Teams, Technology, Remote Work,

Leading with Empathy: CEO Drew Sechrist on key org design decisions and navigating a down-size

Expert author: Drew Sechrist

Drew Sechrist, CEO of Connect the Dots, discusses the challenges of organizational design and the importance of empathy in leadership. He shares his experience of having to lay off 20% of his company, emphasizing the importance of clear communication and support for affected team members. Sechrist also highlights the benefits of having a geographically diverse team, with operations in both the United States and Serbia, and how the company has adapted to remote work.


Show Notes

Connect the Dots -

Marty Cagan on Amazon

V2MOM outline on


[00:00:00] Tim Brewer: Welcome to the org design podcast with myself, Tim Brewer and Amy Springer, welcome Amy, Thanks for joining us again on the Org Design Podcast and leading the production and we've got a great guest today, Drew, Drew joins us from Connect the Dots. Mate, we're so stoked to have you here, joining us from Miami, I think at the moment, I'm assuming it's pretty nice weather, always pretty good weather in.

Mate, well, look today we're going to talk about all things org design, the highs and lows, what goes wrong and, and successes. But we thought we'd start with a slightly different question to normal Drew. Rather than talking about your history in in career, I thought about talking about your history as it relates to you as a individual contributor and now to, through to CEO of an organization, essentially the organization engineer.

Mate, can you wind, wind back the clock for us and tell, tell us where it all began.

[00:00:56] Drew Sechrist: By the way, I'm just waking up. I think it's late for you guys, and it's early for me, and I'm sipping my first coffee here. My ears aren't fully turned on and I, I swear I heard with your Australian accent that you wanted to hear about my history in Korea, and tell us said, it took me a moment to realize career, and I was like, what story did I tell Tim? about Korea. or does Tim think that I'm somebody else? Anyway

[00:01:28] Tim Brewer: tell us about your work history, mate.

[00:01:30] Drew Sechrist: Yeah, so my my career experience is did I say that right?

Yeah, I think that, you know, my, my career started I started, I grew up on the east coast. I went to school and on the east coast in North Carolina.

And after school I had a a girlfriend who was still a couple of years behind me in undergrad. So I, I stayed in North Carolina and, and I basically, I found a, job with a startup software company. So my, my career was kind of a you know, role doing almost anything that needed to be done for the startup software company.

It was maybe 20 or 30 people. And I learned nothing about org design from that company, at all. It was, it was chaos. So and I, you know, I did all kinds of stuff there, but kind focused on distribution and sales and marketing, and so that was that was step one in the career. I did a few other things in North Carolina ultimately working with a, a small consulting organization that implemented Salesforce automation tools and business intelligence tools.

And, and that's when I really did have a, I had a, a very specific job and that was to sell our services. We have, we were actually reselling, products and like Salesforce automation and business intelligence products and then implementing them. So I sold it and then I would also be responsible for leading the implementation, and then I think, when I finally kind of landed in an organization that was very thoughtful about how they were going to grow and scale, that was Salesforce. So in 1999, I ended up getting a role as employee number 36 at Salesforce.

And interestingly, I mean, this is a really interesting org design decision. The company was pre revenue at that point, but it was 1999. So people did crazy things back in 1999 in Silicon Valley. And so they hired a bunch of people to be account executives to sell a product for free. That's a weird design decision, I guess, but it worked out.

So we basically what I think Mark's plan was, Mark Benioff, our CEO, was we should get as many people using our product as possible, so we can get lots of feedback from them about what they like, what they don't like, what features we need to build in order to make it valuable enough for them to to use it, and so there were seven of us, I think, seven account executives when I got there, and then we probably grew that to 10 or 11 or 12 before we actually started charging for the product. So a little crazy, but it worked out crazy like a fox, I guess.

[00:04:00] Tim Brewer: Yeah,

[00:04:01] Drew Sechrist: You know, and so I was an account executive there. I'll, I'll just kind of zoom through this. I was an account executive, was a sales manager. As we started scaling, then the .com bubble burst and then, lot of people got fired. I thought I was going to get fired, didn't get fired, I just get kind of demoted, but then moved into an account executive role again, but selling to the enterprise. So selling to larger companies, and then later I went back into sales management and ultimately became VP of the high tech vertical as the company had scaled out and segmented the, the sales organization into, you know, different focuses, vertical focuses, geographic focuses company stratification focuses, you know, small, medium, large enterprise named accounts.

So we kept subdividing, you know, the, the, the distribution organization. And I ran a piece of that. And then so that was my Salesforce career history. And then after that, I decided I wanted be a CEO, and I wanted to start a company. Started a company called Kuzu, which was crazy idea, a lot of people really still like the idea and are like, Drew, I really wish it worked out.

So do I but it didn't. So we did that for three and a half or four years. And and wound the company down took a little time off after that travel, travel the world, picked up some hobbies like late in life, became a surfer. So I'm not anywhere near your level, but, know, I took some time to learn how to do it and fell in love with it.

And, and then after that, I decided I wanted to go back into running a sales organization companies, So I took on CRO role at a company in New York called Rocket Trip, really interesting technology concept, And did that for about a year. We never really got product market fit with that company, that was an interesting lesson to learn. Really good vision, but quite get there. And then the last thing I you that brings up now, I am now CEO of the dots product that you use personally. So you know what does, and we are glad to hear that. Thank you. Music to my ears, and so I'm CEO of that company, and we've grown it to about 65 or 70 people at this point, and we've gone through all kinds of org design decisions over course of the past, know, four and a half years or so as we've been building it up. And so lots of really interesting lessons there.

Some, you know, learn the hard way. Some learn from, you know, saw good models earlier in my career when we applied those models. So, you know, good combination of School of Hard Knocks and, you know, some, some learnings, so we didn't have to go through the School of Hard Knocks. So I don't, is that overview?

[00:06:39] Tim Brewer: was super cool. Maybe thinking back to those across that across that history, Drew um, looking back now and having you responsible for the, you know, deployment of resources in your organization, who reports to who, what they do. Can you think back through all of the changes that must have gone on across your experience where sometimes they got the org design right and things felt great and aligned and with great teamwork, and then sometimes they kind of tried something out or, or got a certain thing or things changed, the market changed, time went on and, and a particular structure didn't fit anymore. How do you think about, identifying where the org design just isn't right, like what symptoms, if you're looking at someone else's organization or playing a role or thinking back those things, what are the symptoms that you say where you start get the feeling like, Oh man, we're going to need to, to change things up a little bit or look at the way we're structured.

[00:07:40] Drew Sechrist: I, I think the, the area where this is probably Uh, been we've gone through the most change and it's kind of the most we put the maybe the most thought into it as well and probably also made the mistakes is in the product organization. if we're going to drill into one part of the company, that would be it, and so I'll give you the evolution of the company is there are four cofounders. I'm one of the four and and we started the company, but basically we're all around my. You know, my kitchen table in San Francisco, and, you know, we'd kind of break up and go to different parts of my condo. Somebody would sit at a desk. Somebody would sit in the dining room table. Somebody would sit in the couch, do their thing. And then when we needed to get together, we'd come back together at the, you know, the kitchen table, it was a kitchen bar and, you know, that, and we, We had this you know, osmosis where communication happened really fast, and then we started gradually building up the team. We, we hired a couple of people, a couple of engineers that were not here, that were in Serbia, but here I say here, as in as in San Francisco, and we, we knew from the beginning that we were going to have, have a team in Serbia. We weren't quite sure what that team was going to look like, how big it was going to be, but I had built a team in Serbia before, and and I really, it worked out great. You know, love the people I got to work with and, you know, super high quality and great value and, and just like good cultural fit and all the things worked out really well. So we, we knew we were going to do that, and I was just started adding those those people, then we basically, I, you know, I'll kind of. Move through this fast and just say, we basically structured things functionally.

[00:09:25] Tim Brewer: Mm.

[00:09:25] Drew Sechrist: The generic term of the word, functionally, not the trademark term. We, we structured things like, here's the design team, here's the product team, you know, here's the engineering team.

And basically, you know, we would, you know create. feature overviews, user stories, specs and then we'd give it to the design team. The design team would design it. And then when it was done, then that would be sent to the engineering team. And basically it didn't, you know, there was no alignment between a designer or PM, or, and, or an engineer, it was just, you know, you need a design, great, go over here and get a design done. You need a, you need some PMing, great, you go over here and you get some PMing done. You need some engineering, great, go over here and, you know, get some engineering done. And there was a point when we realized, like, this doesn't feel efficient.

We're not moving and learning fast enough. And we also, around that time, became disciples of a of a product thinking guru in Silicon Valley named Marty Kagan or, as we call them inside of our company, St Marty, so And, you know, so when, if you ever want to win a fight about org design and product, you just say "as St marty said" and then say whatever you read in his book and then everybody shuts up because what can you say against St Marty?

And so. St. Marty is an advocate of fully formed product teams that were, were durable and ideally co located. Co located is a really tough one in like the post COVID world. It's really hard to get like everybody in the same room, and like always be in the same room. So, but that his, his his strong mandate is if you want to be one of the elite product organizations in the world, then you need to have the product manager, the product designer, the eng lead all basically working together as a team, you know, that is a, that is a grouping and that grouping should, you know, basically be inviolable, you're not taking a resource from that team and putting them on other projects. Those three work together all the time. And they should be in the same time zone at the very least, ideally in the, you know, in the, in the same location. And we've, we went through a lot of, you know gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair to like get to that point.

And, and quite frankly, we, you know, we had we had some. You know, just other challenges along the way, like a lot of startups about a year ago when when it was clear that the good times were over for startup funding it was, it was time to, like, we did a we did a downsizing, like, you know, many companies did right about a year ago, very, very tough period. And I would say, like, we in that downsizing, it was, it was not possible for us to keep complete product teams, least the decisions that we made. I probably, in retrospect, should have made some different decisions and just said, okay, we have to have these complete product teams and we're just going to have to figure out how to make savings from elsewhere in the organization.

So if, if I could go back and tell my younger self what to do, I'd say. Younger Drew, go do that. You know, keep those product teams. so, you know, we, we are, like, we are now close to having complete product teams. You know, for the first time since that, like, you know, since that year ago layoff.

And you can just, as we get closer and closer to it, you can just feel the momentum getting better and better and better and better and better. And you're like, oh, gosh. Like, this is, it's so good when we have this. Why why didn't we have this earlier? So I, I think, you know, that's, that's like I, you know, I, I hope that's helpful for people who are listening and thinking about building out their organizations.

I do think that that organizational structure, no matter, kind of no matter what your scale, is probably the right structure for running product organizations. But it's also not, like, it is, it's kind of new. Lot of companies aren't structured like that. A lot of very successful companies aren't structured like that, and they got there in a different fashion, but I do think if you want to build great product, get lots of great insights from your users, from your customers, from your prospects, and turn those quickly into features that are going to get used and drive a lot of value, then I think, I think that is one really big organizational design decision that you should, you should understand you should make,

[00:14:00] Tim Brewer: His organization, if they went to go find it, what, what does what's the book he's written? We'll put that in the show notes.

[00:14:09] Drew Sechrist: yeah, there, there are a couple that so the first one is Inspired,

[00:14:13] Tim Brewer: Yep.

[00:14:14] Drew Sechrist: and then that's the basics of, you know, how should product be built. And then the next one is Empowered, which is how you scale it up. Like inspired is imagine that's the one product team. do you operate? And then empowered is okay, now you've got two or three or five or 10. You know, how do you empower those teams so that they can operate autonomously and then build incredible products that people love.

[00:14:40] Tim Brewer: Yep. Yeah. Really good stuff. I actually am lucky enough to have done some of the training as well. So we, we follow their model. So I've got some deeper questions for you on the teams that you've built. So they're running all in a one team. How do you deal with, you know, like if someone's listening along and they do have that kind of very separated functional org, engineering over here, design over here, and they've got multiple teams, how do you guys keep aligned around the disciplines of design and the, the kind of engineering decisions that are made to the teams? Is it just, how do, how do you get consistency across some of those functions amongst multiple product teams?

[00:15:18] Drew Sechrist: Yeah. So at the highest level this is something I learned from Salesforce and I don't know if maybe you've discussed this on, on previous episodes of your podcast, but the V2MOM, has that come up?

[00:15:30] Tim Brewer: no, it has not.

[00:15:32] Drew Sechrist: So V2MOM is a, it's an acronym. It stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and metrics.

It's kind of like an OKR framework people are familiar with that, but it's got more components to it. And it's something that Mark Benioff at Salesforce innovated. I think he used it at Oracle before he started Salesforce, and then we certainly use it from the very beginning at Salesforce and they still use it today to set to align everybody on what are we here to accomplish over whatever period of time it is, I think Salesforce probably does annual V2MOM' now, if you're a smaller company, you might want to do a more, you know you know, more frequent V2MOM, maybe every six months, maybe even every quarter, possibly in the very early days to align people.

So I think that's that is that gets it really clear. You hash it out, you know, CEO should take a stab at building it, building the draft and then working with the the leadership team to, you know, have a, you know, kind of a, I would say you want to have a robust conversation about it and make sure everybody feels like, yes, this accurately represents what we are here to, what we're here to accomplish and how we're going to do it and how we're going to divvy it up.

So at the highest level, you get these methods, you know, vision, values, methods, obstacles, metrics. The methods will tell you what are we setting out to accomplish? We have to go build a product and we have to, we have to sell the product and then we have to service our customers and we have to renew them and we have to hire our team and we have to, you know you know, do marketing activities to, you know, drive a pipeline, all those things, you, you clarify exactly what you need to do and then I think org design kind of falls out of that nicely. if you get that done well. Then you're like, okay, great. Well, who's going to own this method? All right. And what team do they need in order to accomplish this method? Cause here are the metrics. This is, you have to deliver what, whatever this is, you're going to deliver these capabilities in our product, or you're going to deliver this much revenue, or you're going to deliver this, these many, you know, customer testimonials or whatever the thing is that has to be delivered, but the metrics that are being delivered, then you can kind of work backwards and say, okay, what's the team that's required to actually do this? And do we all feel good about that? And, and, and then you can have the conversation about, well, we can't, do we really have enough? Is the team big enough to be able to do this, this and this? No. Okay, then do we need to hire somebody? Okay, then let's put that into the V2MOM. Or do we not have budget to hire that person? And then we just have to change what we anticipate, you know, accomplishing over the, the course of this V2MOM period, which is six months or 12 months or whatever.

[00:18:05] Tim Brewer: hmm.

[00:18:05] Drew Sechrist: So, so that's the, I think that is a secret weapon for Salesforce or not secret at all, quite frankly. I mean, talks about, talks about it quite a bit. And that alignment, it's just, it's so great when you get it. It's really great. It just, it's like the clarity of angels singing, like, Ah, I understand what we're here to do and how we're going to do it, and nothing is left unsaid.

[00:18:28] Tim Brewer: Yep. And you drive that right down through your organization, so everyone's on the same page with what you're getting done in a period?

[00:18:35] Drew Sechrist: so, the, ideally, and I would, you know, say we're not, we're certainly not you know, always doing this part the best, but ideally what you should do is have a V2MOM cascade down to, All the functional leaders and then all the way down to individuals in the company. So at Salesforce in the early days, we all had our own V2MOM's.

Everybody was responsible for creating one. So there was a company one made by Mark and the executive leadership team, and then there'd be an engineering one and a sales and a marketing and a product and whatever. The direct reports to each of those people would have their own V2MOMs, and then the direct reports to those people would have their own V2MOMs.

So it cascaded down just like the org chart cascaded down and you can see it all nest up. Then the manager was responsible for sitting with their direct reports and reviewing their V2MOMs saying, yep, this looks good. You know, if you do these things, then you're going to contribute to, you know, what we need to accomplish as a team and that, you know nests up nicely to all the way up to the CEO and the company level. So I will say this, like, it's hard getting that thing cascaded all the way down and really driving that because there's a lot of other stuff to do. So, you know, we, we we do a good job of getting the company level one done. And then the next level ones down, probably pretty good, you know, for the functional leaders. And then after that, it gets a little fuzzy. So, that's just the reality of how we've done it. I'd like to be better at it, but I also would like to have 37 hours in a day to be able to do it. So we just got to kind of figure out which things you're going to focus on, which things are not. That's, that is at the high strategic level, at the more tactical level. We, you know engineer, so we have various recurring meetings that happen that for alignment across engineering and the product teams. So it was recurring meetings where each of the product teams is presenting, you know, to the other product teams what they're doing so that we understand, like, understand the resources that they require, the status, any blockers that they've got, et cetera.

So we have, you know, pretty good recurring cadence of Just, you know, are we on track? And are, how are we coordinating with the, with the teams that we need to coordinate with? Mean, I, it sounds so obvious that it's kind of hardly worth mentioning, but, you know, that's how it works in a tactical level.

then if things start to feel wobbly it could mean that it's time to go revisit the V2MOM, maybe the V2MOM is not really accurately representing what we now understand or think that are, you know, our priorities should be. And so I, I think, you know, for us at our phase, we, we look at the V2MOM now every quarter, Do a little tune, little tune up on it. And and then maybe, you know, it might be like a little tune up every quarter and then every six months, it's a pretty new V2MOM, you know, kind of starting, starting from scratch. So it's kind of what we do.

[00:21:30] Tim Brewer: Awesome. That's really cool. Really cool.

[00:21:32] Amy Springer: You, you're reaching your company size around the point that we call it the break it moment. So you're sort of, you're at that stage where you probably do have a pretty good sense of what everybody's doing. That's probably why those V2MOMS, you don't necessarily have to cascade them, you know, you guys have a small enough, you know, what's going on. And usually when the CEO starts to ask these questions around org design, because you no longer know what everybody's doing. Wait, what does that guy even do here? Are doing the things we need to do? I guess, are you starting to see more of those signs now that you are reaching this level? Like, have you, have you felt that shift as you've grown? Mm.

[00:22:15] Drew Sechrist: you know, honestly we, right before we did our layoff about a year ago yes, I, then, then they were like, well, mean, I knew theoretically what everybody was doing, but I was, there were a couple of functions and I'm like. Is that really valuable? And do we need that at this phase? And like, are, you know, even if, even if it is valuable, do we have the ability to consume the output of what that person's doing and like, you know, do something valuable with it.

So, you know, as awful and painful as the layoff was, we, we got kind of back down to the size where like, I'm very clear about what everybody's doing now, I'm very clear that it's delivering, you know, delivering value for us as a company. So yeah, I think that makes sense. It's interesting, you have, it's, you know, I know Dunbar's number, right? Isn't that about 150? Is that the number? But you're, you're finding that the breaking point is actually about maybe half that

[00:23:06] Tim Brewer: Yeah. So we can, we think about when you can still keep your whole organization in your head, essentially, like one thing to know everyone in the org. If you're just part of the org, like people in socialize, but it's different when a leader looks around and is like, You know, back in the old days, I don't you'd hear stories about leaders walking around on a Friday afternoon at 4:30 to make sure everyone's still in the office and their whole gauge of success was. Oh good, you know everyone's still here in the office. It must've been a very productive week, very high output. And everyone would joke, like do not leave on a Friday afternoon, cause the CFO or the CEO will come and walk the floor and say hi and be polite, but everyone knows good and well, they're just checking in and feeling good about the output of their organization.

But maybe just rewinding back, Amy, if we can just kind of go back to the layoffs last year. There's a lot of people that went. We, we did a RIF as well. We had a lot of friends and people calling us that were going through that process. You said it was hard. It's obviously high impact for the people that stay in the organization, the people that can't stay in the organization.

Is there anything that you kind of learned through that process to show other people do that? You'd give us advice to other founders who are looking at their organization. I'm like, this is just not the right structure. All right. I just cannot sustain the level of resource. We've got all the markets changed and I need to, you know adjust to the new realities of demand.

[00:24:29] Drew Sechrist: Yeah, well, let me just, I'll start with it was like the toughest week of my life which in, you know, in retrospect, I'm like, wow, that's a really blessed life. You know, if that's the toughest week of your life because, you know, nobody died. It was, it was a layoff. It sucked but you know, I had to get rid of some people that are very close to me and are very good. You know, so it was, it was it was very tough.

[00:24:53] Tim Brewer: What was it? Do you mind me asking what percentage of the company by headcount you needed to, to say goodbye

[00:24:59] Drew Sechrist: Yeah. I think it was it was around 20% or so, maybe a little more. Let's see lessons. One is like, I had a very tough time sleeping that week, and and then when it was done and, you know, the, the bad news had been delivered, then I actually did, you know, I got a good night's sleep the next night.

Just because I, I knew it was over, and so I'm not sure what advice I've got other than say, like, I realized that like, I'm not a psychopath CEO. I know that, you know, so there are some psychopath CEOs out there just like, okay, this has to happen, and, you know, there's, there's, these people need to leave and they're just numbers and they're gone.

I'm not, I'm like a very I'm a very empathetic CEO, which has its good and bad sides. For me, it meant, man, I. I had a lot of emotional difficulty with that. But I will say I think, you know, when you realize that this is just like what has to be done when you come to the cold logical conclusion that this has to be done, then you just got to execute on it.

And, and then you have to realize like, this is, you know, this is just like. What needs to be done for the health of the business. So as much as you can just have that inner conversation with yourself and get to peace with it, I think that's. That's going to be helpful for you. From, I also think it's an opportunity when you do a RIF like this to, you can make other changes. There's probably some people that are kind of on the edge that you wouldn't, you know, move out of the organization, but maybe you should, and it's an opportunity to kind of clean house in, in those situations too. So it's, there's an opportunity to do that and then rebuild the right way. It's an opportunity to do org, You know, design change, if you're going to like rip the bandaid off, then, then then, you know, why not take advantage of like, look, things are changing. We're, we're going to make it, you know, here, here's the new reality. I think if everybody's dealing with it kind of all at once and like, okay, it's now done, then then I think there is a good opportunity there for you to, to, you know, upgrade the way that you're structured.

One other thing is just make sure you, you go deep enough. Don't do it twice because then everybody what happens then, right? People start fearing like, well, is it twice or is it three times? Or is it four times? Or are we going out of business or what? So, you know, it's tough, but you know, make the cut, make the right cut so that you know, you've got your, your funding you know you know, lined up to handle all of your requirements going forward, and you're not going to have to do this again.

[00:27:30] Amy Springer: And process wise, did you, like, did you have a really clear idea of what had the reshape of that org? Or did you have a few attempts and a few different options and chat it through with anybody

[00:27:44] Drew Sechrist: Yeah, I mean I talk so the problem when you're going through a re-org like that is basically I had a conversation with the board And, you know, the board, the board is like, Hey, the macroeconomic environment has changed dramatically. Like we have to, we have to make cuts. And I think this happened to like every CEO that, that quarter,

[00:28:02] Tim Brewer: I actually think it's a bit PTSD when I was, I saw you at SaaStr Europa last year, I was, we had, me and Damian had just had that conversation with Amy remotely, we just sat down with a notepad and started the conversation and I was like, and I would say the same thing. Like, it just felt like the, I'm feeling good, actually, I'm not a psychopath CEO. Yeah. That a terrible, really, really, really hard week having to sit down after 12 months earlier putting, you know, raising around and hiring a bunch of great people, but we similar to you felt, felt like with the change in macroeconomics that there was really no choice unless you were well past product market fit.


[00:28:44] Drew Sechrist: yeah. PTSD is the right way to put it, but you know, I think we both came out of it stronger. So there you go.

[00:28:55] Tim Brewer: yeah,

Well, look, I think for the people listening, like this is the stuff no one talks about, right? Like you feel like you're doing it alone. In that period of time, where actually there was hundreds of different leaders sitting down having to make those same high impact decision, trying to work out, like, how do I build confidence in this, like, what seems like a, you know, so many variables, so much impact on the people that I care for. so Yeah, pretty hard. Amy, do you have any any other questions?

[00:29:23] Amy Springer: Well, you mentioned I guess your, your own feelings through that time. Is there anything you learned in terms of supporting a team through that kind of change?

[00:29:32] Drew Sechrist: yeah, I, you know, unfortunately I think we learned some lessons the hard way there. Like we. We we had some extenuating circumstances. Our Head of HR was actually on vacation, like exactly on the opposite side of the world that week, like 12 hours away, and, and so I was head of HR and it was, that was terrible. And so we, we wanted to make sure that the news was delivered, you know, quickly. Everybody found out that it wasn't leaking out slowly. So we ended up, the way we did it is we we had group meetings with like the types of employees grouped together that were going to be affected. And I think we did maybe three of those sessions, basically back to back.

And it's just, you know, unfortunately we just didn't execute the communication as well as we could have, as empathetically as we could have, or we were trying to make sure that everybody found out quickly and it didn't take a long time. So think, you know, one, one lesson I learned is. Don't let your HR, head of HR, go to the opposite side of the planet the week that you're going to do this.

Unfortunately, we didn't know that was going to happen. And but each of those, each of the team should have been notified, I think individually, personally, by a human, and we should have figured out how to do that, but we we just didn't have the team to do it. And so I would say, you know, bring as much empathy and humanity as you possibly can, do it personally

[00:30:59] Tim Brewer: Yeah.

[00:30:59] Drew Sechrist: When, when it's happening.

[00:31:01] Tim Brewer: Drew, one of well actually with Connect the Dots and leveraging your network, the obvious use case for that is when you're selling. But I think another use case surely is when you're needing to say goodbye to great team members. Were you able, you know, were you able to post the delivery of that news, support team members in and other opportunities in your network?

[00:31:23] Drew Sechrist: I mean, you know, there are some things we like to the extent that we could we let them keep equipment so that they, you know, could kind of hit the ground running looking at their next job search. I, you know, I made some referrals for people and was happy to do that. You know, everybody on the team was good.

You know, it's not like we had anybody who wasn't good. So I was happy to, you know be a reference for them. And I don't know, did I place anybody myself? I think I did. Or at least one person decided to hang out there and shingle. We had really fantastic you know, marketing messaging person, really fantastic. He decided he was going to just, he's like, okay, this is going to be my this is going to be the impetus for me to be a consultant as opposed to being in house. I think it worked out really, really well for him and I've made some introductions for him and I think he got some, you know, some of his early clients out of that. So, you know, to the extent that I, we were able to and then the other thing is that it was kind of nice that guy is based in New York, but he had some meetings out in San Francisco with some of his prospects and, and we had developed a nice camaraderie in the team. And so one of my co founders who lives out in the, in the Bay area The guy who had just been laid off went out and stayed with him, crashed with him for like a week and did meetings in San Francisco to, you know, find his next clients.

And I think everything worked out super. In fact, so you know, so some silver linings to this.

[00:32:59] Amy Springer: This stage we could wrap up or I guess my last lingering question would be around, yeah, the choice for the two significantly different geographical locations and how that plays into your org design

[00:33:15] Drew Sechrist: I mean, we actually in some ways we maybe didn't even touch on like. One of the more interesting parts of what we've decided to do, we do a lot in Serbia, you know, I think most people think about about these locations in Eastern Europe or elsewhere in the world outside the United States as You know, that's where you put your engineering team potentially but that's not that's not where we stopped and I think the world's changed a lot and Since I when I started kuzu 2010 and I went to Serbia for the first time There were, I was a pioneer.

There were not a lot of, you know Westerners over there doing business in Serbia. 13 years later, it's a pretty dramatically different landscape. The, in the last 13 years, the level of English spoken has gone through the roof through the roof, and it was already starting at a pretty good spot.

In Serbia and a lot of other places in Eastern Europe and anywhere in Europe and, and, and, and all over the world, quite frankly, YouTube you name it all TikTok, all these things have kind of created English as a, as the lingua franca for all of us across the planet. And I think that was one of the main reasons that you couldn't do more things outside of the United States.

So you'd have really intelligent engineers, but guess what? You got really intelligent people doing all kinds of other stuff. In Serbia, it's not just Serbia, it's, you know, Bosnia, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, mean, anywhere, Germany France the Middle East, Africa, South America, like all over the place that you can tap into this talent and English is now really good. And in a lot of these places, really, really good. So we have built out not just engineering, but design product management customer support sales. I, I imagine we will probably have some parts of every function running out of running out of Serbia.

And, and one ironic thing is like, you know, in this era of being, you know, kind of remote first ever since COVID, we were remote first in the United States, but we're not remote first in Serbia. In Belgrade, we, you know, we have an office and we are in the office very frequently like two days a week for sure. Then, you know, the entire team is in and many teams are in, you know, four or five days a week. So that's yeah, we didn't really even touch on that, but I think that is like, pretty different org design decision than maybe I've heard other companies making.

[00:35:55] Tim Brewer: Yeah, think it's interesting. I want to dive into it, but I'm conscious that we'll end up with a with enormously long episode and we did such a good job of touching on the, the hard things, about org design, the high impact decisions, trying to get confidence in those, those hard situations. So we really appreciate the humility and openness and sharing.

I'm sure it'll help tons of other leaders who might find themselves in that situation and have. Like no one to talk to or no stories to be able to work through. Like, is this normal that I'm feeling this way leading into this really tough decision. And I don't think it gets any easier the more times you need to do it.

Look, organizations are full of humans and it sounds like your organization's full of great humans Drew. So, we appreciate your time today. For all of those people who have not tried out, Connect the Dots, should download their Chrome extension. It's a great product and helps you leverage your network, sitting across your email and LinkedIn and your CRM, I'm pretty sure coming soon.

[00:36:56] Drew Sechrist: We'll get, we'll get there. Just if you if you really want it, then you can sign a large enterprise contract with us, Tim, and we'll expedite that product roadmap.

[00:37:04] Tim Brewer: give us, give us a little bit until we're a large enterprise company. so much for joining us on the org design podcast. It's been a total pleasure. Drew, we appreciate you spending some time with us today, Amy as well. Thanks for joining along and all your smart questions.

That's it for another episode. See everyone.

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