Thinking ahead is another critical tool many people forget to use. Getting caught up on your current task or problem is easy for many, especially those starting out who have less experience multitasking, but thinking ahead allows you to plan your next step and become more efficient which will benefit your business and yourself.
People buy YOU. When you are trying to get a job, make a sale, or close a deal, the very first thing people will judge is you. Presenting yourself as clean, manicured and humble is necessary to success.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Chen. He is currently the creator of the popular podcast Pandanomics where he provides tips on entrepreneurship and strategies for success in business. David has repeatedly taken business from good to great in his role as a business leader.
David has over 10 years of experience with a Big 4 firm. He created and developed the Chinese Services Group for Deloitte Mexico. In 2010, David and his team were recognized by the Global Deloitte firm and they won the prestigious “Standards of Excellence Award” for a 1 billion USD merger. At the age of 34, David was the youngest partner at Deloitte and worked on over 500 transactions with Fortune 500 companies. In 2015, David founded the Venture Capital Firm BLCP Capital with his partners.
Most recently, David started the group GTIF Capital and is partnered with several major businesses in the esports, technology, healthcare, branding, and real-estate industries.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Absolutely, I often joke about being an “anchor baby” but it’s the truth. My parents are immigrants from Taiwan and moved over here in the late 1970’s. We were very destitute when I was young, we definitely struggled to make ends meet. I remember going to work with my mom some days and having to sit quietly until her shift ended because there was no where else for me to go. I didn’t even know that mattresses we supposed to have box springs under then until I was about fifteen. When I was a bit older, my parents had opened a restaurant, I was about ten to twelve here, and I remember having to translate the menus from Mandarin to English and Spanish because spoke and wrote better than my parents and my younger sister. I do remember feeling out of place growing up in El Paso in a family of Chinese immigrants as well. I was actually very shy as a young adult and struggled to find where I fit in as someone who grew up in a hard situation, but even as a college dropout, I worked hard and when I got the opportunity to work at Deloitte as a young adult I really figured out what my personal strengths are and capitalized on those to get to where I am now.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
As a college dropout, I did feel like I was competing on an uneven field with my peers at Deloitte. There was a sting learning curve and I didn’t have the luxury of making many mistakes, that definitely made me question myself when I was starting out. I think my perseverance to succeed really came from that to too, the challenge of having to prove myself, to show myself that even though I was a college dropout I was smart and I was able to work hard and reach goals I hadn’t dreamed of.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that? What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The NACL, or North American Collegiate League is truly a unique company that I’m proud to be a part of. I began the company during the period of summer 2019 when I hosted my internship. I had a group of students from various schools I had spoken at as interns and they are all gamers involved in the various esports communities at their schools. As the NACL grew, it was really a point of pride for me that these students that I had mentored were involved. I think that the authenticity that the NACL has a company is really solidified by the work of these collegiate gamers who helped work on it as they really have firsthand experience being the audience we cater to.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
This is my mantra: you need to find a work life balance that works for you. I talk about this in my Pandanomics Podcast, but It’s an absolute must if you want to avoid burnout regardless of what industry you work in.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
For me, that person has been my fiancé Katie Scott, we have been together for ten wonderful years and while I have countless stories that could demonstrate how supportive she has been I think that I really have to point to her flexibility and support. As an entrepreneur, I don’t work a 9–5 job. Life can be busy, hectic and unpredictable but Katie has always been willing to work with me and support my ventures. We have moved from El Paso to Austin, spent time in LA, New York, and all over Asia, and the entire time she has been by my side working hard too.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
A good company is easy to define. A good company has a decent reputation, people are willing to work with them, and they have decent service. You won’t leave dissatisfied but you may end with net-neutral results. A great company is defined by their ability and dedication to go above and beyond the expectations of the customer. People want to work with this company and not only will you believe in what you are doing, but you do it so well, your customers believe in it too.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
As an entrepreneur, partner, and president of a company, I shoulder a lot of responsibility for my various roles. These lessons I’m about to explain will keep you on track to succeed and make your company great.
– As I said above, having a work life balance is imperative to success. A company may be great, but it is built by many people working cohesively in the name of success. All these people need to be working at full capacity to put their all in the company, you cannot be burnt out and do that.
– Thinking ahead is another critical tool many people forget to use. Getting caught up on your current task or problem is easy for many, especially those starting out who have less experience multitasking, but thinking ahead allows you to plan your next step and become more efficient which will benefit your business and yourself.
– Remembering everything can’t be perfect is important. We can all work as hard as we can and sometimes things still won’t go our way. It’s important to remember that so we can remember to frame things as a learning process that we can grow from when things don’t work how we want.
– This little catch phrase has really helped me though out my career: ego is not your amigo. When I say that, I mean that having a big ego will block you from seeing and owning mistakes you will make and stop you from growing and correcting faults.
– Lastly, people buy YOU. When you are trying to get a job, make a sale, or close a deal, the very first thing people will judge is you. Presenting yourself as clean, manicured and humble is necessary to success.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
I fully agree with this, my personal example is the North American Collegiate League. The NACL is a non-profit Esports league that connects collegiate athletes to the greater esports industry. We want to encourage youth to follow their dream in a productive way that benefits their future and allows them to use their enthusiasm for gaming in a productive way. In the past year, the NACL has grown extensively and I believe that a large part of that is because we are a purpose driven business, and the people who benefit from working with us want this opportunity to succeed and grow. So with purpose based businesses, they are successful because if they are catering to the needs of a consumer base, they are filling a gap that will sustain the business long term.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
If your business or personal growth has stalled, there is a reason. Self reflecting on the path your business of self has taken in the years versus the general current of what the meta in in your industry can help solve these issues and restart your business success. It’s common for business leaders to become stuck in a rut because as the times change, they are hesitant to change from their previously successful model.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Focusing on the cost benefit analysis of the choices you make a business is really that most effective way to control and maintain financial stability. Being organized about your finances is paramount to the fiscal health of your business as you will know what limitations you need to place to not overextend you’re company’s abilities. Additionally, researching cost effective alternatives to costly procedures and staying abreast of market trends will always benefit you.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
I think it’s a misnomer being “president” of a company. I think that when you’re running a company, many people are under the impression that your main job is to act as a figurehead for said company, however while representing the company positively is important, the real work comes with managing everything and learning how to delegate effectively so your company can run smoothly. It is imperative for a strong leader to be able to delegate to others and judge what they will be able to accomplish.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
For routine conversion, from experience the most effective was to find consistent success is to know your product or service 100%. You need to be able to answer every question better than it was asked. If you know your product / service thoroughly, you will be able to explain to the potential customer ways it can benefit them that may have not occurred to them, and really cinch the sale by explaining all the possible ways it can benefit them and their business.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Being honest is really the bottom line. When you tell a customer you can do something, you need to be able to back it up unequivocally. All it takes is one bad experience with an important client to leave a bad taste in the mouths of their associates, so honestly and hard work will earn you a desirable reputation.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Knowing your client is helpful. When trying to close a deal or keep industry relationships for potential opportunities later, it’s miles better to reach out by asking how their children are or if they enjoyed their most recent trip rather than being the “it’s been 5 years how are you” guy. Maintaining customer relationships long term is the best way to create a “Wow!” Experience.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was a reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Of course social media is a powerful tool in the image and audience reach of a company in today’s climate, at this point I think that’s undeniable. All companies trying to grow their businesses should be on social media and actively using it. To avoid snafus and reputation risks, it is important to know your audience and have a greater dedicated message that all of your posts reflect that align with your company values.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistakes I have seen is letting one’s ego get in the way of taking a great opportunity as they were not the one to bring it to the table. This hurts the company on all levels and the credibility of a company CEO or founder. To avoid this, remember the lesson from earlier that “ego is not your amigo” and encourage an atmosphere where when one person succeeds, all people succeed.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Thank you, it was an honor to speak to you. As for a movement, I’m not sure if I’d call it that but I host a podcast on entrepreneurship and life lessons called Pandanomics Podcast that was just awarded NYWeeklys #1 Podcast. I hope that the messages and lessons I teach there help shape current and future generations to capitalize on their personal strengths and differences that make them unique to succeed like I did.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Readers can connect with me by finding me on Instagram and Twitter at @DavidChenPanda, on twitch at FaZePanda, or by visiting my website at davidchenpanda.com. To learn more about my Mentorship course and Pandanomics Podcast you can find us @Pandanomicspodcast on Instagram.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!