How To Lead A High Growth Company Podcast Featured Image

How To Lead A High-Growth Company (with Sam Chang from VTMEMBER)

Tim is joined by Sam Chang, Founder of VTMEMBER—a virtual talent company that he scaled from $0-65k in monthly recurring revenue in 6 months. He is a serial entrepreneur who started his journey as a door-to-door meat salesman in college, and has since helped scale companies of all industry types and sizes. Listen to learn more about Sam’s philosophy around leading and scaling, and how this can be accomplished through strategic training and by creating a sense of ownership, connectivity, and community development.

Interview Highlights:

  • Sam launched a company last year, VTMEMBER, had their first paying client in June and since then they have scaled to a team of around 70 people. [1:44]
  • A leader is helping your team understand exactly where they’re going. Helping them understand not only directionally, like where they should be moving towards, but also the end destination. [3:13]
  • A leader is helping each team member understand their role on the mission. Once a leader helps them understand where exactly they’re going, each person should feel like they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. [3:46]
  • When Sam was studying Tony Robbins at one point in his life, he remembered that he talked about “The 6 Human Needs“. Certainty, variety, love and connection, significance, growth, and contribution. [4:00]
  • Sam also mentioned John Maxwell’s book where he talked about the blend between care and candor. Care is caring about people and their emotions and how they feel, and all of that. And candor is caring about people’s potential. [4:40]

If you want to build a big business, all you have to do is go and find the smartest people in the world, convince them to come into a room with you, to work with you and create an environment where they never want to leave.” — Sam Chang

  • At VTMEMBER, they create a family oriented environment. They utilize different tools online, because all of their team members’ locations range from South Africa, to China, to India, to Philippines, and to Guyana. [6:27]
  • The first thing that’s in VTMEMBER’s culture that works very effectively is meritocracy. It’s tied not only to promotions, but it’s tied to the member’s compensation plan. So people in their business know exactly how to get promoted. [6:59]
  • The second thing that’s in VTMEMBER’s culture is the family environment where they have their Discord, they have their chats and all that kind of stuff. [8:55]

I do think that connectivity, especially in today’s day and age, is going to be one of the core components of business that ‘makes or breaks’ a business especially in a world where everybody’s remote.” — Sam Chang

  • Helping people feel like they’re connected to a community is probably the number one thing Sam would suggest for creating a better world of work. [11:52]
  • The second component in creating a better world of work for Sam is moving away from the nepotism type of management, where he’s going to promote the people that he like versus promoting the people that are performing. [13:35]
  • At VTMEMBER, every single member on their team has a way of creating passive income in their business. So that as they grow their passive income large enough, at some point, they can walk away from their actual position, like doing the virtual assistant work, and just live off the passive income, essentially. [14:17]

I think that building a better world of work is having training embedded in your business.”
— Sam Chang

  • One of the components that Sam thinks everyone should take away when building a company is, “done is better than perfect”. Because realistically, when you look back on your life, you don’t really look at the details. [21:47]
  • If you want to try and scale fast, hire people for help, for the role that you need before you need it, in a proactive way, rather than in a reactive way. [22:27]

Parting with your money is not easy, but I think hiring the right people to be in your business is probably the biggest investment you can make.” — Sam Chang

  • Another component that Sam has taken from large corporations is that every relationship is like a bank account, and every situation is an opportunity. Our relationship with our employees, these are all bank accounts that we can either make deposits or withdrawals from. [23:45]
  • In every interview that Sam does, he’s always looking for three things: reasons, work habit, and attitude. [28:08]
  • At VTMEMBER, they source, hire, train and manage a virtual workforce for North American companies. They do everything from data entry, cold calling, appointments setting, graphic design, video editing, and web development. [32:48]

Never manage your team members by the hour. Always manage them by the task, because it creates an environment of trust.” — Sam Chang

  • The one piece of advice Sam would give to every listener as they’re building a team and they’re chasing after their dreams is that, if you have a big dream, you need a big team. [41:19]

If you have a big dream, you need to have a big team. And if you want a big team, you have to have a good foundation. And the foundation is your first core team member that you bring on board.” — Sam Chang

  • When you’re building your empire, you don’t need that many people, but you need good people in the beginning. The core people in your business, they need to be built and they need to be hand-selected by you. [43:45]

Guest Bio:

Sam Chang is a serial entrepreneur who started his journey as a door-to-door meat salesman in college. After making nearly $2000 on his fourth day on the job, Sam decided to drop out of school and work with a door-to-door sales company. While he was there, he helped grow that team from 25 agents to 300 agents selling for one of Canada’s largest telco. Since then Sam has helped scale companies of all industry types and sizes, including the most recent company that he started VTMEMBER in which he scaled it from 0-65k a month in monthly recurring revenue in 6 months.

Sam Chang Headshot

If you want to try and scale fast, hire people for help, like for the role that you need before you need it, in a proactive way, rather than the reactive way.” — Sam Chang

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We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Read the Transcript:

Tim Reitsma

Are you an aspiring leader or on the path to scale your business? Well in this episode, I had the opportunity to connect with Sam Chang, founder of VTMember.ca to talk about his philosophy around leading and scaling. He talks about creating a sense of ownership, connectivity, training, and building community in order to lead and scale. So stay tuned. 

We’re People Managing People and our purpose is to build a better world of work. We’re owners, founders, entrepreneurs, we’re middle managers, team leaders, we represent every business function in an organization. And we’re on mission to help people lead and manage their teams and organizations more effectively. So if you want to lead and manage better, and if you want to become a better organizational leader and more effective people manager, then join us! 

I’m your host, Tim Reitsma. Keep listening to find inspiration, actionable insights, and tools you need to recruit, retain, and manage and lead your people and organizations more effectively. And while you’re listening to the show, please subscribe and join our mailing list on peoplemanagingpeople.com 

Join our community of leaders and follow us on social media to stay up to date with all that’s going on. 

Hey, Sam! Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. It’s great to have you here!

Sam Chang

Fantastic. Thanks for having me, Tim. I’m excited. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. You know, we connected, what? Last week, it’s a, and we were into the recording studio now. It’s probably going to be released to your, you might be listening to this a little later on in, in the winter, early spring, but yeah, it was great to connect with you and hear about your journey as a leader in a high growth company.

And so we’re going to dive into that here in a minute, but maybe just take a minute and tell us a little bit about what you’re up to right now? 

Sam Chang

Yeah, so, I mean, we recently launched a company last year in June and had our first paying client in June and since then we scaled up to a team of around 70 people.

So we’re running a company right now, a virtual assistant company. And so been doing that last six months and we’ve been scaling and growing. And so that’s kind of in center of mind right now for us trying to hit some targets before the end of the year and then next year, you know, trying to triple our business next year.

So that’s kind of, that’s kind of just been keeping us, keeping us busy and just super pumped to you know, tell more people about it and grow our business. We’re launching an NFT next year, so we’re just lots and lots of stuff to come. Yeah. 

Tim Reitsma

Wow. So just a few things on your mind, just to, you know, scaling business, you know, double tripling your business. You’re growing from, you know, kind of zero to 70 people in six months.

And, you know, I’m curious. So you’re the founder of the company and you’re now leading a team of 70, so that’s quite a growth curve. You know, some companies have grown quicker, but I’ve been involved in companies that have grown a lot slower than that. And what is the one thing that I think you’ve learned as a leader?

Like what does it mean to be a leader in this high-growth stage? 

Sam Chang

Yeah, I think I think for me when, you know, when you send me the sample questions and I’m thinking about a little bit here. I think leadership really comes down to a couple of key key principles and key things. 

So I think the first thing a leader is number one it’s helping your team understand exactly where you’re going. I think that right there is I think the core definition of a leader helping them understand where exactly you’re going. 

And so from a vision perspective helping them understand not only directionally, like where they should be moving towards, but also like what’s the end destination? Like what’s the care at the end of the you know, at the end of the tunnel or whatever. So I think that’s the first thing. 

And then the second part of a leader is helping each team member understand their role on the mission. Because once you help them understand where exactly you’re going, each person should feel like they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. Right? 

I remember, like when I was studying Tony Robbins at one point in my life he talked about “The 6 Human Needs”, right? So there’s certainty, variety, love, and connection, significance, growth, and contribution. And I think the last two, growth and contribution, creating an environment where your team members can grow, but creating an environment ultimately where they feel like they’re contributing to a bigger purpose as bigger than themselves is the second core component or kind of tenet of being a leader.

And then the third component is really a combination of auditing their work and putting them into a constant cycle of improvement as well I think, to put them into a constant cycle improvement is one thing. But as you put them into a constant cycle of improvement, I think I’m going to pull a, pull chapter from John Maxwell’s book.

The John Maxwell, he’s a leadership guru, right? And one of the things he talked about is the blend between care and candor. And care being caring about people and the people’s emotions and how they feel, and all of that. And candor is caring about people’s emotions. Sorry, caring about people’s potential, right? That’s candor. 

So care is caring about their emotions, candor is caring about the potential. And I think a perfect blend of those two, as you put them into a constant cycle of improvement would wrap up that third point. 

And I think, yeah, I think one of the best business advice I’ve ever gotten, Tim is if you want to build a big business, all you have to do is go and find the smartest people in the world, convince them to come into a room with you, to work with you and create an environment where they never want to leave.

And I think if you can do those things, not only will you build a big business, but I think people will look to you and they’ll think of you as a great leader. And and yeah, and truly, it truly is like in today’s day and age with information being so commoditized, it truly is more about like who you know, right? And who do you, who can you inspire to be on your team rather than what you know. So, yeah.

Tim Reitsma

That’s great. Yeah. It’s I loved your three points there and it was providing that clarity, right? As leaders, where are we going? What’s that vision? And then how are you going to help us get there? And this is how I’m going to measure success and help you along the way.

And I like the, the care and candor, right? We want to care about people and and we want to help them succeed. And so I’m really curious, what kind of work environment, I know you’re a fully remote company, but how would you describe your culture and the culture that you’ve created? 

Related Read: Hybrid Working: What Is It And How To Approach It

Sam Chang

As dorky or as cheesy as this sounds, like we do create like a family oriented environment here in our business. Right? 

You know, I, we utilize different tools online, obviously. Right? Cause all of my team members are ranges from South Africa, to China, to India, to Philippines, to Guyana, and like they’re all of the world, right? But creating an environment where everyone is connected — number one, but number two the culture here at our business I think is based around a couple of things.

I think the first thing that’s, the first thing that’s in our culture that I see that is, that works very effectively is meritocracy. Right? We create a culture of meritocracy. It’s tied not only to promotions, but it’s tied to your compensation plan. Right? So people in our business, they know exactly how to get promoted.

Number one, they know exactly what they need to do to get promoted. And they know when they get promoted how much their income will grow by. And that’s something that obviously you see is very prominent here in like, you know, North American companies where they build a compensation plan. But when you have offshore team members working with you, they never have compensation plan. Right? 

Whenever you work with the virtual assistant, I mean, historically it’s like you work with someone but that person, you know, will work for you for six months and then ask for a raise. And if you can’t pay the raise and you have to let them go and find another person and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s like a whole tedious process, like there’s no predictable way. 

And so that’s on our side when we’re hiring team members, but on the flip side, same thing with team members, it’s very hard for them to predict if we grow their income with a client that they’re working with, especially here in North America, they feel so disconnected. Right? 

And so with us, we create an environment where as long as you take care of the company and the company objectives, the company profit and loss, we’ll take care of you. Right? One of the biggest things in, you know, when, with offshore team members is job security, right? Like when things pop up, when things break down, when companies change, you know, they lose their jobs and they have to go find another client, with us because we have constant, like we’re on a constant growth trajectory, right?

We always have new clients that like, we can group the existing team members, if let’s just say their campaign wraps up, there’s always a new client that they can help on, right? And take on. So as long as they provide good quality of work, right? We will continuously feed them with work and they’ll have work for, you know, as long as they’re with us in producing good quality work. Right? So I think that’s the first part. 

And then the second part is, yeah, the family environment that I mentioned where, you know, we have, we obviously have our Discord, we have our chats and all that kind of stuff. Whenever a new team member joins on board, right, we all welcomed them. You know, team members ask each other for help, right? 

Team members can see as well, like in our software, geographically where they are at in the world, right? So for example, if we hire, you know, bunch of Filipino workers like, hey and they’re like, oh, we happen to work, you know, we happen to be in the same city.

They’ll go out and have like food together or coffee together or whatever it is. And they’re all working for the same company, but they wouldn’t have met each other if it wasn’t for us kind of thing, right? So we kind of create that environment where we’re going to have that. And I think that, to not to allude to the next kind of question about like kind of creating a better quality of of work.

I do think that connectivity, especially in today’s day and age is going to be one of the core components of business that, that kind of makes or breaks a business and also, especially in a world where everybody’s remote, right? So, yeah, so that’s what I would say. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, it’s a, it’s so important to create that sense of ownership. I’ve had so many conversations over the last couple of weeks of how do you create that sense of ownership? And it’s so important to again, go back to, right to your first point, where are we going and how can you contribute to this, which then helps create that sense of ownership. 

And you’ve kind of alluded to, it’s kind of that next prompting question, but I like to ask guests, you know, when you think about the future, what do we need to do to build a better world of work?

And you mentioned connectivity and what else comes to mind when you think about building a better world of work?

Sam Chang

Yeah, I think I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, Tim, but I’m starting to see a shift kind of in our world where people are leaning towards more or less, less contemporary ways of education, and growth, and training to grow their skillset. 

And you know, more and more so, employers are now realizing that like, you know, education and knowledge in a particular space isn’t necessarily the largest component, isn’t necessarily the largest distinguishing factor for an employee now. So I think like in this next stage where we create a better world of work, I think what comes to mind is three things, as I was thinking about this.

So number one is the connectivity piece. Number two is a meritocracy and then number three is training. 

So one at a time, I think number one, connectivity, building a world where and especially with the help of metaverse coming on and with the help of technologies like Slack and Skype and WhatsApp and whatever it is, like the world is becoming smaller and smaller, but creating an environment where you can build a family oriented environment while living thousands and thousands of miles away, I think the trick is to create that environment and the inclusive environment. Right? 

I think like when we build a better world of work in the next 10 years helping people feel like they’re connected to a community is probably the number one thing I would say in creating a better world of work. Because I remember there was a study done on this. I think like there’s a study on this where they took like, I think it was like a hundred something different test subjects and across 75 years in every economic background, every economic, like socioeconomic background, every race, religion, ethnic background, whatever it is.

And they found out that the one common denominator that contributed to the happiness and contributed to a fulfilled life was the quality of your relationships. And we see that more and more where depressions on the rise and all that kind of stuff. And I think it’s because we’re more separated, right?

With COVID, right? With everybody working from their homes, like not going into the workplace, like it’s that connectivity and that feeling that you’re part of something like that’s something that people crave, right? And it’s like, it’s written into our DNA, even like, you know, Tony Robbins talks about it, right?

Like certainty, variety, love, and connections, the third one, the first four are crucial, are the core needs and then the last two contribution and growth are essentially things that will enhance your life. But the first four certainty, variety, love, and connection and significance, those are coordinates.

If you lack in one of those needs, like you then start to become like you, you start to not live and you start to regress, right? In terms of like your psyche, you start to regress in terms of like your motivation, like who you are, like if you don’t have that love and connection. So anyway, so that’s the first person part. 

Second component in creating a better world of work, I think is that you know, moving away from like that nepotism type of, like management where I’m going to promote the people that I like versus promoting the people that are performing. I think creating an environment where there’s predictable output, I think like everybody wants to know exactly how do I grow in a company? How do I grow my income? How do I advance? And I think that most businesses don’t have a career progression plan for their team members.

Most businesses, they see them as pawns and I don’t want to say most businesses, I want to say a lot of businesses see their team members as pawns, right? They’re like, okay, like you’re a team member, you’re going to do work for me. And then when you can no longer do from, work for me, next, right? Every single team member on our team, like I’m talking about the virtual assistants, have a way of actually creating passive income in our business.

So that as they grow their passive income, at some point, if they grow their passive income large enough, like they can walk away from their actual position, like doing the virtual assistant work and just live off the passive income, essentially. Right? And that’s not something that a lot of businesses provide their team members with, right? 

Because they’re thinking, well, how do I squeeze the most out of you? And how do I get the most out of you for the cheapest, basically. And that’s how most businesses think, right, unfortunately. So that’s the second. 

And then the third is training, right? So to allude to my earlier point, in terms of training, I think that building a better world of work is having training embedded in your business. Right? You know, for us, like, for example, we have an information product that we built. It’s an online 250 modules sales university where we teach all of our team members how to sell, how to lead, how to build teams, how to recruit, all that kind of stuff. It’s all built into it, right?

Basically, me building the company from 0 to 70 people, you know, zero to a hundred clients in six months, that blueprint, we compartmentalize that blueprint in a 250 module fully interactive online university. And that we use that to train up our internal team members. We also use that to sell to other companies, but I think having that where training is built into your company, I think that, you know, more and more so companies are looking for like, you know, their own internal training, right?

That’s why LMS, like Learning Management Systems that industry is on the rise. More and more people are using LMS. More companies are utilizing those platforms because they’re realizing that whether it’s for onboarding, whether it was for just general training for the team members, it’s so crucial. Right? 

So just to recap — meritocracy, connectivity, and training. Yeah. 

Related Podcast: Unlearning Leadership: How To Lead In The New World Of Work (with Bev Attfield from Within People)

Tim Reitsma

That’s fantastic. I appreciate the in-depth and the thought that you’ve put into it. I can tell you put some thought into that response and it actually is triggered a couple of things for me. We did a recent survey, not a lot of response, about 160 respondents about different leaders in different organizations, but what matters most to them as a leader.

And that piece around training, that development and retention came up as some of the top the top focus areas for people going into 2022. And I think that is, it’s, that’s how we continue to build a better world of work. It’s not just having people sit down at their keyboard, expecting people to put in eight hours a day, and and get stuff done. 

It’s, you know, where do you want to go in your career? Let’s have that conversation and how can I help you get there? And maybe it’s not within my organization or our organizations, maybe it’s somewhere else, but can we help? Like, that’s how we’re going to build a better world of work.

And I like how you also said, you know, we’re promoting people on merit, not just because we like them. And I’ve been in organizations where I’ve seen that happen. And I had a guest on the podcast a few months ago who talked about imposter leadership and she’s written a book around this topic around the people who have, have the skillset to sell themselves and, but not necessarily even have the skills to do the job, but they’re an expert salesperson and have risen. 

So, so it’s it’s an interesting topic and conversation and as you’ve grown, sorry? 

Sam Chang

Yeah. And I’ve seen a lot of that. I’ve seen a lot of that. I remember one of the, so I used to work for a very large corporation Ledcor up here in Canada. They’re a multi-billion dollar international like construction company and I remember there was a, I’m not going to say any names on criminating people, but I remember in one, in one of like the leadership summits that we were at where we had directors, senior regional managers GMs, like everyone there.

I remember the GM was the one that’s running the meeting and I remember, so there was a director that reported to GM and they were really close and the director was a director of residential sales. So they were in charged with like everything, right? And I remember I, I looked at GM in the eye and like, there was one slide that says, how do we make our business better?

Right? And I basically, I asked the GM, I was like, Hey Do you care about this director? I met, I used names at the time, right? But I was like, do you care about this director enough that if you knew there was an opportunity outside of this company, if you knew that there was a better a better compensation plan of just better growth, better everything for this person, right?

For their career, if you knew there’s a better opportunity outside of the company, do you care about them and love them enough to actually convince them to leave? And then his answer to that in front of everyone I’m talking, like 30 some odd execs. He was like, do you want me to answer that now? And I was like, well, I was like, you already answered it.

I’m like, if you want our business to be better, right? The answer to that has to be a unanimous “Yes”. And I don’t think a lot of leaders in businesses take the time or do enough for their team members in the sense that like that, I don’t think a lot of leaders in the position that they’re in. I think they live in a scarcity mindset instead of thinking about an abundance mindset where they, you know, I don’t think a lot of leaders can honestly say that they would convince their people to leave if there was something actually truly better for them. Right? 

And if there is something truly better for them, then they should work their asses off to create the environment where that’s not the place in the place that they’re working well, is the place kind of thing. Right? Yeah. I just want to toss that in there as well.

Tim Reitsma

No, it’s a great toss in. It’s it’s important as leaders to have that connection with our teams and each individual on the team. And to be able to answer that question, that’s a tough question to answer, and, but to be able to answer it and answer it compassionately and honestly is important.

And I’m curious how you’ve taken those examples from your past, you know, working for these large telecom companies and, or large companies in your career? What’s, what have you learned as looking at those leaders to, to say, Hey, this is what I want to bring into my company, VTMEMBER and what I don’t want to bring?

Sam Chang

Yeah. I think yeah, I think the biggest thing is I’ll lay out a couple of points cause I wrote a couple of points for this question. I think the first thing working for a very large corporation and working and building your own company is very different. Working in a large company, obviously there’s like bureaucracy, there’s hoops.

You have to jump through things, you got to get approved, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You don’t have free range. It’s not like, oh, I want to do this. Like, for example, like, you know, I had a friend asked me yesterday because like, Hey, you want to sponsor? You want to sponsor like my happy hour or whatever, right? At a bar. 

And if I was working with a very large corporation, I’d be like, that I’d be like, Hey, I want to sponsor this or whatever for marketing purpose. And they’d be like, well, hold on, like the bar or blah, blah, blah, what kind of demographic? Like what if that affects the brand? But for me, I just be like “yeah, sure”.

Right? How much is it? Sure. Right? So there’s a lot of things that are different, but I think one of the components that I think everyone should take away when you’re building a company, like if you’re watching this and you know, you want essentially to be nimble and grow and scale a company, done is better than perfect.

Like I’d write that down. I tattoo that in my arm. I think, I think it’s important to recognize – done is better than perfect. And because realistically, when you look back on your life, you don’t really look at the details anyways. You only really look at like, like, like was this done to perfection, right?

So, so I think done is better than perfect. I think that’s the first crucial thing where if you try to skill fast, right? Done’s better. 

So second thing, 

if you want to try and scale fast, okay hire for help, right? Hire people for help, like for the role that you need before you need it. In a proactive way, rather than the reactive way. I’ve hired reactively and the reason why I hired reactively is because of money.

Because I’m cheap and I’m Asian, obviously, right? Like I’m super cheap. So, because I’m super cheap, I always try to like do things myself, right? Think about it, like, realistically, if you have something in your business that you need to do, you got to do it yourself or get someone else to do it.

The thing is, if you do it yourself, it’s your own time, you can’t scale quick. Yeah. You’re working in the business rather than on the business. And if you pay someone, well you have to part with your money, right? So parting with your money is not easy, but I think hiring the right people to be in your business is probably the biggest investment you can make.

Like, people don’t think about it that way, like they think that oh, if I pay somebody 80 grand a year or whatever, right? That’s, you know, that’s money out, right? But that person can make you double or triple or quadruple, and that’s the risk and also that is the calculation you have to make.

And I think that a lot of people don’t realize that hiring the right people for the job it’s like, it’s so, so, so important recruitment, which I’m going to touch up on in a second here. I think another component that I’ve taken from these large corporations is that is that every relationship is like a bank account, and every situation is either an opportunity, is an opportunity, right? 

Like Tim, even though you and I just got, just met each other, right? But you and I, our relationship is the bank account. Just like how your relationship with, you know, your partner, my relationship with my partner, our relationship with our employees, like these are all bank accounts that we can either make deposits or withdrawals from.

And more importantly, I think what I’ve realized is that when someone’s done a great job, yeah, that’s an opportunity to deposit into the bank account. Great, but it’s especially when somebody makes a mistake in your business. When someone makes a mistake in your business, those are moments where you need to snatch those moments up, because when they make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to make a deposit.

And, and I’ll give you a very basic example, right? If, for example, one of your team members drop, if one of my team members drops the ball with the client, I can scold him publicly in front of everyone, which would be a withdrawal from that bank account, or I can coach him privately and then, or I talk about, I coach him in a way that is empowering. In a way that he will take my advice and he’ll have to follow it and I make it public. 

If you can publicize those moments where you consciously make a deposit, when someone made it, makes mistake, you then create an environment of transparency with your team, because they trust you. Because now it’s an environment where they can make mistakes. Now it’s an environment that’s not led by fear, but an environment that’s led by merit and by, Hey, I want to better the business.

And that’s when you’ll find people who will go above and beyond, people who will work overtime, people who will do whatever it takes to help you grow your business. And my true partners now in your business, as opposed to just people who say that your partner wants you to succeed in and try and steal from you, you know, from the backend. 

Tim Reitsma

It’s moving from that trust or sorry, that fear-based leadership to trust-based leadership. 

Sam Chang

Fear-based leadership to trust-based leadership. Yeah. Completely. 

Tim Reitsma

Absolutely. 

Sam Chang

Yeah. Yeah. And I think especially when team members make a mistake, like those are opportunities, those are up and not to say that you’re going to be soft on them, but be firm in a way that, that life, those are opportunities where, cause think about it, when somebody screws up, everybody is watching.

When somebody screws up, everybody’s watching how the boss will react. Everybody’s watching how the leader will react. Are they going to argue in a like, and if you like, just publicly humiliate them, think about it. Like everybody else is going to feel afraid. They’re going to be all shoot, like, I don’t want to like do that, right? 

And yeah, sure. It can drive behavior in the short term, but it’s only a short term fix to to to a problem. You’re just fixing the symptom at the end of the day, right? Last piece of advice recruitment. I think for recruitment, skillset is so overrated. It’s so overrated. I mean, how many people have you’ve hired in the past Tim, where, you know, you hire them for the job, but they’re not really right for the job, but then they learn so quick and they learn it right away, and then they’re like perfect for the job. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. I’ve, I’ve had an opportunity to hire dozens and dozens, if not more in my career. And I quickly learned nobody, nobody taught me how to screen resumes and interview. It’s just something I had to figure out on my own. And I quickly realized like, okay, this person can write a resume.

I’ve checked them out on LinkedIn, looks legit. That’s great. Now, how, who are you as a human? I used to start off interview saying, okay when we were able to meet in person or if I was interviewing somebody in person, I would physically take that resume and put it to the side and say, tell me who you are.

Without talking about your resume and it just always through candidates for a loop, but so once they warmed up to it and say, I want to get to know you as a human. I want to know that you can contribute to the team, that you’re, you, you are an addition to our culture, addition to our values versus that skillset.

Sam Chang

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And in every interview that I do Tim right up front in first, in the first, like three minutes of the interview, I tell the person who I’m interviewing, what I’m looking for. I literally lay it out and I tell them, all right, Johnny, I’m looking for three things today. Okay? I’m not looking for skill set, I’m looking for these three things.

Number one, I’m looking for your reasons, like what are the reasons why you do what you do? The more reasons you have tied to something, the more willingly you’re, the more, you can tell me you’re hard worker, but let me talk to, if I don’t understand your reasons and I don’t know that you have a lot of like I under, cause I understand the human psychology, right?

It’s like you could tell me you’re a hard worker. It could be on paper, whatever it is, but like I’ve been, I’ve been, I pride myself in being a hard worker, like my entire life, but were there moments in my life stints of two, three months in a row where I’m just a lazy piece of shit? Yes I have.

Right? So I want to know instantaneously in that moment, right? Like just in that moment, what are the reasons? Cause the more reasons they have, the more they are willing to go look me up. That’s the first thing. 

Second thing I look for is I say, look I look for your work habit. Not your work ethic, your work habit, right? I want to know when nobody else is watching, right? What is your work habit look like? 

Number three. And I tell them this upfront, I say attitude. So your reasons, your work habit, and your attitude. And I tell them upfront, I say, look, that the last one is something that I can’t really judge upfront, because the last one, I will only know when shit hits the fan.

So when shit hits the fan, I want to know, like whether or not you can pick yourself back up and I won’t really know. And yeah, sure, I could ask them a question in the past where, you know, in the past, what does the, where’s the hard situation that you’ve been an edge it’s to pick yourself back up, but the real answer to that is that is only just a, it’s only just reference.

What I really want to know is in the moment when stuff hits the fan, I want to know if you have the capacity to get back up. And I told them those are the three things I look for. Big reasons, a big work habit, and a great attitude. 

Tim Reitsma

It’s interesting, like work habit. I was supposed to spend a minute on this, especially a remote team.

You know, I’m sitting in my home office, I’ve been working from home as an independent consultant and now as part of an organization for the last, I don’t know, three, four years. And so developing those habits is so important. Work ethic, yeah, I’m a hard worker. I used to work labor jobs in Northern part of Canada and where it’s, you need a work ethic, otherwise you don’t have a job.

And so, but the work habits, how do you manage that with a remote team? You know, as this is what, you know, sure, some companies are going back to the office, some are hybrid, some are fully remote, and you know, our leader here at Black and White Zebra, he’s like, I don’t care the hours you put in.

I just care that you get stuff done. And so how do you practically do that? Like, even me as a leader I was on a call this morning with somebody who is in the UK, somebody in Vancouver, somebody in Argentina, and somebody in Bali. So I was, I was crossing the globe this morning and to ensure that we have our week set up and and set up for success.

How do you at, in your company make sure that people are developing or have a good work habit? 

Sam Chang

So, that is, I think like, so if you really compare our business model is it’s very similar to like Upwork or like a Fiverr, like that kind of thing. But I can confidently say now after, you know, doing my competitor analysis that there’s no one, there’s no other company in the world that’s doing work, like the way that we’re doing it, is because first of all because you’re talking about accountability, right? 

How do you implement accountability and then also set expectations? I think for me to kind of preface everything that I’m about to say the gap between expectation and reality is disappointment.

So the bigger the gap between the expectation and reality, the bigger the disappointment. The smaller the gap, the less disappointment. So with that in mind I think the first thing is we implement a layer of management. So every single client of ours, they actually get three team members for the price of one.

Right? Basically, what we do is we source, hire, train and manage a virtual workforce for North American companies before less than half the cost of North American employee. So we do everything from data entry, cold calling, appointments setting, graphic design, video editing, and web development.

Anything virtually you can think of, we do for eight bucks an hour. Now for 8 bucks an hour, you get access to three team members for the price of one. So all you pay for is the $8 an hour for the virtual assistant who is going to be working with you. But that virtual assistant is partnering with one of our 12 local North American agents and they’re also partnering up with the virtual trainer. 

So the virtual trainer is someone who will provide ongoing, hourly, even support and management of your team member. The virtual agent, basically the local North American agent, they’re the ones who’s managing your account. So at any point in time, 24 hours a day, there’s someone that you can reach that is within that team who can help you out.

Right? And so the virtual trainer, the function of them, right, it’s kind of like this. So we hire, we hire a lot of people for cold calling. So we cold call for a lot of businesses, right? When we do cold calling cause I’ve been in sales before and I’ve ran sales teams of upwards of 300 people before. I understand that in sales, there’s only five components — activity, focus, skill, courage, and luck.

Right? Those are the five variables in sales, right? And the reason why activity is first is because I don’t care how skilled you are. I don’t care how much courage you have. I don’t care how lucky you are. If you don’t have the right amount of activity, if you’re not calling a number of clients, if you’re not knocking number of doors, you’re not going to get the result that you want. 

Which means we monitor activity all of our team members, if they hire, all of our clients to hire a team member from us, right? They’re cold caller calls between a hundred to 150 calls a day minimum. If they miss it by more than three days in a row, they’re gone. And we look and we bring our new person. Right? And to monitor that hourly call volume, you have a virtual trainer there to manage it, to monitor it.

So that’s the first component. We implement, like human accountability. Right? 

The second part is automated accountability. So when it comes to building habit, right? In the beginning, it requires a little bit of, a little bit of a hands-on approach. Right? And it’s like in anything, right? I asked the reason why, like all high-performance have a coach.

I don’t care if you’re Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or Tiger Woods. Everyone has a coach, right? And because a coach is there to keep you accountable. And so you have your manager keeps you accountable, but then we also have technology, right? So we have a time clock, right? The time clock itself, we can see like, we can see number one when they’re online and we can also see their location, their GPS location when they’re online.

And I can also set it so that they can’t clock in unless they’re in the geographic location and unless they’re within that geo radius, right? If they’re not within that geo radius, they can’t clock in. It’s like they can’t be sitting on the beach somewhere, just like sipping margaritas and then clocking in.

You can’t do that. Right? So we put in automated systematic ways to systemize things in addition to human, but ultimately what creates a work habit is actually not all of those things. It’s not the, it’s not the human accountability. It’s not the managers and it’s not the automated technology. Right? It’s actually the environment, like if I take a freshwater fish and throw it in salt water, it’ll, there’s only two options — you die or you adapt.

So when we bring on a new team member, what we do is we take on, of, to freshwater fish and we throw them in saltwater. We pair them up with a virtual trainer that is all about hard work. Right? We put them on a team that hard work is at the forefront and that’s why when you vet strong team members in the beginning of the core team members, you then create a culture where they’ll have an allergic reaction to laziness. 

Tim Reitsma

Allergic reaction to laziness.

Sam Chang

Yeah. They’ll come to you and be like, Hey Sam, this person’s lazy. I’m like, alright. Find another person, that’s fine. Right? Like, they’ll be, they, they will look, they’re like, well, I’m working so hard. Everybody else worked so hard. Like the heck kind of thing. Right? People in interviews, like I’ve asked them before in cold calling and like, it was mostly like, how many calls were you making on average? Right? 

60. I’m like, and then the virtual trainers in the interview with me, I’m like, Hey, how many calls you make on average per hour? You’re like, dang, that’s like 40 calls an hour. Like, oh, shoot and they realize there’s like a gap, right?

And so they enter the environment already understanding that it’s an environment of hard work. Right? And then also creating the metrics and also creating the environment where they can grow their income through that as well. Right? If they fulfilled their end of the bargain, then you got to fulfill your end of the bargain when it comes to compensation plan. 

I got, I’ve had team members that joined me in July and they’ve tripled their income since they started with me in 6 months. What kind of job can you go? And you work a job and you triple your income in 6 months. 

Tim Reitsma

That’s phenomenal. And it goes right back to the very beginning of our conversation is providing that clarity and then providing, this is what you’re responsible for and this is how I’m going to hold you accountable.

It’s like comes down to those seems to those three things — accountability, responsibility and clarity. And and so, yeah, I like that. It’s, yeah. This, the technology for work habits, which is, you know, sometimes you need that to see, Hey, what is somebody online? What are you actually getting your work done?

But, you know, for me, it’s not about, okay, are you putting in 8 hours? You know, I’ve known people who are experts at putting in 8 hours, but getting 2 hours worth of work done. I remember one of my first labor jobs was in a saw mill and somebody had said, Tim, you’re working too fast, go and hide.

And so I had to go and hide somewhere. I had to go find somewhere to hide, which is counter to my, you know, my work ethic, my work habit. But you know, this was an environment where people were experts at putting in 8 hours and putting in 2 to 4 hours worth of work and created that, so management thought everyone’s productive.

Sam Chang

And that’s the thing I always tell my clients like, cause when we onboard new clients people have a way of managing their clients by the hour. But I always tell my clients, never manage your team members by the hour, always manage them by the task, because it creates an environment of trust. Like, I can’t tell you how many times in the day I say this to my team members.

Like, can I trust you with this? Like people love hearing that. And like, I always tell them, I tell my clients, Hey, look, if you have, for example, if it’s a video editor that they’re hiring from us, right? If you have 10 videos and you edit in a week each video takes 4 hours, right?

That’s 40 hours of work. So 10 videos, 4 hours to put it up, you put it up on there. Tell your team member, if it takes you 30 to make those 40 hours of work, right? If you, if it takes you 30 hours to make those 10 videos, take the other 10 hours off. If it takes you 60 hours, I’m gonna pay you for 40, because there should be an objective time that it takes for every single task in your business.

And the trick is figuring out what that objective timeframe is, right? And then allocating it. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. Is it producing 10 widgets or a hundred widgets? And you need to figure that out and we’re all grown ups. I think I used in another podcast or conversation with my team is, Hey I’m not here as kind of the hall monitor.

You know, I’m here and I trust you. We know what everybody needs to get done. We’ve got aggressive targets. We’re going to have fun doing it. But if you don’t if we don’t think we can hit it, you know, let’s have that conversation. You know, I might disagree, but let’s have that conversation and that’s built on trust.

And so, you know, I, as I’m listening to you and really inspired by your philosophy around leadership, and obviously you’re doing something right. You’ve, you’re building a fantastic company. You’ve grown your team members around the globe and anybody who’s listening as a leader or inspiring, aspiring entrepreneur, what’s a one piece of advice? Is there one thing that that maybe you’ve already touched on or you haven’t hit on yet? 

Sam Chang

The one piece of advice I would give every listener listening to this is, as they’re building a team and there’s, they’re chasing after their dreams is that if you have a big dream, you need a big team. And those team members is not, it isn’t, they don’t necessarily need to be team members that you hire on your team.

I think it also encompasses for example, people that you know, like I spent, like I’m 27 this year and I spent 20 to 25 not owning a business. And 20, but 20 to 25 I’ve developed relationships with people in like my area of relationships with people just really, I like, I look at it as like, I think the relationships that you have and the people that you know, they truly in genuinely later on, like, I’m sure you ever heard this before, like your network is your net worth.

It’s so true, like, I think that like the biggest piece of advice, if you’re growing business is collect relationships. Like the more relationships that you can build and that you’re adding value to on a consistent basis it’s like, it’s everything. Right? 

So, so if you have a big dream, you need to have a big team. And if you want a big team, you have to have a good foundation. And the foundation is your first core team members that you bring on board. Right? Having the wrong partner could kill your business, right? Having the wrong core team member could kill your business. Right? 

Everything is built on people, now everyday like any business model, I would go as far as to say this, any business model that is, relies purely on you or relies just on technology with no team surrounding it, typically, yeah, sure you can make money in a short-term, but it won’t be sustainable. It won’t be sustainable longterm. Everything is built through people, right? Like to pull a book, to pull an example from the Bible, right?

Like Jesus only needed 12 people. And then out of 12 people now there’s like 2 or 3 billion people in the world that believes in some form of Christianity now. Over 2000 years and you only need a 12. So when you’re building your empire, you don’t need that many people, but you need good people in the beginning. The core people in your business, they need to be built and they need to be hand selected by you, right?

And find people that will compliment your weaknesses. Sorry. Find people that have a contrasting strengths to you, right? Don’t hire another chef in the kitchen. Hire a sous chef, hire someone that can fill in on your weaknesses.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. If you’re spending all your time on accounting and you know it drives you nuts and you hate it and you’re not good at it, you know, maybe you need to hire somebody, a CFO or some, you know, there’s just a kind of a silly example, but yeah, you need to staff up against your yeah, against those weaknesses and those things that suck your energy. 

Sam Chang

That’s right. And, and it’s usually in most businesses it’s the contrasting between like there’s two types of listeners, really. I think there’s two types of listeners who listens to this. 

There’s one who is highly analytical, think too much. Right? Procrastinate and they, they think too much, they don’t do enough. Right? Paralysis to analysis. 

And then there’s the other one who’s like, they’re like go. And they’re like vision, they’re probably really messy. They’re probably late a lot of the times, like, there’s like, go, right? If you’re this person, find this person. If you’re this person, find this person, basically. 

If you’re the fast go go mentality person, you gotta find people in your life that can pull you back, not pull you back, but like, can, can help you choose your decision a little bit more wisely. And then if you’re more of like, oh, I have to think through things, you got to find someone that can help you execute, right? 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. I was talking to a local founder, local entrepreneur just last week and he’s a true visionary. Like he was talking about his 2030 plan and all the businesses that he wants to start and he’s, I think he’s up to 12 businesses right now and he’s been, so it’s about one a year and he’s now to a place where, it’s like this, I can create the vision, but the execution just sucks the life out of me. 

Sam Chang

Wow. 

Tim Reitsma

And so he’s now hiring that extra person, that resource, that COO, that right-hand person to take that vision, challenge it, but also go and execute it. 

Sam Chang

Wow. 

Tim Reitsma

And it’s so important. You’re absolutely right. You can have great technology tools but you need to have the right people in the right, in the right positions. It’s just, you have to do it. 

Sam Chang

That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.

Tim Reitsma

So Sam, as we wrap up, I just want to thank you so much for for coming on the People Managing People podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you. We’re going to put your contact details in the show notes as well as when we release it on social media.

And so, yeah. Again, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and for those who are listening I would encourage you to reach out to Sam on LinkedIn, as well as checkout vtmember.ca and again, we’ll have all the links below. 

But if you liked what you heard, we would love for you to subscribe to our podcast and rate it and leave us comments and all that good stuff.

And with that, Sam, I hope you have a fantastic day and we’ll talk again soon. 

Sam Chang

Thank you. Thanks for having me, Tim.