A CykoMetrix Spotlight Production
Every week, the Spotlight shines on an amazing professional with a story to tell and lessons to teach. Welcome to the CykoMetrix Spotlight.
The following is an adapted transcript of the exchange between Sylvain Rochon, CMO at CykoMetrix as host, and Eric McRae, Founder of MBO Coworking & Startup Coach.
Sylvain Rochon: Welcome to CykoMetrix Spotlight. My name is Sylvain Rochon. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at CykoMetrix, a SaaS based solution company that assesses people to see how effective they are as a team member, and with their teams. We track them over time so our clients can apply training and coaching and then measure afterwards on how effective the training was, how it changed their soft skills, values and all sorts of other metrics. This is what we do but we’re not here to talk about us.
We’re here to talk about our special guest, Eric McRae. He is the founder of MBO COWORKING right here in my town, Ottawa. He is also a start-up coach. That is very exciting because these are things that I’ve been using in my city for a bit of time, and we may get to cite names and companies for a while. Just to tell you more about Eric, he is the best coach in the world for professionals ready to start their consulting and coaching practice. He assured me he told me a story that this is in fact true. He was told that he was. Therefore, better pay attention from when I finish this and I’ll give you the links to how to find this guy. You better find him and connect with him because he is the best in the world.
There you go, you can check for yourself. He’s also a serial entrepreneur, currently operating three businesses in the sharing economy, space, and a thriving coaching practice with over 20 years experience helping businesses get started. One of his latest ventures is indeed MBO COWORKING, a shared office space concept in Ottawa, my city, that supports other entrepreneurs getting their businesses started. I’m super happy to see you Eric, I’m sure we’ve met here and there because we’re in the same city and it’s a million people, but it’s small.
Eric McRae: Really small in terms of the startup space and people who are in business and entrepreneurs.
Sylvain: This is the first time we actually have a conversation going because we never had the opportunity, so this is going to be amazing. Eric, what I want to do with you today, I want you to delve into your specialty like, which is basically startups and startup teams and how you can build an effective team specifically for a start-up which is different from building a team later on in the business in the business cycle, so why don’t you tell us about that?
Eric: I think you’re you really hit the key point there. When you’re looking at building a business or building a team as a start-up, it’s very, very different from building a corporation. I’ve worked prior in my career probably about 14 years’ worth doing large corporate; Sun Media, American Express, Hewlett Packard and managing very large teams; anywhere between 300 and 1,200, building and developing skills and competencies within those environments are very, very different from the startup world. It’s principally not just the core skills, the academic skills people have, it’s more about personality traits and types of behaviors and actions and motivations than individuals have that we like to think we’re great at it, but we’re actually pretty awful at assessing that in an interview in a half hour segment. That’s where the psychometric tests really kind of come in and they’re really helpful and giving you a bit of a guideline in terms of not just does this person have these specific traits or skills? But they also have a IQ or an EQ element that can qualify and also you can specially with psychometric tools, I’ve done actually psychometric training as well before my in my previous career, where it’s not just about identifying those skills or traits of the individuals have but also identifying if they’re variants, right? And when you’re looking for startups what you need to be able to build and grow a team? You need people that are self motivated enough, people that are excited about new challenges, you need people that are creative in terms of how they approach problems. That’s kind of the stuff you need to be able to build a really effective team as a startup, and that can be a tricky thing to identify, especially when most startups, unless you have a CEO with a lot of experience behind them. You may have people who are younger who may not have had a senior management position before, it’ll be hard to actually identify and qualify those things when they’re building their teams.
Sylvain: So, you’re kind of saying, since we went right away in the psychometrics aspect things, there’s some kind of ideal profile for a start-up entrepreneur in a way? You mentioned a couple of characteristics, maybe openness, which is part of the CANOE set which is related to imagination and perhaps other characteristics that if you look at a profile you would say, “okay, that person is probably going to be going to do well” and others, you say “that person needs support” like he needs a team to surround them, is not necessarily at maybe a great worker but not a self-starter which is something that you need to start an individual business, right? So, what kind of assessments do you use and do you use some now at MBO co-working or some of your current ventures?
Eric: I’ll probably break them into two categories when we talk about employees that you need for a start-up. They’re the ones who are the innovators, motivators, creatives, self-starters and then you have the individuals that you need, that are either subject matter experts or just really, really good at production delivery and customer service, right? They are two very, very different types of people. When I looked at startups before in the past or when I’m working with smaller, companies that had engaged in using psychometric tools, it really kind of helped us to identify what are the competencies and skills of the individuals we’re working with. If I can use an example, I was working with a company, we had this new formed veteran team, just signed a new contract, everyone was excited and it was supporting, and this will appeal to the geeks out there, a system called OpenVMS, which nobody has ever heard of ever, but these are the systems that they use for launching spaceships and running train yards. They’re bulletproof 100% digital systems, extremely expensive and extremely rare. A lot of people get access to them and we were supposed to be providing the support for these systems. However, the people who learned to do those systems and support them have been doing it for 30 years and they are all retired. There isn’t anybody who comes out of University that says “hey I’m a certified OpenVMS trainor or a technician”. There’s nobody that has that. So, what we ended up having to do was to be able to use some of those psychometric tools to actually go in and assess what are the learning competencies that these individuals have? Are they able to identify patterns and paths? Do they have a creative, dynamic way of thinking do they have the ability to be able to change their modality and learning on the fly?
An interesting thing that we added to it was we need to make sure people were not arrogant, in terms of how they’re actually approaching the work, they needed to be able to open themselves up and not believe that they knew everything and they were open to learn and receive and hear new information. That was some of the things that we use, psychometric tools to kind of help us get there because once we got that, we were able to find people that were then trainable. We can then take those tools and train them and develop their skills and experiences and they already had the basic competencies that we’re looking for. When you’re looking at doing assessments, that’s where it can be really, really helpful.
Sylvain: You used an example that is somewhat specific like OpenVMS, which I was not aware of until you mentioned it earlier. But generally speaking, if you want to build an effective team as a start-up of just a few people – it’s like you said, you may have two archetypes: the imaginative and the subject matter expert, and they may have a different profile. How do you get the right people together with those profiles? Knowing that in some cases those two profiles have a hard time communicating with each other because they are different and how they think? How do you build that effectiveness aspect of that team with different personalities or different viewpoints and different ways to prioritize tasks?
Eric: I’m going to ask you to keep me on track because you talked about three different things in there. How do you identify them? I’ll probably speak to the two different kind of archetypes that you end up dealing. Mostly they are like you said; that creative, dynamic engaging person. You have that subject matter expert, your accountants, so to speak, how do you bridge those things? How do you get them to talk and communicate effectively because they are a very close-knit team. They’re only a team of maybe four or five or eight people so they have to work together effectively every day. It’s really understanding by using the psychometric tools that can help you to identify the personality traits that are common between them. Even though people can have very different perspectives in terms of how they work and think it doesn’t mean that they don’t communicate effectively. If they know what their common modality of communication is, for example, we’re both analytical thinkers even though one in person is very regimented and does accounting and looks at ledgers and the other person looks at software and designs and customer feedback, if they know that they’re both analytical then that’s a great starting point for both of them to start communicating.
Sometimes those psychometric tools can either help you to identify what those commonalities are. But more importantly, when you are selecting a new individual to add to the team, making sure that they’re actually a fit for the other members of the team and they’re going to work well together because you can do those assessments on the existing team, understand what their patterns of behaviors and skills and strengths are and then match that against the skills and competencies with the person that’s being interviewed and assessed.
Sylvain: From our own experience being in a psychometric toolmaker, there’s communication styles, there’s ways of thinking about issues that can defer and can be very different. There are things like extroversion versus introversion or comfort levels being alone or with other people. There are also things that can, if the situation is not taken care of, get into conflicts or generate conflicts very easily and you’re right psychometric tools can illustrate these gaps, these potential problem spots. So, the question is psychometric tools can measure things like certain aspects of emotional intelligence, for instance, which are very important to be able to manage those differences because differences are actually desirable, even in the small team because then you have an understanding of the general population as a whole, not just a subset of it, right? But how do you manage past the assessments? You have a team that has some variability so there are potential problems that may emerge as saying that your personalities have clashing styles. How do you get the team to effectively work through those differences and find a way of operation that can that can work?
Eric: I think that’s probably what you’re talking about is really we’re kind of getting into the coaching side. So, it’s really around understanding. For myself as a coach, the type of coaching I do is probably very different from what most coaches do. Most coaches are very much in tune with the emotional intelligence and understanding and listening and most kinds of competencies. That’s not where I focus. I’m really focused around getting people the results that they’re looking forward to task, actions and things that they need to do to move their business forward because it’s all time and capital sensitive. But when you have different individuals within an organization, those different types of personalities, when I work with clients or small groups like that sometimes I’ve worked with a couple of companies of like three people and we sit down, we do a group session, just to sit down and say, “okay, what are the challenges?” and “let’s put all the interpersonal stuff aside because it really doesn’t matter”, “what are the common objectives and goals that we’re going to look to achieve?”, “what are the modalities in the things that we’re going to accomplish?” “Now, let’s understand who is accountable, responsible and needs to be informed?”
So, we take each of those decisions and things that happen within the business and then it takes them away from their interpersonal “I don’t like you” “you did this” “you took my coffee mug yesterday”. It removes all of that and really helps to focus the individuals on what their communal goal and objective is. What is the things that, ultimately, they’re all trying to get to in accomplish and what’s in it for them? They understand what their role is within that and how they can not only best represent themselves in that environment in situation but also how they can support the other members of their team to make sure that they delivered their best because they’re all connected. When you have a very small organization, they’re all interconnected.
Sylvain: So, if I understand this correctly or maybe summarize it in a different way you are making them focus on what needs to be achieved and their inner motivation to achieve such goals since they have an objective, like starting a business and developing a product, or whatnot. Through that process of laying out, or eliminating or shedding light on their inner motivations and their objectives and task at hand, you kind of expect them with that empowerment to figure out a way to actually communicate and to work with each other beyond the “you stole my mug yesterday”. That becomes less important because I’m motivated in achieving our goal. The mug is really not important so you can easily bypass some of those petty personality glitches that may appear. Is that a correct assessment and it works?
Eric: Yeah, and you need to be able to move past those things because if you don’t, ultimately, especially in a small team, those are the things that can handicap you. I’ve worked with some teams and unfortunately there’s a concept I’ll kind of explain what it kind of demonstrates when these things go wrong and what can happen.
I was working with one of my coaching clients, he brought in a partner to work on this business and the partner came in with a capital investment, let’s just say for giggles it was $50,000. So, he put in fifty thousand dollars into this business, they’re working on it publishing, putting out all the content materials but this partner had some specific goals and objectives that have been outlined in the business plan for him to be able to work on, which was his area of expertise, and he just wasn’t following up. He wasn’t delivering, he wasn’t doing it and as a result, the business was failing because you needed two people to kind of drive the business forward and one of them was just putting in an hour or two a week and it wasn’t enough. I remember talking to the founder of the company and he said “I feel like I need to give him his money back” and I said “actually no, you don’t.” He invested, he knew what the risks were coming into it, he agreed to put his money into it, and he also agreed to deliver about 60 hours a month. And if you put your money into something and you are not fully vested and committed to the idea and to your delivery and to that execution, and not delivered, committed to your partners then that’s on you.
Sylvain: If in a way like my thinking would be in this particular specific case is that some of the invested money needs to be reinvested in replacing the kind of the work that hasn’t been done. Somebody else must do the work or the founder has to spend more time and that time is money, right?
Eric: You can pay somebody to do it if you’re not going to do it.
Sylvain: Somebody’s got to do the tasks. That’s really interesting. Let’s move forward to something else interesting because you are the founder of MBO COWORKING, which is a shared office space. So, I assume because we haven’t talked about this specifically, that you’re deploying your coaching inside the co-working space, you’re offering yourself as an advisor to the startups that come and co-work there. So can you talk a little bit about the business model of co-working and how you apply your knowledge and your expertise with the teams that are there?
Eric: I think that was initially when I started the business, it was because I wasn’t able to find a community in the space that hosted individual professionals and creatives where they could work collectively. I saw it as a bit of a gap because that’s what I was looking for and I just wasn’t finding it in the market. You had what I’ll qualify as the business center, they do fax, copying and those kinds of things and they have rooms that you could rent but it wasn’t a community. A lot of guys running around in shirts and ties doing the same thing over and over every day. What I was looking for was a more creative space and not people who were preoccupied with what kind of car they drove. The ego needed to be removed. Folks that kind of present themselves that way had never really fit my work, and how I worked and presented myself in the world and that’s why I started the co-working space. As I did that, I had my previous career I had was a director of operations, so I’d worked with lots of organizations mentoring and coaching Senior Management within those organizations is that’s a big part of my responsibility and as I started working in finding these creative entrepreneurs, I realized that they were having some of the same problems that I had in my business, when I was operating them.
So, I started talking to people, we would get together, we’d have conversations and I started noticing that a lot more people just started coming to me for advice, they would say “hey I got this contract and I have no idea how to do it” or “I’m looking at getting into a partnership. What do you think I should do, and why?” or “I’m looking to hire a new team member, how do I go about hiring somebody, finding somebody that’s amazing?”. They would ask all these different questions with the most common one: do you have a good accountant for me? That’s always a big one. So as I kind of started working, I realized that was an integral part of what the community was, and I was supporting a lot of entrepreneurs because I work, at this point, I have about 5,000 companies and individuals that I’ve worked with over the last eight years and they would come to me for advice and support on a myriad of things and I realized that was an area that they really needed help. They were lots of opportunities, people who had money, and if you were a SaaS-based startup and we’re doing some technology and you were generating quarter of a million dollars a year, you got all the VCS in the world who are jumping up and down to help you but if you were starting a film production company or you’re trying to start a build a product or you’re just doing a very simple service or an individual consultant, they weren’t any resources, there was no one there who’s going to constructively help you build that business because it wasn’t enough in it for them. That’s kind of where I focused. I wanted to help some of those people build and develop their business and get access to good mentoring and advice and some council that reflected what they needed to do to move their business forward.
Sylvain: It’s an interesting topic because I like working spaces or start up spaces and there are many, well, several in Ottawa that I know of and there’s always new ones that come out, some pass away and move on. But in what you started describing for MBO COWORKING, it’s kind of you’re looking for a certain type of culture, the working culture, not only offering a service per se which also it is but also people in startups that are starting new businesses that are looking for a certain type of environment. So perhaps drawing to you startup entrepreneurs that are looking for this specific kind of co-working culture, because I’m sure there are some that is working in isolation is perfectly fine and they get their resources they’re more creative, more robust, I’m not sure why but they’re different types of people out there. So, can you say that perhaps you’re creating your own little ecosystem, your little environment that has a specific type of mindset associated and drawing the people that are seeking that kind of environment?
Eric: Exactly. No, you’re spot-on in terms of how the community started and there were there a lot of people who kind of come in. Like I said the folks that come in with their suits and ties and they’re great at what they do, they’re just not necessarily always a huge fit for the people that work within my space. The people that work in my space most of them are 10 plus years working in their industry. They’ve done it before, they had their careers, they are experts, they’re some of the best in the field at what they do and they choose to work with other people that are like-minded. When I described one of the things as that ego, it kind of absolved themselves with their ego and I remembered when I first started, and I was trying to define what my customer profile and persona looked like, there was one gentleman that came in and he books a meeting room and he had, I will describe him as, suits come in, executives from a large multinational company. They were coming in to talk to him about marketing and as he was having the conversation with them, they came in their three-piece suits and vests and everything else, and he was wearing t-shirt and jeans. If you paid attention, his T-shirt was $200. I think the corporates didn’t understand how to engage and interact and what his level was, and they’d asked him an interesting question, they said, “so tell us why we should work with you” and he said, “I’ll tell you what, my retainer is a quarter of a million dollars. I’m accepting two new clients this year; I already have 10 on the books and they are A-class clients. If you’d like to sign up, you need to make a decision by the end of this meeting.” And it was a bold statement. He’s like I am one of the top 10 people in the world at what I do, I just don’t wear a three-piece suit and tie. He said, “if you want to work with me, great, if you don’t, trust me, I’ve got a list of people willing to give me a quarter of a million dollars right now.” When I saw that, I realized that’s my archetype, that’s my customer, those are the people that I want to work with, the ones that really know their stuff, best of what they do, best in class and they’re just willing to be open and connect and work with other people and help other people. I came out of that meeting afterwards before he left, he goes, “can I give you some marketing advice?” I’m like “yeah” and he did because he was trying to help other people within the community.
Sylvain: That’s my kind of people and I think in the previous discussion that we’ve had at CykoMetrics but also my previous ventures personally. I’ve had many partners and I’ve always preferred the partnership model; cooperative versus competition, so I get it. One of my mottos that I run through my brain constantly is leave the ego at the door. Leave it out, get it out of my face, I don’t need that. We just need to get things done, collaborate, have some fun, right? Business is fun, even when it’s stressful, it’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s interesting. I guess that’s who we are. Maybe other people think “No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do that in a million years.” Fine, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t do it.
Eric: But that’s why entrepreneurs make up only 14% of the population.
Sylvain: It’s okay, we get to do that. You just get to do other things. So that’s amazing. No, I get it and I do understand why you have and you’re still kind of thinking about psychometrics because it is helpful in determining elements like culture. You can assess the actual culture of the business through assessments by assessing the actual people because even though maybe the HR or the executive is saying, “well our culture is this, this, this” that could be just a marketing speech. The culture is actually the people inside and how they behave. I know how they think. So, you can, you can do that. And you can even fit onboarding, you can gauge them, right? Eyeball. That’s my kind of people or through a little interview and you can use an assessment that is best fit. The are very useful. It’s important.
Eric: They really are and even from a coaching perspective. So one of the things that because on some of the platforms that I work with their actual the psychometric assessment tools within the coaching and I find that really effective because what it allows me to be able to do is be able to take a snapshot in time of the individual, of their competency skills, emotional intelligence and their comfort level in specific areas and then four months later do a secondary snapshot and do a third snapshot. Then you can start to see where the coaching goes because A. it identifies where you need to work on, on what you need to focus and B. you then get to look at how the person has progressed. Has their mood, attitudes, behaviors and habits changed as a result of the coaching? That’s where psychometric tools are really helpful to be able to help people understand how they’ve changed and how they represent themselves and they work and what they do?
Sylvain: Well you got it, can’t teach you anything of that, you know this space. Well absolutely, listen Eric, it has been a wonderful pleasure to speak with you. Now I know more about the co-working spaces because I didn’t know the existence of your co-working space in my own city until recently, of course. Many people have not left the house in two years, so there’s that, but definitely it’s worth a visit and those of you who are not in my city like, well, go check them out. The link is below in the description or in the blog wherever you’re catching this video, check him out. Do you offer some services for remote companies as well?
Eric: Principally the coaching, right? What I’ll probably offer to your audience is just to say, if anybody is interested in or looking to start a business and really don’t know where to go? How to do it? Give me a call. If you let me know that you reach me through the show, I’ll offer you a free one hour, just touch base consult just to get an assessment.
Sylvain: Well, there you go, there you have the offer right there. I didn’t even know this was coming.
Eric: Neither did I until about five seconds ago.
Sylvain: Great offer. There you go. So how to build an effective business startup team? Well, just call Eric, simple as that. Thanks a lot, Eric!
Eric: Thank you very much, Sylvain. Have a great day!
About Eric McRae – mbocoworking.com/coaching
Do you need a business coach? A guide to the basics
Are you at a stage in your life, or your business journey, where you think you need a coach? There are lots of different kinds of coaches from leadership to business strategy to life. All of them have one thing in common: they help provide the tools and know-how to help you succeed in their area of expertise.
In business, there is a common belief that everyone should have a coach. I have a coach. I also coach others, specifically helping new entrepreneurs and startup founders. I work with clients to put together an actionable plan to get your business up and ready to generate revenue as quickly as possible. I rarely work with founders for more than 12-months – normally, this is all the time that you need to determine if your business idea has traction.
My goal with every client is to steer them to the most efficient path for testing their idea and creating a viable business model. I’ve tested many ideas throughout my career, some of which have succeeded, but some of which have also failed. It’s through these learning experiences that I offer my expertise to my clients, in the hopes they can both save time and money by learning from my mistakes.
If you are wondering if a coach is right for you, ask yourself: What do you want to accomplish? Is there a coach that is going to be able to help you get there? A good metric I use is if you think the coach can provide you with tools and advice that could save you two months worth of making mistakes and 50 percent of what you would have spent making them, then there’s a good chance that coaching is a great fit for you.
When interviewing coaches, determine if what they are offering is relevant to your goals. Also, besides knowing that you actually like the coach as a person, be sure that they will help you grow and succeed. A great coach challenges your assumptions and leaves you feeling you are making better informed decisions because of them.
By signing up for my business coaching services, I promise to provide you with an experience that is expertly tailored to have your best interest in mind. Together, we will help you work on skills that will make you a better entrepreneur. Through these skills, you will become better equipped to face the business landscape.
Website: startup-coach.ca (pending March 2022)
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/ericmcrae
About CykoMetrix – www.CykoMetrix.com
CykoMetrix is a leading edge combinatorial psychometric and human data analytics company that brings the employee assessment industry to the cloud, with instant assessments, in-depth analysis, trait measurements, and team-based reporting features that simplify informed decision-making around recruiting, training, and managing today’s modern workplace.