Mr. Matthew Ley: Welcome to Boot Strap: Insights for the Self-Funded Entrepreneur with Frank Cianciulli. My name is Matthew Ley, and I will be your host. On season two of Boot Strap one of the things we said we were going to do is look back at some of the most popular episodes that elicited the most engagement from you. Our first episode, “People and Hiring Best Practices,” talked about what type of employee you should be looking for when starting a bootstrap startup. And one clip brought up a lot of comments, and we’re going to play that clip for you right now.
“Anyone who has ever been through The Wish Group or met Frank has probably heard him say at one point in time, that Frank prefers ignorance on fire to knowledge on ice.”
So comments like that, and Frank, I mean you echoed them later in the series when you said that one of your big Frank-isms is that you prefer ignorance —
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: On fire.
Mr. Matthew Ley: — on fire to knowledge on ice. But you know, when you talk to people out there about the current employment landscape, a lot of these people are coming in with not a lot of experience, or younger, and we hear a lot about how they’re just different. It’s hard to find that diamond in the rough who is going to succeed this way. Do you got any experience or any examples in the last maybe two years of someone who this happened with?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: We do, we do. And you know I just want to preface that by saying, you know, a lot of people at our generation and older will always say that, you know, the new people coming up, or you know we talk about millennials, don’t have that fire. It seems to be missing. And I can’t comment on that because I don’t have a reference point 30 years ago to compare. But I will say we’ve, you know, a great example is a guy we had that, you know, relatively young, but no B2B experience, didn’t understand anything about our product, but you know, you meet with him, and I’m sitting across from him, and I’m looking into his eye, and I just know there is the fire. There is a hunger for knowledge. And he wanted to grow and learn. And you know it’s hard not to take a chance when you find someone like that.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Right, and I’m assuming you had opportunities maybe to hire from competitors at this stage.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Of course [sp].
Mr. Matthew Ley: You’re not an early-stage startup anymore. So what happened? How long ago was that, two years ago?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, about two years ago, yeah.
Mr. Matthew Ley: So you know, talk to me about his first year, you know, what happened in that year and maybe where he’s going to [sp].
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, and typical — and that sometimes, you know, especially in a startup you think oh, do I go with a guy that has the experience, that maybe has a book of business he can bring over? But you kind of know that they’re not going to be stars. And so, but with this guy so you knew year one it’s all about learning, learning the products, getting comfortable on the phones. He definitely wasn’t afraid of the phones, which was excellent. That’s what you want in sales guys. And then year two it really — I mean he had some success in year one, but year two is really where he started coming into his own. You know, and just recently he said he’s never made more money in his career, and by year two, and in year three we’re looking at this is a guy that, without question, would have outperformed any senior guy that I would have hired.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Yeah, so you’ve got to be pretty happy with that, two years to that level.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: We love when that happens. That’s like a professional sports team drafting a young player that turns into a star within the first couple of years.
Mr. Matthew Ley: How does he feel? Like what — is he — I mean is he a kind of guy that’s really into what’s going on in the company?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Oh, he’s become a cultural warrior. He’s taken on so much leadership, as well, where you think hey, some of the things that he does, taking ownership over calls, I mean man, the guy is even coordinating our office move this past month. These are some of the things I would have hoped my veterans would’ve kind of jumped all over, but you know the thing with ignorance on fire, especially once they then acquire the knowledge, is you’ve got a cultural warrior. You’ve got an all-star. So really great companies have to have that kind of — I call it a farm system, where you’re incubating your own talent. And there’s more loyalty there, too, as well. I mean I know everyone’s always afraid of having those kind of people being a flight risk, but there’s ways to maintain and to retain those people.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Yeah, and I mean it’s one of the reasons why you lose anybody out there is when either side feels there is an inequity, right? As an employer you don’t feel like they’re doing their job, and as an employee they don’t feel like the company is giving back the effort that — to the effort that they’re putting in sort of thing. You brought it up. It’s constant growing concern, right, when bringing in entry-level employees there is a knowledge that, you know, they’re in an entry-level. They can easily jump to another entry-level for maybe $5,000 more, or closer to home, or on the subway line, or whatever it might be. Are you — clearly you’re still hiring entry-level employees in different businesses. What are you doing today to ensure that, you know, they grow into like this guy that you were just talking about?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, and I don’t know that I’ve got, you know, the answer that will solve that problem, although I can share our experiences that have helped us. You know, I don’t know if it’s just a millennial thing. I think people of all ages, you know, when you’ve got a hot job market and people and recruiters are calling them, and it feels good when someone wants you and is offering you more money. That being said, what I’ve learned with even millennials is that if you show them a path to how to grow, because oh they feel entitled, and they want to be VPs immediately, no they don’t. They don’t. But they at least want to see a path, and so that’s something we’ve been doing as well. We let them know exactly what’s expected and where they should be in year one, and what the behaviors and what success looks like in year one versus year two and year three, and what the leadership potential — some people aspire to leadership, and that’s great. As long as they can see that you’ve got a plan and you recognize that skill in them, then they’re vested to stay.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Right.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: You know, and then obviously pay them as you go. Again, I hate to use those sports analogies all the time, but if you’ve drafted a rookie and he’s been a star, you know, you sign him to a cheap entry-level contract.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Yes, exactly.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: But then you’ve got to pay him.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Yeah, you’ve got to pay up when he comes of age, right?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Exactly.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Or, you know what, be ready to let them go. And in some businesses the economics of it doesn’t justify having a lot of those high-priced players.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: That’s right.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Doesn’t mean they didn’t help you for two or three years, and you know, going to be happy for them to go off somewhere else and be successful.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: And you know what, there’s something to be proud of that, as well. You know, I mean like every business we’ve had people that have moved on to great opportunities, and I’m proud of that. I mean, if we were able to help, you know, shape that person’s skills and careers and help them realize their goals and dreams and indirectly help their families, that’s what’s wonderful about being in business and being an entrepreneur is that’s your way of giving back just in itself, creating employment and helping shape people’s lives.
Mr. Matthew Ley: And that’s actually — you know, a lot of you out there, we know those are you, people who have come through The Wish Group, because a lot of you left comments in season one. Okay, next episode we’re going to get back to some of your questions and the stuff you were talking about, and again, a lot of questions about finance, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to dive in on basically how to set up your financial organization. Do you DIY? Do you bring someone in? Do you use a rental player? All that and more on the next episode of Boot Strap. Until that time, guys, keep it lean. Share this with your friends, family and loved ones, or anyone you think might be interested.