Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  11:53 

I no big deal, what helps you to be successful is a team and leadership. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on how do you build leaders within the company?

Vikas Khorana  12:10 

Absolutely, I think that’s the most fulfilling thing about Ntooitive has been me, my co-founder and our CEO Ryan Christiansen, we both came from media backgrounds, we both worked corporate jobs, some of our backgrounds, we’re also working in newspaper companies. And we’ve seen what has happened to newspaper companies from 2009 till now, it’s been on a direct decline. And there was a lot of lessons learned on what to do, but more lessons learned on what not to do. And that’s what we learned applying and we formed Ntooitive. So our philosophy on the leadership style has been to hire green talent. So we’ve opened doors from people to come from colleges, but not just colleges anymore, we opened doors for high school students. Last two years, we have now high school student interns who can only do maybe eight or nine hours a week. But we are exposing them to this world. And we are exposing them to the entire philosophy of what we stand for. And what we stand for is what we call is it’s an open door philosophy in terms of you know what we open, honest and direct, you will hear this in our company all the time, oh, HD, HD, so we can have hard conversations, get them over and then get back to work. That is, excuse me, and that has allowed our people to actually voice their opinions. And some of the best suggestions for our products. And some of the best input for our product comes from a team that is not going to get squash when they bring the ideas to the table. So it actually makes a very big difference of what the way we act is we make them owners of their domain. And that allows them to not only express but that allows them to work the way they want to. Ntooitive doesn’t have a vacation policy. What that means is you’re allowed to take vacation the way you want it. Encourages flexibility from a standpoint of work. So you can choose your day and work from home whichever days because if you have work that is outside and you’re thinking about that your productivity is already gonna go down. So we believe in that philosophy. If you’re an owner of your own domain, you will do whatever is the right thing to do to get the job done. We will not have to continuously follow you behind and that has created great leaders from I’ll give you the example. The biggest example for me is a person by the name of Adam Joyce, and he is a veteran Air Force pilot who came to us from, he was doing MBA in finance, is a director of finance the now completing three years with Ntooitive. And his growth has been prevented us from being able to not know anything except what was taught in the college to now what he’s handling complex transactions, he has become the master of his own domain. So that’s a great example right there. Oh, building leaders,

Jeremy Weisz  15:24 

I want to go down, this is really interesting with the high school intern piece. But before we go there, you mentioned you learned what to do and what not to do as far as leadership? What were some examples of what not to do?

Vikas Khorana  15:43 

That, it’s a very, very big question. And I think it’s a very emotional question for me, because when you came from the media background, that we came from, what was happening in our environments where there was content, this shedding of people. And sometimes the right way, sometimes just to meet the cost structures of the company, which is the right thing to do from a company angle, there is no complaints over there. But the thought process was in that intern lineup, you became something that you didn’t want to be. And I always say, if I had a magic wand, and I could make the magic wand, I would go apologize to those people, because there was a leadership style that had to be followed to achieve certain things. And so now from there, that was one thing that I don’t do is trying to force people to do what we want, we try to make them the master for their own domains. And I think that’s the north and south pole of what the leadership style has become over the years. And the learnings that I don’t want to go back to is telling people what to do. It’s learning from them. And the outputs are amazing. You make somebody you cannot even think of sometimes of those outputs that they will bring to the table because they think they own it.

Jeremy Weisz  17:14 

So an example, in a case would be the company has to let some people go, let’s say, and instead of instructing someone, here’s what I want you to do, kind of training coaching, kind of working through with how they want to handle it, essentially?

Vikas Khorana  17:33 

Absolutely, I think there is there is something to be said about that statement in itself. So the government helped out a lot of people with a lot of money when it came down to the COVID pandemic. And I will say there was not a right sizing of companies that were done. And now you’re heading layoffs after layoffs after layoffs for the last almost six to eight months. And there are people who are coming on a call and saying the buck stops at me, well, you should have been right-sizing the business all along. So when you make somebody the owner, you have to give that status text to them. So in your example, if we have to right-size the company, we need to set the right expectation, and we need to be setting that expectation in front of them. Not on a day that we think oh my god, the financial situation is bad, we need to be setting that expectation every month, which we do, we have a weekly all-hands call and a monthly all-employee call in which we make sure they understand where the company stands. And that helps us even in dire times, there will be people who will step up and say oh, I can do this extra for maybe hey, I have a contact that might lead to actual sale. Wonders happened when you try to merge with everybody together, instead of keeping everybody at a distance and saying, oh, this is a big secret. Well, they all know, I’m one of the owners. They all know Ryan is one of the owners. There’s nothing to hide over here. And I think a lot of people think oh my god, if employees know how much we make, overseas, how much they make, there’ll be a difference in attitude. I don’t think that’s the case. Employees are not looking for all the time about money. I can tell you there is an employer giving massive shout-out to Trevel Reed. He is our Director of Operations. And I can tell you, that guy is not motivated by money. He’s motivated by excellence. And if you give him to the domain to make it excel, he will die trying he’s just an unbelievable awesome person. And he also came from a non-media background when he came to Ntooitive. I think he was employee number five, I would say four or five Skype the company, I think he was one of the first hires, and he’s still with the company, he talks a lot about longevity of those people. And what he has become is a force to be recommended from a media standpoint and his knowledge.

Jeremy Weisz  20:15 

I want to, because talk about, I kind of separate this out with to training, and building leaders with training. And also, when you build those leaders, you want to retain the talent that you’ve spend the time energy building and cultivating. So I love to hear about keeping retaining talent, you mentioned a few about obviously flexible schedule where people are working, you’re giving them master their own domain, the autonomy,  the vacation policy, those things that kind of create this autonomous environment. What else do you find it’s valuable to keep, retain talent?

Vikas Khorana  21:01 

I think when you bring green talent and you train them, I think you need to keep them challenged, as well. So the good part is we work in a field that changes on a daily basis. So for us, keeping that challenge on the board is not difficult. I will not lie, we have lost employees, we lost great employees, these guys did an amazing job. And sometimes those losses are for no other reason, then the people think that the shiny toy on the other side is much brighter. So for us to say no to a person going into working for a sales force or working for Price Waterhouse, it’s very difficult to compete, both on a money scale, in some cases, because phase last years, last two years have become ridiculous, like, but we still are very proud of that we still have been able to retain people. And I think having them being driving their own destiny and giving them that control actually has made the biggest difference. So if they want to earn twice what they’re making, or three times what they’re making, we have parts at Ntooitive that allows them to do that. We show them those parts. And we put KPIs in those pathways. And we have taken people from one level to the other in almost every single instance. So that also helps in a massive way. But if I say I wouldn’t hold every single talent that I trained, I think that’s going to be heavy, hard. But here’s the thing, right? It’s also a amazing thing, when you bring somebody green, you train them and they’re able to succeed in life. They eventually become the evangelizing the company, they take it to the next level that they say is what we should or what we should do. So that also helps in a massive, then I would say Ntooitive, in my opinion, is more word of mouth company, then has direct marketing efforts that we have taken on. So that has helped us a lot.

Jeremy Weisz  23:16 

What about because from a culture or team building standpoint, what different activities are kind of embedded to build the team and the culture?

Vikas Khorana  23:27 

That’s awesome, I think that’s one of my favorite topics. And I think what we do internally is something very surprising to a lot of companies. They think this is still old school, but we’ve internal committees, we encourage our employees to participate in nonprofits. So we let them pick, they go visit those nonprofits meet those people come back with a recommendation and say that this time, we should do X or Y. So this time, we should have a food pantry this time, we should have a child abuse organization or whatever that might be as a cause. So we’ve done those things. I think a great opportunity over here is we work for our cleaning services, we use local charity called opportunity village. And every day they come and clean the office and we were able to tie their hand because it was the best thing to do to give back to the society so employees love that. Other than that, well if you are in Vegas on Thursday, the entire company is gonna go watch John Wick four. If not, if you’re here in April, we’re gonna go watch a ballgame. Baseball game. So those kinds of activities have to be continuously approach because that’s when you see people coming in. One of the biggest thing that happens in interior is the ping pong room. At ping pong room is you is more than a you would imagine, people play for contests. What that is doing for us is bringing everybody together, we have a fish tank in the office that there is so many employees involved in taking care of that fish tank, then go watch the fish. So it becomes like a water cooler talk around that fish tank. All it is doing is bringing them together. And what that does is that it affects churn rates more than some of the other things we can ever do. These people want to be together, they became friends. And that’s why even if one of them leaves, the remain friends, they evangelize. And that’s what helps the company go.

Jeremy Weisz  25:41 

I love that. But you’re gonna say you take everyone to the craps tables in Vegas. And now I’m just good.

Vikas Khorana  25:48 

We cannot say that openly. But that might happen too.

Jeremy Weisz  25:54 

What about from a virtual standpoint? No, sometimes people want the flexibility to work from home, was there anything that you do from a virtual standpoint in case they’re not always in the office?

Vikas Khorana  26:03 

So we have an office in LA, and office in Houston. So we have remote offices, we have an office in Long Beach where Andrew is at, or Newport, I would say right between the cusp of the two. So So we definitely have encouragement things happening. I’ll give you an example right now. We actually are selling for one of our top sales person is Armando Guerrero. And he is vice, we just have a trip for Napa planned for them in May, because they both have been just amazing to work with. They’ve been doing an amazing job for the company as well. So there’s always that plus we try to bring the remote staff back to the base, Las Vegas, every so often. So holiday party is an example. But that’s not just once a year, we try to get all of these people to come to Vegas, Armando and his team tries to be in Vegas, once a month. We have people Euston we at least try to get everybody together once a quarter. So we try to make it happen in a fashion that we always are bringing people together.

Jeremy Weisz  27:18 

Let’s talk about the training piece. Right? You mentioned Adam was an example. What are some of the things that you do that are kind of embedded? That, again, you’re starting people new? How does the training process work?

Vikas Khorana  27:32 

So the training process different fields, right, so Ntooitive you heard the core philosophy, we have three different pillars we stand on. One of the pillars is agency services, which is what you’re discussing with us. That’s one pillar. The second pillar is our technology solutions, our products that we have. So the products we have is the end-to-hive solution, which is a sales and operation tool, and then avails tool, which is also interconnected with the sales and automation to. And then we have the third arm, which is custom Dev, so we do website development, app development, custom development, Blockchain, things of that nature. And they all tie together is because most of the companies when we go to help them out, and we understand their workflow, we’re able to put workflow solutions, they’re able to put marketing solutions to get them more customers. But then we’re also able to build something for them that can make automation happen for them, specifically custom automations that help them streamline their entire business. So we have training separated by zone. So in CM, Brian Johnson are we going to be a VP of Business Development, but he comes from an operational background in the past, he and Trever they both do multiple trainings during the weeks for new products. We have people selected in committees who are trying different products as well. And then on the product side, we have an application team in which that application team is responsible for training clients as well as training internally during our sales team. So there’s different training modules set up for different teams to enhance them. Plus there is one add-on and I can say that openly is if anybody wants to do certification in Ntooitive, you qualify the exam, we pay for it. So the fear that you have to pay something out of pocket is completely gone. The high school student is right now trying to do a Security Plus certification. And he has blessings from us that if he passes that exam, we will pay for his exam.

Jeremy Weisz  29:49 

Amazing. Let’s talk about you mentioned workflow automation. And that’s some of the stuff that you do for companies. Can you talk about one of the cons companies that you work with on that and kind of how that piece works?

Vikas Khorana  30:04 

Absolutely, I think I can take an example, I think we know the president of Entravision, Jeff Liberman, enough that he became a champion of implementing the end-to-high product from an operation standpoint in his organization. And we’ve done it similar things for several agencies and media companies. And what we did is workflow automation in which when digital orders comes in, how they come in how they get to break out, and the tool we have built is specifically for that purpose. So you can do end-to-end operations in a single place. One of the biggest things that we have noticed over the years is we have noticed a single digital agency or a single or companies that basically have workflow setup, have hundreds of tools at their disposal, that don’t talk to each other. And I’m not saying any of these tools are bad, I’m not trying to say, or Asana, or Evernote or anywhere, they’re all amazing tools. But what happens is, there are companies in which one department will use one tool, there’ll be a Form Builder, another department is using, there’ll be Salesforce that other department is using, and they’re all over the place. So our goal is a first help them integrate, or also put our operations solutions in, in which a geek analogy from my side is One Ring to rule them also allow a single workflow product to actually integrate with all these things I mentioned, and bring everything together. So you’re logging into a single screen able to execute everything that you’re looking to execute for your end clients, whoever that might be, it might be an advertiser, in case of Media Solutions game, it might be an actual customer, it might be somebody that you might be looking forward to. So that’s one example. The second workflow automation that we are doing currently, is bringing permission of a data lake and bringing more data insights for a Catholic organization RCBO. And basically, what we are doing for the church is doing all the data, bring the website data, everything together, so they can have more informative answers for themselves and be able to take right decisions on how to engage with more pressures, and how to serve the community better, which is what they do, and preach the gospel. I don’t know if I’m saying it right or not. But that’s an example. That’s a very, very big example.

Jeremy Weisz  32:54 

Because I’m curious, I could be the Entravision example, or a different example. But how do the clients express to you the pain points in that situation? Right? They may not be like expressing it, hey, my stuff isn’t talking to each other, but how do they express what they’re feeling?

Vikas Khorana  33:13 

That’s awesome. I think I’ll give you the most recent example, we’re working with LV Robotics. And the most recent example is we actually conduct audits, workflow audits is what we call them, we go talk to first the higher management, get them to tell us what everything’s all about what they think, and then also listen to their pain points, and listen to what they want, ultimately achieved. And then we go one, level two, level three level, deeper. And we look at every single workflow, we create flowcharts and figure out what is the reality because sometimes there is a disconnect in between those two, what is actually happening, what’s available, and at the end of their workflow audit is when we propose a solution. And that solution comes in the form of us explaining our workflow automation process, what all the existing we have, what can we can integrate with. And in some cases, what we can replace. That’s the honest truth. So if I say we don’t think about that, that’s a lie, because we are for-profit company. So in some cases, we look at what our solutions can do better for that client, it says, so that’s a great example over there, in which we did workflow audit, and now we are looking forward to creating software for them that allows them to have an end to end workflow in a single tool and be able to generate reports and give everything to those doctors on their fingertips. So that’s what we’re doing.

Jeremy Weisz  34:55 

That makes sense. Yeah. So like, they may go well, we want to increase productivity. We know there’s Maybe timesaving that we can do within all the stuff that the tools that we’re using our team, and then you’ll go and do a workflow audit, and then find out where you can optimize and maybe save tons of repetition or time.

Vikas Khorana  35:14 

And that’s the goal. But not only that, I think you’re spot on that the end, one of the end results, one of the biggest end result is we right-size the business for them. So now they know. And I’ll give you an example, if a doctor office has multiple doctors, and they’re seeing X number of patients, and they need Y number of nurses, we figured out what the formula is that the patient volume grows by 20%, how many people they need in what department and then bow is no longer Oh, my God shooting by the hip and just thinking, oh, we should add to here or one here. Now they know exactly how to right-size their business. So when they grow, it’s not a question of if and when they have they know that they will put more stress on this department if they don’t do the right thing.

Jeremy Weisz  36:05 

Makes sense? Vikas first of all, I want to thank you, I want to just point everyone to check out your website and learn more. It’s to learn more, and I really appreciate you sharing the training, the keeping the retaining talent, the building leadership and optimizing so, Vikas, thank you so much. Thanks, everyone

Vikas Khorana  36:32 

Thank you Jeremy. Thank you for having us.