Today is the 6th episode in our Launch Series, a partnered episode series with Pacific Lake Partners and Trilogy Search Partners on preparing for the CEO role as a search fund. This conversation centers around a CEO’s first 100 days in the company post-acquisition, and I’m joined by Sam Krieg, Co-CEO of Central Storage & Warehouse, and Chris Hendrikson, partner at Pacific Lake Partners and former CEO of VRI.
We talk about the key objectives new CEOs should approach the business with, important frameworks for making decisions, how to authentically get to know your team and business, the role of the founder and your investors, and so much more. Please enjoy this episode on the first 100 days, and check out our earlier Launch episodes as they complement this discussion well.
Learn more about Alex and Think Like an Owner at https://tlaopodcast.com/
Ravix Group — Ravix Group is the leading outsourced accounting, fractional CFO, advisory & orderly wind down, and HR consulting firm in Silicon Valley. Whether you are a startup, a mid-sized business, are ready to go public, or are a nonprofit, when it comes to finance, accounting and HR, Ravix will prepare you for the journey ahead. To learn more, please visit their website at https://ravixgroup.com/
Hood & Strong, LLP — Hood & Strong is a CPA firm with a long history of working with search funds and private equity firms on diligence, assurance, tax services, and more. Hood & Strong is highly skilled in working with search funds, providing quality of earnings and due diligence services during the search, along with assurance and tax services post-acquisition. They offer a unique way to approach acquisition diligence and manage costs effectively. To learn more about how Hood & Strong can help your search, acquisition, and beyond, please email one of their partners Jerry Zhou at [email protected].
Oberle Risk Strategies– Oberle is the leading specialty insurance brokerage catering to search funds and the broader ETA community, providing complimentary due diligence assessments of the target company’s commercial insurance and employee benefits programs. Over the past decade, August Felker and his team have engaged with hundreds of searchers to provide due diligence and ultimately place the most competitive insurance program at closing. Given August’s experience as a searcher himself, he and his team understand all that goes into buying a business and pride themselves on making the insurance portion of closing seamless and hassle-free.
(00:04:54) Chris and Sam’s experiences in the first 100 days as CEO
(00:07:43) Goals for CEOs to have in their first 100 days
(00:11:03) “Do no Harm” vs. making team changes early in a CEO’s tenure
(00:23:42) Building trust with key players and the company
(00:30:44) Accelerating learning of how the business works
(00:41:38) Mapping out ways to alleviate problems within the business
(00:47:02) Working with the founders on a transition plan
(00:52:39) How CEOs can transition trusting relationships with customers and key vendors to new owners
(00:58:47) Where you can learn on your board and investor group
(01:07:03) When to start having formal board meetings
(01:09:30) Closing advice
Alex Bridgeman: Well, thank you both for coming on the sixth episode in the Launch Series of episodes, this one focusing on the first 100 days after acquiring a business as CEO and thinking through high level goals and what are the main things to accomplish in that first 100 days. But I think a helpful way to kick off will be going through each of your experiences. And Chris you, of course, are at Pacific Lake, but had your own search and were a CEO prior and have your own 100 day experience, but maybe touching on the experiences you both have had as a lead up for this longer conversation on first 100 days. And Sam, perhaps we’ll start with you.
Sam Krieg: My partner and I bought CSW at the end of 2021. The business is about 150 employees, four facilities, frozen, cold storage facilities. So, we’re basically operating warehouses for food manufacturers, think of an Amazon warehouse except for its negative five degrees and food manufacturers are the customers. And we bought the business in kind of a drawn-out acquisition process and took over the business right as the labor market was kind of going wild, inflation was setting in, COVID was still happening. And we lost a fair amount of people, both from family members who were transitioning and from people who were burnt out from COVID. And so, we took over this multi facility business, stepped in, my partner kind of had to step into a general manager role, actually, for the first six months as we found a new general manager for our flagship facility. And we basically stabilized the business and have been running it for the last two years. But it was quite a quite a ride. And we learned a lot in the process. And that’s the quick story.
Alex Bridgeman: Chris, do you want to dive into yours?
Chris Hendriksen: Sure. Yeah, I kind of come at this first 100 days from I think two perspectives. I think the first one is, did a search, ran a business with a partner, so it’s very similar to Sam, had that experience of showing up and trying to figure out the first 100 days of learning about customers, learning the business, trying to do a million things, and realizing that the business- learning from the inside is very different than learning from the outside. So, I have that experience. But that was like a thousand years ago. So, I also have started a program at Pacific Lake where every time a searcher buys a business, we offer some support and coaching for that first 100 days. And so, I’ve spent, I don’t know, probably 35 or 40 entrepreneurs have gone through the first 100 days with them over the last few years. And so, seeing common threads, seeing opportunities to help them support each other or learn from each other’s mistakes or successes, to try to make sure that’s a smoother part of the journey. It’s always going to be challenging, but then we can help them with some of that, so excited to be able to talk about it and share some of those things that I did with Sam and Hill as well, which was a lot of fun.
Alex Bridgeman: Maybe building on that a little bit, what are some goals and high level North stars you have for CEOs in that first 100 days? Chris, what kind of lessons and pieces of advice do you impart on CEOs as they enter that first 100 days?
Chris Hendriksen: Yeah, I mean, there’s lots of stuff to talk about. I think probably the two frameworks I would start with is, I think the first is very simple – just have a plan. Like, have a plan, go in with something you’re planning to do, the things you’re trying to learn, be ready to adapt that plan because it’s going to be very different than you actually expect, but have something to start with. And usually, our hope is that the goals of your plan stay the same, but the activities will change as you figure out lots about the business and what you didn’t expect and things are different. I think the second one, and this is a motion we try to do with the searchers as they’re transitioning from buying the business to learning or running the business is it’s a real psychological change. You’re going from a very transactional, fast moving, really detail oriented part of the process, which we’ve talked about on this series before, which you’ve talked about diligence and legal and things like that. And all of a sudden, you’re trying to learn a business and build relationships with your customers and your employees, communicate to people that have never met you before about this transaction that just occurred and understand the team, and those are really different mentalities. So, we do a lot to work on how do you do things like how do you learn a business, how do you actually get good lessons versus how do you learn and make fast decisions, which is what you’re doing in the transaction. So, we can talk about some of those specifics, but I think the two big frames are have a plan and then really shifting from a transactional action oriented mindset to a long term learning oriented mindset is a big difference.
Alex Bridgeman: So, Sam, on that point around having a plan, what kind of plan did you lay out with CSW?
Sam Krieg: I think Chris and the team helped us put together a pretty detailed or what I felt was pretty detailed plan with three priorities for what we wanted to achieve in our first 100 days and then a bunch of ideas for actions we were going to take to achieve those goals. But to Chris’s point, the actions changed over time. And I actually pulled up what our 100 day priorities were that we sent to the board as we were approaching the close date, and they were learn the business, build trust with the team, and keep the warehouses full and profitable, which effectively was assure business continuity. And I think looking back, I feel good about those goals. I think, as a new searcher, that’s probably what I would prioritize is learning what you’re- just immersing yourself, learning the business, making yourself part of the team by building trust, and then not breaking anything, just keeping the business going. And for the most part, search fund acquired businesses tend to be pretty stable, where you can actually break a fair amount of stuff without really damaging the business. And so hopefully, that last one is not too hard to achieve because you have recurring revenue and long term relationships and stickiness and whatnot.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, the piece around you can do damage, and it’s still generally fine and works out, there’s a common piece of advice around do no harm to the business. And that seems to be helpful in some areas and not helpful in others. Where do you find that advice applicable or not?
Sam Krieg: So, I’m happy to give my perspective. We actually had a board member who’s also a Pacific Lake Partner, Keith Gross, who we would talk about, basically, are decisions reversible, how easy is it to reverse what you’re going to do. And if we thought that there was the potential for a big improvement by making some decision or changing something in the first 100 days and it was easy to reverse that decision, then we weren’t afraid to make some tweaks. Where we would give pause was, oh, is this something that’s going to be tough to undo, which the classic example there, I think, is team changes can be difficult to undo. And so, we were kind of slow on those types of decisions. But if we could make a decision and make a change and reverse it if it didn’t go as we were expecting, we weren’t afraid to do so. I’d also say, though, I think the classic advice is people always wait too long to make team changes. And so, I think there’s a counter argument to what I’m saying too. But that was the framework we used – is this a reversible decision, how easy is it to reverse, and if it was easy to reverse, we weren’t afraid to have some experiments.
Chris Hendriksen: I’d love to respond to that because I think we hear that a lot, Alex, where people say, oh, people told me don’t do anything, or do no harm becomes don’t do anything or don’t make decisions, and I think that’s a disservice to the folks joining companies. That’s impossible. You can’t join a company as a CEO and not make any decisions. That won’t work. But I think Sam’s framework is exactly what I would tell them, which is split things into reversible and irreversible decisions, feel more comfortable making reversible decisions than irreversible decisions. If you have to make one, get advice, get help, ask your board, ask your investors, ask the team. Like, get smart on an irreversible decision. And then the second thing we talk about a lot is, does this really have to be made now, or can you punt it down the road. An example of that’d be one of the first CEOs I’ve worked with this on, they had to make a decision on renewing the lease for their office space. And it was like they didn’t know if this was like in COVID, should we do it or not? It was like, can you just pay for six months, and it’s more expensive, but just punt that decision down the road so you don’t have to make that right now. And they did, and it was much easier. So, I think finding ways to not have to make critical decisions or to make reversible decisions is great. But you can’t do nothing. Like that’s just sort of out of touch with reality of what’s going to happen. I will say that, and I think Sam and Hill are a testament to this and I think almost any CEO you talk to in the search space, you will make better decisions 100 days after you own the business than 10 days after you own the business. So, it is to your benefit to wait if you can, and sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. And so, I think, yeah, it’s very worth addressing because I think that can be read the wrong way of do nothing versus do no harm versus try to make decisions you have to make, not ones you don’t have to make. It’s a little bit of a nuance, but yeah, I can see that. And people want to make a difference. I think that’s the other piece, and maybe Sam can talk about this. You get in the business, and you don’t want to be viewed as just some person sitting around for the next three months or six months not doing anything, so you have this natural tendency to want to fix things and do stuff. And so that is something you have to fight often. But you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make some decisions. But that, I think, is a personal psychological difference, that people want to do things and prove they are worth it and they can be the CEO or that they’re smart or whatever. It’s like, where’s the thing I can apply that to. And that is a hard thing to resist.
Sam Krieg: And one, I’m happy to give an example of a relatively large decision we made within the first 100 days. And that’s, most of what we’re doing is just – I mean, just makes it sound simple – but we are holding pallets of food basically in a frozen environment. And it’s coming in a full pallet and leaving in a full pallet. And we have a part of our business which is literally 25 times as labor intensive, where instead of just bringing the pallets in and taking them out, we’re building the pallets themselves. So, we’re taking pieces of food and mixing and matching them on a pallet. And this was really not a core part of the business before we acquired it. But in the six months before we acquired the business, they had won this big account. And this is where a lot of growth in the industry is supposed to be. And basically, we figured out during diligence and in the first month, that we were significantly underpriced for the way that we were running that business and losing a lot of money on it, even though our pricing was pretty consistent with the market. We just, for whatever reason, were operating in a different way. And we basically decided we can’t push off this decision because we’re going to be devoting more resources to it and it’s costing us a lot of money to have this basically unprofitable line out there. We went to the customer and literally doubled their price, more than doubled their price. And our thinking was it’s very unlikely that they’re- if they walk, well, hey, it was kind of- we think it was unprofitable anyways. And if they don’t walk, the worst they’re going to do is tell us, hey, we need to negotiate this. And instead they didn’t; they accepted the higher price, and it was great business. We’ve since moved away from the business. But that was the type of thing where there was a bit of a debate internally about whether that was going to be reversible or not, but we weren’t afraid to do that even after the first couple months. We talked through it, talked through it with the board, honestly, before we made that type of decision. But we weren’t afraid to make a decision.
Alex Bridgeman: For folks who would give you advice that it’s okay to make team changes earlier than you think or you feel ready for, where do you think that advice comes from? Is there some experience that someone like that usually has or some lesson they’ve learned that is applicable and something you could do? Like, maybe that person thinks that certain team changes are more reversible than you realize or something else.
Chris Hendriksen: I think it’s coming from a place of two pieces of advice colliding, which is, I think it’s the piece of advice we talked about where it’s do no harm, take your time, assess the team. And I can talk about that a little bit, about why I think that’s super important. But then the other piece that’s like hire slow and fire fast, like when you know someone needs to go, you’ve got to make a move and move on. And as you build experience as a leader or a CEO, you’re going to have that happen to you multiple times in your career, like man, I should have done that earlier, I waited too long. So, I think that’s where it comes from is if you know it’s time to move on, you should probably move on sooner. I’d say that probably is important to delineate, that people say hire slow and fire fast. So, a lot of times when CEOs join the business, they actually need to hire someone, not necessarily fire someone. And it’s like, oh, we don’t have a VP of sales, we don’t have a head of this. And it’s like that advice is hire slow, even when you’re experienced. And so, I do think that it’s good to wait unless you have an absolute need. You should just realize, I might make a mistake, I might not need- this might be the wrong person I hire in six months, and if I’m willing to take that risk, it might be okay to do it. But I would be getting advice from the board, getting advice from others, and it is worth waiting a little bit of time, if you can. My one exception is somebody who’s totally toxic to the organization and culture, like whether that could be an employee, part of the founder, seller, whatever, there’s been some family member things there can be some really hard stuff to deal with that you might have to do something you didn’t want to do but you have to do it sooner rather than later because it’s toxic to the culture, that just has to happen quickly.
Sam Krieg: I would agree with all that. The one thing I might add too, or two things I might add, one is I think some of this advice comes from, like after we made some team transitions, it’s so obvious in retrospect, but part of that’s because I’m looking at the business at day 365 with the knowledge that I have on day 365, looking back and saying, oh, it was so obvious that we needed XYZ, or we didn’t need XYZ. And at that moment, I actually didn’t have the knowledge to have been able to really say that because you just learn so much every month. And so, part of it, I think, is that you don’t remember that you didn’t have the data set that you have now back at that point. I also think that investors and former CEOs are just not as close to it. And so, they’re able to have a different risk reward analysis than you are where it’s really scary when you get in and you don’t know what you don’t know. And there’s somebody who kind of looks like they are really important to the business, and certainly they’re trying to make it look like they’re really important to the business. And you kind of think like, oh, maybe this isn’t a good fit. But just it’s kind of scary to be in that situation, I would say. And I would just double down on what Chris said about culture and like somebody who’s toxic, that can be really apparent really quickly. And thinking through those people that we’ve had, there’s never been- I mean, it’s a small data set, but there’s never been somebody who we thought, oh, this person is a bad cultural fit and then any amount of time later, we changed our mind. It always got worse. And again, small data sample, but I think I’ve heard other people say something similar.
Chris Hendriksen: I’d love to add to that, which is like I think Sam nailed something that I’ve experienced personally and just want to make sure we name it, which is it’s really easy to say, from my seat as a board member or investor today to say, hey, Sam, you should really make that call now. And it’s really hard sometimes on the other side of that to say, I agree with you, I understand that advice, but there are many other things that are affecting why I can or can’t do that tomorrow, or you may not understand the dynamics of the team they run or the customer they’re really close to and all these risks, which oftentimes are less risky than you feel like as a CEO. But when you are the CEO, you feel them for real. And it is scary, risky, all those things, and you get to deal with all the fallout. I get to go back to my problems after I tell Sam to fire someone or hire someone, but he has to live with them. And so, I think there’s a real- like you have to name that, that’s a real deal thing. And everybody wants the same outcome. But sometimes it feels a little different than- I feel it in my head, and he feels it in his gut. And it’s a little different from what it really means.
Sam Krieg: The thing to add there too, I’m glad Chris said it, is the reality of the situation is most of the time, if you transition that person, it just means you have to do their job in addition to your job. Luckily for me, in every one of those situations, Hill, my partner, just did their job and I got to keep doing my job. But I think that is the reality. It’s not just oh, it’s scary, maybe you’re making the wrong decision. It’s also all right, now I’m going to be working nights for the next three months or something. And it doesn’t mean that the board member or investor is wrong that you should make that decision. But I appreciate Chris acknowledging who gets to leave their baggage at the door or whatever.
Alex Bridgeman: That’s great. This is kind of touching on a broader theme around getting to know your team and developing trust there and then after doing so having evaluations on the right roles and right fits for your team. What are some things, Sam, maybe we will go into tactical things that you did, and then, Chris, we can touch on high level advice and flip flop it. Sam what sorts of things did you do on your team to get to know key folks on your leadership team and just build trust broadly with the company?
Sam Krieg: We did some stuff, like taking people out to lunch. I think the biggest thing isn’t so like described or created is that. The biggest thing we did I think was went and asked people about what they did and tried to learn the business. And I think we built a lot of trust by showing up and being interested and being genuine and caring and then also in addition to learning about hey, can you show me how you do your job, can you show me what are the challenges that you’re facing at work, also just asking people about their lives and what their family situation is, but basically just being a normal person, which I think is the same type of thing that searchers often do a great job of when they are winning an acquisition transaction is they’re just more, hopefully, normal, genuinely interested people than a pure financial buyer, not too bad talk pure financial buyers too much. But continuing to do that in this new environment, just being a genuine person and being interested in people’s job and lives, I think goes a really long way. The other thing Hill and I were very thoughtful about was following through on whatever we said we were going to do. And I think you could probably take this too far. But we were very sensitive to, if we said, hey, these things aren’t going to change, we were very careful about what we said that about. And if we said XYZ wasn’t going to change, then we were very careful about changing it, at least in the beginning. And so being thoughtful about what you’re actually communicating. People are going to hear what you say, talk about what you say, think about what it was, rehash what it was, and I think you can build a lot of trust by just following through on what you’re saying and then also taking a genuine interest in people’s jobs and lives.
Chris Hendriksen: That’s so good. And I think there’s so many things in there that you guys did that, back to saying have a plan, I think you had a plan for but you have to work really hard at, and that word authenticity we talk about a lot. We talk about it a lot sort of in the context of joining the company. A lot of times we’re coaching or talking about the first day communication. And sometimes a search CEO will come and say I’ve got my plan, and they’ve got 100 things they want to talk about and where the company’s going, and this is like the mountaintop speech. And it’s like they want to know who you are. They want to actually know that you’re a human, not a robot, and that you like are interesting and that you’re interested. And so, I think that word of like be curious, you talked about that, like listen to people, ask questions, I think that’s a really, really important dynamic. I think a couple of tactical things I often see be really impactful to CEOs is that this takes time. So, schedule it, plan it. Like you can’t just show up at work and be like I’ll get to know everyone today. Block two hours in your calendar where you’re going to go spend time talking to people, asking questions, being interested in them, or going out to lunch with them, like Sam mentioned, or joining a company event that’s going on. You have to actually plan for it because you’ll remember it at the end of the day when they’re all gone, and you’re like, man, I wish I would have spent more time with that team, but now it’s too late. You can do your TPS reports at 10 o’clock at night, you can’t do your meeting people at 10 o’clock at night. So, make sure you do that. And then I think just a couple other exercises or tactics we would use, we use frequently. You don’t control what people think of you or what they- trust gets built over time. You don’t get to say like, hey, Alex, trust me. Like, I have to trust you. And then I can build trust from your direction. So, I think one is go in trusting people. If you ask a million questions trying to catch them off guard or figuring out, that feels like I’m not trusted, so I won’t trust you. So, try to instill trust in the way you communicate. And the second one, we do this exercise sometimes with CEOs, which is I say, think about the values you want to model and the five words you want your team to think about you after 30 days, 90 days, 100 days. Like what are the five words you want them to say? Like Sam is blank, blank, blank, blank, blank. And that’s how you build that relationship and trust to say that. It might be authentic, it might be friendly, it might be competitive. There’s not a right answer. But think about what you want them to think of you such that you can project and communicate and build relationships in a way that builds those because it’s really easy to get distracted and all of a sudden be like I just asked that person 9 million questions about whatever thing, and they don’t feel good, I don’t feel good. Oh, man, I got to go back and try to be friendly now or go build the relationship. It’s like you have plenty of opportunities, but you’ve got to stay on a path of like what is the culture and values I want them to see me modeling and demonstrating and that that’s what they think I am. Because you’re new. They don’t know you. You get a chance to make that impression. And so, be really intentional about it.
Sam Krieg: Also, I’ll just flag to Chris is exactly right. Like we shadowed a lot of people, but we were very intentional about putting that on our calendar and that being the thing we were doing that day, spending a day with a person and understanding their role. And this idea of like trusting other people as a way to build trust, Hill and I actually, when we started our search, we wrote out like a partnership agreement between the two of us which is hey, here’s the basis of our partnership, here are our values, here’s how we define success, this is what we’re shooting for. And we actually wrote that down specifically, like trust was a value of ours. But one of the ways that we define that is we were going to give people the benefit of the doubt to start. We were going to trust freely and earn other people’s trust. And I do think that goes a long way coming in and not being an immediate change agent and trying to evaluate everyone, just trusting that, hey, they’re probably doing their job. There will be a time down the road for you to dig in deeper, but just giving them the benefit of the doubt to start. People are worried that you’re not going to do that. And you doing that, I think Chris is exactly right, that makes a big difference. And it’s easier for them to trust you if you’re freely trusting them from day one.
Alex Bridgeman: So, I would assume that talking with folks on your team and getting to know them better is probably one of the best ways to learn the business really quickly. But what are some other things you did that helped accelerate your learning and understanding of how the business worked?
Sam Krieg: We got the advice, and I don’t know if this is a standard phrase, but it’s like follow the ticket. And basically, what that meant for us was we followed like the creation and fulfillment of an order from when it comes in to when it goes out. And so, we basically just followed a customer order – how does this work? What do we do when we receive their product? What are the steps involved in that? How do we determine where it goes? Who are the different people? And we just jumped from person to person, okay, the CSR does this and then hands the paperwork to this person. Okay, now I’m going to go follow that person and see what they do, what’s their job. And that gave us a real idea of the life cycle of like a customer order effectively. I don’t know how that applies to every business. But I think there is a lot of value of just seeing here’s what we actually do operationally to give our customers what they’re paying for. And that touches a lot of different people within the organization and then a lot of different steps. But we found or I found that very helpful to just understand what are we actually doing during the day, what does this business actually do? Chris, I don’t know if you’ve done something similar, or?
Chris Hendriksen: Yeah, I love that. One of the things we tell people, I tell people a lot, and I remember doing it at VRI as well, is I think what you categorize as like observe and experience the business instead of like just asking about the business. It’s really different to go on a sales call than it is to read the notes in the CRM. It’s really different to understand how the order is getting input than to like ask the person inputting the order, well, what do you do, and then they tell you, and then you watch them, and it’s totally different. And you’re like, wait, I’m learning things. And I think, one, it gives you a feel for what the company and the team is actually going through. I also really like if you- I mean, we talked about going on a sales call, like the more you can spend time with customers and see what their experience of the company is, even better. Because I think it is really easy to get inside and start to experience all the things from inside the four walls, literally in your case, and from others, it’s like, no, what’s happening, what does the customer care about, what is their experience with us, and so getting out and spending time with customers, talking to them, going to sales calls, learning from them, like that is a huge, huge opportunity early on to learn. And I think one thing that that can breed or lead to and I think you have to avoid, and I’m curious if you may have had some of these, but when you watch and observe things, you’re going to see a ton of problems. And we are drawn, we are just drawn to problems, like that is what we- like moth to the flame for search CEOs, like bring it in, I want to fix it, I know I can fix it. And like you have to resist that urge so much because you’re going to find 100 problems in the first day, but definitely the first 100 days. And so, if you start working on them, you might be working on the 75th and 82nd most important problem in the company; you’ll never get to number one and two and three. And so, I think that’s like it’s great to go observe, but it’s really hard not to just all of a sudden be like I could fix the ticket process. And it’s like doesn’t matter, you’ve got to go fix the customer process or go fix the case picking process you talked about. Like you’ve got to fix something else. And so that’s got to burn for a little longer.
Sam Krieg: Our business is a little bit strange in that we kind of don’t have sales or we didn’t when we bought the business. We were capacity constrained from day one. So, it was mostly just account management. It’s very operational, operationally heavy business. And so, I think we would have done exactly what Chris was talking about, about going out and doing sales had that really been a meaningful part of the business. And we did some of that. I will say the other thing, I handled less of this, but my partner, basically, he lived in one of our facilities, stepped into more or less the general manager role, and continually followed up on what those problems were, not necessarily, to Chris’s point, not necessarily fixing issues, but just understanding why is this an issue? Why does the general manager have to step in here? Why does the operations manager have to step in here? Why does this- what is going on that the frontline employee can’t handle it themselves? Because those are all the things where a decision is made, and people are using judgment there. And so, the better you understand where people are using judgment and making decisions, I think the better you’ll understand your business. But to Chris’s point, I think you really don’t know what’s a priority when you first start. And so, you should be curious and understand why things are issues and why things are being done the way that they are, but not necessarily change every little thing or push every little thing.
Chris Hendriksen: Alex, one thing these last two kind of topics made me think about where you think about or talked about building relationships with the team and trust and getting to know them, and then learning the business, something that just popped into my head that we talk about regularly is the day you buy the business, everybody else in the company has a full time job running the business, and you don’t. You’re the only person that doesn’t actually have any responsibilities as of the day before. So be careful with how much you pull them out of the business too. There’s a tendency, like I got to learn the business, everybody stop doing what you’re doing, and start teaching me how to do the business. And so, what I tell CEOs a lot is think of it like a river, get in the river. Don’t dam up the river. Like get in the river and start learning, and so flow, follow the ticket, go on the sales calls, do all that, join the product roadmap meeting, do all the stuff they’re already doing. This business was good enough that you wanted to buy it; don’t stop it because you want to learn a bunch of stuff. And so just those things felt- because everyone will talk to you. You’re the CEO; they’re going to stop doing what they’re doing if you ask them to. And so back to that how do you build relationships, how do you get trust, and then how do you learn the business, just be soft in the way in which you walk around the business versus banging around and knocking stuff over. So, I think that’s- I’d just remind you.
Sam Krieg: I’d be curious, Chris, the other thing I would add to that is I would acknowledge, at least for myself, that felt really uncomfortable. It was really strange. It was the first time in my life I like walk into a job and I feel like oh, I’m supposed to have a really important role, and you kind of don’t have any role to start. It’s really uncomfortable, or it was for me. And I’d just be curious, Chris, if you’ve heard other people talk about it that way. I think like it’s before you know it that you have way too many things to do. But in the first month or two, you might not. And looking back, I would encourage new CEOs, don’t force it. Like be there, be present, make yourself known, build those relationships. But you don’t need to force yourself in anywhere, in my opinion. I’d be curious, Chris, what your reaction is to that.
Chris Hendriksen: Yeah, I mean, definitely consistent that that is very common for people to feel. I’ll just share my own experience. I’ve seen it for many, but I felt that way. I showed up thinking I should do a bunch of things. And I only really know how to do finance, so maybe I’ll do some finance stuff. But then, we have a 24/7 call center that’s got all kinds of technical capabilities I’m trying to figure out and we have clinical medical staff, like I don’t- I was in the one of the first meetings I remember being in with a customer, I was just writing down acronyms. I’m like, I don’t even know what these conditions are. So, I am totally out of my depth. But I think the more you can embrace that and be like I’m learning at a ridiculous pace, and I’m going to be good at this at some point, and I will do what I can, but I’m not going to try to insert myself to make changes or do things or make decisions, I think the better. I think honestly, you see it more in companies where there is something deeper or technical or something that’s different than general business. I see it a lot in software businesses where CEOs go, hey, there’s a product roadmap decision I have to make. I’ve never built software. I don’t know what they’re talking about. Or healthcare like I was mentioning, or I would guess in your case, there could have been things around real estate or like big decisions where like this is out of my league. But if you give your team time to teach you, everyone I’ve met in search as a CEO is like a crazy fast learner. And so just give yourself a little time, and you’ll be up to speed and helpful quickly. And you often forget your questions are really valuable. Like just ask good questions, instead of trying to give good answers.
Sam Krieg: I would also, just as you’re talking, Chris, it’s reminding me too, like I’m learning the business. We did kind of feel like, at least in the beginning, it quickly changed, but we felt in the very beginning, or at least I felt like, oh, I kind of have some free time here. I want to learn things. Hill and I went in on the weekends and unloaded trucks. We got forklift certified. We unloaded trucks. And we were horribly inefficient relative to our guys and had to be very careful not to damage palettes. And I think that it gave me a much better appreciation of what the frontline employees were doing and their value. And it also taught me some of the nuances of actually what these guys are doing moment to moment. And then also, I do think that that probably built some trust is just coming in and not saying, oh, I’m the suit, I’m the decision maker, I’m above. I don’t think anybody in this community would do that. But that’s one example. And Hill spent more time in the warehouses on the weekends than I did, that’s for sure. But I think just being there, being present, being willing to do the work, that’s something that you can do when you don’t have a lot of other responsibilities. And it’s a great way to learn the business and a great way to build trust.
Alex Bridgeman: You talked earlier about understanding or having initially a bad understanding of what issues are a priority and which ones aren’t. I would assume that if you have a list of 100 issues, 10 of them near the bottom are probably correlated to some issue much higher up that is actually downstream causing all these other problems. Was there some way you tried to map out issues to understand where the highest leverage fix is that can help alleviate some of these other problems in the business? Was there any strategic or tactical way you went around figuring out root causes for any changes you considered?
Sam Krieg: I’m smiling because that sounds so obvious and like such a good idea, and I don’t think we did that at all. One thing I think we did do or one thing that we do, it is just a standard practice where if we have a customer issue, they ask for a corrective action, and we do a root cause analysis. And so, Hill and I didn’t come up with any of this, and we didn’t do it in any systematic way for the issues that we were categorizing and finding, but we did- Luckily, we don’t have a ton of corrective actions that we do for our customers. But we would do root cause analysis. And for the most part, everything comes down, for us, came down to our technology systems and our processes associated with our tech. And that’s basically everything that Hill – well, that’s not true – but it’s been a lot of Hill’s focus for the last two years has been improving our tech stack. I will tell the listeners, cold storage, warehouse management systems, very, very sticky. Very, very sticky.
Chris Hendriksen: I would say I think your idea is right, Alex, that like you have a list of 100 problems, can you correlate them. But I think what tends to play out more often is that it’s which problems are repeated over and over again and persistent that actually become the ones that are either most required to solve or which ones are holding you back from persistent positives, like which ones are blocking something. And I think that takes more time to see. And Sam kind of hit it, I mean, you can almost always put them in the category of people, systems, processes, like it is some subset of that. But I think it takes a little more time before you’re really ready to assess, hey, this is the root cause or this is the bucket of problems I should go solve. And then when you actually want to solve them, back to that point, something has to happen. Someone has to fix them. There has to be a person, there has to be a new system, there has to be a new process put in place. And you can only do so many of those things at a time. And so, where we actually- this usually happens a little later, but where we spend a lot of time talking to CEOs, and I wish I had figured this out sooner, it took me years, it’s just like what actually drives value in your business? Like where’s the value creation story for your customers? Where’s the value creation story for your business? And so, when you know what those are, that’s what I would be aiming for is like this problem actually drives value for my customers. Like this problem just annoys three people in my company. Don’t do that one. That one’s fine. We can be annoying. That one drives value for my customers, I got to go solve that one. And hopefully at some point, you can sort of have a magnitude to it as well. Like, not just it’s a problem, fix it, it’s like, this is a big one, this is a little one, this is easy to fix, this is hard to fix. You start to get good at that. And usually, you put a system in place at some point of how we can assess what the priorities are, like EOS or whatever systems like that, but at the beginning, you’re just trying to figure out which ones are most likely to be value creating versus just annoying.
Sam Krieg: We also use a framework internally, Hill, again, deserves the credit here, but we talk about glass balls and rubber balls. And so, the issues that we’re facing, we drop a lot of balls in our business, and I think that’s just the nature of any human organization. People have too much going on, they can’t juggle everything, and so stuff falls to the bottom. And a lot of stuff goes wrong in our business and in every organization I’ve been a part of where people drop balls, and that’s okay. The balls bounce. And there are other things where something goes wrong, and it creates real issues down the road. And that’s what we kind of try to define between the two is what are issues where this is a small issue, things will bounce back, and what are issues that create irreversible damage, that sort of thing, and those are the glass balls. And I think to Chris’s point, you kind of learn what those are over time. And yeah, I would just say, that’s another thing to keep in mind. You might not know in the beginning what those things are until you see, oh, this has been an issue over and over and over again, and it’s causing bigger issues, versus oh, this is always an issue with a customer, but that doesn’t actually really matter. It’s not a big deal.
Chris Hendriksen: I learned a long time ago, Sam, that when I hear good analogies, I steal them. So consider glass balls and rubber balls part of my repertoire now.
Sam Krieg: That’s Hill’s; he deserves all the credit there. But I’m sure he’s willing to pass it on.
Alex Bridgeman: That’s great. Switching gears a little bit, of course, with acquiring a business, like a typical search business, there’s a founder involved, and often that founder transitions out after a certain period of time. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes they’re around for longer. Sam, what was your experience with the founders of CSW and kind of your high level transition plan for their continued involvement or lack of involvement after close?
Sam Krieg: So, I would separate this into two categories. Ours was a third generation family owned business. And the patriarch sadly passed away. He was second generation. He passed away during our closing process. And then there were a couple family members and the outside CEO who stayed on in a consultant role. So, it wasn’t really like a transition. They were not in the business day to day, but they were around to help with projects and to answer questions. Specifically, we had a construction project going on, and one of them helped manage the project. And then we also had a member of the family who stayed on as the only account manager or sales type person. And those were very different. The transition was actually very helpful, I would say, as a crutch, where it was really, I think they would have done it even if we weren’t paying them. But this is one of the benefits of having a good relationship with the seller, I would say, where there was a ton of stuff, a ton of decisions that we needed to make early on that were not- that were probably reversible or weren’t a big deal, but that would have really stressed us out had it not been for our ability to just call up the former CEO and get his input. And he was very willing to get on the phone. That was hugely, hugely valuable. And whether that’s a part time basis or a consultant or something, I’m sure Pacific Lake, Chris has good perspective on that. I would say it was very nice to not have him be in the office every day because it made it very clear Hill and I are in charge, like this is a new group. Even if it wasn’t that we were saying things were going to be different, it just made it very clear that this is the new structure. But it was very helpful to have him and some of the others on call. Our experience then though was we continued to have a family member involved as a salesperson. And I would say that that, while we were really happy, it was actually one of the things that we wrote in to require in the deal. He was really a key employee. It’s a big transition to go from you kind of being the owner and having your way to they’re just- even if you aren’t changing a lot operationally, it’s the first time- just the reporting structure is different, that sort of thing, and I think that can be tough on people who have only worked for their family for the last 20 years or have worked for themselves for the last 20 years. And again, I’m sure Chris has more perspective on that. But I would say that was honestly a challenge. And we worked through it. But that’s where a lot of the tough conversations and Hill and me game planning how do we make lemonade out of lemons or whatever, how do we make the best. It was a pretty good situation. We were glad to have him in the business. And it was just a big change for him and for anybody who would have gone through that, I think it’s a big change. And you’ve got to be sensitive to that. And you’ve got to be clear, it’s a different- it’s not a family-owned business anymore. It’s a professionally run, institutionally backed business.
Chris Hendriksen: Two things that I think we talk to CEOs about a lot and that I remember from my own experiences, if I could go back and do it again, what I would do more, and so I try to tell them to think about doing it more – just ask for input and advice more regularly. I learned later that the seller actually knows a lot more than I thought they did. Like, the decisions that seem crazy are not crazy. The decisions that seem like they didn’t agree with the data, maybe there was data I didn’t have. And so just keep asking for advice; you’re going to learn a lot. And I think it might have been that asking for help felt like I wasn’t the CEO, like if I’m asking this person who used to be the CEO for stuff that I don’t know what I’m doing. And that’s 100% accurate. I don’t know what I’m doing as the CEO yet, so I should ask for help. And good CEOs ask for help. And that’s an okay quality. So, I think that’d be one. And then two is just, this is almost no matter what your seller is doing, whether they’re in the business every day or out of the business or consulting, like invest in the relationship before you need to. You did this in the transaction probably. We sometimes call it like the relationship bank, like make deposits. Spend time with them, talk to them. It’s really easy to get distracted in that first 100 days and spend all your time on the business and the other employees and customers. But you will need them at some point, even if they’re not in the business, like Sam said, whether it was they were calling that person to get advice on certain things. Make some deposits so that when you need them, and it could be a really positive issue like, hey, I need your help on this giant expansion project we need to do, could be really hard, like my seller when I said, hey, turns out you owe me $350,000 for taxes you didn’t know about. That wasn’t super fun, but the fact that we had a good relationship made it feasible. It didn’t make it fun. It made it possible.
Alex Bridgeman: Chris, what are some helpful ways you’ve seen CEOs transition trusting relationships with customers or key vendors from the founder to the CEO in that first 100 days? And then maybe, Sam, after that, we can go into some of the things you did with your founders.
Chris Hendriksen: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think it does depend a lot on that seller’s relationship or specific capabilities. And so, I think I would encourage you to think about like what is that seller or person, if they’re leaving the business, doing really well. Sometimes it’s customers, most of the time, it’s customers or product. They’re like really good at something that’s being built. And I think why it depends so much on the relationship is, if that seller wants to get out of the business, you feel a real urgency to do it quickly. And that’s hard. Doing it quickly is really hard because the customer- you’re basically telling the customer stop doing what you want and do what I want. And the reality is they have to do it at their own pace. I think if you can do it in any natural way, it’s the best opportunity. And that’s usually, hey, we talk to the customer regularly every month, we talk to the customer every quarter, do it that way versus we’re going to have every customer on the phone or have a giant webinar or something that sort of disrupts the flow. Sometimes that can’t happen, and then you just have to be overt about what are the most important relationships. Sam, you and I are going to go call on those people together over the next two months, and we’re going to go meet every one of those customers if that’s really important. So, I do think it’s a tactical, intentional plan. That’s a great place to ask for advice, though. Ask advice from your board, ask advice from your team because they know those relationships better, and it’s really, really hard to draw like a two-by-two framework around it. It is very, very like individual personality driven, both the seller and the new CEO. So, I think have a plan, but I would say be flexible and be ready to sort of get advice and then go execute. It does remind me, one of the things we talk about a lot with customers is a lot of times CEOs will have a plan that’s like, all right, I’m going to join the company. First day I’m telling the employees, second day I’m telling all the customers, third day I’m telling all the vendors. I’m like, why are we telling all the customers? Like what happened? What are you telling them? It’s the biggest day of my life, I bought a company, I’m CEO. They don’t want to know that. They want to know how does this affect me. And if you can’t tell them something meaningful, wait. Don’t rush out with the press release kind of feeling. And that’s sometimes a little counter to what other folks would tell you. But I tend to be more of like put the customer lens on, think about what matters to them. And if they say- if there’s something they need to know, let’s make sure we tell them; we’re not trying to hide it. But let’s make sure that the answer to the so what question when you call them and tell them is like something more than like so I just wanted you to know. It’s something like this is what’s happening, this is what’s changing, this is what’s good for you, I’m going to come see you because I’m the new relationship. So, I think that’s important. And to be careful you don’t become the face of every relationship with customers is important too. The CEO should be impactful, but hopefully there’s other people who have a relationship with those customers, not just the CEO.
Sam Krieg: One thing I’ll add is whether with customers or with the team, we found it valuable to have the initial message happen with, in our case, it wasn’t the founder, but the CEO or the family salesperson. And we were lucky in that they were very invested in our success and picked us among other bidders. But the CEO, like on our first day with the team, the CEO was there in person. There are four different facilities across Wisconsin, so I think we did it in two days, but there was like a lot of driving involved. And he called everyone in together and basically said, hey, before Ken, the owner, passed away, he spent months considering different people to guard his legacy. And here are all the reasons that Hill and Sam are the ones that he chose from many options. He was thoughtful about this, he cared about you, and Hill and Sam were his choice, and here’s why. And then we got to come in and give the classic your healthcare is not changing, your pay is not changing, your supervisor is not changing, we’re really excited to be a part of the team. And here’s the FAQs to remind you, your healthcare is not changing, your pay is not changing, your supervisor is not changing, everything is staying the same, and we’re really excited to be a part of the team. But I think having him there to express this is a good thing was powerful. And then the same thing, I think Chris is exactly right. We did not force it; for insurance purposes, we had to legally notify everybody. But we did it in kind of a low key way. And then we are regularly meeting with customers. And that salesperson who’s a family member was there and introduced us and was basically like here’s all the reasons that I’m excited to have Hill and Sam in the business, here’s what our vision is, and it’s largely the same. But then we just moved on from it, because to Chris’s point, it’s like nothing really should be changing. And so we don’t want to make this a bigger deal than it is. But I think it was helpful to have that introduction and to have their words,because they have trust already built with the customers or the team. And I think we just leaned on their trust, but to do that, you have to build trust with them, and that takes time and effort, and you’ve got to be genuine and follow through on what you say and be trustworthy.
Alex Bridgeman: Chris, you mentioned this was a good time to lean on your board when it comes to customer relationships. What are some other areas within that first 100 days that your board and investor group can be helpful too?
Chris Hendriksen: Yeah, I think they’d be helpful in lots of areas. I think what we see and hopefully you’ve designed your board in a way that you’ve got multiple people that you’ve had some relationship with before closing, you’ve spent time with them, you’ve already started to build a relationship. But secondly, they probably have some different sets of experiences. So in my opinion, the best boards end up with people who are good at helping you think about big capital decisions, but also think about operating decisions and think about, some of them may have seen 50 things and some of them might be seeing one thing right now and they’re in the middle of it. And so, you can get different perspectives from them, which is super helpful. I think most of the people in the search fund community, maybe all, as board members do this because they like helping and coaching and mentoring CEOs. And so, we’re like waiting by the phone for the call. It’s one of those things where like reach out, ask for help is one of the most important ways. I think what you can do ahead of that though or what I would tell people to do in the first 100 days is share information. Don’t wait until you have a question, just tell us what’s going on. We love to hear what’s going on. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. Like, hey, end of the first week, this is how it went, we learned a few things. Really cool. We’re like, we’re excited, I’ll probably respond back, and I’ll be really happy that I heard about how Sam and Hill did their first week. If you have bad news, share it first. Don’t hide it. Just tell me the bad stuff. Let’s get it out of the way, and we can work on it. And I think it’s also important to build individual relationships instead of just the whole board. So if, as Sam mentioned earlier, Keith from Pacific Lake’s on his board, like build a relationship with Keith, build a relationship with other board members. It isn’t just we meet together, and we meet apart. Get to know each other a little bit so that it’s kind of like that relationship bank with sellers, like get to know each other, build a little bit of a relationship bank so that when you need help or you need me, I know more than like, okay, what does the business do again? And yeah, how many pizzas are we moving? Like, I don’t know. Just get me involved before we get to the problem area. And then I think you set up a cadence. I think we can talk about that a little bit if you want. But just like I think there are some best practices around how frequently you’re talking and how you’re structured. And then what you do outside of the structure is where I think you can get really, really great one on one insights or five minute help. And don’t wait for it to be a big issue. We talk about this all the time, like you can send me an email or call for five minutes. It doesn’t have to be like an existential crisis. Like, I’ve never done this before. What do you think? I’m thinking about doing this. Sure. Let me clarify one thing. Do that if you need help, not if you need permission. You don’t have to ask me for permission to do all the things. You’re the CEO. We trust you to run the business. We should do a good job of clarifying where those lines are of things you should or shouldn’t do. But you don’t need permission for lots of things you’re going to do on a daily basis. Like we’re here to help you, not to give you permission to do things. We did that by backing you and putting you in the seat. And so, we want you to be successful.
Sam Krieg: I might add, I don’t know if this is something that Pacific Lake guided us to do, but I’m looking at what our 100 day plan was for Hill and me, and there’s three bullet points on what our 100 day priorities were for the board. We were explicit, we had a plan for what do we want the board to achieve in the first 100 days. And really a big part of that was having them learn the business with us. That’s something that actually kind of surprised me, and in retrospect, it’s obvious. But if I knew the business is a four out of ten on day one because Hill and I lead diligence, I was like, oh, these investors, they all know that, the board, they all know the business is a four out of ten too. And the reality is there was a wide range in how well people knew the business because one board member Keith had been really active in diligence and had really been doing it with us. And some of our other board members, one of them was an independent, he didn’t know the business at all. He knew the market really well but didn’t know the business effectively. And so, I think looking back, we did have a good idea, I think, of having explicit goals for hey, at the end of the 100 days, here’s what we want the board to understand. And then on a weekly basis, we sent informal emails checking in, here’s what we learned this week, here’s what surprised us, here’s the biggest things we’re facing. We’re trying not to overload people with information because, obviously, they have a lot of investments and a lot of people they’re dealing with, but we wanted to be sharing that information so they were learning as we were learning. And then I would just reiterate what Chris said about the like informal and relationships, you can hear me kind of over and over again saying like, oh, I agree with Chris on this, or Chris is putting this really well, because Chris has a lot of experience and Pacific Lake has a lot of experience and our other board members have a lot of experience. And I think, for the most part, people are a lot better when you get them one on one on the phone separately. And if you invest in those relationships, it just becomes so much easier to call somebody and there’s so much for them to offer you, as you can see from this conversation, that I think you’re really well served just continuing to invest in those one on one relationships.
Chris Hendriksen: Can I just highlight or go back on one thing Sam said about like helping your investors, your board members learn about the business with you is so valuable. And it sounds obvious, but it’s almost like it’s very rarely done to the level that I think we would hope, not because people are doing it wrong, but because to Sam’s point, you don’t realize at the time that there’s such a gap in knowledge and information. And I think what’s so important about it is that gap will never get smaller. You are going to learn so much more about the business as the CEO than we get to learn as a board member, that it’s getting bigger every day. So, your ability to help us get up the curve faster is so much better and will make us better at helping you and better at answering questions and better at finding that person you need for a role and connecting you to somebody. So, if you don’t invest early, the gap will get bigger, it is going to get bigger, but it will get massive by the time you’re trying to make decisions in year one and year two. And that can be frustrating. I mean, I’m sure Sam and Hill have had it, but I remember having it where- and I had a great, great board, and sitting in the room and having to describe the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. And I’m like, this is- what are we doing here? But that was important. We had to teach them things, so they can help us make good decisions.
Sam Krieg: I’m kind of getting choked up and laughing here on the side because not super recently but also not that long ago, I was having like a pretty terrible day and I was talking to Chris and I opened up to him. I was like, some of these board members keep telling me how I don’t know this business very well. And also, I feel like I know the business like 100 times better than some of them do right now. And Chris is just like, yeah, probably both of those things are probably true, and that’s your job, and it’s only going to get worse. Like, you probably don’t know the business really well. And a year from now, you’re going to know it better, and two years from now, you’re going to know it better. And they’re not going to learn it at the same rate. And so, you should get used to that. You want to pull them along. But you’re always going to be- you’re always going to know it better than they do. If you don’t, that’s probably an issue. But you also probably don’t know the business that well. And I think he was right on both fronts. And I’m not sure I wanted to hear that feedback in the moment. But it was very helpful, I think, and continues to be.
Alex Bridgeman: So it sounds like a mix of formal and informal communication with your board is really helpful. What about formal meetings as a board? Are those helpful early on, not so much? When do you typically start doing those? And when you feel ready for formal meetings versus these one on one calls and calls to Chris and all that?
Sam Krieg: We started out right away doing quarterly meetings, and we did a check in call for the first maybe two months in between. So basically, every six weeks, we were talking in some capacity. And I thought that was good to get into the rhythm of it. But our first couple of board meetings, I would say, were not super productive. And I still think it was worth having them to start to get the motions in and to get feedback on what would make this better. But it’s kind of hard, until you start doing it, it’s kind of hard to get that feedback and figure it out. And so I don’t really see a reason not to do them. But, Chris, I’d be again interested in your perspective.
Chris Hendriksen: No, I think you’re right on what we would advise. I think most people do kind of monthly calls at the beginning that eventually fade away and do quarterly board meetings. And I would have a challenge to anyone who says like you shouldn’t do a board meeting early. I don’t think it’s- I think Sam’s right that the board meetings maybe aren’t as productive as you hope they’ll be later on. But this is a first time CEO running a business. Not showing up for six or nine months seems like negligent to me. Like I don’t know why we would do that. And I think there’s certainly situations in the first six or nine months where there is a real course correction that has to happen. And sometimes that’s because of things we’re learning together along the way. Sometimes that’s something that the CEO hasn’t seen before, and maybe one of the board members has and saying like hey, I think you’re missing this thing over here. Have you looked under that rock? And if we missed that, I think that’s a disservice to the entrepreneur. Like our job is to help them be successful. I would never send someone into an unknown situation like that and be like check back with you in nine months, like way too late. I mean, we’ve got to be close and not be overbearing but be around. So yeah, monthly calls, quarterly board meetings, and then a lot of that interim check ins, requests for help, update emails and stuff, and that’ll slow over time as you get sort of more into the rhythm, but that’s what we see most.
Alex Bridgeman: Wrapping things up, any last pieces of advice that maybe we haven’t touched on or have touched on but want to reiterate as we’ve had this conversation so far?
Sam Krieg: My one thing is I think the word ‘trust’ has come up a bunch in this conversation. And over the course of my life and over the course as a searcher and as CEO, it just becomes more and more and more apparent how fundamental that is to every relationship. And I would encourage CEOs to focus on that and to take a very long-term view, stuff comes around. And to Chris’s point about maintaining trust with the sellers, you’re going to- they can be very helpful in the future, they have been for us. Your employees, your team members, they’re going to be helpful. And people, if they trust you, it’s a world different than if they don’t. And so, I would just double and triple down on being real and genuine and trustworthy and developing that is probably the most important thing.
Chris Hendriksen: I think two pieces of advice as we wrap this up. I think one is say thank you a lot. There’s a lot of things in your experience over the first 100 days that people are going to help you, people are going to do good things, like you’ll learn over time that recognition is one of the most powerful tools as a leader you can use. So, say thank you to people and be gracious, and I think it’ll pay off in the long run. And two is it’s an incredibly stressful time but have some fun. You are a CEO now. This is the thing you did this for. You wanted to- nobody does a search for the search. No one’s like, oh man, I just can’t wait to run that process. Everyone wants to get in the seat and you’re in the seat. And so, it can be really easy to forget that this is why you did this and you’ve sort of accomplished that goal. And to me, that might mean celebrate a little. There’s not a lot of time for it, but mark the moment. Do something special with your family or partner or whatever. But have some fun. Like this is what you wanted to do this for and you’re the CEO now. So go off and start building. There’s a long road ahead.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, no kidding. Well, Sam, Chris, thank you both for sharing your time on the podcast for this sixth episode on first 100 days. We covered a lot of topics so this will be a really dense and insight packed episode. So, thank you for sharing.
Chris Hendriksen: No problem. Great to be here.
Sam Krieg: Appreciate you having me.
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