In this episode of Scaling Success, Sean Cantwell hosts Chris Fahey, Senior Vice President of Talent at Volition Capital, to discuss building high-performance teams. Chris shares his experience supporting portfolio companies, focusing on HR and talent internally at Volition, and helping CEOs and founders build their organizations with a forward-looking perspective. He also highlights the appeal of working with growth-stage companies, which often have a clear product-market fit and the resources to expand. About Chris Fahey Chris joined Volition Capital in 2020 as the first Talent hire. In this role, Chris works to build out Volition’s world-class executives’ network, helping drive value for its portfolio companies.
Chris joined Volition Capital in 2020 as the Firm’s first People and Talent hire to build the Firm’s human network in support of Volition and its portfolio companies. Prior to joining Volition, he was the Head of Ecosystem at Pillar VC, a Boston-based seed fund. Chris spent three years as the Chief People Officer at Alumni Ventures Group, where he helped the company grow from 10+ employees, 4 funds, and $16m in AUM to 100+ employees, 20+ funds, and over $ 250M in AUM. He got his first taste in early-stage companies when he joined Mosaic Research Management, a proprietary expert networking firm, where he was the first employee and spent six years, the last few of which he served as the VP of Operations and Partner. He holds a BA from Williams College, majoring in Political Economy and was a Williams Men’s Hockey team member.
Hiring in a Post-Pandemic World - Podcast
Hiring in a Post-Pandemic World - Video
Sean Cantwell: Welcome back to season two of Scaling Success, a podcast geared towards entrepreneurs where we discuss a range of topics that contribute to building a valuable and long-lasting business. If you’re new to the podcast, please subscribe on Spotify and YouTube. Today’s topic is building high-performance teams and I am excited to welcome to the podcast Volition’s very own Chris Fahey, our Senior Vice President of Talent. Chris joined Volition in 2020 as the head of our talent team with the mandate to help our portfolio companies build out their executive teams and to build a network of world-class executives to support Volition’s portfolio efforts. Since that time, Chris and his team have placed 65 and above level folks across the portfolio and provided invaluable support in helping entrepreneurs with their organizational design. Prior to joining Volition, Chris had previous stints at Pillar VC Alumni Ventures Group and Mosaic Research Management, and he is a proud alum of Williams College. Go Eaves. Chris, this is a big day for you. I know you had trouble sleeping last night. I hope you’re ready for the bright lights. Welcome to the podcast.
Chris Fahey: Thanks, Sean. Excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Sean Cantwell: All right, great. Well, Chris, why don’t we just kick things off? How would you describe your role at Volition Capital? What are your responsibilities? Perhaps to quote, office space. What would you say you do here?
Chris Fahey: Yeah, great question. So I do hopefully a lot of things here. At least, I like to think so. But my role kind of breaks into two areas. One is HR and talent internally here at Volition. So supporting the partnership and growing both from an analyst perspective as well as in the hiring of our mid-level operators and kind of growing the team at Volition, which is a lot of fun, taking kind of that different part of my brain and using it to help bring some HR and people initiatives to the organization. The other part, which is what we’ll probably talk mostly about here today, is really about portfolio support and portfolio hiring. So I work a lot with our CEOs and founders as well as the executive teams across the portfolio, helping them identify talent that can help their business grow. I think the other fun part that I really enjoy is also helping them think about what a great company looks like. I always joke with our founders that we don’t want to always hire about what we’re looking like today. We want to think about what we look like in 5 to 7 years, what we look like when we grow up, and then helping them think about that dynamic, building an org structure that supports it and then helping them find and retain incredible talent that helps them achieve that goal.
Sean Cantwell: Terrific. Chris, you’ve worked at a couple of other venture firms. You’ve also been an operator As you were evaluating career opportunities. What attracted you to Volition specifically and kind of focus on growth-stage companies?
Chris Fahey: Yeah. So what I’ve really enjoyed about this process in my time at Volition is really the greenfield opportunity that’s in front of these companies. When we when I worked at an operating company, right, you focus so much on your day-to-day challenge, right? It’s really hard to see above the trees as you operate day to day and deal with the minutiae of operating a business. When I worked at early-stage companies, the challenge I found there is those companies are so early and they’re trying to accomplish so much that there’s really a disconnect sometimes as to what the right talent is to help the organization grow, because oftentimes the company doesn’t know what they want to be and they oftentimes are still trying to identify what their product is and what their product market fit looks like. When you come into the growth equity stage, what we’re talking about at companies that are building great businesses, is they have a great product. They have customers who love their product and keep coming back to their organization, and now they have a fresh set of capital, and they’re really the initiative to grow and being able to have that green field, helping them answer those challenges is think through the different dynamics within such a diverse portfolio that’s really broad across software and consumer, but also being able to really think about how do you get from 20 or 30 employees to 102 hundred, 500 and beyond. It’s a really fun opportunity and a fun challenge to think about.
Sean Cantwell: Great. Yeah, no, I definitely echo that. It’s an exciting stage to get involved with entrepreneurial growth companies. I guess if we take a step back, if you think about Volition, capital, and the types of companies we tend to partner with, a lot of times these are bootstrapped companies. Maybe there are 1 or 2 founders wearing a couple of hats. They raise capital, and now one of those key initiatives is to scale the team and really complement the existing folks to try and go for something bigger. I know there are a couple of different ways you’ll engage with Volition portfolio companies. It might be helpful to our listeners, I know many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves and CEOs who are wrestling with some of these challenges about how and when is it time to scale the team, Maybe walk through a couple of case studies for our listeners on how you’ll partner with a founder, entrepreneur or CEO to think through some of those challenges. So if I think about maybe the two common use cases, there is the. A situation where you’ll get involved with a founder and help him or her work through organizational design, maybe as a starting point. And then secondly, perhaps we’ll come back to a case study where the org structure exists and then they need help kind of filling some of those seats. So if you wouldn’t mind, Chris, maybe walk us through a case study of how you’ll work with a founder to think through organizational design to really position a company for scale?
Chris Fahey: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the important part here is that when you think about companies at this stage, they’re all so unique and they all have their own different challenges and different opportunities. So we want to be pragmatic about the process and really work with the CEO and founder to one, understand what their viewpoint is, Right? Where where are their challenge spots? What are they trying to solve for over the long term? And then also I take and rely a lot on our investors, right to give us perspective of once they go through this due diligence process, what are some of the things they’ve identified? So we try to take all that in and then the process we take really depends on what we want to accomplish, right? So we’re trying to move with purpose here. So in the first case you alluded to is one where we get off and involve really early in the process some of our earlier stage companies to help think about the org structure design and what a company looks like at scale. And a great example of that is one of our portfolio companies on our consumer side doing things. Media. You’re talking about a great leadership team that is building a really unique product and a really unique business. And for those that don’t aren’t aware of it, it’s a social media company, right? That is trying to build a really diverse set of media kind of components that they can then monetize in a number of different ways.
Chris Fahey: And for an organization like that, they’re one of the few companies that are really doing this. So there’s no blueprint, right? This isn’t a standard industry that’s been around for a long time. So the blueprint has to be created. And for each organization, that blueprint is going to have slight variations. So in that situation, what we did is I sat down and over the course of several weeks, I worked with the founder and their president and worked directly to think about what are the challenges on both sides of that business when you think about just the pure operational challenges, but also on the content production and talent components when you think about social media and influencers and we were able to sit down and build out an org chart that really supports the growth dynamics today, but also in the future. And really what I love to do with this process is build out that org chart, what it might look like down the road and work backward from that. Because if you know what you want to be, you’ll get there, right? And you’ll have some bumps along the way. You’re not hiring is not a perfect science, but it is an art, and you try to build that finished product and work backward to give you some direction on where to go. So in that case, we were able to hire build out an org chart that addressed both sides of the business. And then in the process, we’ve been able to hire them at this point about seven different executives really VP and above and first-of-its-kind hires.
Chris Fahey: And in some cases these are roles that may have not existed in many companies, like other companies like doing things. So really kind of a unique approach. We’re able to identify some great people and the company’s been able to continue its growth process. They’re now doing more today than they’ve been doing in the past, both from an expansion of kind of responsibilities and deliverables, but also in just pure revenue. They continue to scale as an organization, and hopefully, that org chart and the great talent we’ve brought in has been helpful to them in accomplishing that. I think another one is this just pure dynamic of maybe a company that has a little bit more historical industry experience and has some better blueprints on how to accomplish their goals. And a great example is actually one of your portfolio companies, Black Kite. Black Kite. Really great Business continues to double every year, and they kind of got to a point where as they scale, they need to continue to think about what is next and how do you continue to bring on the talent that can help you get to those areas. And in those cases, you know, we’re really working with the team. In that case, it was the CEO, Paul Padgett, and his organization to think about what are the opportunities to scale, what’s the right talent, what’s the right functional leaders that we can bring in to bring expertise, bring experience and help that company continue to double over the next few years.
Chris Fahey: And with that, we were able to hire a CRO who was able to come into the organization tons of experience in the industry being able to bring that with him and then really start to set up the processes and the infrastructure that can help that company get from where it is today to where it wants to be in the future. We’re also able to compliment that individual with two VP’s, actually in one case an SVP in the sales side, but also in the marketing, right? So being able to bring in some great talent there to not only build the infrastructure, but to really uplevel the ability to scale and really broaden the horizon of the organization and its and its initiatives. And then lastly, one of my favorite hires. To make here is higher because it is one of those individuals that we can bring into the organization and really start to set up the capabilities for that company to not only attract great talent, but to retain great talent and continue to develop and grow that talent. So we’re also able to bring in a VP of HR. My team was able to help kind of accomplish that. And in a couple short months, we brought in four executives that hopefully set this company up to have a great 20, 23, and beyond.
Sean Cantwell: Terrific. Yeah. Our colleague Chris, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard him say this, but he likes to say that five things matter in any investment and they matter equally. Product market management, management, and management. And, you know, I know our portfolio companies have certainly benefited quite a bit from you and your team in kind of helping to assist bringing in some of those really strong management team members to position the company for scale going forward. Maybe kind of along those lines, Chris, you’ve worked with a lot of companies across the portfolio. I mentioned earlier. I think you’ve helped place 65 VP and above-level folks over the past couple years. What are some of the kind of tough people-related challenges that CEOs will inevitably face as they look to scale a high-performing organization?
Chris Fahey: Yeah, there’s a couple of common mistakes that happen in this space, I think. One is when you get to the earlier stage, right, as a founder, you’re really oftentimes it’s your first time building a company to this scale. And as a result, one thing that happens in the hiring process is, you know, you think you wake up one day and say, all right, I’ve got to grow top line. So you start thinking about the revenue dynamics of your business, and that might mean that you’re going to go hire a marketer or a sales leader or some functional expertise that can help your business continue to scale effectively. Now, the challenge that happens is if you haven’t done this before, often you rush to say, Who do I know and how can I get to someone quickly and effectively that’s going to help my company scale? The challenge is, oftentimes founders think for speed and efficiency, and what often where they miss that opportunity is what type of marketer am I looking for? Right? There are so many different skill sets and sub-functional expertise in each of these areas that you can go after. A great marketer who may just be ineffective at your organization because it’s the wrong opportunity for that marketer, or it might not be the right leadership or skill set that you’re looking for to help scale your business. So a great example of that is oftentimes people think about brand. Well, brand is a fantastic way to go and hopefully, someone has that skill set and complements it with other areas. But for some businesses you have to start outside of brand first, right? You may need to start in more demand gen or performance marketers to really help build the engine before the brand really takes hold.
Chris Fahey: So and that can work in both counter ways as well depending on the type of business you have and what you’re trying to do with that business. So I think it’s really about having that thoughtful approach and you still want to have the speed. You of course, don’t want to lose that. You want to grow quickly, but you really want to be able to be thoughtful and always use the term purposeful, right, know what you’re looking for, and then go get that and be selective when you try to find that individual. I think the other part, too, that always stands out and is one that can be probably the harder parts from a people perspective is when you’re a founder and you’re working with your team, there are some core people, right, that really help you grow your business and they’re instrumental in the success of your business. But companies change. And I used to always talk to one of my previous CEOs that I worked with that, you know, the person who founds the company, the person who grows the company, and the person who sells the company are often three different people. It doesn’t mean it can’t be the same individual, but the challenges and the tasks associated with scaling a business change. Right? Being a VP of Finance at a $10 million company is very different than being a VP of finance at a $50 million company. So being able to have that perspective and know that sometimes the great people who’ve helped you get to where you are today may not be the people who help you get to tomorrow. And that’s not the fault of the individual. It’s not the fault of the business. It’s just things change as companies grow.
Sean Cantwell: You know, actually, I have CEOs ask this question quite a bit because I think people recognize that reality. But sometimes it’s hard to recognize when is the time to kind of make a change or supplement the team or replace or complement and so forth. Any experience or words of wisdom on that front.
Chris Fahey: Yeah. Again, it’s really depending on the organization and the individual and it’s a hard decision. It’s not an easy thing to go through because again, that person might have been instrumental in you getting there, but sometimes you’ll start to see the cracks and you may have to act sooner rather than later to help that business scale and not take two steps back in the process. Um, but I think where I, where I always lean to is really having the pragmatism, to be honest. And some employees will self-select into this and know that the next challenge might not be the challenge that’s best suited for them and other times being pragmatic to understand, okay, let’s start having those conversations because there’s also a learning training and development process here, as I mentioned. Right? People can evolve and people can grow and take that next challenge. And it’s partly the company’s job to support them to get there. But not everyone will get there. But hopefully you have the perspective and the foresight to give people the opportunity along the way to grow and scale and give them the resources to do that. And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the company just moves faster than the individual can, and sometimes the individual moves faster than the company does, and it’s just the right time to move forward.
Sean Cantwell: Yeah, as you well know, Chris, we’re trying to invest in companies that are doing very well without our money, and they’ve had success partly because of the team around the table. You know, along with the product and the market opportunity, there’s a CEO I work with who likes to say, you know, I’m playing the game with the players on the field. And, you know, he takes that approach of like, let’s help that team develop and grow and level up. There are times, though, where perhaps there’s a gap in the team and you’ve got to recruit folks from the outside. I know that’s a common point of concern, right? Because founders value and treasure and nurture the culture. And sometimes with change, there’s fear that that could have a negative impact on culture. I know you work with tons of teams to help with search. I’m sure this question comes up a lot when it does. How do you think through that? How do you navigate those conversations with the CEOs and how does culture and the importance of it play a factor in the searches you’re running to help fill specific roles at companies?
Chris Fahey: Yeah, I’ll answer that last question first. It’s essential. I mean, as you continue to build your organization, right, everyone always says you always want to hire great people. Great people come in so many different shapes, sizes, and personalities, and every new body is going to adjust the culture in some way just right. The nature of an organization as it grows, it will continue to evolve. But it’s essential. I mean, you need to be thoughtful about it. You certainly want to bring individuals in that complement the rest of the management team and the rest of the executive team as you scale. But I do think it’s important for founders to kind of think about the dynamics of culture because culture changes and it’s not always a bad thing, but it’s important that they, as the founder and CEO, Shepherd that change. I always think about the dynamic of the kind of evolution of a business when you’re five people sitting in a room trying to solve the initial problem, that culture is going to be kind of organic and be driven by, you know, bottom-up approach. But as you start to grow and you start to get to that 20, 30, 40 people, not everyone is going to follow the same cultural dynamics and cultural cues across the organization. And at that point, it’s really important for the founder, the CEO and the executive team to continue to drive the culture forward in their vision from a top-down approach.
Chris Fahey: Now, I think the negative connotation of being top-down right is forcing it. And to me it’s not about forcing, it’s about facilitating it, right? It’s about having that. I’m not a total believer in the mission, vision and values, but they are essential. I do believe that companies have to have this perspective of what do we hold true, what are we trying to solve and how are we going to solve those things? What are we trying to accomplish here? And then how do we bring that across the organization? And one I think pitfall that happens in this process is as a founder, you think I said it, you know, once I’ve said it twice, I’ve said it three times and the whole organization is going to get it. And I will tell you, it doesn’t work that way. The 100th time you say it is probably the first time someone’s really heard it. And it’s important that you continually take the culture and the embodiment of the organization that you want it to be and continue to facilitate it, communicate it and give it to people to live it and to scale it. And I think that’s an important component that can be easy to. Deprioritized. But it is important and it is something that I think founders have to embrace in many ways.
Sean Cantwell: Good. How do you. How do you help? Sometimes there’s a situation where a company might need to make multiple hires. And how do you help an entrepreneur kind of navigate the prioritization and maybe, you know, sequencing of hires versus doing multiple hires in parallel because there’s only so much an organization can digest at a certain time, which sometimes introduces risk that I know executive teams can be sensitive to.
Chris Fahey: Yeah. It’s an important question because as you know and as you’ve probably seen, you bring too many new faces to an organization. It changes culture, it changes direction, it changes the priorities of the business too quickly. And it can be hard for the body to digest it and it can reject the organ in some ways. And my view on this is I think you always want to prioritize. There’s a difference between urgent and important, and it’s a balance of those two things in many ways, right? There are certain roles that the company is just going to be stifled if you don’t bring that person on. So you need to prioritize those individuals. But you can’t forget about what’s important. Right? I often question I get is like, when do you bring an HR leader in? Well, as an HR, really going to an HR leader, really going to change your top line or bottom line instantly? No, But it’s an important hire that helps you build a strong organization and provides the resources and the structure for your sales team to be effective and your marketing team to be effective, but also for your finance team to be able to do their job appropriately and have the skills and resources they need. So that’s an important hire. And I think there’s a balancing of being able to be purposeful with the urgent, but don’t be forgetful of the important ones. And there’s no one, you know, equation that you can run in that. It’s really about being thoughtful as the founder being really. Again, taking that step back, trying to remove yourself a little bit from the urgency of in the noise that comes with these things as well. Some executives will push harder for their number two or number three or whatever, and you need to be able to be thoughtful about what’s what’s really going to drive the business forward, not just for today, but for long term as well.
Sean Cantwell: Good, Chris. Understanding that no company is ever going to bat a thousand on its new hires. Right. And if you make the wrong hire, it can cost you time, money, it, etcetera. Any words of wisdom or advice or observations you’ve seen on what companies can do to kind of optimize for success when it comes time to. Recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and integrating new folks into an organization.
Chris Fahey: Yeah, Honestly, there’s a lot of things you can do to help increase the likelihood of success, and often those are some of the easiest things to do, but they’re often forgotten or overlooked because you’re so eager to get into the search and start talking to people and trying to figure it out. And some of that is really just setting a good process, right? Making sure you think about what is it the job, what is the job trying to accomplish? What would that individual achieve in this role? What are they going to solve for? How do they help our business? Being thoughtful there, but putting pen to paper in those organizations, that’s really easy to say. You know what, I’m going to go out and just look for this person. I don’t need a job description. Right. And I think we’re all guilty of that process. But it’s really important to sit down and say, here’s what the job is, here’s what I’m trying to accomplish. And really scorecarding. I’m a big believer in being able to put down here the core attributes I’m going to look for in this individual. Here’s what I want them to bring to the table and their experience, and here’s where I want to be able to evaluate them from a qualitative perspective, to be able to say my likelihood of them being able to accomplish these objectives is X and it’s a little thing to do, but it’s oftentimes forgotten.
Chris Fahey: And what ends up happening is you get into a conversation and people just start talking. And if you’re talking to someone who’s, you know, very social and thinks the same things, right, and the person you want to have a beer with, Right. That’s that’s great. That’s part of the cultural thing. But you lose the direction as to what’s going to actually make them successful in this job and successful in this role at this time for this organization. So you have to be able to take that step back and keep yourself honest to bring the right individuals into the organization. And then I think one thing that people also don’t always think about is the onboarding process. You know, when you bring an individual into our organization, it takes time for them to adopt the culture, adopt the beliefs of the business, and oftentimes to navigate to what the actual core problems of a job are. So it’s really important to give individual time.
Chris Fahey: Now, I’m not saying you don’t want to be quick to terminate. If you can identify that someone is not the right fit, great. Go for it. Move on from that individual because you don’t want to be six months down the road realizing it too late. But I do think there is a point of giving people the ability to be successful, giving them the resources to be successful and really facilitating and setting them up for success. If you can do that, and that means communicating well, training, development, and really, frankly, it’s on the hiring manager to really be able to define the role and explain the role and work with the individual to continue to iterate on the role once somebody is in that seat. I think those are key attributes that are really going to help someone be successful because it’s not always about the A-player, it’s about the right player and the right situation with the right resources to be successful. And B players can be players at the right company and players can be F players at the wrong company. And I think that’s something you have to be thoughtful about as you bring in people to the organization.
Sean Cantwell: Chris, I have routinely received feedback from CEOs in the portfolio who perhaps have sourced talent just from their own individual networks or working with kind of outside search firms. And they’ve commented on kind of the efficiency of the process, the speed of the process, quality of candidates that have surfaced in working with you and Kelly at Volition, we’re technology investors. Any technology tools you leverage or know of that can be kind of helpful in managing that hiring process and or sourcing good candidates.
Chris Fahey: Yeah, absolutely. And I think there are two components, right? It’s technology and process. So I think from a technology perspective, there are always the great companies out there. Hr tech is a very saturated market. It’s a complex market. Obviously, you know, groups like Hacker Job or Jazz, which, you know, we use, both of them, really help us get to the market quickly. And jazz, HR obviously is an applicant tracking system which really allows us to manage the process effectively. I think one thing that we run into a lot is not every job is going to get posted, right? You’re not going to post a job on your careers page, but being able to still have a effective tool to manage your process, understand where your resources are being allocated and to move candidates effectively through the process is essential. You know, if you end up with a 12-step process, you’re going to lose a lot of candidates. And if you start missing candidates, you’re really just shooting yourself in the foot. So those are some of the tools that I think are really helpful.
Sean Cantwell: There’s a lot of both. Also, Volition Capital portfolio companies. I grouped one right down the middle of the area there. Chris, you knocked that out of the park. Good job.
Chris Fahey: Thank you. You know, and there are others as well, right? I mean, it is a saturated market. And, you know, some of the things we look at are, and for me, it’s about the process that really helps with the speed component. I actually didn’t grow up in a traditional recruiting environment. I actually grew up when you mentioned Mosaic Research Management, which was an expert networking firm. And what that kind of taught me and what I learned to do in this process is if you really focus on what the task at hand is and you define well, what the challenge you’re trying to solve is, you can find the solution. And oftentimes, right, you’re starting to look at like companies and like experiences. So if you define the role well, you can then identify what those like experiences and like organizations are. And they’re not always black and white, right? Not always a competitor. It might be a totally different industry, but it’s about whether it’s a salesperson, it’s the sales motion or high-velocity components that you might see in an SMB and mid-market versus enterprise, etcetera. And if you can define that, well, LinkedIn is a great tool, right? It’s a network that is very searchable. You can get a recruiter program and a recruiter account and be able to start to nitpick individuals’ experiences and profiles to identify the individuals that you think can be fantastic in this role.
Chris Fahey: And what it allows us to do is I always take the approach of what’s the question we’re trying to answer? And then who are the 20, 30, 40 people in the world that can solve that question? If we start there, that’s a great group to go after. And then from my side, you know, I jump in and help kind of bring the knowledge base of who our companies are and what volition is to those candidates. And to me, that’s it’s an easy job because you’re talking about awesome companies that are growing quickly, that have fresh capital and a ton of runway and future ahead of them. So that’s an easy sell for my job. And then it’s really about making sure it’s the right fit from there. And then obviously you’re starting from a good functional expertise and experience point and then being able to bring in the right personality into the organization. And that’s where the team comes in, right? These are their hires. They’re not Kelly or I making decisions. It’s about us producing people who can do the job, who have the experience, and the founders and CEOs and hiring managers, identifying the right people for them and their organization, because that might be different depending on who’s on the other side.
Sean Cantwell: So, talking about people who can solve problems, maybe say words about the Strategic Advisory Board at Volition. We’ve been focusing this conversation really on hiring and building teams at portfolio companies. But one of your other jobs at Volition is continuing to add to the portfolio support, even beyond management team hiring, Strategic Advisory Board is one of those initiatives. Maybe just say a few words on that topic.
Chris Fahey: Yeah, the Strategic Advisory Board is one of my favorite things to be involved with here. It’s 15 world-class executives from all walks of life and what it is, and I can list the names there on our website, but there are some incredible people, founders of great companies, functional leaders of some successful high-growth businesses, and many today that are sitting in really great seats across the landscape from public companies, on software, consumer and everywhere in between. But what we utilize them for is really about helping our companies think through challenges. You know, I’ve had my experiences, but I’m not an expert in all things, and no one is right. So how can we bring individuals who have faced these challenges and have done so successfully and bring those challenges from the portfolio directly to the SAB? And it can come in many different ways. It can come in. We’ve placed SAB members into our portfolio in some cases for long-term consulting and full-time roles. We’ve brought individuals in for consultations with the different functional leaders at our companies. We’ve sat down, you know, founders with the founders of groups like the Real Rail and Wayfair and others to help get perspective and experience right so they can help learn from those past growth in the past, the challenges that come with it.
Chris Fahey: My favorite of which, though, is we also do our strategic advisory board meeting. I think it’s really fun because we try to get these 15 individuals and kind of a shark tank experience with our companies where our founders can sit down with 15 amazing operators and say, Here’s my problem, let’s talk about it and help me solve it. And we get a lot of great results in that process. And it’s not just, hey, here’s part of the solution or part of my experience, but it’s, hey, people who might be able to help you here and whether it’s a talent role or just a connection into a great company that might be a good customer or a great partner. So it goes a long way for our companies to have that experience. And I think everyone enjoys it because it’s kind of a fun back and forth.
Sean Cantwell: That’s great. Scaling a business can be a very daunting task, as you well know, Chris. We are investing in exceptional entrepreneurs who are doing really, really amazing things, but in most cases, they’re waking up every day and they’re running the biggest business they’ve ever run before. You know, we try where we can to provide support and perhaps be a guide or at least connect you to folks who can be a guide for some of those challenges that they will inevitably encounter. This has all been super useful and great. I’m sure our listeners will enjoy some of the anecdotes you’ve shared, and hopefully, they can tuck away a lesson or two in closing. Any advice you’d give to founders and CEOs who are looking to build a team that can grow and scale with the business? Any closing thoughts?
Chris Fahey: Yeah, I guess there are two things. One that you bring up that I’ll, and I’ll get to your question, I think. One, is this the dynamic you asked me earlier of why growth, equity, and volition? One thing that’s always stood out to me that I’ve enjoyed in my time here is really that sentiment right there that, you know, the founders wake up every single day thinking about their companies. They go to sleep thinking about them. They eat dinner, thinking about them. They interact with their families, thinking about them. And I think one thing that Volition does a really good job with is being a partner in every sense of the word, but also knowing that these guys do that and these men and women who run these companies do that every single day. We have 28 portfolio companies, right? So we’re trying to be pragmatic and helpful, but also being honest that these are the individuals that lead these companies that are thought leaders in their industries as well. And although this might be the biggest company they’ve gotten to and kind of managed, they’ve gotten there and that’s great and that’s really hard to do. So being able to support them and help them find that next step is really an enjoyable process for me. And I know with the team and working with everyone here as far as advice, I think the biggest thing I always think about with talent is that talent can be an unlock in many ways for companies to grow and to scale.
Chris Fahey: It’s not easy. Continue to invest in it, and continue to be thoughtful about it. And it’s not just, you know, there will be bad hires. There are going to be amazing hires in the process. That’s just the way it works. It’s not a science. It is an art form. And it is a process that you go through, and you learn, and you grow in it, but continue to invest and never take it for granted because that next person you might bring on might come with an idea, might come with a capability that helps you get to that next stage or makes you think about or unlock something in yourself that helps you get to that next stage. So always be thinking about how you can obviously be within budget terms, but always be thinking about how you can bring great people into your organization and be opportunistic. Running a search is one thing, but sometimes you just meet people who are great people, and if you have the ability and they have the skill set, that can help your organization. Don’t be afraid to potentially slot them in the seat and say let’s figure it out together as well.
Sean Cantwell: Press. Terrific. Many great words of wisdom on behalf of the partners at Volition and portfolio Company executives. Thanks for all the amazing work you do to help position these companies for success going forward. And thanks again for your time today.
Chris Fahey: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me. A lot of fun.