Our guest today is COO Alliance member and Operations Manager of Growth Cave, Jordan Marksberry.
Jordan is the operations manager for the Growth Cave, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses get new clients through Facebook advertising. Jordan is only 20, but he’s running a company that will do about $20 million in revenue this year, maybe a little bit more than that. Starting as employee number one, he works with two CEOs to run what is now a 43-person business. Today’s episode covers a lot of ground, from growth, leadership and delegation, to automation and leveraging technology.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- The seemingly ever-present imposter syndrome found among CEOs.
- Jordan’s path to becoming an Operations Manager.
- How he takes increasingly more responsibility off the founders’ plates.
- Some of the different technology tools that he relies on to do his job.
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I’ve wrapped up an amazing episode with Jordan Marksberry, who is the Operations Manager for the Growth Cave. He is one of the most talented operations people I’ve met, and he is young. They’re running a company that’ll do about $20 million in revenue, or maybe a little bit more than that. He was employee number one. He’s still the Operations Manager working with the two CEOs, running now a 43-person company. They’re adding ten more employees soon.
You’re going to love his mindset around growth, leadership, delegation, and even some of his thoughts around automation and leveraging technology. You’re going to love this episode. I was super excited to have him on as a guest, but just to sit and be able to learn from him and listen to what somebody who’s so young is doing is extraordinary. We’re also excited that he is a COO Alliance member as well. Enjoy this episode. Hopefully, we will have you reading many more after this one as well.
Jordan, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Cameron. I’m very excited to be here.
I’m looking forward to this. Our readers won’t see how young you are, and you set a new record as one of our COO Alliance members. A couple of years ago, I was excited that we had a member who is 26. I’m like, “It’s amazing. Our oldest member is 62. Our youngest is 26,” and then all of a sudden, you came along, and how old are you?
I’m 20 this 2023. When I joined the COO Alliance originally, I was nineteen, which maybe sounded ridiculous.
Nineteen did sound completely ridiculous, but you were just operating at a completely different level and you’re running a real company. How many employees do you guys have now?
We’re at 43. We just onboarded two new employees. We’re looking to bring on about ten-ish to our sales team. We’re at 43 as of this time, but we’re growing very quickly.
One of the things that we bump into a lot with COOs or seconds in command is the imposter syndrome. It’s where they wake up every morning, the company is the biggest thing they’ve ever run, and it keeps getting bigger. Often, leaders feel like they’re not qualified to do the job or they’re wondering how they got in the position. Is that something you struggle with and to what extent? How do you work through that?
You had mentioned there would be a home run question and I think it might be exactly this because I feel like I’m the perfect person to answer. I feel like coming into this role, I had no ego, which is why I don’t deal with imposter syndrome too much. I remember when I had first joined the COO Alliance, that’s when it started to creep up and I’m seeing all these other COOs. I’m seeing all these people who have 100-plus employees. They’re doing $100 million a year.
I was intimidated at first, but then, I started attending the meetings and I was hearing the questions that they were asking. I then realize, “These people are dealing with the same problems that I am. They’re having the same problems with employees, tracking, systems that they’re using,” or even with small things. I realized they’re asking the same questions that I am and that pretty much completely removed any imposter syndrome feeling that I have. However, going into the raw, having no ego, and being somebody who is willing to learn anything throughout the process has helped me a ton.
Do you think you came into it with no ego because you knew you were young and you knew you were doing something that was big? Why do you think you came into it with no ego?
I would say maybe because I had no expectations, especially when I started in the role. We were a much smaller company. I was employee number one, and now, we have 43 employees. We’ve grown pretty quickly. Maybe it was my expectations going into the role, but at the same time, I was just a sponge. I was nineteen when I started in the role. I was eager to learn any and everything possible surrounding operations and the role that I was about to take on.
Are you in college? Were you in college? Did you avoid college? What was your path there?
I did go to college for a year and I was doing sales for two. Funny enough, my senior year of high school was right around the time of COVID and I had gotten into high ticket sales. That’s what got me into this industry. I’d done sales for two years and I did pretty decent at it. I ended up dropping out of college and moving to Atlanta. It was about six months into that journey that the company I was with crumbled apart.
I had never imagined myself in an operations role before. I’d applied and messaged Lucas, who was our CEO to become a sales rep. We didn’t interview and he was like, “You might be good at operations.” That’s a good judgment call on his end seeing that potential in me and it spread into something great. Now, we have 43 employees. We did $2.5 million and we’re growing very quickly. He recognized that in me. I did go to college. I ended up dropping out after having done sales for two years, and then I went into the operations role.
What do you think he identified in someone that was young? Again, admittedly the company was small and young at the same time, but what did he see in you that he entrusted you with some of the operations in the early days?
I wouldn’t be too sure but from my perspective, it might be the mindset that I had or the questions that I was asking. Also, the eagerness I had going to the role because he did give me a choice. He said, “You can do sales. You’d be starting out as a setter,” which didn’t interest me too much, “You can go into operations.” When I was at the company doing sales, I was doing everything else as well. We were very small. We were doing about $250,000 a month. There were only two sales reps on the team.
I was also managing email marketing. I was working through Zapier. I was building stuff on the backend for fun. I wasn’t getting paid for it. That was something that had always interested me, but I never had it as a skill. It was something new, and Lucas had that spark of genius. He saw the potential and it ended up working out. I didn’t know much going into the role. A lot of the stuff I’ve learned along the way.
Has it been easy the whole time? Did it get hard at some point in the role? Where do you think things transitioned there or have they?
It’s gotten hard at several points within the role, but that’s the transitional points that are important. When everything is going very easily and smoothly, there’s not a lot of growth happening. I find that whenever I do have a lot of pressure on me or I’m in a hard place, that’s when the most growth happens within myself and then within the company and with me growing into this role.
Where specifically have you grown and where do you think you’re growing now? As leaders, we’re always growing. As the company scales, we continue to scale. Where have you worked on your skills? Where have you grown and what are you working at?
Me now versus where I was years ago is a complete day and night difference. Anybody in our company will tell you that, especially Lucas because he’s seen me since the very beginning. I would say it’s changes in my mindset as a leader and the way that I’m presenting myself to the team and the role that I hold with the team.
When I first started, maybe it wasn’t imposter syndrome, but I didn’t feel like I had the authority to do certain things. As we’ve grown, as we’ve hired more employees, as I’ve done hundreds of interviews, that’s changed quite a bit. It’s having more authority and stepping more into that leadership mindset instead of being another person on the team.
How do you face the elephant in the room? Are most of your employees young so the age doesn’t matter, or do you have any employees that are in their 50s or 60s that are looking at you going, “How am I reporting to you or reporting to someone who’s reporting to you?”
That’s also a great question because I think about that all the time. It’s funny because none of our employees are around my age. We have one other guy that was the guy that I was doing sales with before, and he’s also twenty. That’s the only other one that’s around my age. Most of our employees are in their late 20s or mid-30s.
We have some in their 40s and almost 50s. Nobody is quite there yet, but I haven’t run into a single issue with that. That’s why it’s so funny because, at my age, all the employees under me have complete respect for my authority and my decisions. We work very well together. It’s never been an issue, which I find very interesting but I’m also very grateful for it.
I’ve said for years that the 50-year-old who’s saying they’ve got 30 years of experience has got 5 years of experience 6 times in a row. He’s going to bump into a 25-year-old who’s got 5 years of experience and the technology experience to kick his ass. Do you think that’s something that you’re bringing to the table because of your age or that you have just learned technology and are bringing that into the company? Is that helping to keep you elevated?
That’s what helped me land the role in the first place. I had that skillset already, which is what got me here. Also, the mindset that I had developed throughout the beginning of the role is what got me to the next part of it, which is stepping into that second-in-command position and leading the company. I had that in the beginning combined with the other skills that I developed over time. It wouldn’t have been possible without the technical aspect and the technical skills that I had.
What advice would you give somebody who’s 50 showing up in the office on a day-to-day basis? What do they have to do to start getting ready for the next five years of their career?
It’s a tough one, but I would say learning in as many areas as possible because the skills that I had technologically that helped me in this role are things that I had learned from all over. I had a reselling business where I sold sneakers. I learned a lot of spreadsheet stuff. I had spent years editing videos and doing photography when I was in school so I learned a lot of the software side of things.
There were a lot of little side things that I had done in the past where I was learning 1 or 2 things that would lead to this role. T’s taking everything from maybe those past few year terms that you’ve had and applying those to the role that you have now. I realized a lot of the stuff that I had already learned, or a lot of the stuff that I had already known, was able to be applied to this even if it was in a completely different industry, niche, or field that I was working in..
The last question about the age-related stuff and about the learning stuff is your parents. You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you came from a family that thought you were going to be a university grad and off to do your MBA. What did Mom and Dad have to say about you dropping out of university after your first year?
They were not very happy and they still aren’t. They still want me to go to school, but they are very supportive now. Both of my parents were in the military. I can never afford to go to school. For me, it was the precedent that you’re going to go to school. You’re going to go get a college degree because we couldn’t.
I’m grateful that my parents were able to put me in a position where I was able to go to school for free because of the military and their support, but I realized it wasn’t for me. They told me like, “That sounds good, but it’s time to get out.” I ended up moving out right after I had dropped out of college and moved to Atlanta. Now, I’m living in Austin, Texas. They are very supportive. It’s been a couple of years since then. It was a fun talk that we had back then.
The whole story about Gen Y and Gen Z being unable to launch and unable to leave home is not true because you’re already done. You’re out the door and off in your career. Tell us about the company. What’s Growth Cave do?
Growth Cave has a few different offers, but our main offer is our Knowledge Business Accelerator. We help coaches and consultants scale using YouTube ads. We have a very simple process that we follow. Lucas, our CEO, is a genius when it comes to scaling courses and YouTube ads in general. We apply a lot of our frameworks to their business. Anybody that has an online coaching or consulting business or maybe an in-person one that they want to take online.
One of our clients is a perfect example where he’s had a sciatica clinic or a chiropractic clinic for the last many years. He took his course online and he’s doing six figures a month in sales. That’s using our templates and frameworks from taking his small chiropractic clinic and turning it into an online course on how to relieve back pain or how to relieve years of sciatica following this simple process. We’re applying our templates and our frameworks to different coaches and consultant businesses that are already existing.
You are in a space that would be digital marketing. You’re like a digital marketing agency of sorts. How do you say no to all of the other products and services that exist in the digital space and stay so niched?
We say no a lot because we know that what we have works and we also know that what we have, we excel in. As I mentioned, Lucas is an absolute genius when it comes to marketing. On the flip side, we have Ozzie, Lucas’ partner, who is an absolute genius when it comes to the mindset and that’s exactly what our clients need. They need the mindset portion because they’re running a business full-time and they also need the marketing to be able to drive the traffic and sales. We know what we’re good at and we just stick to that.
What about working with the founders? You’ve got two founders that you work with right now. How do you balance that?
We have a solid dynamic with the three of us. Lucas and Ozzie, I look up to them in many different ways. They’ve been the two main people that pushed me to this level of growth. We work very well together. We have a good balance when it comes to flipping a switch off being able to hang out and have a conversation at dinner that’s not work-related to the next day, we’re on our meetings and we’re going over everything that needs to be done. A lot of the time, Ozzie and Lucas throw their ideas at me, and then from there, it’s up to me to implement those and delegate them to the team.
That was what I was going to ask. You’re fairly pragmatic, practical, and logical. It seems like you’re also fairly systems-focused, and you’re dealing with two founders that are, or one for sure, who is very entrepreneurial, scattered, and ADD in the most perfect way as an entrepreneur. That would be Lucas or no. Ozzie is probably the more scattered of the two, isn’t he?
Ozzie is definitely scattered when it comes to his ideas, but that’s where the genius comes within our company by just throwing ideas on the table.
It’s like the perpetual motion machine that he’s seeing all the opportunities. How do you take all of those opportunities and decide which ones to work on now? How do you say, “Those are great ideas, but not yet?” How do you push back against that? How do you balance them all? How do you take care of them when they’re coming at you so quickly?
When it comes to big ideas, those are things that we sit as a team and work through together. We’ll be on Zoom sometimes for hours working through these things. We are laying out our plans for the next month, the next three months, the next year, or even where we see ourselves five years down the line. When it comes to those big things, we try to lay them out more on a timeline but when it comes to the small things, I’d say there’s a lot getting thrown at me each day where Lucas will mess with me with this idea. We then hop on a Zoom and Ozzie has this. I’m working on a project, but Ozzie gives me a call and he wants this stat audit or something of that sort.
There are a lot of small things coming throughout the day, which has forced me to get in the mindset of being able to delegate more to my team. This is a golden nugget that I’ve gotten from you. It needs to get done, but not by me. I’ve been using that a lot more. When it comes to the small things, I’ve delegated a lot of those to the team and like building up our management. However, when it comes to big projects, we work very well on those together because we set everything on a specific timeline for when it needs to be done.
How has your role changed over the last year in the growth you’ve gone through? What’s your role?
My role has changed completely. It’s day and night from what it was. I started out more of an operations assistant. It was me stepping into the role of managing everything internally. When I first started out, I was managing calls for the sales team. I was doing stat tracking for our sales team. I was helping with our client success meetings. I wasn’t helping too much with the client success side of things.
I was doing the things that Lucas didn’t want to do at the time and I had stepped more into the role of working on bigger projects, taking on bigger tasks, and then over time, coming up with my own ideas and implementing those things. The roles changed quite a bit, especially because we’ve had to hire more people. That forced me to become more of a leader and a manager at the same time.
Do you think that was what elevated you in your role then was taking more and more responsibility off the two founders’ plates so that it ended up on yours?
Yeah. When I had started, as I said, I was doing the things that Lucas didn’t feel like doing, but over time, I started taking more of the things off his plate that maybe were pretty important but it was more important for him to focus on the marketing side, which is what he’s great at. As more responsibility came, I adapted and improved myself throughout the process. As I mentioned, without that, I wouldn’t be here, without the mindset of constant growth and constant improvement. We’re having those hard conversations to force that. I wouldn’t be here. It would come with the responsibility that’s been put on my plate.
You’ve mentioned a lot about learning and constant growth. Where do you learn? I know some of what you said is by doing some of the different roles and stuff over the past, but is there somewhere that you turn to for learning?
I learn a lot from Lucas and Ozzie, but when it comes to things that I’m working on my own, I learn any and everywhere that I can. I’m constantly looking to other members in the COO Alliance, for example. I’m constantly reading books and watching YouTube videos. Honestly, looking a lot outside of our own industry has helped me a ton
Seeing how businesses that might be completely different from ours, like Whole Foods, for example, a grocery store. They are not running their business the same way as us, but I look to a lot of other companies to see how they’re running, and that has helped me a ton because I see that similar to the COO Alliance, they’re dealing with the same issues and they’re asking the same questions that I am. It’s soaking up knowledge anywhere that I can.
Where do you think your blind spots are right now? Do you have any ideas of where your current weaknesses are or stuff that you’re going to need to start working on?
One weakness that I’ve been working on more is being more proactive rather than reactive, especially as we scale. There are small problems that pop up every single day and it’s easy for me to feel like I have to be the person that deals with them all myself. For me, it’s leaning more on the team that I have below me to get certain things done so that way I can focus on making the company and making our managers more proactive rather than being reactive to every little problem that comes up. That’s been the biggest weakness that I’ve been working on.
You’ve mentioned the COO Alliance a couple of times as something that’s been good for you and your growth. How are you going about extracting the most value from the COO Alliance? There are things that we do and we run, but how are you trying to draw the most from it?
It is asking any question that comes to mind, even if it seems small. When I’m with my accountability group, for example, I’ll say, “How? Why this? Why not that?” Even if their questions were, “I don’t know where I’m going,” it gives me more insight into their thought processes. As I mentioned, even if another business in another industry isn’t similar to ours at all, I can still take a lot away from that. It’s the same as if I’m asking questions to other COOs. I’m digging into the way that their mind works and the way that their thought process is going on certain topics that we’re discussing. It’s asking as many questions as possible and digging into those.
I call it the ideas having sex. You take an idea from one area, an idea from another area, and those ideas spawn into something else, and they don’t necessarily have to be a linear path. You mentioned leaning out into the future, being a little bit more strategic, and trying to be more proactive with some of your decisions. How is it you’re going about that?
It’s been more of a mindset shift and also, leaning more on the team below me. We’re constantly focused on building that middle management team, especially because we’re growing to about 50 employees. We’re at that inflection point of growth where we need to develop that middle management team because it can’t be Lucas, Ozzie, and then me.
We need to have other people in place to manage those lower-level employees. It’s leaning more on my team and then also, making that mindset shift of focusing on being more proactive rather than reactive. When certain situations come up, get them completed, but then also make sure that we’re not having to deal with them again.
One of the big struggles for COOs tends to be their CEO. We have different personality profiles than our CEOs and you have to lead them a little bit. Can you speak to how you’ve had to lead both Ozzie and Lucas? How have you had to influence them and stick-handle them a little bit?
We don’t have much conflict on our management team, but a way that I would have to lead them would be the mindset that I bring to the table because we’re all very different personalities and avatars. I would say that I think much more analytically. I’m very orderly, clean, and organized. I’m thinking about spreadsheets and numbers.
That’s what I bring to the table versus Ozzie who has his ideas and his visions for the company and Lucas who’s a genius when it comes to marketing, the business, and growing the company. For me, it’s bringing more of an aspect where it’s a different personality. I’m more organized. I’m more orderly. I’m thinking along the lines of numbers. It’s the conflicting personalities there that have helped us.
One of the things that we’ve done at the COO Alliance is the Kolbe profile. Do you know what your Kolbe A profile is?
If you do yours, let me know what it is. My gut is that you’ll have a very high first two numbers. The first number is leading with asking a lot of questions and the second is putting systems in place to initiate starting a project. It feels like you won’t start a project until you’ve asked enough questions to truly understand it all, and then there’s a system in place to scale it.
Whereas somebody like Ozzie, it’s like, “I’ll start now and plan later,” which is again, the entrepreneurial way. In mentioning that you have different personalities, have you guys done personality profiles or any of them as a team? How have you diagnosed each other’s different personalities and styles?
We haven’t necessarily done specific personality tests. We had done one. Lucas had ordered these tests, but we found they didn’t give us too much of what we were looking for. I’ve done the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. I don’t know what Lucas and Ozzie’s personality types are, but it’s very clear. When we walk into a room, people wonder why we’re together. We have Ozzie, myself, and Lucas, and we’re all completely different avatars, but we end up working well together.
Did you have to adapt your style a little bit or is it more recognizing each other?
We’re all so different that we complement each other in ways that help the business grow, especially Lucas and Ozzie. As partners, it’s very important to have that and they can pass their ideas down to me to implement with the rest of the team. It’s because we’re so different that we work well together. If we were the same person, we would probably get into arguments all the time, and then one of us probably wouldn’t be here.
I haven’t had to change too much, and one thing that Ozzie’s big on is polishing our employees. It’s not like changing who they are or what they believe, but taking off layers of baggage or past experiences that have held them down and showing them their true potential. I’m still me, but it’s me being the best version of myself in the areas that I excel. I’m focusing on what I’m great at, while they can focus on what they’re great at.
There’s a leadership model out there where leadership teams go through a model or a cycle, and it’s called the Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing model. You are forming is when you’re getting together as a team, and then it’s the storming where you work through all the crap. You develop these cultural norms and the ways that we do things. Once you figure that out, then you start performing to the next level. It feels like you guys are at that stage now where you all understand. Do you have clear roles, job descriptions, reporting, and org charts or do you operate without those?
We do. We have a clear division between our departments. We do have an org chart and we are very serious when it comes to making sure that expectations are very clearly outlined, or at least I am. When it comes to onboarding new employees, I don’t want there to be any questions or confusion. They can ask questions as they’re getting onboarded into the role but it’s important to me to make sure that everything is very clear from the start. That way, there’s no miscommunication.
What are the different technology tools that you rely on?
The biggest one off the top of my head is Zapier. I’m big on automating everything inside of our business and I probably have over 250 different Zaps that we use on the day-to-day. We’re on the max Zapier plan using the max amount of tasks every single month, but it gets things done very efficiently. It allows us to build pretty complex systems. it’s something that I enjoy. It’s almost like Legos. It’s seeing how things get put together and work.
There are going to be people reading who are like, “What is a Zap and Zapier? How do you have 250 of these things?” Can you give us a couple of specific examples of things that you’ve done to automate or processes you’ve automated using Zapier?
A lot of it is in different areas. One would be reporting, for example. The CRM that we use is Close.io. It’s very similar to Salesforce or any other sales CRM. A lot of our reporting is done automatically through there. It’s funny because one of our employees was out and I was having to go through and do the reporting myself. I was having to do it manually for the first time and in probably a few months, and it took me an hour. It was ridiculous.
Where every day with Zapier, it triggers and we get that notification inside of our Slack channel. It does it by itself. When it comes to reporting, it’s made my life a whole lot easier because every single day at 9:00 AM, we get a sheet showing exactly what our stats were for the day before or what our stats are for the month. When it comes to reporting, it’s been a huge time saver.
Also, on the client management side at different check-in points or when they’ve signed a contract or when they’ve booked an onboarding call, for example. That way, we can make sure that all of our clients are completing certain action items. For our client success team to identify, “Maybe this client didn’t sign the contract,” after they got signed up three days ago. We need to follow up with them so they don’t slip through the cracks. On the client success side, it’s helped with making sure that everything is running smoothly and that no clients are slipping through the cracks.
I was talking to my assistant, Meredith, and I said, “Mer, we need to get somebody to come in and do an audit of our business somehow and figure out what kinds of systems we could start automating using Zapier.” She goes, “We do. We’ve got a bunch of them.” I’m like, “How many?” She’s like, “10 or 12.” I’m like, “We’re not even getting started.” I made up the number. I said, “Jordan’s got somewhere between 100 and 150 apps already set up. We’re missing something.”
Where does a company get started if they don’t have the person in place who’s got the aptitude or skillset set around this? Where do they get started at doing an audit of the business or how do they approach getting some things automated? Secondly, how do you decide what to automate and what to continue manually because it’s not worth a squeeze?
it’s anything that you’re doing repetitively. It’s anything that you’re doing either daily or weekly or something that happens more than 1 or 2 times and takes your actual input. Especially as somebody that’s running a company, you can’t be updating spreadsheets for multiple hours per day. That’s a very easy thing to automate when it comes to connecting Zapier, for example, to your CRM.
It’s identifying what things you’re spending unnecessary time on. It’s not necessarily projects, but more of those small tasks. A lot of people jump to, “I want to hire a VA or an assistant to take care of these things,” but a lot of money gets wasted, from what I’ve seen, at least, a lot of these processes can be automated without having to have another person or another job.
If you don’t have a person internally that knows how to do this or where to go, where do you start? Do you hop on Upwork and go find somebody? What do you look for? Walk us through it. If we don’t have a Jordan working for us, where do companies go?
Hop on YouTube. As I mentioned, I started in this role and I didn’t know a ton about operations, but I had learned a lot of it along the way. I had a basic understanding of Zapier and what it did at the time, but I had never set up a Zap before I started working at Growth Cave and that was in February of 2021. A lot of this stuff is what I’ve learned. I have gotten pretty good at it, but most of the beginning of it at least was from YouTube and reading certain articles. There’s trial and error that comes with it. There are times when I’m banging my head on the desk wondering why something doesn’t work.
However, when you work through those things and you use the resources at your fingertips, it makes your life a whole lot easier. Learning these things yourself is important because if you hire a freelancer or someone to come into your business, they can build everything for you, but then you’re going to have no idea how it works or functions. It is important as a skill to learn yourself, especially in this day and age where everything’s growing so quickly and Zapier’s releasing updates every single week. it’s almost up there with ChatGPT and its possibilities. It’s an important skill to learn yourself.
You can’t outsource something now. You have to know how to do it. I was talking to somebody and they said they needed to go hire somebody. I’m like, “The thought process you need to go through first is, do we need to even continue doing these tasks? Can we stop them completely? If we’re going to continue doing these tasks, can they be optimized? Can they be automated?” There’s no point in automating a bad system. You need to optimize the system first and then automate the system, and then if you can’t automate it, then you outsource or delegate. Is that the mindset that you go through as well or how do you approach things?
One mindset that I’ve kept over the last few months is being more resistant to hiring. You’ve mentioned this a couple of times. A lot of COOs are very quick to like, “I want to hire.” A lot of CEOs too, they’re like, “We need to put somebody in this position. We need to pay them X amount per month,” and that’s a big expense. Even if you’re hiring a virtual assistant and you’re paying them $2,000 a month, that’s a $24,000 a year commitment. If they’re at your company for five years and you’re paying $125,000 to an employee when this is a process that could have been automated, it might have cost you a couple of grand right over the whole course of five years.
It’s being resistant to spending more money. I’m very frugal thinking when it comes to the company and even in my personal life. it’s being resistant to those things. Also, I do have the mindset of wanting to automate everything. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind. I look at, “What can we erase or what can we automate?”
The growth of the organization, you came in as an employee number one. You’re now at 43. You’re hiring ten more soon. What’s substantially changed in terms of the way that you’re operating as a leader in the last months?
What’s substantially changed is that now, I am a leader and I have to be a leader. It’s because when I first started as employee number one, it was me hopping all in with Lucas or our newly hired second hire client success person, or our sales team. We had maybe six employees after my second month there. There was very little interaction when it came to management. It was just Lucas. The difference is that now, I do have to be a leader. I have teams under me. I have people that look up to me. I have people messaging me every single day so I can’t just log out because there are people that rely on me. I’ve had to step into that role.
What about strategy? Are you and the two co-CEOs spend much time in strategy, the what-if scenario in the future, and how do you approach that?
That’s a lot of Lucas and Ozzie. I hear a lot of that from them, but that’s their expertise or where they think and communicate the most.
Also, your expertise is understanding the strategy or understanding the vision. How do you get on the same page with them on vision?
I get on the same page with the vision by being more statistical and operational with it. “How are we going to get this done? What things do I need to do to bring their ideas to life?” Anything that they give or tell me, the first thing I’m thinking of is, “What are step number 1 and 10 in order to get it completed? What needs to happen in the middle?” I’m always thinking along the lines of, “What needs to be implemented in order for these ideas that Lucas and Ozzie are bringing to the table to come to life?”
You’ve never worked in a classic office environment where there are employees coming and going from 9:00 to 5:00 five days a week.
Not at all.
Do you think that your company is missing anything from not having that? How are you making sure that you have culture, communication, keeping people on the same page, and knowing people are working? How are you doing that and operating that way as a remote company?
I don’t know what it’s like to be in an office so I wouldn’t know the difference. we have a good team dynamic, even though we’re all virtual. For our sales team, for example, they’re all die-hard. They love Growth Cave and our vision. They love what we do, and they’re all very committed. It’s the same with our client success team. We throw them the bone. We give them new opportunities to grow within their personal lives and their professional lives. They step up to the plate, and we see a lot of improvement in our team. When it comes to the culture, we focus a lot on helping our employees improve their personal lives because it reflects in their work.
Whenever an employee, for example, is moving out of the country. They are wanting to move from South Africa to the US. That’s a huge ordeal. A lot of companies might be like, “You can have a week off.” However, in our case, we want to make sure that we can uplift these employees and give them more than they’ve gotten in other roles. As I mentioned, I haven’t worked in a typical office environment, but we are largely focused on helping everybody that works at Growth Cave improve their personal lives because we know that’s going to reflect on their work.
I’ve got a question for you that I’ve never been able to ask anyone before because whenever I wrap up these episodes, I tell people that if they could go back and give their twelve-year-old self some advice, what would it be? That’s a ridiculous question because you’re twenty. I’m going to flip this question and I’m going to say, “What advice would you give your 40-year-old self that you don’t want to forget that you know is working now that you believe will be working many years from now? What do you want to tell your future self?
I would tell my future self to slow down a little bit and enjoy the time that I have now. You’re only going to be twenty once. I do enjoy being my age and I enjoy where we’re at in the company, but I’m also very eager for the growth that we’re experiencing and the growth that’s to come. I do see the vision and I know that when I’m 40, I’m going to look back and be like, “If only I was 20 and we had only 40 employees and we were much smaller.” I could go back to that time. I know that one day, I’m going to be looking back on this time and cherishing it. I would tell myself to slow down and enjoy it. Smell the roses a little bit. Something that Ozzie tells me all the time is to take a step back, smell the roses, and enjoy where you are.
That’s great advice. I hope you heed it. I hope you remember it when you’re 40.
Is it easier said than done when you’re talking to a twenty-year-old?
It’s not. If you can allow that to sink in, it’ll become part of your DNA. It’s a great lesson for yourself. Jordan Marksberry, the Operations Manager for Growth Cave, thanks very much for sharing with us on the show.
Thank you, Cameron.