Let your team know to be NO people — When your team is taught to challenge the status quo, they are more effective in meetings, and for the future of the company. Far too often people will say yes to everything to speed up meetings, brown nose leadership, or to just go with the flow. But that is never good for the overall picture of the company.
I had the pleasure to interview Brian Jacob, the Co-founder of Collective Ventures in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
When I was a kid, I was very much into art, and sports, as most kids are. Through my 12th grade art teacher, I would have been able to go to NYU on an art scholarship, but my folks who are both from India and doctors didn’t think that would’ve made for a great future. Ironically I now help run a Creative Digital Agency that holds creativity and art as a primary tool for our clients. While in school I studied to be a doctor, but got into New York nightlife, business, and technology… ironically ending up in healthcare technology, which is where my passion for entrepreneurship began. I reached out to a college friend, Dhiraj Thareja, who also had a technology background, and we started our hand into the world of startups. It wasn’t easy. We raised funds, we’ve had failures, and successes, and we took all that we learned and invested it into our Software Company, DB Collective. We were able to help so many clients build their dreams, and we’ve got involved in some of them. That’s where the idea of Collective Ventures came from. You don’t just need a Tech, Creative, or Consulting company, you need a combination of many services such as legal, accounting, business planning and coaching, public relations, social media, SEO and PPC, photography and videography, HR, payroll, and staffing. You also need a place to work. So with Collective Ventures, you have all of that in one place. A great co-working space, conference rooms, Coffee-Food-Drinks, and a business innovation center with all the aforementioned companies residing all in one space.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Know all the ins and outs of your business. Collective Ventures is a resource. We have a co-working space, a Cafe, and an innovation center with businesses all working together. This is the first retail business Raj and I have operated. Thankfully, we are “All-In” business owners. We like to know how to do everything. Our cafe has a Victoria Arduino “Black Eagle” Espresso machine. It’s expensive, and not easy to use for novices…. But it’s the best! Thankfully I took the time to learn about coffee, it’s nuances, and how to “dial-in,” and make a great cup on the Black Eagle. This would come in handy when one morning, both baristas did not show up to work, and we were left short-handed. So here I am in my suit, making coffee for the first few hours. I got tipped well J Maybe it was the outfit. But knowing all aspects of the businesses you are in makes problem solving much easier.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
Technology. We use Google as a platform for email, messaging, calendar, and file storage. We use Slack for inter-community and location-based conversation and effectiveness. Finally, we use Teamwork for project management, especially for larger tasks that can have many sub tasks, timelines, and due dates. Most folks are set up in different channels to declutter and reduce the noise we all take in. It’s very easy to get inundated with the notifications from all the many apps we use daily, so it’s best to reduce them by figuring out what is important.
What is the top challenge when managing global teams in different geographical locations? Can you give an example or story?
Time & Availability Management can be an issue. We have team members in California, Chicago, Brazil, and in India. So remembering and managing each team’s time and availability is always tough. Hiring strong project managers that can oversee those meetings is important.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Check in with your employees, give them a growth plan, and hold them accountable for that growth. Everyone wants to start a career, and feel they can grow with the company, and move up. If from the start you explain that the growth is based on what efforts they put in, and that it will be audited against expectations set forth by the company and themselves, they’ll have benchmarks they can hit. Even if they don’t, always ensure the culture of your company is supportive. When you have great talent, keep them. If you’ve hired great people, and can’t keep them engaged, there is a problem in the company; and this can bleed into other areas.
Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?
I agree. I suggest spending the time fostering relationships and getting to know your employees. Culture is very important, and employees want to work in a place where they feel both challenged and appreciated, safe, loved, and needed. Knowing little things about their personal lives helps garner respect and admiration as well. They should wake up wanting to go to work. It’s not easy to have this with everyone, but at least have it with your direct team members, and expect them to manage and provide the same experience to the employees they manage. Also provide them other benefits that indicate you care about their future. Invest in their education, their needs, their health, and their families.
Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
Hire by Character First — Hire people based on their character not their talent. Talented folks that are horrible people will always hurt the team, or leave. Great people can always be taught to be better, and their character will show when they are challenged, or put in a tough spot.
Let them know to be NO people — When your team is taught to challenge the status quo, they are more effective in meetings, and for the future of the company. Far too often people will say yes to everything to speed up meetings, brown nose leadership, or to just go with the flow. But that is never good for the overall picture of the company.
Mentorship — Teach and mentor your team in everything. Don’t worry about people taking over or being better at things than you; that’s the goal. It’s your company; you want to create as many talented folks that can handle tasks quickly, handle issues when other key personnel are missing, and ensure the company is constantly pushing itself. Those you mentor should mentor others. When you teach, you retain 95% of what you have learned. This way you stay on top of your game as well.
Accountability — If you cannot set exceptions that are met, what’s the point? You are doing yourself, and your employees a disservice. Give your team members challenges they should be able to meet. Help them grow. But also provide them feedback.
Tools — Give your team the tools needed to win. Project management tools, accountability tools, feedback mechanisms, and others that help them with their job. Give them education as well if they need it. Pay for their courses so they can better themselves, and their departments.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Collective Ventures has always been a passion project, and it will continue to be so.
So I believe we are inspiring a movement. Collective Ventures has 4 C’s as it’s pillar — Coffee, Co-Working, Collaboration, and Community. We give our space up for free to be used for music events, art events, startup and entrepreneurship events, female founder events, urban tech events, leadership events, non-profits events, and forums to discuss topics that matter to the community. Through it all we are able to inspire the next wave of movers and thinkers. What you take from any of these events can inspire you to go do something amazing. We may even invest in your idea or product. Something amazing can happen here, and by building more of these Collective Venture hubs, we believe we can have a lot of influence on the next generations to continue to do good. As a community center, we need to inspire both enjoyment and engagement. Create conversation of action from what you have experienced here. That’s when we will truly have done what we have set out to do.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Devote yourself to an idea, go make it happen, struggle on it, overcome your fears, smile, don’t forget… this is your dream.
Remember why you wanted to do this. It won’t be easy. Stay Humble and Hustle Hard. Success comes from failures. You have to keep at it. But remember where you came from. It wasn’t always that great. So when you see others working to achieve amazing, inspire them, don’t deflate them.