We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better workplaces.
We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.
The path that brought me to the point of running a technology company stemmed from the strangest place...the swimming pool. As a teenager I was a competitive swimmer and spent many summers coaching swim. Even calling it a passion feels like a huge understatement.
When I graduated high school I received a scholarship to swim at Stony Brook University in New York. Each summer, I would come home to Southern California to coach and teach. In turn, I quickly developed a notable name as a coach. Right out of college, I took a job as an Aquatics Director, but quickly realized I needed to do more.
Thankfully, my boss realized the same thing, and agreed to pay for a portion of my MBA at Pepperdine. In a strange turn of events, as I graduated with my MBA, my new role in the organization became unavailable. While I could have stayed in my current role, my wife and I decided that I had to take the opportunity to strike out on my own.
From there, Premier Aquatics was born. Over the course of nearly 12 years, Premier Aquatics developed into the largest pool management company on the west coast of the United States. It grew to produce our sister company, Premier Swim Academy, a brand of swim schools.
As we continued to grow and grow, it became abundantly clear that we were in over our heads when it came to human resources. We had hundreds of employees at nearly a hundred sites. The truth is, we couldn’t keep up with discipline, daily management, communication, compliance and most importantly, engagement.
With that, the first version of OneTeam360 was born (which was originally referred to as “The App”). My developer and I dreamt up a system that would help us promote compliance, engagement, and communication within the team. We saw how it worked– and it worked well.
We made a system that rewards performance through a series of customizable levels. The system allowed even an employee at the lowest level to assign tasks, reward co-workers, and track all communication. It evolved into an incredible system that has changed the way small to medium sized businesses protect themselves and promote productivity, all in one.
If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?
Truthfully, if you asked one of my friends to describe me, they would likely say I am a nut. In fact, one of my team members recently described me as someone with frantic energy. I generally run at one million miles per hour and do not enjoy slowing down.
Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?
A story that stands out to me is one that relates to my career and the story of how I made the decision to start OneTeam360. I have already mentioned why I came up with the idea, but the actual decision to create a company out of it is pretty interesting.
It started with one of my classmates at Pepperdine, Amar Ganwani. Amar was the smartest guy I knew, and someone I deeply looked up to. Months before we launched OneTeam360, I showed Amar “The App” just to give him ideas to help him better manage the team at his then-current company. Instead of just taking ideas, he wanted to use the system himself. At that point, the system was only a single tenant system, and bringing on another tenant wasn’t an option.
Long story short, one night over drinks, Amar brought up the idea of taking the system and redeveloping it to sell as a SaaS offering. After just a little bit of coaxing, I agreed to take it on as long as Amar agreed to remain by my side on the project. Without his push, I don’t think we would be talking here today.
What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?
Simple... there is nothing more important than your team. 99% of the time, your team just wants to be utilized and feel a part of something where they can make an impact. Utilizing this fact can shift the entire workplace to be more motivated and productive. Keeping this core value has led me to create an entire business!
Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?
When I think of building a better work world, the #1 thing that comes to mind is communication. So many hiccups, glitches, hurt feelings, and such are due to poor communication.
Mis-communicated (or un-communicated) expectations can be so easily avoided, but still it remains such a common problem. Leadership must be intentional with accomplishing the goal of clear, consistent and open communication.
Great communication will never happen by accident.
For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?
I hate to be repetitive, but it is the lack of clear communication that I see as the main blocker. A lack of communication creates a low-morale work environment where employees feel disconnected from their company, and in turn, become unmotivated.
Clear communication can be the solution in what I consider a very messy and noisy work world. There are so many distractions, it is incredibly hard to remember all the things we should know. Having clear communication maintains a consistent tie between employees and the core values of a business.
What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? And, how do you recommend going about it?
If I had to come up with one thing that we can practically do to build a better world of work, it would be to systemize all the important components of management that tend to get overlooked. This includes the way you communicate your goals and expectations, administer performance assessments, manage tasks, and document information. Without a formal system, it is nearly impossible to keep up with it all.
In today’s age, we have a huge advantage that we didn’t have before; technology! Now, we can utilize technology to automate management tasks that are overlooked. At its most basic level, technology is a tool to make tasks easier. This is the first step in building a better world of work. However, software can be crafted to build genuine human connections between people in a way that wasn’t possible before. So, I harnessed that ability and ensured OneTeam360 met every practical management need, like extensive documentation features that protected companies in the legal sector. But I also went one step further and created a gamified software system that fosters the personal connections between companies and employees.
Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?
The biggest influence for me lately is the book Traction, by Geno Wickman. Traction systemizes the way we track performance for leadership teams, and it gets all parties rowing in the same direction.
The book includes many useful strategies that are geared towards taking control of your business, utilizing momentum, and eliminating common problems– which is one of my main focuses. I have read the book three times, and every time I read it, I end up with new takeaways.
I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?
The work of Geno Wickman (the author of the book I mentioned before) definitely stands out to me. His Entrepreneurial Operating System and the idea of identifying and harnessing the individual qualities of every business is a game changer for me.
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