Strong Suit Podcast is the playbook for recruiting Rockstars.

New episodes debut each Tuesday & Thursday

Strong Suit 237: How This Chicago Entrepreneur is Drinking Up Success

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Following a successful career in investment banking, and an MBA at Chicago Booth GSB, Ryan Crane developed a thirst for entrepreneurship.

Now, he’s CEO of Tempo Tea, the fast-growing beverage company in Chicago. It helps you beat the mid-day slump.

Tempo is a new line of organic, unsweetened sparkling teas crafted to provide a guilt-free & uplifting boost of natural energy. Think tea meets 5-hour-energy.

0 calories. 0 sugar. 0 sweeteners. What’s not to like?

In this 20-minute interview, Ryan reveals how he’s building the team that’s building this disruptive business.

 

 

 

Strong Suit 236: If You Are Your Projects, Then She Is Your Hero

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Legendary business author Tom Peters once said that “you are your projects.”

Natalie Steck is on a mission to help you manage those projects far more easily.

She recently joined Viewpath as CEO. 

Based in Seattle, Viewpath markets an enterprise-grade project & resource management solution to Fortune 1000 companies. Their cloud-based SaaS software is a proven, robust, and scalable technology platform which integrates with Salesforce.com

In this 20-minute interview, Natalie reveals how she’s building the team that’s building this project management tool.

 

 

 

Strong Suit 235: Hiring a Team to Hunt Down Human Behavior

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Michael Winnick & his team at dscout have a passion for understanding what makes people tick.

So, they created a research tool that captures thoughts, reactions, and behaviors in the moments as they happen. This way, smart researchers can gather qualitative feedback?in the form of rich video, voices, images, and text?and then analyze it within a quantifiable framework.

Based in Chicago, Michael founded dscout in 2012 with the mission of leveraging technology to make in-context research everyday accessible for organizations.

As dscout’s tools have become commonplace at progressive companies, their leaders regularly tap Michael to help make sense of it all. 

In this 20-minute conversation, Michael reveals how he’s recruiting the team to build this curiosity business.

 

Strong Suit 234: What the Biggest Crowdfunding Campaign in History Can Teach You About Recruiting

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Imagine if printing a wallet (or a lamp, or a birthday card, or a sushi wrap) was just as easy as printing a résumé.

That’s the vision of Dan Shapiro, CEO & Cofounder of Glowforge.

Based in Seattle, Glowforge has created the 3D laser printer. It also holds the record as the biggest crowdfunding campaign in history, with $27.9M in preorders in 30 days. 

Put simply, Glowforge makes it simple for designers & engineers to take products directly from digital design to reality.

Before starting the company, Dan was the CEO of Google Comparison, which operates comparison shopping products. Before that, he was founder & CEO of Photobucket.

He’s also the author of Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook. And has been awarded a dozen US patents.

Whew. Busy guy.

Glowforge has 75 people. In this 20-minute conversation, Dan reveals how he’s scaling the organization in a few remarkable ways.

Strong Suit 233: How a Smart CEO Built the Team That’s Locking Up a Growth Category

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Nolan Mondrow is CEO of LockState. 12 years in the making, his persistence is paying off.

Based in Denver, LockState is at the heart of the Internet of Things.

It’s the first company to create software in the cloud that controls multiple connected locks. 

Yes, many connected lock companies make a web or mobile application that is focused on controlling their own device. 

Instead, LockState puts all of these connected locks on to their platform so?no matter what type of door or lock you need?the platform is able to control it from the cloud.

This solves the problem for property managers & owners who need to give access to their properties for guests, renters and service people, even when they are off-site. The software eliminates the expense & hassle of key exchanges, the disruption of early check-ins and overstays, and the security risks of unauthorized access. 

With funding by Iron Gate Capital, Nolan is opening doors.

And in this 20-minute conversation, he reveals how he’s recruiting the team to ‘lock up’ the category. And as Nolan explains, it hasn’t always been straight up & to the right.

Strong Suit 232: VC Turns CEO Turns Industry Upside Down

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Matt McCambridge is a VC turned CEO.

He founded Eden Health 3 years ago to elevate the health & wellbeing of employees everywhere

Based in NYC, it’s a personal health platform comprised of providers & benefits experts. Eden is the starting point to help companies & their employees navigate today’s complicated healthcare landscape across insurance, in-person, and virtual care.

Matt intends to eliminate the hassle of healthcare for employers & employees. This new kind of doctor’s office combines a private primary care practice, 24/7 telemedicine, and personalized insurance navigation into one simple platform.

Prior, he was with Insight Venture Partners.

In this 20-minute conversation, Matt reveals how he’s building the team that’s building this gamechanging company.

 

Strong Suit 231: Here’s the Startup Nursery That’s Blossoming in Ohio

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If you don’t think Ohio’s a place for startups…

Or if you don’t know what a startup nursery is…

Then this episode is for you.

Flavio Lobato & John D’Orazio are Co-Founders of IKOVE Capital, which fills the gap between the Lab and the Market.

As a “venture developer,” IKOVE has already commercialized 10 disruptive startups. They partner with inventors & scientists to bring their intellectual property to market.

With decades of experience in alternative investments & traditional securities markets, Flavio & John have partnered to find a whole new way or bringing innovations to life.

In this 20-minute conversation, they explain how they’re doing it, and of course, the people part of the startup nursery.

 

Strong Suit 230: How 1 Man At 1 Company For 35 Years Helped Build A Sandwich Empire

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How does a company that started as a simple New Jersey mom & pop storefront in 1956 build a national cult following, willing to travel miles for a taste of its submarine sandwiches?

In case you hadn’t noticed, Jersey Mike’s Subs is now the nation’s #1 fastest-growing sandwich chain, with 1,500 locations. (They opened 173 just last year alone.)

And John Hughes, Brand Ambassador, is part of the secret sauce.

John joined Mike’s 35 years ago in its very first location.

And since then, he’s been helping hire, train, develop, coach, and lead the staff of this rocketship.

In this 20-minute conversation, John reveals the secrets of the DNA that Jersey Mike’s seeks in all of its recruiting efforts, where they find the best candidates, and how they train them to provide a remarkable customer experience.

In short, this episode is Yummy!

You’ll eat it up.

 

Strong Suit 229: Who Said Startups Don’t Save Lives?

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After working in the medical transportation field for 10 years, Mark Switaj saw a glaring need & decided to do something about it.

So he started RoundTrip.

Based in Philadelphia, RoundTrip is the single touchpoint for non-emergency patient transportation.

Sure, there are plenty of ambulance services – car & helicopter – for getting a patient to the hospital. (I’ve even seen some blood on the back seats of Ubers.)

But 78% of Americans over the age of 55 require ongoing medical treatment for a chronic condition. And they need wheels for these NON-emergency appointments.

RoundTrip now works with such greats as Mount Sinai in NYC, Cooper/MD Anderson, Crozer-Keystone Health System, Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, and others.

They provide the full spectrum of on-demand and scheduled trips, from lyft rides to wheelchair and stretcher transports via partnered, credentialed transport companies, through a simple, powerful portal. Riders are connected to the right driver.

In short: it saves lives.

In this 20-minute conversation, Mark reveals how he’s building the team that’s building RoundTrip.

 

Strong Suit 228: How Her Team Delivers Custom-Made Shoes In A Month

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Sandra Gault is CEO & Founder at True Gault, the high-tech fashion company. Using super-cool technologies, True Gault delivers custom-made women’s designer dress shoes in 4 weeks.

Based in NYC, True Gault addresses 2 major problems: standardized shoe sizing leads to ill-fitting shoes; and shoes are nearly impossible to buy online with confidence.

To solve the problem, True Gault uses 3D imaging software & patent-pending fit formula to create custom-fit shoes, hand made in Spain.

Her customers simply take 3 pictures of each foot via the iPhone app. The smart technology generates her unique size & a 3D model of each foot, obliterating past reliance on traditional sizing. 

The result? An innovative shopping experience & a custom pair of heels, made to order, delivered in 4 weeks and backed by a 100% Fit Guarantee.

Sandra took her experience as an executive at Kodak Imaging & applied it to making high heels more comfortable.

She & her team recently secured funding from legendary venture capitalist Tim Draper, who invested via True Gault’s innovative equity crowdfunding campaign.

In this 20-minute conversation, Sandra reveals how she’s building an organization combining left-brained & right-brained talent.

 

Strong Suit 227: How This CEO Tamed The Hiring Circus

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Stephen George is CEO of Surkus, based in West Hollywood.

And he took an unusual path. Starting as an investor in Surkus, he then joined full-time as Chief Operating Officer once he saw the magnitude of the opportunity. He was later named CEO.

Previously, Stephen served as head of operations at Groupon.

Surkus is a 2-sided marketplace for events & experiences on a local basis. It connects its clients (major brands) & consumers.

The platform curates a targeted group of tastemakers for client events – such as nightlife, comedy shows, classes, product launches, etc. In turn, Surkus members are invited to explore & discover these new experiences, with invitations tailored just for them. 

In this 20-minute conversation, Stephen reveals how he’s building the team at Surkus, now backed by $20M in venture capital.

 

Strong Suit 226: Raise VC, Click Start, Meet With Your Concierge Physician

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Guy Friedman was fed up with waiting to see his physician.

So, he set out to reimagine the process.

He started the company SteadyMD, based in St. Louis, which recently closed a sizable round of venture capital.

After a comprehensive 1-hour video appointment in which the SteadyMD doctor & patient get to know each other, that same doctor is available anytime via secure text messaging, phone calls, and video appointments. 

The SteadyMD platform hosts all the patient’s medical records, including those from past doctors and hospitals.

This is – literally – a physician in your pocket.

In this 20-minute conversation, Guy reveals how he’s built the team behind SteadyMD. Full-time employees. Software developers. Contract physicians. The whole enchilada.

And he didn’t have to be in Silicon Valley to do it.

 

Strong Suit 225: His Team Serves Wine By The Glass – Automatically!

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If you’re tired of your opened wine bottles going bad – and you’re tired of hiring B-Players – this interview is for you.

David Koretz is the Founder & CEO of Plum, the company that makes the first automatic wine appliance that lets you enjoy a bottle, one glass at a time, preserved for up to 90 days. And it’s automatically served at the perfect serving temperature, just as the winemaker intended.

David was previously the Founder & CEO of Mykonos Software, which was acquired by Juniper Networks in 2012 for $80 million. Mykonos was awarded the Wall Street Journal Innovation Award.

The inventor of a dozen technology patents, David was recognized as an innovator by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Under David’s leadership, Plum has raised $19M in funding by Khosla Ventures & Las Olas Venture Capital.

In this 20-minute interview, David reveals how he’s built the team that built this super-cool product.

 

Strong Suit 224: What Do Wines & Drones Have In Common?

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We have Brendan Carroll to thank, for safeguarding our nation’s crops of grapes that become wine.

He’s President & CEO of Skycision, which offers a solution to the global agriculture industry that helps farmers identify crop stress weeks earlier than the naked eye can.

By analyzing aerial spectral imagery, Skycision’s drones aid growers in responding faster to threats, save them time in scouting, and enhance the scouting coverage of their operation to ensure the security of their bottom line.

And it’s not just wine. 

Brendan is on a mission to help the global agriculture industry grow more efficiently. Food production needs to increase 70% by 2050 to feed the anticipated 2B increase in the global population. 

In this 20-minute conversation, we cover a lot of ground – pun intended – including how Brendan is building a bi-coastal company of Pittsburgh & Silicon Valley.

 

 

Strong Suit 223: The Real Reasons That Employees Quit (& It’s Not Money)

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If you’re not worried about your top-performing employees leaving you, I’ve got bad news: 42 million employees will leave their jobs in 2018.

While we’re at a record-low unemployment rate, we’re also at a record-high employee disengagement rate. Many are miserable.

And it’s not Money. That’s only #5 on the list.

So I wanted to find out specifically why they leave, and what we leaders can do about it.

Fortunately, I found Danny Nelms. 

He’s President of Work Institute, which just released its “2018 Retention Report” – the only one of its kind, a study of national workplace turnover & retention.

Using a scientifically valid methodology & data from over 234,000 exit interviews, this report uncovers the root causes of turnover to reveal the real reasons employees leave their jobs for better opportunities.

Remember: recruiting actually starts with retention. 

In this 20-minute conversation, Danny shares the real reasons that your best people will leave. The answers will surprise you.

 

Strong Suit 222: Public Company CEO Reveals How To Create A Hyper-Growth Team

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If you’re not using Smartsheet, you likely soon will.

They have 75,000 customers. It’s probably the simplest way to let your team collaborate online.

Based in Seattle (where it’s been named one of the “Best Places to Work”) CEO Mark Mader has built a Rockstar team of 900, to take this SaaS business from Main Street to Wall Street.

Their goal is to graduate people from Google Docs & Office Docs to a much smarter way of working together

Along the 12-year journey, Smartsheet raised $100M in venture capital and then went public this April to raise an additional $160M.

But this 20-minute conversation isn’t about how to raise VC or how to go public.

It’s about how to build an organization that can change a category, thrill investors, and crush the competition.

 

Strong Suit 221: Here’s The First Step To Have Rockstar Meetings At Your Company

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If you’re tired of the hassle with scheduling meetings, this episode is for you.

My guest is Maran Nelson. She’s Co-Founder & CEO of Clara Labs, based in Silicon Valley.

Clara is the human-in-the-loop assistant that schedules your meetings. Using a blend of technology, AI, and humans, Clara coordinates where/when your candidates and employees will meet. 

And it can be applied to scheduling all sorts of meetings.

Maran has raised funding from Sequoia Capital, First Round Capital, and other VC’s.

After studying Neuroscience at U of Texas at Austin, she co-founded Clara with a childhood friend to solve one of business’ most frustrating problems.

In this 20-minute conversation, she reveals how she’s recruited & built a team of “people” people.

 

Strong Suit 220: How This VC-Backed Entrepreneur Cooked Up A Rockstar Team

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It’s one thing to come up with a super-cool new product idea.

It’s entirely another to raise millions in venture capital funding, handpick a bunch of top-performers, build them into a cohesive team, and execute.

And ship!

That’s precisely what David Rabie has done. 

He’s Founder & CEO of Tovala. This early-stage company moved from Silicon Valley to Chicago, to get its hands on great talent.

Tovala is a smart oven that is paired with a meal delivery service. The simplest way to get healthy food into your kitchen and your body. 

After years working at Veggie Grill and Groovy Spoon Frozen Yogurt, David was inspired to reimagine the way that people prepare their dinner.

And his team is doing it.

In this 20-minute episode, he tells us how.

 

Strong Suit 219: How Do You Really Build An ‘A’ Team?

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Unless this is your first time listening to the show, you know that today’s topic is my obsession.

Building an “A” team isn’t a thing. It’s the Only thing that matters in today’s hypercompetitive market.

And I found the perfect guest.

Whitney Johnson has been recognized as one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world. She’s an expert on disruptive innovation & personal disruption; specifically, a framework which she codifies in the critically acclaimed book “Disrupt Yourself.”

Her new book “Build an ‘A’ Team: Play To Their Strengths & Lead Them Up The Learning Curve” is a fascinating guidebook for how to build your organization, reduce turnover, and make your recruiting far easier.

Whitney developed her proprietary framework & diagnostics after having co-founded the Disruptive Innovation Fund with Harvard Business School’s legendary Clayton Christensen.

In this 20-minute conversation, Whitney reveals how it’s done step-by-step. Have a pen ready to jot notes.

 

Strong Suit 218: What Does It Take To Scale A Startup?

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After spending 10 years working in paid search, Jordan Meyer decided it was time to strike out on his own. 

He had no idea that Granular would become one of Milwaukee’s fastest-growing companies in just 4 years.

Jordan is CEO & Founder of Granular.

You may think that all PPC firms are alike.

What’s fascinating about Granular is their people model. All of its PPC managers are experienced. No junior people. No interns. Clients work with a seasoned paid search pro. 

I wanted to find out how Jordan built it.

Here’s the 20-minute interview.

 

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