Our guest today is COO Alliance Member and B2B marketing specialist Kevin (Kevlex) Beeftink, COO of Funnelytics.
Kevin combines commerce, digital marketing and scalable processes to help businesses grow their efforts. Every commercial success comes with an operational challenge and vice versa, and he has experienced this cycle several times. He enjoys tackling challenges on every new round of growth.
This Dutch father of four is outspoken and highly driven, which reflects in his style of communication with internal and external stakeholders, usually at an executive and management level. Operations and digital marketing have become his field of expertise over the last decade, strategising and executing on highly effective digital marketing strategies for B2B, from strategy execution to team dynamics.
Prior to his time at Funnelytics, Kevin worked as an account and digital strategist for Create Value, a digital advertising agency in Holland and was the owner of To The Point Digital Productions, which offered custom platform development to clients based on WordPress.
Kevin takes great pride in creating and supporting a stable structure for his growing team of tech and marketing engineers.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- The fundamental differences between a CEO and a CFO.
- Explaining to employees the differences between a budgeted revenue number, and a goal.
- The importance of speaking your mind and sharing your mistakes.
- The mistakes many companies make when choosing a digital agency.
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You are in for a treat. With this episode, we’ve got Kevin Beeftink who is the COO for Funnelytics. He’s Dutch. He has moved his family from the Netherlands over to Canada to operate the business. He used to run his company. He was the CEO of a company. His CEO coach who was coaching him through a transition as he was winding down the business ended up hiring him as his COO. He has been a CEO before and ran his company for 7 or 8 years.
He’s a father of four kids. Interestingly enough, he and his wife had split up quite early on when they had a couple of young kids. A couple of years later after being split up in the marriage, they were both swiping right on Tinder. They both swiped right on each other and reconnected because they saw each other on Tinder. That was it. It was happily ever after ever since. A young marriage, a successful family, and a successful business.
He talks a lot about being a VC-funded company and how they’re transitioning and making the pivot from being VC-funded to being profitable. There is a lot of focus on measuring things and having systems in place for predictability around growth. He’s also got some interesting insights into the marketing side of things because he runs this marketing agency called Funnelytics. He has some interesting ideas and perspectives on being a COO who used to be a CEO as well and seeing the business from both sides of that table and different lenses. It’s an interesting perspective. He also has a global team. All of their employees are global so he’ll bring an interesting perspective. You’re going to love the interview.
Kevin, welcome to the show.
Thanks. It’s cool to be here.
It’s good to hear from you again and good to see you again. We get the benefit of getting to see each other over Zoom. You’re also a COO Alliance member as well. I’m curious. Before we dive into the content, what was it that got you to even think about joining the COO Alliance? I’m curious where your head was there.
It was two things. I wasn’t a COO before I became COO so I had no idea what the role meant. It sounded cool and the company was great so I figured, “Let’s jump on this.” I’m an operator at heart and an integrator. If you read Rocket Fuel, that’s my type of profile. Being able to find a group of peers that as it turns out also has such pride in their profiles, there is no stereotypical COO at all. That’s not a job. It’s a title.
At the end of the day, most of us are integrators. It is being able to talk about that from all these different angles across different industries. COO Alliance was recommended by someone I trust a lot in making the right decisions. It was a guy called Matthew Hunt. You know him. Matt highly recommended you because you guys worked together in the past as well. He said, “If you want to spend a little bit of money and do it right, you best do it with these guys,” so I jumped on it.
Where are you based?
I’m based out of Canada. I moved to Canada with my family. I’m originally from the Netherlands. If I mess up my grammar or sentence structure, it’s because I’m still a Dutchman. It sounds like I know how to speak this language but I mess it up from time to time.
Are you 6’6″ like the rest of the Dutch?
Pretty much. Even if the snow’s going to come down, I can probably still look across a little bit here in Canada.
I’m 6’4″ and I’ve done paid speaking events in 26 countries. The only time I’ve ever felt small was speaking at the Entrepreneur’s Organization event in Amsterdam. I walk into the room and I’m like, “What are they feeding people? Every single person in the room is huge.”
The tallest people in the world, that’s right.
It’s crazy. It’s amazing. I love it over there too. I’m a huge fan. You moved to Canada. What’s the difference in your mind between the CEO and COO? What have you noticed that’s different? You mentioned the integrator side but are there other things you think are different? How do you think that the CEO and COO need to show up differently day-to-day as well?
There is no job description for either. It’s a title. I like our balance. I’m an integrator. Mikael, my CEO, is a visionary. His job is to push and my job is to pull. That means that if he is setting a bar, I want to make sure that I take my team to meet it. To some extent, for the CEO to show up is to set the bar, state the vision, make it inspiring, aspirational, and something to chase, and make sure we don’t run out of money. My job is to spend it and make it happen.
Have you noticed yourself change at all? You and I are very similar this way. We’re both entrepreneurs and we’ve also played the COO role as well. Have you noticed that you have changed in terms of your day-to-day the way that you’re showing up as a COO when you used to be a CEO?
Yeah. When you’ve got the financial responsibility of the company as your bottom line of whether you make it happen or not, it changes your attitude toward things. You’re a bit more aggressive and a bit sharper. My obligation to the company is to meet goals and make sure I cultivate the culture and the people to make it happen.
I was an agency owner for twelve years. At the end of the day, we chased projects and tried to close retainers but that was about results and pushing for the next step. I didn’t spend enough time building people and a proper team at the time. What has shifted for me is having way more attention for the people who make it happen, being able to very consciously lead by example and create a culture that matches a startup.
We’re not a sixteen-hour workday type of startup. We work our asses off but we also have families so there’s a nice balance there. Being able to make that happen and still book some very awesome results, the approach there has changed a little bit. It’s been more people-focused and more practical. I got more time to focus on the makings of the processes, the SOPs, and how things line up. I am being able to very much put time into that. I mentioned this on a COO Alliance call. The biggest impact I’ve had on companies has not been through effort. It has always been through structure.
The biggest impact you’ve had on companies has not been through effort. It’s been through structure. What do you mean by that? Is it SOPs or playbooks?
We got 40 to 80 hours a week to do stuff and then it stops. You can be highly effective in 40 to 80 hours a week. That’s no problem but then, the week is over and you can do that again next week. If you want to make an impact, that’s big enough. You can have a lifestyle business and work your butt off and that’s great. You do 48 hours a week and make a ton of money. That’s awesome but if you want to build something that makes a bigger impact, the effort you put in as a person is not going to be the reflection of the output. It’s going to be the structure you create for the people you do it with that will help you get to the next stage of the business and keep growing.
I know I said we weren’t going to talk about it but I’ve made a big decision to cut out our sales team and jump back in. I’m taking calls, which is awesome. I’ve been a salesperson for eighteen years so that’s natural to me. I love doing it. It’s not going to make us grow to the next thing. I’m rebuilding the sales mechanics and the structure so I can get someone else to take over as a director to run it. I’m good at building the structure but I’m more effective at building that and then getting someone to operate it because I’m good at that across a company, not in just one department. If I create this structure instead of doing the effort, I can have a way bigger impact.
How do your people respond to that?
It’s interesting. We’re a fully remote company. We have an amazing culture as well, which is cool. You can tell from meetings and the way we communicate. We’re very direct, open, and outspoken. When we need to let someone go, it’s always two sides to the coin. On the one hand, it’s always crappy to let someone go. We are unfortunate enough to like each other. That doesn’t always help business but we’re a great group of people. It’s always a shitty conversation to have.
On the other hand, we’re also a startup. We want to make a dent in the market. If we want to make something happen, we have to hustle and make big decisions. We’re still small enough of a company. We’re under 20 people to know that 1 person makes or breaks the results we want to make. To some extent, we all get that. We all know stuff is or isn’t working and we need to make decisions to make it happen. This was not working.
This means you’re an all-remote company as well. Are you all remote North American employees or do you have employees who are global? Where’s your employee base?
That’s all global. We’ve got people in Eastern Europe. Our product manager is based out of Italy. We’ve got people traveling. Our partner manager is working out of Colombia. We’ve got people all over. To us, we don’t care if you show up and deliver. You can be in China, Japan, or Australia. I don’t care. As long as you’re there for crucial meetings and deliver on the job, I’m good with that.
My challenge was I was in the Netherlands. I was working from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM because I wanted to be able to take meetings throughout the day. That did cost me my Saturday to catch up on some sleep. That was one of the biggest reasons for us to move here to Canada. It was for me to catch my breath and get a little bit back into the 9:00 to 5:00, 8:00 to 6:00, or 7:00 to 7:00 routine depending on the day because that did get to me after doing that for a while.
I’m curious. I was going to ask if being Dutch helped you on the global landscape as well as managing a business with global employees. I’m curious how you manage time when you do have employees in all time zones. Do you try to operate in a North American time zone structure?
Mostly. We have clients all over the globe as well so that means our success team needs to be pretty flexible. What we see is we have morning people, afternoon people, and evening people. It also means that when they are flexible with their calendar, it’s also easier to customize that to the clients we bring in. At the end of the day though, we have crucial company meetings between 9:00 and 5:00. We have all hands every day for 15 minutes at 9:00 AM and we have a weekly on Friday also at 9:00 AM. Any other company meetings are usually before 12:00 to try and make that feasible for everyone.
You mentioned before we hopped on that you’re a VC-backed company but you’re making a bit of a shift of focus. Can you want to walk us through what’s going on?
I had a bootstrap agency that I built out for twelve years and then sold it. My pie has always been on the money and profitability. I didn’t care about revenue. I cared about the margin. Are we making money or not? That’s how we build a company. One of the first things that Mikael, my CEO, said when he brought me in was, “You got to keep in mind we have money to burn, not to save. We took on money to go fast. It’s not just about making money. It’s also about spending it.”
What I’m finding is we made some great decisions and very bad decisions with that. Do you want to build a business? You got to make money. That is not revenue. That is still margins because that’s what sets the actual value of a business. It makes you less dependent on that as well. We can have way better conversations about a viable business that’s making money by itself and that’s not burning capital than if we were dependent on external capital to keep coming in. We decided, “Let’s show that we can do it so that if we want to go fast again, we have a track record that we can pull this off ourselves as well. It sets us up for a way more interesting conversation.”
How much money have you raised as a company at this point?
About $2.5 million.
Have you run through that cash or are you still sitting on some of that cash?
We still have some of that cash.
It is interesting to be able to have that focus. How has that impacted your team and your leadership? What do you think you guys are doing differently or saying differently? How are you operating differently?
It was cool. We decided to make that switch. We put our numbers on the table, all of it. We talk finance with everyone in the company. We show them the numbers and traction in terms of revenue or how much we’re burning. We’re putting everyone’s salary on a screen but we are showing what we’re spending per team or a specific part of the business.
We set a target. We said, “We’re going to go to Cabo in ’23 or ’24. The year depends on you. We are taking the entire team there but the pace at which we’re getting there, this is the money we want to make and this is how quickly we can get there based on where we are. If you can make or save us money in your job or enable us to get there faster, we will go to Cabo faster. What can you do to contribute to that?” It’s not about revenue targets. We made it more personal. It’s something I aspire for as a team.
Nobody cares about revenue. At the end of the day, revenue is just a number. It’s monopoly money. We need to make it more tangible and practical and say, “We have a common goal. We all want to sit on the beach and get massages between palm leaves. If that is something we aspire to, then let’s put that on the board, put a number to it, and chase it.” That has shifted mindsets.
We put up #Cabo2023 into Slack messages. I made an impact on this. I lost a deal here. I need to up my game so we can get back on it and get back to #Cabo2023. It’s a theme that keeps pushing us as something to rally around. Being able to do that with actual numbers and knowing that what we spend or make has an impact on that changes how we operate across the company.
Are there any numbers that you don’t open up? Do you disclose the financials or the profitability? Do you disclose your salaries?
Outside of salaries, that’s the one thing we don’t share. We do lump that up. We share everything so cash in hand and all of that. That’s all on the board.
You take the team through the P&L on a monthly basis. Do you follow the Great Game of Business Jack Stack’s model with that or did you create your model for the open book financials?
We started with EOS at first. We shipped that up a little bit. It’s interesting. I put the entire company on a two-week sprint across all teams. Our engineering team was already working on a sprint basis. In late 2022, we said, “We’re going to move all of us into a two-week sprint.” At this stage, we’re on weekly sprints. We are a small enough company to make that quick. We set aspirational goals for the quarter. We plan for projects 2 to 3 weeks ahead and that’s it.
Do you operate with a budget?
It’s interesting how you mentioned aspirational goals. I was trying to talk to a company about this and saying, “You need to have a budgeted number and an aspirational goal. The budgeted number is come hell or high water. This is what we’re hitting. We’re going to budget our expenses based on that. If revenue is less, we’re going to have to make some cuts.”
“We’re going to drive towards these aspirational goals or additional targets. If we get to those, we might start spending more to continue that growth as well.” They didn’t originally understand the difference between those two and they’re critical. How do you explain the differences to your employees when you know you have a budgeted revenue number and a goal that you’re shooting toward? Do you miss the aspirational goals?
I had a hard time bringing that across as well. We can set the bar and tell them, “Wouldn’t it be great if we made this happen,” but that doesn’t resonate well. It resonates when you know it’s going to be an outcome for the valuation of the business and that impacts you as a person, which is not a connection everyone in the company will make.
Since we’ve connected it to this #Cabo2023 goal, we put a number to it. If we aspire to go in September 2023 and not in February 2023, “Here’s what we got to do,” it gets practical. The realistic goal is we want to be profitable. That means we push for that and that is a target we have to hit based on the strategy we laid out. The aspirational goal is we get there quickly so that we can go to Cabo. It’s more tangible and something we can rally around.
I’ve had a very hard time managing and holding people accountable to arbitrary numbers. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t directly impact you, people don’t care. You can talk all about being bought into a company’s vision or not. We’re still people who care about our lives first beyond anything else. If it doesn’t impact you, it’s not going to do anything.
What’s your vacation policy with your employees? Did you bring the European model to vacations? Where are you with that?
When I came into a Canadian company saying, “Back in the Netherlands, we get at least five weeks off a year,” everyone’s eyes lit up a little bit thinking, “Five weeks? Sure.” What’s interesting is we have an unlimited pay time-off policy of politics, which in principle sounds good but it’s something I want to look at again in 2023.
The idea sounds great but I need to push people to take time off. It doesn’t work that well. I’d rather set more specific numbers and manage those numbers to make sure people take that time off. At the end of the day, we have a very committed team. They’re not taking the time to look after themselves. They keep working.
It’s a struggle point as well to try to coach and push people to take the time off, I find too. It’s one thing to have a vacation policy. It’s another thing to push people to take it, which is intriguing too. You talked a little bit about leading by example. What does that mean for you? How do you lead by example?
I’m very much an advocate of owning your mistakes. I’m Dutch, which means I’m direct as well, which is helpful. I have a Type A personality, which also means I don’t shy away from speaking my mind. If I see someone messed up, I’ll tell them in one-on-one circumstances, not as a group. I want to call people out on their mistakes and then see how they respond to them. I ask them to do the same. I’m an executive so that hardly happens. What I try and do is mess up and then write about it. I use the Slack channel, our company communications channel.
I messed up a deal. I should have pushed to get to know the decision-making unit. It was not long ago. I talked to a guy. He was super excited. 25 minutes into a call, he was looking to schedule a next call. I was like, “Done. Let’s do it.” Two days later, he canceled the call. I’m like, “You were so excited.” I didn’t ask about his manager. He was making the decision.
I wrote up a story about how I messed that up in detail. I’m pretty sure no one cares about the intrinsic parts of all the sales mechanics that I apply. Putting thought into what I did wrong, writing it up, reflecting on it, and then sharing how I messed up, owned the mistake, and wanted to do better next time, and then putting #Cabo2023 on then there, to me, helps inspire people to do the same even if they’re not writing about it to at least rethink, “What have I done wrong today? How can I do better tomorrow?”
I love the whole #Cabo2023 as well. Do your employees get to bring a guest?
I don’t know yet but if I’m going to say yes on this show, we probably need to make it happen. I’ll need to make sure that we do.
Here is an interesting twist. You’ve got your #Cabo2023 target and then there’s a bring a guest target, which is about 10% or 15% higher. If you can go to that number, then we can also bring a guest as well.
I’m excited. I’m going to make this happen.
It becomes a super baller move all of a sudden.
I’m going to run with that.
It’s not even a company trip. It’s like, “I get to go to Cabo with my acquaintances in the company and I get to bring my partner, spouse, and friend.” It’s not that expensive because the reality is they have to share a hotel room. They can have 2 beds or 1 bed. It’s one extra flight. It’s not that much anyway. It becomes an interesting additional driver too.
I love how you’re so practical about this as well. You are pitching the idea and then you’re like, “They need to share a room.” I love that type of thinking. That’s awesome. I’m running with that.
I’m an operator too. You talked a little bit about the fact that you were an agency CEO. What do you think you picked up from running the agency? What kind of an agency was it back then?
I usually explain that I had a Christmas tree full of cool stuff that we sold to people in the first 8 years, which was how I raked up about â‚¬200,000 in debt. That was the experience. I hired, fired, and got interns or people in the first eight years and messed up a lot. I’ve been a salesperson for most of my career so I was good at selling but I was a crappy operator.
I brought them in at the front. They dropped out in the back and only paid half their bill. That meant that I was growing a team and the bills weren’t getting paid. I raked up a ton of debt. I learned how to manage cashflow, do books, operate, and set up systems. Apparently, the software doesn’t solve anything. You need to use it and get your team to use it. Those parts of having to become an operator as part of running the business led me to find the right operator 10 years into it and be able to sell it 12 years into it.
From the stuff I’ve learned from finance and being smart about how to create revenue opportunities that are not inside the box, I built eventually an agency that did custom WordPress development for high-quality productions for clients. The projects ranged from 15,000 to 30,000. We had retainers and service fees that came with that as well.
I built it to be a somewhat recurring business, which brought the valuation up. Being a boutique agency like that, we ended up with five people on staff but did some cool stuff with the company. That allowed me to eventually sell it to a group of investors that bundled up a bunch of agencies into a broader portfolio of services.
I want to ask about two parts to that. The first one is if we’re like Fred’s Manufacturing Company and we want to hire a digital agency, how should we go about doing that properly? Where do companies screw up picking an agency?
There are two parts that are very important. One is who’s going to run it after you’re done. If you’re going to go with a custom production, that means you are always going to be dependent on the person who built it for you. I know I sold WordPress productions. You can go to anyone but you also need to go to someone to get work done because it’s still a tech setup. You’re going to go with something more standard. That’s content management, like a standard production system. That’s probably a lot easier.
What I learned is to look at who you have in the business that is going to do it. Make them the biggest contributor to making a decision, whether it’s the right solution or not, because they need to do the job of keeping that going. If they’re not able to do it, that bill is going to stack up rather quickly because you need to go back to the agency to do a bunch of stuff. That’s number one. Who’s going to run it after you’ve gone through that whole spiel of getting that all built out?
The second is the portfolio. I usually went off of design first. For us, design was the most important part because you can put thought into actual customer acquisition and positioning of a company. If their portfolio does not reflect some thought in terms of how to position a business and how to do design work, then they’re going to build a template for you and there’s no thought put into that. You shouldn’t pay more than five figures for it.
Many companies screw that up. They tend to take the first referral that comes along and are like, “I’ll use that agency,” and it never works out the way it’s supposed to. It’s almost like hiring people, which leads me to the question. You’ve started to build some skillsets around picking people. What do you think you’ve learned there? What are your processes for interviewing and selecting people?
My wife’s a DISC consultant. She taught me 1 thing or 2 about communication profiles, which has been a key contributing factor to me picking the right people and understanding team dynamics. You may have all the right types of minds in the room but if no one’s able to bring that across or simplify it, elaborate well enough, or create the structure to do it, you’re not getting anywhere.
Later, we adopted Kolbe as the second stage of that. It is not just communication but also how you work and divide your energy throughout the day. Especially in a remote business like ours, I can’t sit down across a table and read someone’s posture. It is hard for me to read a person without sitting at the same table. I need to do it through a screen. These systems have helped us do that a little bit more effectively.
I learned to say no to a lot of people. I hire too quickly. Especially when I joined the business here, the best hires I’ve made were the people who went through multiple stages of hiring. We’re at a 3 to 4 to 5-stage hiring process. We need to be thorough to get the right people on board. We’re a small enough company where one person’s going to make or break it. I have the responsibility to my company and my people to bring the right person on board. If it’s not the right person, I’m going to break their company. Being thorough about that has been very important.
What do you do in the stage where you find someone and you feel like you like them right away but you know you’ve got to go through the process?
I still go through the process. I got it wrong once and it flushed out through the process where I got into stage 2 or 3 of our hiring process and picked up on a person that I thought was interesting. I said, “You’re the right person for our culture fit. I’m going to fast-track into this.” I then thought, “We made an agreement on this as a team. Let me get you on a call later this afternoon. Let’s have that conversation.” It turned out to be a bit of an awkward conversation enough.
We did go to stages 2 and 3. It turns out that the person was full of shit. It happens. That’s where I learned I don’t know it all and I can’t see it all. The best results I got were not through effort but through structure. This structure was put in place to flush this out. I need to use it. I’d love to fast-track people through it. I’ve seen plenty of stories about people saying, “If you got the right person, you got the right person.” I’m still not convinced that they’re the right person. That’s love at first sight and I am not a believer.
You are not a believer in love at first sight. You and your wife split up at one point and then it became one of that second sight. You swiped right.
In the midst of it, we had been together for twelve years with a low break in between. That is what we usually tell people. We got on a bit of a rocky start the first couple of years. She got pregnant pretty quickly. We were pretty young and stupid. We dove right into it and didn’t get a lot of time to get to know each other. We got straight into parenthood, which was tough. I started the business at the same time. I thought that was a great idea.
That’s brutal. There’s no chance.
I found that out a couple of years into the relationship. There was a lot of love in the relationship but not a lot of circumstances to allow us to show that. That’s the best way of putting it. We decided to split up and take some time for ourselves. That was not a maybe later type of conversation. That was a that-was-it type of conversation. We went our own ways. We did share parenthood for a while and saw other people.
Two and a half years in, I was swiping right too much on Tinder. Her profile came up and I was like, “That’s a good picture of her. Screw it.” I swiped right. It turns out she also did that before I did it. We got to chatting. I said, “I’ll be forward. I’ve got a couple of kids sleeping upstairs but I am pretty sure they won’t notice if you come over. Do you want to come over for 1 hour or 2?” She said, “I’ll see you in 30 minutes.” We’ve got two more kids so it has worked out.
I’m happy for you. Especially in the early 3 or 4 years of age, kids are hard. Marriage is hard and running a business is hard. I’m glad that you guys did that. It’s wonderful. Congrats. I’m curious. What do you do to keep a good relationship as a busy exec or a busy COO? I hear from a lot of our COO Alliance members that they feel overworked and stressed out. They feel like they’re working crazy hours. I can’t think but feel like that’s going to affect their personal lives too. What do you do to make sure that your personal life isn’t taking a backseat?
Moving to Canada was a big move for us because I didn’t realize how much effort and time I put into the business throughout the week. I’m not talking about working hours. I’m talking about what I’m putting into the business, which means lack of sleep, catching up on lack of sleep, or the weekend, and stuff like that. We talk about that a lot.
I’m a direct Dutch person but she is the most direct type of Dutch person you can find. If she’s going to call BS, she’ll do that within the second. It has been a great way to have a relationship between the two of us because we don’t take things from each other. If something’s up, we talk about it. I’ll know exactly when something’s up. I’ll have that conversation and vice versa.
We both consciously made a commitment to divide up efforts and know exactly what to expect from each other. If we don’t follow through on what we agreed on, we’re going to ask each other, “We made a commitment. Here’s the balance we’re looking for. Here’s how we’re supposed to be doing it. You didn’t follow through or I didn’t follow through. We’re going to make up for that.”
That sounds a bit like a business transaction but it’s the most practical way for us to get through the week. I’ve got four kids that need breakfast and lunch for the day that need to get to school and picked up again. They might bump their heads and need to get picked up. All those scenarios have been talked about and we know exactly who does what.
When I look at my day, there is some level of flexibility but I’ve got two days a week where I can run over. If it’s more than two, I stop. Getting those types of very stupid simple rules has helped create some bandwidth for when I do need to put some extra effort into it but also when I need to stop myself and say, “This was enough for the week.”
Do you find that working from home is a good thing or a bad thing?
I didn’t work from home until we moved here. I had an office ten minutes from my house. I preferred that at the time because it kept me more focused and less distracted. I didn’t have an actual office space in my house back in the Netherlands. Here, I’ve got an office space in the house where I can close the door. I prefer this because I can still see my kids come into the house around 3:00.
I’ve got a glass on the door. They’ll come up here, knock on the door, and wave because they know they can’t come in when Dad’s working. I’m still going to wave, smile at them, and see that they’re here and acknowledge that they’re here. Being able to do that as those quick little minutes of them being able to come home and see dad being there has been great.
You’re out of the woods. You’re at a stage where you can have normal conversations. They can pick up their things. Even the five-year-olds can carry their food to the table.
From time to time, the 5-year-olds do a better job than the 9-year-olds.
True story. They’ll start doing a better job than eleven-year-olds too. Teenage boys become useless at thirteen. It’s terrible and weird.
I’m looking forward to it.
You mentioned saying no in the interview process. How do you find you are at saying no to employees? I find that as leaders, it’s hard to say no because we want to empower them and feel good about all their ideas. Where are you there?
I had this conversation with Mikael, my CEO. I’ve been always pushing the idea of inclusivity. I want to be inclusive in our decision-making and planning. I’m stepping away from that for 2024. That might sound like an unpopular decision but what I’ve found is inclusivity is also slow as hell. It means we need to talk about a whole bunch of things all the time.
Most of the time, we’re still doing it anyway. We could have probably gotten more done if we went ahead and did it and then messed it up, and then got back on it and tried something else. We’re going to run with experimentation first instead of inclusivity in 2024. It’s like, “If it’s a good idea, show me,” instead of, “Let’s talk about it and then write up a small business case.” It is effort, resources, and outcome. If there is no clear outcome that’s going to contribute to #Cabo2023, it is not worth it.
There is a theme there. You want to go to Cabo. You mentioned that the CEO of your business knew you and coached you while you were the agency owner. Over the period that he coached you, you then exited the business and he said, “Why don’t you come to work with me?” What do you think he saw in you that made him want to bring you on as a COO when you had been the entrepreneur?
He joked about it numerous times when he said, “I never hired you for your background. I hired you for your personality.” He needed someone to call BS when he saw BS, which is pretty much a trait that I’ve picked up. It’s maybe being a Dutchman or being myself. I don’t know but I don’t think it’s just that. I’m pretty sure I bring more to the table than some communication skills. What he saw is I’m pretty good at tying stuff together and making it work quickly.
I have a tendency to overthink from time to time but because I’m conscious of it, I stop myself quickly enough to run with it and try it. I’m thorough enough to not break it on the third or fifth iteration. Mikael built this company bootstrap with that same mentality but he knew that in step 3, he was going to fall through because he is not the person who’s going to follow through on how to then take it from step 3 to 10.
We follow this framework called 1-3-10, which is taught by Michael Ho, a guy who has been working with us for a long time. He crafted this framework to help startups think through when to push and go. One means, “Let’s test it.” Three means, “It’s working.” Ten means, “Now we got to make it a process.” Until we hit the tenth iteration, shut up and go do it.
I’ve done a lot of system stuff around that where I do the first system on a Post-It note and then I move it from a Post-It note to a Word doc, like a Google Doc or a Google Sheet. After reusing it, then I’ll move it into something like a system. I’m putting it into Process Street or Processor something. Often, people try to get into the documentation of it at such a level and they don’t even know if it’s working. It drives me bonkers.
Validate it first. That’s the whole point.
Let’s go back to the 21 or 22-year-old 6’6″ Dutchman. What advice would you give the young Kevin Beeftink starting out in his career? Maybe you know it to be true now but you wish you knew when you were 21 or 22.
I started working when I was eighteen. I finished school and told my parents I wasn’t going to do a follow-up education and run with it. I did take a year of education and found out I wasn’t going to do more of it. In my twenties, I felt such pressure to prove myself to show the world that I could probably do it. I was like, “Throw it at me. I’ll figure it out,” which has gotten me to where I am.
It’s also a tough type of mentality to grow through because it wasn’t ambition. It was more of having to prove myself every step along the way. In hindsight, it was more detrimental than it should have been because my ambition is what is fueling me. I probably would tell myself, “Stop proving yourself and use that ambition for you, not for someone else.”
Kevin Beeftink, the COO for Funnelytics, thanks very much for sharing with us on the show.