Chicago-based serial entrepreneur Jeremie Bacon is our guest on this week’s episode. His first startup, Backstop Solutions, was a SaaS platform to help hedge funds manage all of their back office and admin functions in the days when he had to first educate skeptical prospects about the cloud. Jeremie is also a student of human behavior and psychology, and that manifests in a “culture first” strategy for every company he’s started (music to my LeaderShift ears!). He also shares his approaches for leveraging his time and focus, criteria for making great hires, and other nuggets of wisdom any entre- or intrapreneur will find compelling.


33: Culture First Entrepreneurship with Jeremie Bacon

Shani: Hello Leadershifters. Welcome to another episode of the Leadershift Show with yours truly, Shani Magosky. It is my pleasure today to introduce you to our guest, Jeremie Bacon, Jeremie. Quick hello before I give your bio.

Jeremie: Hi everybody.

Shani: [laughs] Jeremie is joining us from the great state of Illinois and the great city of Chicago. That is where we know each other from. Jeremie and I are former colleagues from Goldman Sachs in the equities division. We worked together, we won’t say how many years ago at this point, but I was in domestic institutional equity sales. Jeremie as a Japanese speaker and all-around renaissance man was in the international equities division, but we all occupied the same space in what was then the Sears Tower. Then Jeremie made a big shift to be a serial entrepreneur. His very first company was called Backstop Solutions, which he founded and ran for about a decade before shifting to some other things.

As I said in the pre-call before this, there’s a bit of a Jeremie family tree of entrepreneurship that I will let him walk us through in just a minute. Not only is Jeremie a former colleague and a friend and a model entrepreneur, but he’s also one of the most ambitious athletes that I know. I don’t even understand how you fit in the training into your busy life, as an entrepreneur and a father and a husband and a civic civil servant and some of the other things that you do. He is an ultramarathon runner and triathlete. I just think that is so cool because that requires a real dedication and level of commitment that is unusual, let’s just say. Welcome to the show Jeremie.

Jeremie: Thank you. It’s super nice to be here. I appreciate it, Shani. We’ll go into that and hopefully sharing a little crazy with you.

Shani: Absolutely. Jeremie and I were instant friends when we worked together at Goldman because neither of us really drank the Kool-Aid. We liked our jobs. We respected the firm Goldman, back then great firm still a great firm. We were doing cool things, working with smart clients, but I would say neither of us really defined ourselves by that and we got the joke that this isn’t all that’s available to us in life. Would you agree with that?

Jeremie: For sure, 100%. I would echo your sentiment on that. I loved working at Goldman. I often joke with people. I was hanging out with a couple of old colleagues from Goldman yesterday from the private wealth management group. We were talking about some of the interesting initiatives that they’ve got going on over there. One of them said, “One of these days you’re just going to have to come back here and work with us.” I was like, “Yes, I don’t think I’m employable at this point,” I don’t believe that would ever work as much as I loved it there. I think there are three kinds of people that work at Goldman. There are the kinds like you and me who say, “We love it. We appreciate it. We’re grateful for the experience and opportunity and the connections and the drive and the support and everything that comes with that amazing organization,” but we don’t want to be there forever. It’s a stepping stone for us in our careers and as we continue to expand our world views. Then there are the people that, “I’m a Goldman knight and I will always be a Goldman knight. I love Goldman Sachs.” You find those kinds of people in every big company. They’re the lifeblood of the organization, they make it home. Those are some of my best friends to this day, are folks that are lifers, not just there but other places across the planet. Then there are the folks that, “Damn it! I’m going to be a partner. I’m going to do whatever it takes to be a partner,” that’s also okay. That’s actually one of the things that’s neat about this Goldman hierarchy and the Goldman modeling.

Shani: Mystique?

Jeremie: Yes, it’s an amazing place to be. When I was at Goldman, I got really, really into like personality type testing and human psychology. I’d sit on the floor all day long and on the phone or in front of clients and it was really fun to think about the underlying motivations that drove the people that I worked with and the people that I served. Actually, not that I want to talk about Goldman forever but it was that foundational understanding of an interest in psychology that has influenced me to this moment in thinking about; how I want to build culture, and how I want to carry culture, and how I want to influence culture in the companies that I’ve started. Had the opportunity to work with in the past.

Shani: Interesting that you bring that up because I’m in Arkansas this week working with one of my regular clients. I do leadership training with them every year with different cohorts of leaders. The last two days we have focused on DISC. Which is obviously one of many different personality behavioral assessments and all of the elements that benefit from being more aware of what your own type is, to be able appreciate what other people are so that you can communicate and influence them differently. Of course how you relate to customers and prospects differently. They nailed me because I said, “What type do you think I am?” They were like, “High D.” I’m like, “I’m pretty much tied with one other?” They’re like, “Oh yes, you’re also a high I.” “Yes.”

Jeremie: Looking at Myers-Briggs you’re an ENTJ, I would assume, and with DISC I’m sure you’re a DI, which is exactly what I am and always have been. There’s a lot of pros and a lot of cons to everything about us as individuals because of our individual styles. To me, it’s essential to understand who you are and who the people you work with really are at the end of the day and how they feel. Here at Imagineer the company I run today, we’ll get into what we do this business and things of that a couple of minutes but we have a book club. Interestingly enough the book that the team is reading right now, I think everyone’s halfway through the book, is Surrounded by Idiots. Which is a book that’s based on DISC and DISA and DISC; it’s the red, yellow, green and blue methodology. Which is exactly like the DISC methodology with different color codes but it’s super interesting. It’s been really fun to watch my teammates yet again, discover this and think about, “Who in this business is a D?”

Shani: Someone just recently sent me a picture of that book that they saw in the airport, who had taken one of my DISC training, and was like, “Look.”

Jeremie: Here it is.

Shani: That so funny. All right, let’s get into this because your career has been interesting. First of all, walk us through, why did you make the shift from Goldman to Backstop? What did you have to do, not only process-wise but mindset wise, to make that leap?

Jeremie: Sure. I will start maybe by taking a half step back from that. Really for me, the first shift was deciding to go work at a place like Goldman. For better and for worse, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was a little kid. I started my very first company when I was eight. I had two companies at eight and 10 and 15, and all through college, I started a couple of businesses even.

Shani: Okay. What was your eight-year-old company?

Jeremie: I consolidated paper routes [chuckles]. That’s a whole other sidebar sort of side conversation that we could spend an hour talking about. Basically, I figured out that I can make a lot more money as a paper delivery boy if I purchased the rights to deliver large chunks of the neighboring paper routes in my area. I approached other newspaper delivery boys and girls and said, “I’ll give you X dollars for Y percentage of your route and I’ll do the collections, but I get all the tips.” It ended up being a regular business for me.

Shani: Look at you rolling up newspaper routes, like a born private equity guy, ringing out the synergies.

Jeremie: The reason I had to do it was because the Denver Post wouldn’t let me get more than one route as a kid, or heck has anybody at the time, I don’t think you’d buy more than one route, “Well, all right, then I’ll just go get them from everybody else.” I’ve always been an entrepreneur for better and for worse and always knew that I wanted to build businesses. As I got through undergrad and grad school, I would have become very fascinated with the financial markets and with financial services and financial services technology. I knew that coming out of school, I didn’t want to go straight into trying to start a business of my own because I had never done something at scale. I had never built a business that did millions and millions of dollars in revenue and I wanted to go to a place where I could figure out how to maybe do that. That was at the end of the day when I was interviewing with Goldman, the 748,000 interviews that we all go through to get in there.

Shani: Exactly.

Jeremie: The 16 different divisions in the firm, I ended up having a choice between equity research and institutional equity sales. I chose sales because it gave me as you recall, direct access to lots of management teams and lots of analysts versus if I went and became an analyst, I would have had success teams but it would have been in a specific sector or category whatever it might be.

Shani: Right. You decided to go broad rather than narrow and deep?

Jeremie: I did. One of the great parts about that job was it exposed those of us that did it to management teams of very large companies that were going public for the first time or that we’re doing secondary offerings, that we’re finding new and exciting ways to tap the capital markets on one hand. It also got an opportunity to sit face-to-face to some of the world’s smartest men and women who are managing money and making decisions about the value and merits of those business plans and business models.

I was famous in my own mind for being the most annoying analyst that the CEOs and CFOs and COOs had ever had to deal with on the road because we’d finish meetings and we’d sit down in the limo going to the next meeting and I go, “Okay, I got 47 questions based on what you guys–” I would literally just pepper these guys and girls with questions about how they run their business, how they got to where they went, what about sales, what’s going on with this and what’s going on with that.

It was awesome. Then at the same time, I could sit down inside the asset manager’s office and look at what they were doing and how they were growing their business, and what was working what wasn’t. I was sitting inside a bunch of hedge fund offices and a bunch of endowment and pension fund offices where a big part of the business plan and a model for what became Backstop was birthed. This was at a time in the early 2000s when hedge funds were becoming a household name.

Citadel was a tiny fund at the time if you believe. It didn’t even exist I think when I started Backstop or it’s just getting started. Of course, now, hedge funds play a massive role in world finance.

Shani: Right. Ken Griffin’s probably the richest man in Illinois if not a broader spot.

Jeremie: Yes. Several of the Citadel Cubs, if you want to think from that way that he started since are also now billionaires. It’s been an amazing thing to see but there were some obvious problems with the businesses that these folks were running. There were some obvious ways to get involved to build software solutions that would help to fix some of those problems. On top of that, this was the very beginning of the– Well, the dot-com bubble had burst in 99 and early 2000 and this was 2003.

Software as a service ASP and on-demand software was just becoming a buzzword and becoming a thing. I wrote software as a kid and all through college. I was dangerous with software and I really was excited about this notion of on-demand software technologies. We decided, “Hey, let’s build a software company to do on-demand software for this category of the industry.”

I was lucky enough to meet with a hedge fund manager who had a desire to build businesses in a desire to write checks to start things up, who backed me and backed the team and away we went. That led to an amazing journey and a shift in mindset from going from Goldman Sachs were at the time I think we had– I don’t know. I think we just have 20,000 employees let’s say when I left. I don’t know how many there are today, 50 or some thousand tons.

Maybe 60, who knows, huge number. Going from that to me in a closet working on a business plan, hacking away to find a code, trying to figure out what that guy was going to do, trying to find a co-founding technologist to help me out. We were fortunate and that we had the right idea and the right product and the right market time, which are essential ingredients to success and entrepreneurship. In that first 10 years of that businesses’ existence, we mopped up the market to be totally blunt about it.

We became the dominant player in each of the categories we were in because we built great software. We build a great culture. We took care of our customers. Then we got to a point where it was time for me to do something different because I stopped growing to be totally honest. There’s another opportunity for me to shift my focus and shift gears into doing something that I wasn’t getting the chance to do as the CEO and co-founder of a rapidly growing software business.

I got lucky and found a way to go be the president of a once rapidly growing software business that had fallen on harder times and was shrinking. It was publicly traded but was bought by a private equity fund and I had never had a chance to work for PE fund before, to be part of a PE board structure. I fell into this amazing opportunity to go help to do a restructuring play and building a business and helped the best in assets and look at other assets to acquire and what not but part of an even bigger business within the financial services technology markets. It was an exciting first 13 or so years of my entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial journey.

Shani: What did you learn from Goldman and Backstop that you brought with you to that role where were essentially turning around a situation that really worked?

Jeremie: Well, I think one of the biggest takeaways from Goldman outside of this desire to focus on human psychology and building teams and building culture is the notion of culture itself. The importance that culture plays and building this.

Shani: Yes. I wish everybody that ran companies had that mindset because it drives me crazy that people relegate culture to some junior HR person and it’s not elevated to the same level. That’s my tagline is where business strategy and culture meet because they have to meet.

Jeremie: I’m going to say they’re obvious they’re probably not. Some I think pretty clear reasons why that’s the case, why a lot of executives don’t get culture or don’t think cultural, culture first and that’s because a lot of executives are DI’s. Going back to this, a lot of us we’re naturally passionate people with a desire to grow, expand, explore, drive hard, move fast, break things, work really fast, work really hard, work tirelessly, go crazy and change the world, right?

We carry a culture with us but oftentimes to drive culture into a group of people and to make that culture stick. DI’s were terrible at that because we’re always thinking about the next mountain to climb, right? We’re actually thinking about the next mountain to climb before we even got to the top of the mountain we’re currently climbing. I’m going to go that one next.

It’s really hard for us to stop and say how do I ensure that all the great things we learned, getting up this mountain become part of the permanent culture and stay here. I think that’s where again using this that’s where we need our C’s, right? That’s where we’re not analytically minded attention to detail. I’m not going to act until I know exactly what is right and what’s good for me and what’s going to work types because they can help absorb the culture and then spread it through your execs.

I’s can be great spreaders to so whenever you have to think about this holistically and so many people that are hard-charging entrepreneurs or CEOs or execs, they’re too worried about next quarter or the next product or the next launch or the next customer meeting to feel it’s worth their time to focus on culture, but you got to do it.

Shani: Absolutely.

Jeremie: To be totally honest about it, culture is crazy important to me but in all the companies I’ve ever been a part of, including my day job now at Imagineer, I like to think that my teammates see me live our culture every day. I’m also not the kind of CEO or exec that where every communication start and ends with our four values. Here are openness, transparency, integrity, and gratitude. I don’t say those every single day but that’s what we talked about. That’s the culture we live.

Shani: Well, that’s the difference is. It doesn’t matter how many times people say it. If they’re not living, if their behaviors aren’t aligned with the words, the dissonance starts to create cultural toxicity?

Jeremie: Yes, sure. Absolutely. To me, that was a big and powerful thing. The honest truth is and whether it’s a software business or a consulting firm or a widget company, the best product almost never wins. It’s great when you can have the best product and still win, but it’s culture that carries your message and your brand to your client. Then it’s the culture that you carry as a business and your attitude toward the customer journey that drives success for your business and your customer and that’s why it’s essential. It’s absolutely essential.

Shani: Absolutely. I love that. Let me just pause and make sure. Did everybody hear that? It’s not necessarily the best product that wins, right?

Jeremie: Almost never.

Shani: It’s the product that resonates with the right message, with the audience, and with the culture of the brand itself so that employees who are essentially the brand ambassadors are enrolling customers because the person in charge can’t do all that. [laughs]

Jeremie: Right.

Shani: The culture has to cascade so that anyone that a customer prospect is encountering is a brand ambassador and that is built from the culture because if you don’t give a shit, you’re not going to put your best foot forward in any interaction with a customer prospect.

Jeremie: Totally right. At the end of the day, products are always improving and products are never done, ever. In any business, it’s never done. That’s why focusing on having the absolute perfect product before you go to sell it is, its a fool’s errand because you’ll never have the perfect product.

Shani: For sure.

Jeremie: Every customer’s needs and wants and desires form your product are different, so you just can’t win. You can never win with the product. You have to win their culture and you have to win the brand.

Shani: Let me ask you this. Can we go back to Backstop for a second because there’s something that’s lingering for me that I think listeners and watchers will be interested in, you were introducing a software package at the very early days of SaaS. Let’s call it leading/bleeding edge. Part of your sale was actually education, if I may take an educated guess?

Jeremie: That’s exactly right. In fact, the first several times I went to sit down with prospective clients and also with other industry participants, within the world of hedge funds and the markets, you’ve got these entities called prime brokers that live inside of big investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Prime brokers, they work with hedge funds and other and hedge fund-like asset managers to help them do everything from figure out who to trade with and which trading platforms to implement to how to make sure that they can pass an SEC audit when they come through a check on their practices and policies.

I would sit down with groups at prime brokers from Goldman, Morgan Stanley the UBS, everybody else and hedge fund managers, and I would say to them, “Hey, I just left Goldman. I’m building a software company. Our platform is going to touch your most sensitive client data, and it’s going to do it all on the internet.” They would just laugh, they’d say, “You’re a total idiot. There’s no way anyone’s going to do this. No one will ever trust the internet. I was like, “Well, this is exactly why you’re wrong, because what we at that point we were at the peak period just when everyone was unsure of the internet, unsure of the power therein, unsure of where the web was going to go, and within years you would be an idiot not to be building for the web.”

Shani: You and Marc Benioff from Salesforce having the last laugh.

Jeremie: Honestly, he was my inspiration. When he started that company in ’99 and really got things going with Salesforce, there was also a moment, our platform is a CRM as well, and I would be totally lying if I said I never looked at Salesforce playbook and never didn’t idolize the marketing machine that is Salesforce. Actually, that’s not a perfect example of it’s not the best product. In fact, Salesforce has become exactly what it set out to destroy in that it set out to destroy Siebel, SAP and these gigantic behemoth systems that are really hard to use.

The reason it won is because they are a marketing master. That guy and that company is the most brilliant example of how to market a business. That’s probably next to Apple and maybe the best. What’s funny and ironic and to answer it to give you a bit more color, with backs up we started the world’s first SAS company for institutional asset managers to help them with marketing and investor relations and communications, at the time that I co-founded Backstop there was a company called Imagineer Technology Group that was founded by a good friend of mine named Erol Ducey. Today my day job is I’m the CEO of Imagineer Technology Group.

What’s funny and ironic is I’ve come full circle with my day job, regarding the types of markets that I work in and the customers that we serve, but what was really interesting was that when Imagineer was first started it was desktop software, it was a what was called a client-server model, it was like the Siebel model, you buy the software, you buy the hardware, you implement it, you run it in your office.

Shani: You to shut down the system overnight to run it, to install an update, once a quater.

Jeremie: Right. That was in the beginning of the Backstop days, we competed against client tier on the basis that were always available anywhere you are blah blah blah, and there are pros to that and cons to that. Over time, obviously, Errol and teaming Imagineer they were incredibly brilliant people and super smart guys and girls and they said, “We’re going to get there,” and of course they did overtime. The Imagineer platforms which are called client tier and web vision slowly but surely over the 2000s made their way up into the cloud as well as it became clear that the cloud was going to win and that everything would be in the cloud.

It’s funny that things have gone full circle where we ended up putting all the businesses that were client-server focused solutions out of business along the way and Imagineer which way back then was a distant second or third in the race over time because of its strengths and because of its dedication and quite frankly its technology stack became the number two player in the market. As fate would have it, now was it months ago or so I had the opportunity to get back together with Errol and the team at Imagineer and we merged a company that I’d started after doing the post Backstop business to Imagineer, and now we’ve taken a lot of the technologies that we built with the last company, it’s called Synap for what it’s worth and we’ve been able to embed ourselves into and with the Imagineer teams and we’re chugging along, we’ve got bigger markets. It’s fun.

Shani: Tell us about when you started Synap that was one of I believe three companies you started pretty much simultaneously?

Jeremie: Within a week of each other, yes.

Shani: What were they and how the hell did you do that?

Jeremie: [laughter]

There’s a story here. There’s a story.

Shani: I can’t imagine there isn’t.

Jeremie: When I left the day-to-day of Backstop my wife who is not just my soulmate but is my rock and is my anchor and is the one person in my life that keeps me from frying myself out completely, looked at me in the eye and she said, “Make me one promise and that is that you will not start a new company for at least two years.” This is the day I walked out of– My last day at Backstop. I was like, “Okay, cool. I can do that. I can make it a couple of years without starting something else.”

22 months in, my wife was like, “Hey, if you want to get started on something new, I can tell you’re ready for it, you need it, you’re dying, you have my blessing.” I was like, “Great,” and we started three companies within a week of each other. One was called Synap. Another one was called Zoku Vault. A third, actually, although we’ve been building the platform and building the business for the past whatever it is now four years and change, we’re actually announcing the business publicly a couple of days from now, and sadly that the business and the brand is as under embargo for the next couple of days, but it was exciting.

My wife, bless her soul, was like, “Go ahead, start another one,” and we did.

Shani: The idea, the startup that’s under embargo and only share what you’re comfortable sharing, let’s just say a little birdie told me it has nothing to do with finance and hedge funds and Sachs?

Jeremie: It does not. It has nothing at all to do with the financial markets, with financial services, or with– There’s technology associated with it but it’s not a software company. It’s actually in the hospitality and health and wellness space of all things, and it’s pretty fun. I can’t wait to tell about it, it’s really neat.

Actually, I would say that I moved to my current home in my current town here in the suburbs of Chicago to build this business, so I’m really excited about it.

Shani: How do you divide your time and energy in bandwidth between three businesses?

Jeremie: You can’t be all things to all people at the end of the day, right? It was essential that when we started the companies, we were very clear, and I say we, myself my wife and my co-founders that each did different businesses, were all very clear from day one what the priorities would be and where I would focus my time. At the time, I became the chairman and CEO of Synap Software Labs. That’s the company that we ultimately merged into Imagineer. That has had my focus, the basket of my focus since starting that software business back in 2015, and post the merger with Imagineer that is my day job, I like to call it.

My 50 to 70 hour a week job is Imagineer/what we did with Synap. The other platforms, one of them is also a software company, a financial services software company and it needed a CEO because there’s no way I could do it. As it happens, a good friend of mine who’s a former client was super interested in starting a technology company, and we were having tacos one day just catching up on stuff and he’s like, “I want to go start a software company that does this.” I was like, “That’s funny because I have here on my phone, I can show you leg-working demo of that exact thing. Here’s like seven years of research I’ve done and here’s all the ready to go, we’ll write a check and we’ll get some funding in place. Let’s go do it.”

It was serendipitous timing but I would not have been able to start that one had my friend, someone who I trusted and who was ready to be a CEO, step up and say, “I want to go that.” He left his job as the CFO of a hedge fund to go do that.

Shani: The point is you have to know your limitations, know you can’t do it all, and then find people you trust to take the reins, so you have to be able to let go of some stuff in order for everything to work.

Jeremie: Absolutely, you’re 100% right, and that’s the same thing we did with that when we hired a full-time staff to work on parts of the project for us, and I’m obviously very very very heavily involved, but not in the weeds. You can’t be in the weeds at all thing, you got to pick one thing to be in the weeds up at a time.

Shani: Yes, for sure. Speaking of how you fit it all in, do you have any tips? Because I think this is something I feel so many of my listeners and executive coaching clients struggle with is having the discipline to take care of yourself primarily with exercise, and that’s just people who want to get a little cardio in here and there maybe flip some weights and you’re on the other end of the spectrum where you’re training to run 30 to 80 miles in a marathon. What are some best practices for making sure that you do that stuff? What works for you?

Jeremie: I guess I would say with the caveat that what works for me can’t work for everybody just because who I am, right?

Shani: Of course.

Jeremie: There’s a lot to be said about that. Again, I honestly think being a DI is the only thing that enables me to do it because I’m a planner and a crazy driven person. I guess the one word I would use to describe how I make it work is planning. Everything is scheduled.

Literally, every moment of my day is scheduled either in writing or mentally. I even schedule my downtime. Today, I’m going to watch season two, episode one of Mindhunter. That’s my downtime.

Shani: [laughs]

Jeremie: I’m watching it on the train ride home and then for 20 minutes while my kids are doing homework. That’s how I’m going to finish that show. It’s on my list of crap to do today. It is as important to me as the conference call I had after this, because to me it’s one of my release points.

For me, the type of person I am, I’ve always been an athlete. I have always been very active except for one, three year period where I wasn’t. During that one, three year period where I wasn’t, I fell apart. For me, again, the sports angle, the ultra-marathon angle, it’s all part of a bigger plan.

For me, if I’m out there running 20 miles let’s say or biking 75 miles or doing an adventure race for a day, that time that I’m out there is the perfect time to do what’s called temptation bundling. I fill up that time with other activities as well as the running and the thing.

When I’m training, it’s all about, okay, physical reaction, what are my legs doing and what are my muscles telling me and how am I going to get through this and or how am I going to improve my shape, my coordination, whatever it might be.

When you’re doing a 10-hour race, you’re not worried. You’re worrying about form because you will get injured if you don’t. You’ve got a lot of time to think. For me, it’s a way to kill two birds with one stone.

Shani: Interesting.

Jeremie: Really, it is. For me being outside, being in the outdoors, doing endurance, athletics and things it’s pure catharsis.

Shani: Yes. Well, I think you said something really important which is, “It’s as important to me as the conference call or fill in the blank?” I think that’s where a lot of people fall down.

Jeremie: Yes, they have been so selfish with their time.

Shani: I’m less, because essentially what you’re saying when you say I don’t have time to go to the gym or do yoga or whatever it is, I’m not a priority to myself. I’m putting everyone and everything else ahead of my own health and wellness needs.

I think when you start to look at it that way, it doesn’t feel good and that’s certainly not the way ambitious people want to have their own self-image shaping up into. I guess is that shift and belief that it is as important as everything else-

Jeremie: Probably.

Shani: that finally gets people to prioritize it into their calendar and stick to it.

Jeremie: Absolutely. There’s also a way to bundle it with other things you need to do anyway. A case and point or want to do anyway, like the business that we’re announcing later on this week. I started with one of my best friend’s in the whole wide world.

He and I do adventure races and ultramarathons together. We hashed out parts of this business model and parts of this vision while running through the mountains of Moab, Utah and while we were dying in the mountains and while we’re adventure racing or canoeing down the Mississippi River. You can find ways to combine the things you love with the things that you have to do. There’s a lot of things we have. I’ve been very fortunate. I mentioned my wife earlier who is my favorite human being on the planet.

Every day, I’m so grateful that she chose to be with me and that she chooses to stick with me because I can be a tough guy to be with because I’m pretty driven to do stuff that can be pretty challenging sometimes. I’ve also got four amazing kids who are just remarkable people despite my inadequacies and ridiculousness.

I’ve got a sophomore oncologist, sophomore in high school, a freshman in high school and a third-grader. You can find ways. I try to find ways to engage with them in activities that selfishly I enjoy and I know they enjoy too whether it’s music or playing a card game or playing a video game with them, whatever it is. You can find ways. You have to find ways to plug in multiple likes, multiple desires and fit them into situations. Otherwise, you can’t balance it all.

Shani: Right, absolutely. Well, Leadershifters, if you are one of those folks who struggles to prioritize the activities whether it’s working out or time with the kids or whatever it is, I think that’s the question to walk away from this podcast episode asking yourself is, “What are some ways that I can combine the things that I enjoy, the things I’m passionate about with the things that I’m doing anyway?”

That makes it easier when you’re killing two birds with one stone as Jeremie said. Wow. I feel I have a million more questions for you. I think I’m just going to ask you one more and then wrap it up because otherwise we might have the longest podcast episode ever.

Jeremie: Fine.

Shani: [laughs] This so key. What do you look for when you’re hiring someone, because a lot of people have what looks good on paper? What special source do you look for in someone so that you know that they’re going to honor, respect the culture? Are there any particular questions you use to assess that?

Jeremie: Sure. It varies a little bit by job function for sure. One or two universal things I’m always looking for on teammates number one is, ability to focus. I think ability to focus is different from focused. We don’t have time to go into the reasons for that. Ability to focus is super high on my list of wants in any candidate for any role.

Compassion and empathy also on top of the list for me. Open-mindedness and transparency. It’s just a natural disposition to have a broad and open and accepting worldview. It’s essential to me. I guess the other two things I look for in every candidate one is a sense of gratitude.

We could unpack that a thousand different ways but I’ll just leave it as a single word, gratitude because there’s a million things that go there. In general, I love being around people who are grateful for what they have. The last thing is service orientation.

The desire to help other people and serve other people. Not to be subservient to people but to serve others and to help other people get what it is they need or want or like and want to achieve and want to be. I think that when you combine those qualities, an experience doesn’t really matter.

Educational pedigree except in certain situations and for certain types of jobs, it doesn’t really matter. If you give me someone who’s a go-getter and a hustler and who is empathetic, compassionate and shows gratitude and the desire to serve, that’s a guy or a girl I want to work with for sure.

Shani: Absolutely, good. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m just going to do a quick wrap-up and tick through some of the highlights that I just jotted down as we were talking with entrepreneur since he was eight years old with consolidating paper routes [laughs] to– I’m listing one, two, three, four.

You’re on your fifth startup I think if I count it right?

Jeremie: There’s a couple of others. Yes, that’s good enough.

Shani: Okay. You’re going to have a baker’s dozen soon. I think one of the important lessons about going to work at Goldman even though you knew you were met for entrepreneurship is to be a little patient and get the experience and the learning you need. It doesn’t have to happen now.

The fact that you have the foresight to do that demonstrates ready, aim, fire. A lot of entrepreneurs are just like, “I have a great idea. I’m going to go.”

I get it. Sometimes, timing is of the essence. If you don’t do it, someone else is going to steal your idea. I think just balance that against– You need some experience because you might have a great idea but you might be completely inept at building and running a company. I love that you did that. I think that’s a really great lesson for Leadershifters. Of course, the fact that culture comes first is always music to my ears. The great lesson and the best leaders are students of human behavior, psychology, psychometrics because we are all a little bit different.

There’s a lot to be learned from that. To me, the best teams have a variety of people, the whole spectrum because when we talk about hiring people that are a good fit what that usually means is I’m going to hire people just like me or just like us. Then you end up getting a whole bunch of people who think the same way as opposed to, “Let’s hire people who come from all different perspectives and that’s what is going to give us the richness to succeed and differentiate ourselves.” Let’s see, I love the part about recognizing that we can’t do it all, there’s only so much time in the day no matter how many zeros we have in the bank account, we can’t manufacture more or buy more time in the day.

It’s like okay know what your limitations are, find people you trust to help you and let them go, trust them enough to let go of the reins and let them do their thing and then you creating bigger pie because otherwise if you try to split your efforts on too many things everything’s mediocre. I would say the last couple things in terms of, prioritize yourself and whether it is about your health and wellness, in your workouts or something else that you’re not making the time to do. Maybe you’re not making the time to read books for pleasure, maybe you not taking the time to take your dog on a long walk, whatever it is. Make it as important as the investor meeting, make it as important as meeting deadlines for clients. It’s got to be that important or else you’ll never do it. Then I love your list of things that you look for in candidates. I’m just going to read them back off because folks whether you’re an entrepreneur or a leader in a big organization hiring the right people, that’s what makes a tick. Ability to focus, compassion and empathy, open-mindedness, transparent, gratitude and service-oriented. All right, my gratitude Jeremie, for having you on the leadership show today. It was a pleasure to catch up with you and give you an opportunity to tell your super interesting story to the audience of Leadershifters.

Jeremie: Well, thanks very much again for having me on the show Shani I appreciate it.

Shani: My pleasure. People are interested in any of your products or have follow-up questions, what’s the best way to get in touch with you or just learn more about you?

Jeremie: Yes, sure. I think the very best way to get in touch with me is through LinkedIn. You can also find me at and get in touch with me that way too. It will all take you to the same place, you would probably find your way to LinkedIn.

Shani: It’s Jeremie not with a Y but an I, E everyone.

Jeremie: Right. J-E-R-E-M-I-E-B–A-C-O-N.

Shani: Bacon like the yummy pork?

Jeremie: Like the delicious food product.

Shani: [laughs] All right, Leadershifters you know how to reach me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and et cetera. Until next time, thanks for watching, listening. Mwah

Jeremie: Thanks so much.

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