more the big cities and the smaller spaces. They don’t have vacation homes as strong.
If you look into the most popular travel and vacation destinations in Europe, Airbnb’s model is attracting hosts that directly go to this platform because they have this one vacancy that they would like to see somewhere. Whereas most of the inventory in these popular travel destinations uses large agencies, and these agencies have been there for years. They live off customers that go there again and again, and occasionally some new customers. They have had local platforms that probably won’t cost them as much as Airbnb. There was never the need for such a thing.
Do you scrape the internet and pull all these listings onto your site or do you partner with all of these other sites and platforms? How does the model work?
We love our partners, and we do direct partner relationships. We have contractors and all of our partners. You would find them on our platform. We don’t do the scraping. We see this as a support to get them the attention that they should have.
There’s a lot of customer service and business development, then, to get all these partners onboard and build those relationships with them.
Also, in various different ways. We have large partners such as Expedia or Booking.com. We also have small partners who may have five homes they would like to see on our platform. That way also how our teams are structured and work in very different ways because we need to cater to all of these different types of, in this case, inventory suppliers at the same time towards the consumer. While we do have suppliers in the back, the consumer still perceives us many times as the primary point of contact. We are also towards consumers. We have a big service team making sure that they are happy with what they are finding on our platform.
Where is the company based out of? Are you European-based?
We are European-based. We were founded and are still headquartered in Berlin, Germany, but we also have multiple offices, and now, with the remote trend, even more people around the world.
Where are your main offices?
Our main offices are certainly in Berlin. We also have our development offices in Lithuania and have two main offices there.
How are you funded?
We were originally funded by business interest and venture capital. In discussions, as everyone can read in the public news with the likes, I expect this a combined entity.
How was it going through the BC funding phases? Were you there when you were bringing on money into the organization or was that prior to you coming in?
It was unfortunate prior to me coming in. I still was part of some money flows, so I saw them maybe, not everything as a round but rather as converter balloons that you also occasionally do in the development of a company. The major stuff has been now happening over the last couple of weeks and months, and this was part of previously, not too much.
Does it change the organization? Has it changed the leadership team or the way that you’ve treated the business or thought about the business?
You constantly adapt to having more resources available and thinking bigger. It also changes in some ways the way you are working. When you’re in a small team, and you know that yourself, if you have a family project, you work very task-based, “We got to get this thing on that thing,” and that’s a task, while the bigger company gets, the more you go away from working on a task-based, more into tactics, goals, strategy, and vision. What I observed throughout the development of the company is simply that your way of working needs to change and adapt to it.
It is a required change for you, as you cannot be a good lead in this, but this is my major observation with more money because, at the same time, you still need to stay entrepreneurial. You don’t want to change to someone who says, “Now I have a full bank account and let’s try to find ways to blow it out.” Still, everything is a very conscious decision and being entrepreneurial still means treating the money as if it would be your own. This is something we are still doing now.
How many people are in the company? How many employees, approximately?
Approximately 350 employees.
It’s a real company, and real moving parts have it.
I like to call it a real company.
I joke about that. I run a company. I’ve only got nine employees but that’s a real company. When you get to the stage of 100 or 300, that’s a real business where politics is starting to creep in. You’ve got all of the strategy layers, and you have a real professional leadership team, I would imagine. How many employees were in the company when you joined?
When I joined, we were about 200.
You’re almost double.
Also, with affiliate companies, we had some more however they were later closer to us. COVID, I don’t have to tell you. It had an impact also on us temporarily, at least. We have had some ups and downs throughout the way you have developed as a company. We have ambitious growth plans, and human capital is the biggest resource that we have.
Talk to me about what it’s like running a company when you go from 200 to 350 employees. How did the company change? Were you bringing in a lot of extra senior teams? Did it get more complicated? Did politics start to creep in? What were some of the challenges of that growth?
Part of the growth was coming through new companies and acquisitions. That is a matter of aligning cultures and bringing people together. By that, I mean bringing people together is the key in terms of letting them have a beer or water together at night. This is usually settling the point, and then you quickly align. The culture part is a very big one for us. The key areas that you grow in, on the one hand, are all the teams that automatically scale with a scaling business.
Customer success operations need to go. If you have twice as many customers, you will likely have twice as many customers having questions about a vacation home. The other key growth areas were, as you suggested already, indeed professionals. Once the more your business model is defined, the clearer of an idea you have and what direction you want to go, and the more sense it makes to bring in people that know exactly how this is done or have at least a very clear picture of how this is done.
We brought in people who are hungry to fulfill this mission where if you’re in a more undefined station that you refer to before as maybe not a real company, you need flexible profiles because it might be that they’re doing something different tomorrow than they were doing today. With us, we now hire a lot more people with a clear idea of what they are doing, which professionalizes you as a company overall.
You mentioned it twice now, so politics is what we want to be away from dramatically. Politics is nothing that has a place here in our company. Whenever we see politics, we directly call it out and fill it. It doesn’t belong here. We live in an open feedback culture and are very cautious that something like this does not happen within HomeToGo. Therefore, we are also extremely happy with how everything is going and how teams are collaborating.
In North America, there’s been a huge trend in the last several years around building strong company cultures, building a fun entrepreneurial tech culture and trying to become a magnet for talent, core values based, etc. I’ve coached a number of companies that are based in Germany. I’ve coached some in Austria, a couple in Switzerland, and out of Berlin. The CEOs as a group tend to say, “That’s different in Germany.” I disagree with them at times. I don’t understand how it can be so different. Do you find that culture in the text sector is different in Germany from what you may read in the press or what you observed when you were in the US, or is it largely the same?
No, I don’t think that is different. Of course, there are some cultural differences, and if you read the culture map, then you will also quickly figure out what it is, whether it’s natural. Building a company culture and then the result of that is not that different. I’ve done that in the US for three years, between 2015 and ‘18. I founded and started Audibenesubsidiarykarriere.com. Audibene is quite tough to pronounce, so we branded there, Audibenekarriere.com.
One of the key challenges was, “Now we are in the US, but we are a German company, so what will a company culture look like?” If you watch a traditional movie on US company culture, then you might get a little bit scared of, “Are you able to replicate the culture?” We were not able to replicate the culture, but at least on the core values, 80% or 90% were similar to what we had in Germany. I disagree that you can also build up similar company cultures in Germany.
As you point out, culture is largely based around the core values. It’s not based around the free massages, free lunch, and the foosball table. It’s based around an obsession with core values, isn’t it?
Absolutely. It’s purely core values. Everything else is a nice perk, but you can offer the nicest drinks and selection of foods in an office. This is not what will make people stay or strive. It’s purely the culture. This is all about the human aspect.
It’s funny. I think about families that when you’re raising children if you give them all the toys and a beautiful home, you might have a couple of spoiled brats living with you, but if you ground them in core values, then you can give them some of the perks of it. It’s more appreciated. That’s how I see it almost working.
As you experienced yourself, in an interview, if a person asks too much about things and what the office provides as perks and doesn’t ask any questions about the culture, it doesn’t reflect on it, and then this has also been quite a short interview.
It cuts it quickly. You mentioned how to stay entrepreneurial. One of your focuses is the company’s scale to 350 employees. Where have you found that being entrepreneurial is getting stretched?
The more dependencies you automatically have in a growing company, the more it becomes a stretch to be entrepreneurial. One of the key characteristics of an entrepreneur is, “I do it.” However, as soon as you have more professionals, more people that know their stuff, and more of yourself, not knowing all of the details on it, it becomes a stretch. People have to have the patience of not doing it yourself but still behaving like, “It is your responsibility of getting it done.” Being entrepreneurial compared to not being corporate, for me, a very big important statement is forgetting about, “This is not my responsibility,” kind of mindset.
I never had that problem with, “This isn’t my responsibility.” The one I struggled with was that I was too entrepreneurial as our company got very big. When we built 1-800-GOT-JUNK? we had 250 at the head office and 3,000 people system-wide. I couldn’t slow down enough to consider the impact of the other business areas, people, leaders, and strategy. I was like a bull in a China shop, and I needed to learn to slow down. I wasn’t that good at that. Where have you struggled as a COO when you’ve gone from the CRO role into the COO role? The entire path sure hasn’t been easy. Has there been a couple of struggles that you worked through?
I wouldn’t say that changing from CRO to COO changed that much. It’s more or less the same responsibilities as before. Maybe a few additional ones came up. Overall, the struggle is more learning that you have. Over time decisions don’t tend to be right or wrong anymore. They just need to be made. One of the key learnings over the last couple of months or even years is that many times you are holding up making a decision trying to get to 100% correct answer and having discussions about what is right or what is wrong, where in most of the times right or wrong doesn’t exist. It’s the speed that matters. I want to make many decisions, and it doesn’t matter if a few of them are wrong because wrong doesn’t exist. I feel like it’s a good and better decision.
I agree with that. I’ve always said that momentum creates momentum. The faster you can make the decisions, the faster you can make more decisions. I heard years ago that concept of the minimum viable product where you launch and get it out the door. I’ve been talking about minimum viable everything like the product, decision, marketing piece, whatever. It’s like, “Get it done, get it out the door, and then iterate as fast as possible.” Do you struggle with that in your growth when you are that kind of entrepreneurial, “Get it done and get it to make a decision quickly?” Does that come back to bite you in the as at all?
No. We have good teams that have strong minds that have strong ambitions for execution, so they get stuff done quickly. The MVP style is absolutely working. Bringing it into the arc in a very efficient way because an MVP, “You’re a little bit more pragmatic on the one or other corner and maybe not everything is perfectly set up in every system,” rather than making the MVP the real product. That is what takes a lot of time and coordination work. This is not as much fun, you would say, as an entrepreneur. People are struggling rather with that part, not with new ideas and getting them on the road quickly.
That’s where I see the real strength of the team come in when they can take the MVP and turn it into the real product, where they can take the minimum viable everything and then they know it’s working, now they can make it and polish it. That’s where the hard work comes in. What are your company’s core values?
Our company’s core values we go all about our key leadership principles. We want everyone to be a leader. You don’t have to be a leader of people. You can also be a thought leader or a customer leader. We work around seven core principles, and they go from the full focus on customers like being entrepreneurial, high-end, develop the best. We live those very strong from the first recruiting moment throughout their entire development journey, where we rate people on these points.
Is it something that’s reinforced in the day-to-day, and how do you reinforce the core values day-to-day? How does the leadership team reinforce them?
They became very much part of our communication and the context of decisions that are made. In a growing or larger organization, you always need to provide context to the decisions. You cannot just say, “It’s A or B.” You need to say, “Why.” Many times, not to go too deep into some data detail, it also has to be about the principles by which you make decisions. Like Ray Dalio with his book, Principles, and I’m sure you read it. Also, decisions are more or less a machine if you could do it in a management position. For us, they are part of daily communication. They are part of decision-making and a strong argument anytime because these principles are set in stone. You don’t move around with those. They are set.
What do you focus on the day-to-day, and how do you prevent yourself from getting sucked into the minutia into the small details? Three hundred and fifty employees, there are a million meetings you could be involved in. There are a million emails you could have to read. How do you keep yourself focused on the core areas, and what are those that you focus on?
It has something to do with how you understand yourself. Unfortunately, you get to the point where you realize, “There’s hardly anything that I can do with my bare hands anymore.” For everything, I need people if I want to know certain data or if I need a good presentation. If I need to coordinate some new product integration, I also will need good people that know the details. I see myself mostly as a people enabler. This is also where I focus the vast part of my time on. They are the people I work with in enabling, connecting, and providing them sometimes with the strategy they’re missing or the vision they are missing for their strategy. It really depends. You work with people on different levels. This is, I would say, where half the time is going.
The other half the time, you still need to provide a lot of the vision and strategy yourself, at least in our stage, which means focusing on our biggest bets. What is it? Where do we want to go to? What are the key beliefs that we have behind that? What are the key initiatives that are there that we need to strive through the company that is not there now? How do we make those become reality? Thinking and working around these key bets is where the other half of the time needs to go into. It’s working on the right projects together with the teams.
You guys were in a sector that got hit hard with COVID. I mean the travel sector, the vacation sector, people stopped traveling and had to stop traveling. How did you manage through that uncertainty? My sister was laughing about it, partially crying and laughing. She said, “I had all these great plans for my company, but God had other plans for me.” How did you manage the business through this massive uncertainty when your whole business is predicated on travel?
When COVID first hit, we were all unsecure about what would happen next. How long would it be there? For us, it was quickly after the first booking season. It’s usually around January and February of the year. In March, it hit pretty bad. We were very curious whether a summer season would happen or would not. For a couple of weeks, it was quite tough because you had, on the one hand side, no one booking new vacations, and on the other side, you had people canceling. They already booked vacations.
However, this only held on for a couple of weeks. As people saw the first releases of the restrictions, people started to book again. This was funny because now the booking trend changed because of what they saw. You have two types of recommendations. You have vacation renters or you have hotels. This is where you go on your vacation.
Hotels, when people thought about it very quickly, you think about the big masses at a breakfast buffet. You think about your small room and a spa that is closed because of too many people in one place. This was all gone, so the only other option was we needed vacation homes because you are safe and can also create your vacation the way you want. You don’t make any compromises. You can move freely.
We had a tremendous boom right after a big shutdown, and we recovered extremely quickly from that. We also got provided with the chance to cause a longer-term change in travel behavior because some people traveled to a vacation home for the first time, and now they got to feel all the differences. Also, all the benefits of a vacation home are being independent and not making compromises at the breakfast buffet but getting what you like best and enjoying all your individualism.
I knew a lot of people and me included, that decided to do working vacations where you pick a place, and off you go. You are booking those places. I don’t want to go and live in a hotel for three weeks but I would happily rent a vacation home for three weeks and go and live and work.
You are already referring to a new type of traveler there. The one thing is your summer vacation, the 1 or 2 weeks that you spend together with your family that you were maybe spending in a hotel that you’re likely now spending in a vacation home. However, there’s also an entirely new type of traveler developing. It’s the vacation travelers. Before June, I only spent six weeks in Germany in 2022 because it was certainly not the nicest place. There are other amazing places that you can work from, but I don’t want to work from a hotel because then I keep in the same room that I work in.
Getting a vacation home somewhere or also thinking it in a family sense if over summer you have 6, 8 or 10 weeks where your children are out of school, in the past you only spend 1 or 2 weeks on vacation. Now you can spend ten weeks on vacation. The person that works is 2 weeks off, and the other 8 weeks, they work remotely from a small office that they have in their vacation home. Still, the rest of the family enjoys probably the most incredible vacation that they have ever had.
You’ve got all these digital nomads now that are traveling and have no intention. I’m going to be one of those who don’t want to be in one city anymore. It’s interesting. I’m going to be all over your platform shortly. How do you build trust between remote teams and remote C leaders? Were all of you guys, when COVID hit, did you have to disperse and work from home?
How did you continue to build trust and communication while you were all remote?
Something that we realized quickly is that when everything is happening via video, a lot of the interpersonal conversations are cut off. The chat people have at the coffee machine when walking out of the office together or when she’s passing by someone’s desk is all gone suddenly. We had to create new environments where people met and felt comfortable chatting over video.
We created a lot of new occasions like daily coffee chats where everyone can drop in and drop out, where we have breakout groups for certain topics that people want to discuss, not work-related but rather vacation, cooking or organizing some digital sports events. We had to create an environment where people didn’t spend the additional time that they saved from not having to travel to work and still establishing personal connections with each other. There was a lot more focus on this in everything we did.
Did the introverts become more introverted? Were they showing up for those events, those casual coffee shots, the digital sports, or did they pull further back into themselves and work from home on their own?
We were very straight with all the leads that they needed to include and made sure that all of their people were heard and were provided with a platform where they still felt comfortable connecting with other people. The solutions were a little bit individual based on the team and also some people’s needs. It worked quite well. I wouldn’t say that we now have lost the faith or human touch to some of the more introverted people.
I’m curious if you’re seeing any of the impacts that we’re seeing in North America with compensation and salaries. I don’t have any data points other than all the CEOs I keep talking to. It feels like employees are starting to get paid a lot more than they used to get paid. Are you seeing that over there at all?
Yes. Right after COVID, we have a post-COVID boom in the employee market. We see it with recruiters, currently being the most looked-after profile on the entire LinkedIn. It’s extremely difficult to get people that are getting new people. Also, with the people around COVID, the needs of employees changed a little bit. They are now looking for even more purpose on the one hand but also for all the perks of working remote and working while traveling and how you equip the home office.
It’s a little bit of both. While many went into themselves and thought about the purpose of life and their work that you have to now put even more focus on, and this is where I would say American companies are way better than German companies in. The second part is that you must adapt quickly to a remote lifestyle. You cannot force a five-day in-the-office policy anymore. That doesn’t work.
Yeah. That’s gone for sure. One thing that I also noticed was that the employees weren’t necessarily even looking for one company to work for anymore. They were looking to do the stuff they liked to do. We were seeing the freelancer gig economy heat up where they would, let’s say that they worked in recruiting for one company before, and now they would do a recruiting role for three companies. There was a lot more of that happening. Did you notice that over there?
To be honest, no. I have not seen that yet. There are some particular roles where people like to work as freelancers, but in my eyes, they also did before. We don’t see in particular that people now like to work for 2 or 3 companies.
Can you talk about what the hiring landscape is like over there? Is it harder to find people than it was pre-COVID? Are you finding that more people are job searching? Did you have much employee turnover?
No. People really enjoyed it. Later, we got a lot of positive feedback, particularly on how we handled the COVID situation on the communication side but also on the performance side because all the travel companies, we were among the fast strongest to quickly recover. Throughout the situation in itself, we all the time communicated extremely authentically.
There was no message that we were hiding. We were telling it exactly how it was. When we were uncertain about how a situation would develop, we would say that we are uncertain about how the situation developed. We increased our level of transparency and the level of trust of the team in such a tough situation a lot. I would say that we have even more buy-in from the team than ever before.
You’ve got your Master’s. Do you have your MBA or your undergrad?
Just my undergrad, and then I decided my learning curve would be way steep by working in a super high growth company than doing any other further theoretical work.
I agree. By the way, I’ve got a huge bias against MBAs, sadly. Mine is more that too much theory hurts productivity, whereas the entrepreneurship that you carry with some theory is more beneficial. Do you have any bias against MBAs at all in your company? Do you look for people out there who have worked as apprentices or for companies? Do you have any strong bias toward that?
No. It’s not a criterion in the very first place on whether someone has an MBA or not. What you’re rather looking for, it’s the same for everyone, is true ambition. Can you see the drive out of the profile? Can you read it? Can you see it by the decisions they took in their career or how far they are still on the search for what they want to do in life? At least when I refer back to many MBA profiles that I see, I feel that it has been people that were not so secure yet to hit the work market or in terms of what they want to do at all and try to build up stronger signaling. I have not felt that the quality of someone who’s done an MBA, at least in Europe, is significantly different from someone who has a Master’s degree.
I want to talk about the open feedback culture. You said the open feedback culture at HomeToGo is important. How do you foster that open feedback culture, and how do you encourage it?
I must admit we were stealing a little bit because I believe that not everyone has to reinvent the wheel. We are basically buying 50 copies of Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer’s, No Rules Rules, and that everyone, “Please read it over the next month. We will afterward have a book discussion.” This was the easy and quick approach, not having to develop it all yourself because someone already has put a lot of thought into it, and it’s explaining it in quite a good way in that book. What we did was we distributed the book. We still discussed what would mean a good feedback culture for us, where we see its traits of it, and what parts we want to take over and whatnot. With 90%, we take it as it is, 20% adaption approach.
It’s exactly the feedback culture that we feel is positive for us. It’s something that we encourage everyone to do one-on-one. I had one before I joined this call, the last ten minutes are always reserved for open feedback, and we talk about it. “I must admit this time because we joined the call way too late, and I had to travel a little early. We had to cut it but we already discussed it. We must prolong this time for next week or when I’m back from vacation Wednesday, and then we’re going to do 30-minute feedback. I’ll already center the points up front in a written way because I already took the notes previous to our conversation today so that we don’t lose any time.”
This open way of feedback, in the beginning, feels a little bit odd because in every direction, getting and providing feedback, you are, on the one hand, have to reflect on every situation that you’re in with colleagues much more. At the same time, if yourself is in a stressful situation and not every colleague has yet developed the perfect feeling for, “When is it right to provide feedback,” then you have to take yourself a little bit back and still appreciate it. Even though in that situation, this might not be the best, and your brain cannot handle it, take it and adjust it at a later point. These are the things we are now working on.
That’s an amazingly strong company culture that is so ungermane. That is more California or Seattle. That’s like so hippie. It’s fantastic that you’re doing that, even with an organization that’s at large. I also like when you said you don’t have to have ideas on your own. You can borrow or take ideas from others. I’ve always said that R&D stands for Rip-off and Duplicate, that there are already some good systems out there, and that you should run with them lastly before I wrap up my final question for you. When you mentioned going from one meeting to the other, you were exactly on time for this meeting.
One of my books, Meetings Suck, is for every employee to learn how to run proper meetings and attend them. One of the things I say is, “You finish every meeting five minutes early, and that way, you have time to walk down the hall, go to the bathroom, talk to your assistant and get a cup of coffee and start the meeting or start the phone call on time.” It’s such an easy system to put in place if you have a meeting set from 9:00 until 10:00 and stop at 9 55.
I couldn’t agree more. Fortunately, Google is even providing you with a nice option. We would work out of the G Suite to opt-in for speedy meetings. Every meeting that is set for 30 minutes ends after 25, and every meeting is set for 1 hour and ends after 50 minutes. That works perfectly indeed because that has previously always been a problem because no meeting would start on time because people first had to walk from one or the other meeting room.
If you end at the minute, you can’t be at the next place. It’s not like a train that’s leaving the same track. The train can show up and leave but doesn’t have to go to the other track.
It got a little bit easier with video now because it’s much easier to leave one call and join the next call. It’s different from walking from meeting room to meeting room. However, it was healthy to walk from the meeting room to the meeting room, do a quick file break, and get an apple so that your brain can quickly save the file and open up the next file to mentally prepare for the next session. As you said, I’m a big fan of it.
I’m going to check out the Google setting on the speedy meetings and see if I can get them to take a look at my book, Meetings Suck as well. Wrap-up question, final question. If you were to go back to the 22-year-old Valentin and you were going to give yourself some advice that you know to be true now, but you wish you’d known when you were 22, what would it be?
These would be two things that we learned by heart, however, not just at HomeToGo but over the last several years. First, culture is a strategy for lunch. That is a very important one. You cannot build a performing company without a recording culture for it. Second, there is no right or wrong decision. There is no decision. That’s the worst decision you can make. Decisions are usually best and better. Take a decision and keep the momentum. Stay speedy.
I love that whole, make a decision and get going. Valentin Gruber, the COO from HomeToGo, thank you so much for sharing with us on the Second In Command.
Thank you very much, Cameron. Thanks, everyone.
I appreciate your time.