Never Been Promoted

Brett Flinchum: Strategies for Adapting in the AI Industry

December 21, 2023 Thomas Helfrich Season 1 Episode 14
Brett Flinchum: Strategies for Adapting in the AI Industry
Never Been Promoted
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Never Been Promoted
Brett Flinchum: Strategies for Adapting in the AI Industry
Dec 21, 2023 Season 1 Episode 14
Thomas Helfrich

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Join us as we explore the world of AI entrepreneurship with Brett Flinchum, CEO of Stellar. Learn about the importance of pivoting in the fast-paced AI industry, but be prepared for unexpected challenges that may leave Brett and his team facing difficult decisions. Tune in for an eye-opening journey into the world of AI entrepreneurship, where success and survival hang in the balance.

About Brett Flinchum:
Brett Flinchum, the CEO of Stellar, brings a fresh and innovative approach to the AI industry. With a knack for identifying opportunities within the ever-changing AI landscape, Brett's expertise sheds light on the crucial role of pivoting in this dynamic field. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Brett's journey exemplifies the significance of adaptability in developing successful business strategies within the AI sector. His insights and practical experiences offer a valuable perspective for entrepreneurs looking to thrive in the rapidly evolving AI industry.

In this episode, Thomas and Brett Flinchum discuss how to:

  • Mastering the Entrepreneurial Journey: Unlock your path to success in the AI industry.
  • Pivoting Power: Learn the art of adapting for AI industry success.
  • Consulting meets Software Development: Unleash the potential of a hybrid approach in AI.
  • Text-Centric Industries and AI: Discover the untapped opportunities and growth potential.
  • Leveraging Strengths for Success: Harness your unique abilities for AI industry triumph.

 
Key Takeaways:

  • Mastering the Entrepreneurial Journey:

Succeeding in one's entrepreneurial journey requires tenacity, resilience, and a versatile mindset. 

  • Pivoting Power:

The ever-evolving AI industry necessitates adaptability and the courage to pivot business strategies when required. 

  • Consulting meets Software Development:

Stellar, as Brett Flinchum illustrates, stands at the intersection of consulting and software development, delivering bespoke AI solutions to businesses.

“Don't blame your team. Own it, and work with the team to get this thing right. Even if the team fully screwed it up, you have to own it." —  Brett Flinchum

CONNECT WITH BRETT FLINCHUM:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/flinchum/
Stellar Website: https://www.getstellar.ai/ 

CONNECT WITH THOMAS:
X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted
Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neverbeenpromoted/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@neverbeenpromoted
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomashelfrich/
Email: t@instantlyrelevant.com

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Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System

Show notes by Podcastologist: Hanz Jimuel Alvarez
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Join us as we explore the world of AI entrepreneurship with Brett Flinchum, CEO of Stellar. Learn about the importance of pivoting in the fast-paced AI industry, but be prepared for unexpected challenges that may leave Brett and his team facing difficult decisions. Tune in for an eye-opening journey into the world of AI entrepreneurship, where success and survival hang in the balance.

About Brett Flinchum:
Brett Flinchum, the CEO of Stellar, brings a fresh and innovative approach to the AI industry. With a knack for identifying opportunities within the ever-changing AI landscape, Brett's expertise sheds light on the crucial role of pivoting in this dynamic field. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Brett's journey exemplifies the significance of adaptability in developing successful business strategies within the AI sector. His insights and practical experiences offer a valuable perspective for entrepreneurs looking to thrive in the rapidly evolving AI industry.

In this episode, Thomas and Brett Flinchum discuss how to:

  • Mastering the Entrepreneurial Journey: Unlock your path to success in the AI industry.
  • Pivoting Power: Learn the art of adapting for AI industry success.
  • Consulting meets Software Development: Unleash the potential of a hybrid approach in AI.
  • Text-Centric Industries and AI: Discover the untapped opportunities and growth potential.
  • Leveraging Strengths for Success: Harness your unique abilities for AI industry triumph.

 
Key Takeaways:

  • Mastering the Entrepreneurial Journey:

Succeeding in one's entrepreneurial journey requires tenacity, resilience, and a versatile mindset. 

  • Pivoting Power:

The ever-evolving AI industry necessitates adaptability and the courage to pivot business strategies when required. 

  • Consulting meets Software Development:

Stellar, as Brett Flinchum illustrates, stands at the intersection of consulting and software development, delivering bespoke AI solutions to businesses.

“Don't blame your team. Own it, and work with the team to get this thing right. Even if the team fully screwed it up, you have to own it." —  Brett Flinchum

CONNECT WITH BRETT FLINCHUM:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/flinchum/
Stellar Website: https://www.getstellar.ai/ 

CONNECT WITH THOMAS:
X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted
Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neverbeenpromoted/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@neverbeenpromoted
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomashelfrich/
Email: t@instantlyrelevant.com

InstantlyRelevant.com

Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System

Show notes by Podcastologist: Hanz Jimuel Alvarez
Audio production by

Support the Show.

Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Never Been Promoted podcast with Thomas Hellfrey. Get ready for a thrilling adventure as we uncover entrepreneurial journeys and life-changing business insights every week. And now your host, Thomas.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to another episode of Never Been Promoted podcast, where we give lessons in life and entrepreneurial journeys and you learn from other entrepreneurs so you could become a better entrepreneur and be even better at life a little bit. Today I am joined by Brett Blincham. He is the CEO of Stellar, which is an AI services company. Brett, how are you? Terrific Glad to be here. Thanks for having me, Thomas. I appreciate you coming on. I know it's very early in the West Coast. I'm on the East Coast, so it's like.

Speaker 3:

I'm not saying, I'm baby.

Speaker 2:

I'm up and at them Right. I can't remember the rival. Was it Tupac and Biggie? Who was the fighting between West Coast?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, I can't remember who was the West and who's the East. Right, I never can remember that.

Speaker 2:

I think that makes me Biggie Smalls. Yeah, okay, I'm done, I'm finished. You kind of look like Tupac. You got tattoos, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Nothing up here, right, oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

For those listening. He's rubbing his head. He has his follicle challenged in the hair. There you go Exactly. Well, thanks for coming up. I know you filled out a bunch of forms and things like this. I did that so you could get prepared, because I'm just going to ask you to do a brief introduction of yourself Back to Rodney. No problem.

Speaker 3:

It's just to be like. Well, it's stuck by the way, despite actually filling out the forms.

Speaker 2:

We'll see if any of it's stuck. Well, I hope you know who you are. So keep it brief and talk to yourself and your company and kind of take a few minutes to kind of just set up the conversation today.

Speaker 3:

Sure. So my name's Brett Blanchum. I am the CEO of Stellar. We're a new company we started this year. We started on the eels of kind of the Gen AI revolution. As chat, gpt and some of these new technologies LLM started breaking on the scene. Me and some partners really felt like it was a good opportunity to attach to that sort of transformation that's happening in the industry and we decided to start a services business versus kind of pulling up in a dark room and building a product for a couple of years. We really wanted to attach to customers, thinking that there's a lot of press, there's a lot of momentum in pursuing generative AI and a typical company if it's an industrial company, healthcare doesn't know where to start. So we had a history of working in AI machine learning and felt like we could help companies integrate that into their business.

Speaker 2:

And it was this I like the idea that you start off a services company.

Speaker 2:

I think you know I always try to kind of get takeaways as I hear them in these interviews.

Speaker 2:

We started off you know, instantly relevant to start off as a AI company because we were looking, we got super early access to open AI, which is the in the beta side of we're chat GPT list, and I quickly saw that like oh wow, you know we can build apps on top of this, but this is going to be commoditized so fast because of just the thing, and so we pivoted to a services to do exactly this. So I think the idea and lesson is sometimes pivot, because that's a true pivot to go from a SAS type of approach, raising money, to we're just going to provide services. But your intent behind it was to figure out what it is you need to go build, and I think that's a really important step that sometimes you got to make fundamental changes to your business model just so you can be in a place to have a business that can, you know, build what you need. And then I think that was your thinking as well it was.

Speaker 3:

And look at what's happening now right, like even the next generations of chat, gpt and all of these large language models, they're already displacing thousands of startups that kind of went and vested in certain products where they're actually providing that capability on the larger platform. So you know, we knew it was going to be pretty disruptive and we thought that, by to your point, with services you're really attaching the customers and customer business problems and customer needs, and we just felt like it was a good way to sort of navigate the transformation that's going on. And, as you said, over time, I think we're, in fact we call ourselves now a tech enabled services company. So they are building some underlying tech to help us. But we've got, you know, we we use the silly football term, we say our heads on a swivel for where the technology is going and what we need to be building.

Speaker 2:

So it's rapidly moving in and it'll be interesting, you know, is if you talk about we go through this a little bit I think there'll always be a spot for investment because the returns, the 10 acts, the sass, that piece, but these technical services that then enable the other ones, I think there'll be a play and some different funding that'll come around for that type of thing. Just because it moves so fast. It's hard to invest in a company right now with in the generative space because it's, you know, opening. I could do an update and just wipe out 1000 of them. It's happening.

Speaker 3:

It's happening. It's amazing to watch it. It feels good to have pursued the space the way we did with services. I actually really do feel good about it. I add into that when I talk about how we pursue the business, I use this notion of when things are changing this path, such a unique environment. I always use the notion of survival another day, right, because every day you know people are kind of falling off and then you just want to keep surviving another day, and then I think you get to a point if you, you know, can kind of keep surviving where things kind of open up and more opportunities emerge, and we want to be there when that day happens.

Speaker 2:

Well, one thing I do like about a services model in any business is services are always needed. Now, you can't be so blind you know blinders on that. You guys do this one kind of service as the needs of the market change, to do your services. So as long as you're near the space, you can always be on the forefront of hey, our services have evolved because they're expand to X, y and Z and if you do that, you always have a business. So like, even in this kind of crazy time, you know our company has doubled in revenue and ground because the services we provide are always going to be needed. We just we have to modify every 90 days of kind of what's working best.

Speaker 2:

And if you take that approach of hey, I'm always evolving, it doesn't mean we can't add a whole digital product line. We're looking at it. Just, I'm trying to find something that I think has stand. You know it's going to be around to your make the investment. And so if you think about this as an entrepreneur, if you're listening to this, you're trying to take away an idea that could be sustainable and I think from you know, as a CEO, right, you can't. You know you got to be focused, but it doesn't mean you can't have different levels of revenue streams, different services or even a digital component here and there, because it'll help normalize some of the peaks and values of when people buy services and how they, you know, leave and come and go and as a customer. So what do you guys mean doing it? If you agree, what are you guys doing to kind of combat that yes, services that you do get?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you know, I say a couple of things about that. Those are great points. The you know one. I say we're software developers, we build stuff, right, that's the service we provide. People often ask me are you a consulting company? And I kind of cringe at that and it's simply because you know and look, this is sometimes it sits people wrong, but I'm going to say it, which is I often say you know, consultants build PowerPoints and we build software, right, and so we think of ourselves as builders. That said, by the way, there's an important consulting element to any services business, right, we've got to understand the customer problems and understand what they need and what we need to build right. So there's a consultative front end to the process. But we really pride ourselves on building software and building solutions. And you know, related to that, what I the word, the key word that I like that you're getting out with your description earlier is I use the word participate, but we want to participate in the market, we want to participate in the transition and and I tell my team all the time, you know, we want to build, we're building, building, building.

Speaker 3:

And what's nice about being services to your point is we're sort of across verticals. You know, people often ask me what vertical are you in? And we gravitate towards certain verticals because just because of relationships in the market kind of takes us there. But really, you know, this whole gen AI capabilities, horizontal right, it's not a vertical play, it's across that. We're working with law firms, we're working with architectural firms, we're working with healthcare companies. But I tell you, as long as we're building, we're learning in those spaces. You learn stuff in one space that you can apply to another space. So I think I really do believe it's a wonderful business model and, like I said, I think you know 24 months from now, 30 months from now, we're going to have such diverse experience building across those those various verticals and dimensions that you know, I think maybe there'll be some unique insight that we can start bringing to the market, you know.

Speaker 2:

What do you think right now is the number one requested build type? Like what's the? Is there a kind of customer?

Speaker 3:

services, customer services. That is kind of the, the simple go to one right because you can just you know, you can just interact with your company's sort of service data, their product specs, right Information if you want to inquire on billing and any you know all. So that customer service kind of front end bot I think is the is the easy one and I actually think it's an easy way for companies to start. You know, it's not a bad thing. I think anything that's tech centric is interesting.

Speaker 3:

I mentioned this legal space is interesting because where you're typically ingesting tons and tons of documentation, casework, you know we're, we're doing some work around leases and absorbing these 200 page leases and looking for anomalies, the things that are tech centric. It also opens up the tech centric piece and this one is interesting, opens up opportunity and I I use it, I use the term government broadly but I'm going to use the notion of, like social workers and caseworkers, things that are notes and tech centric medical caseworkers where you know often you've got, you've got kind of the field of here's the client, here's their you know address, here's you know some key, key things that are named about that client, but the real meat is in the case in the text right, and then historically that text is so hard to digest and then determine okay, what do I need to do next, what I revisit that client? I've forgotten what I talked to them about, you know, a month ago. And now you can kind of manage that open text, that unstructured data so differently, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean we could spend a whole show on different applications for sure, because there's I mean like just even conversing with a customer you know, I think there's some technologies there out because the audio can easily become text down, the text can easily just CRM and summarize that. Hey, this is what you talked about, because I know I meet with, you know hundreds of people a month and sometimes I'm like I've forgotten that I've even met with people and I've actually had someone on my YouTube channel and I'm like halfway through a conversation catching up, and I was like I did a search on Google. I'm like I bet this guy oh my gosh, I've actually had him on my interview I'm like holy moly, like that's when you have to go change, go see the neurologist. At that point, make sure. Yeah, let's pivot a bit of here on that.

Speaker 2:

So on your journey, I asked this question kind of first, what is the one thing you wish you had known before becoming an entrepreneur? And this is really geared toward the person maybe just starting or wants to start to give the advice like this is the one thing I wish I would have known. That I do know now. That would have been super handy when I started, yeah yeah, I think about a couple of.

Speaker 3:

It's hard to get the one thing right because there's so so many things that you learn. I think getting some broader business experience in advance is helpful, right, just getting exposed. I grew up in a small family business and I started in my small family business kind of right after college and sort of worked in that several years, five or six years, and I said I wish I had done something else first because I got so ingrained and on one hand, you certainly developed this array of entrepreneurial skills right, wearing a lot of hats, doing stuff in a super small kind of a 10 person family business. But I wish I had gone out and experience corporate America or some other sort of broader perspective A little earlier, right To help inform decisions, which ultimately I feel like I fired that, but it was a little later, right and like so it was the MBA of school knocks.

Speaker 3:

a school of hard knocks, yeah, I mean it's kind of like we all I mean, this whole notion of being the entrepreneur, being your own person, your own business. It has a romantic and sort of that element to it and it's easy to get caught in that when you're young and you read. We all know about the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Elon Musk and the people that are, you know, are kind of wildly successful, starting young and kind of doing that. But they are exceptions, right, and I think getting a little broader business experience early is helpful.

Speaker 3:

The other thing I say and this is less on the pure business side, but I came from a liberal arts background, so not from a technical background, and I kind of use the notion sometimes it's your greatest strength, your greatest weakness, right, and on one hand, I always have regretted that I didn't do because I love the technical side of things and I wish that I had kind of trained, had a little more formal training in that. The other side of that is because I don't have that. I was incredibly curious, worked super hard to learn it right and try to adapt to it, and I think I normalize a lot of that technology because I don't go quite as deep to you know, speaking the tech, tech talk right, and it helps me communicate with customers in a more useful way.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's interesting because you said it, because, so, the technical piece you know, and I came out as kind of a developer out of college, you know, at a university during the dot com, and I quickly saw that there were people way more advanced I mean, I did okay to do scripting and some other, like you know, in your 20s, but I could see the other got a huge passion for it. I could see that they, you know, they understood so much more. I mean, they could use Linux. I was like what the hell is that? You know, like, my first internship was ABAP, which is SAP's coding language. I'm like what the hell is this nonsense, you know? So you know you go to job, and I saw quickly I did a better job explaining the technology to the partner, to the customer, than I did developing it. And they're like hey, what are you doing this? Well, we're doing this because I could always get, because the why value to the business. So that puts you on that consulting path.

Speaker 2:

So I think the takeaway, and what you're saying, though, too, is you know you got to early, you didn't know anything else, because, except entrepreneurship, I don't think you missed anything in the corporate world. I think you would have been like six months and like, yep, that's good, yeah, yeah, what. I got to be here every day. For what? Why? As dumb as, but you know what you know. Call it what it is. You, you're indoctrinated it.

Speaker 2:

But when I think the perception there is, you know one the takeaway is take your really good strengths and go find your passion plus capability, and if you put those two things together, you're going to outperform 99% of everyone around you. Now you'll have those, the people that are got passion. They have their booping, they can explain things well and they're like those are the kind of the unicorns, right, that's the Taylor Swift's of the world, because they can do all three right, and so it's so. You may not have that and just accept that, but it doesn't mean you're unsuccessful. But if you could go make double or even what you used to make in corporate on your own, it'll feel so much better.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, the thing you said that struck me, that I haven't thought about this a lot, when you said, hey, I was studying and I saw people that were more adept than me and better at me at that and and had a bit more passion about it. I think the other thing that one, it creates some humility right when you're working with those people. And two, like for me, man, I'm so appreciative of people with those skillsets, right, I mean it kind of blows me away right when, when, when you're, you know, when you've got the kind of mad odors working for you, they can do crazy stuff, but I think they appreciate that, I appreciate them, right, and it kind of. So there's no kind of competing ego with oh, let me show you how to do this, because I had no clue, right, and but I'm so grateful for them and appreciate it. I think it creates a nice bond with employees, right.

Speaker 2:

It does. It's interesting because you know the. You know then my book I wrote about. You know, have some humility, because because it's it is certainly becomes a weapon, because who do you want to work with? The person who's it doesn't mean you think less of yourself, you just think more of others first and that's who you'd want to work with. That's who they want to work with you.

Speaker 2:

Your interesting point and observation is the coder who's really really good at it also would rather have your skill set of being able to talk to it, and that bugs them. And so this is the kind of keeping up with the. Don't keep up with the Joneses, like don't keep chasing greener grass because you just have the gifts you have. You know, don't be envious of others, just be really good at what you do and go find your way with it, cause if you're always chasing something someone else has, you'll never have the gifts that are in your hand. And if you have a fair amount of your gift is, which a lot of people feel, go try new things that bug you.

Speaker 2:

You may be surprised. You may be a professional ax thrower and don't even know it. Maybe your cornhole game is off the charts. We have no idea, Right, but it's like, get out there, you know what, go play Call of Duty. I don't know. I think you're the fastest, most coordinated set of fingers ever to. You know, the point is you got to find what you're really good at, what you actually love for, and entrepreneurs, I think, that are successful I don't mean like the Zuckenbergs of the world, I mean just entrepreneurs are making a living and they're happy. They have some control of their time. You don't have to be, you know, a multi-billionaire to do that. You can. You can have a great life and just keep your frame of reference to what it is.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the other thing you said, that just jarred for me. Sometimes I tell my friends and family this, or when we talk about what do you do, I'll use the notion of I'm a translator, right, and I kind of translate what the technical guys are doing to actual applications for customer use cases, right, and I do think it's taken a long time for me to value that Like I did. You know, I just never valued it, right, because I just I was sort of hung up in the point. I wish I understood that tech a little bit better and all of this, but then I realized I was actually filling this needed gap, right To translate that tech and how it's applied.

Speaker 2:

You, know what that's a okay. So another takeaway right, sometimes you realize I've been blessed to realize this following statement is that I'll be doing things like that while chasing some other idea. And that's what we were doing instantly relevant, right, I was. We were chasing helping people create content and do this, this marketing, digital, like just because that's what you know and that's what you're doing. And I realized what I was doing was just helping them grow sales and growth and the services of coaching and strategy. And so those are how we pivoted the things, because I was doing those, that's what the value was that they wanted. They were getting kind of for free and not buying the other stuff that they were being able to solve once they had the strategy. So we pivoted hey, no, we help you do this.

Speaker 2:

And once you've, we pivoted to more strategy like this is the system that you need to use, buy into that. Then they go, hey, can you go execute it as opposed to, right, I've got to, you got to go execute something. I just don't know what to go execute Like. Well, no, no, let's back up the story a little bit. So sometimes we look at what you're doing and when people find value in you may not really see it because it's easy. That's an indicator If something's very easy for you to do and it drives you freaking crazy, then no one gets it, but when you explain it, they get it. That's where you should focus, because you have a gift that you don't realize you have, because it's just like what do you mean? You don't want to drink water, geez football class. Like I don't want to drink water. Like what do you mean? Everyone knows. Like you just don't realize the perspective of others.

Speaker 3:

So I tell it's funny to hear you say that I've coached my daughter on this a ton. I don't think it's. It still doesn't sink in with her. But she has these certain skillsets and they're around with writing sort of creative stuff, right, and to her it's just so easy and everything and she actually pushes herself to do the challenging stuff. That's not that. And I keep kind of saying look, lean into your strength there. You love that. The reason. You know it's easy for you, it's a differentiator for you. By the way, it's not easy for me, you know. And she doesn't understand it. She's like, well, it's just not. I don't feel like I'm challenging myself and so she's pushing herself way over here and I'm like, no, lean into what your strength is.

Speaker 2:

Lean your strength because when you find success with it and I'm giving the entrepreneur's perspective right, so this even if you work for somebody right Lean into your strengths and, specifically as an entrepreneur, outsource the weaknesses when the investments are appropriate right when you can. Sometimes you're gonna have to do some stuff you don't wanna do, it's that simple. Because you just can't. But if you can afford it and your business supports it, outsource it and gives you more time to what you do at the time. Savings to go invest into your strength and make you a superpower. You know, think about, think of the analogy. I like analogies. Think of the analogy of Superman, just keep in mind here. So Superman has all the powers in the world except kryptonite, so all he has to do is avoid that.

Speaker 2:

That's the worst example, just avoid your kryptonite and just go be Superman on everything else that you could do. Right, I'm gonna highlight that you might have one of those talents you might be able to fly, but you can't. You know you're not strong.

Speaker 3:

Right. But you know, I think that example is true in managing employees too which is, you know, if you're spending all your time over coaching, right. If you're spending someone to kind of overcoming obstacles all the time, you know at some point something's wrong, right. You're spending all your time kind of in that kryptonite space, right. Versus hey, let's get, let's get employees where they can be successful doing what they. They're gonna still need some coaching and development. But you know, sometimes I've watched people swirl around that kryptonite way way too long, right, and it's like let's, let's go over here and play in this space, right.

Speaker 2:

You know, everyone's kryptonite, in my opinion, is chasing perfect. So if you, if you chase perfect, I give the. I used to use a green screen, so you guys are listening, but I would. I would switch to a black hole behind me and it's like if you're here to the Schwartzchild ratio, which is the ratio of the math that determines the event horizon of the black hole. So once you go, once you go black, you never go back right, like once you're in, you're in, like you're done. And and I and I say that's you, if you're chasing perfect, you know they have all this beautiful content. Humans will be around you looking at you, just slowly sinking to the black hole, chasing perfect at the center that you never get there and no one can help you pull you out. And if you, if you get that mentality going on, anything you're doing, you're never gonna move forward on becoming an entrepreneur or being successful outside of a surgeon. I don't really need perfect.

Speaker 3:

Okay, right, that's right, that's exactly right.

Speaker 2:

Good enough, that's probably. I see you're assigned pilots and surgeon. Even then, good enough, got it down, got two of the three wheels intact. No one died. That's a win. That is not perfect, but we're all. We're all living. No one's on fire. It's a. So, lately or later, let's keep moving the conversation here a little bit. So tell me what your and this could be for life or entrepreneurial journey. What was one of your biggest regrets?

Speaker 3:

Gosh, that's a hard one.

Speaker 3:

You know, a lot of my thought is around a little bit of the human element of some things right, and you know how you invest in people and which people you invest in and how you kind of guide them to get the best out of them.

Speaker 3:

I think it took me a while to a little bit of in line with what we were just talking about is really, you know, recognizing people's strengths and being able to lean into those strengths and get them in the right places in the right opportunities. So, you know, I tended to be sort of I would call it aggressive employee management early on when I think a little more patience and a little more guidance, you know, on my part would have been helpful and useful and fortunately I think I acquired that over time. But I think you know, early on, right, I would spend. You know, all right, we're winning, we're losing. If we're winning, you know we're driving down this path and if people aren't contributing to that, then you know I would be kind of quick to move on and in hindsight I think there were some good people with some diverse thoughts that I could have better integrated into decision-making.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that's, I mean, that's a good experience thing. You don't know what you don't know until you see the impact of it later and like, ooh, how could I handle that better?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the other thing that kind of comes to mind about regrets is I did work in a family business and that's super hard right.

Speaker 3:

You got the family sort of relationship stuff wrapped up in it and you know those are really challenging times and there's certainly a lot you know probably would have handled differently back then and a lot of it means just making good business decisions. That mean, at the end of the day, I think you got to do what's best for the business and let some of that other stuff you know kind of work out or maybe be uncomfortable, right. It's funny one of my partners in this business we're this is related to something else but he's kind of coached me and said, hey, you've got to be uncomfortable with this particular situation, like you need to. You're trying to get it comfortable and it's not going to get comfortable. So you need to accept that it's uncomfortable and kind of be there. And I think I could have done some things back on the family business side where you just stay focused on the best interests of the business, right, and be a little uncomfortable with some of the family dynamics, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean number one rule we typically is don't go into business with your family. But if you're born into it, you got no choice. It's not right. I mean that's part of the thing is you don't have to escape it at some point. But I will say, ellie, I think that you know I'll go back to your thing you were talking about with I wish I had done more corporate or tried something to it. Working for somebody you did. You had the worst kind of work environment possible and the best at the same time too. So when things were great, everyone's happy. But when you had it because it wasn't yours. So the height of corporate is you're still working for somebody with an idea that you might get something in the future. That's what profit sharing is. I think you had it. I just don't think you realized you never did it, that you just had it. You just known all your coworkers a long time.

Speaker 3:

Right. Well, the other interesting thing I was thinking about this when you were talking about, you know, having not done a lot of corporate stuff is I did so we. I sold one company to Seagate you know it's big, you know 50,000 employees and we sold another company to Cisco, and in both of those companies I stayed there about a year post. They know to integrate and you know those kind of things. And it is interesting, you know, like I was not cut out to stay there. Unfortunately, I, you know I had a fixed time that I had agreed to stay at both those places and I there's no negative feeling. I actually get how those kind of large enterprises have to work, right, but you know I do not fit there right and it was, you know, it was clear to me once I got those companies integrated it was time for me to kind of move on and, you know, do the things that I'm more comfortable with.

Speaker 2:

I mean, you know the, I can't imagine going back to corporate. I was like what would the number and how many commas would have to be in it for me to go do something? It's gonna be a minimum comment.

Speaker 3:

You still wouldn't do it. I'm telling you Well?

Speaker 2:

no, you didn't Right. If someone goes here's a million a year to go do something, right, I can make what I'm doing now to be more of a all right, I think I'll take some of that money and hire someone and I'll make the pivot that I wouldn't be able to make probably for a couple of years of my own company. Right, I think you'd entertain it, because in my mind I'm never standing longer than 18 months. Anyways, that's kind of like wow, that's not gonna happen. That's what it is. It's a falsity to think it.

Speaker 3:

Right, yeah, I went when I went to work for Cisco. I mean they were all these perks, they were all these things that were foreign to me, right, like I had a nice job, a nice cafeteria, you know all this stuff. And on the surface you go, hey, that's a pretty good gig, right, and to your point, the income was good and everything. But there's something about, I think, for entrepreneurs, that kind of being in the fight. I see your torn tie there and I know you said it was emblematic for cutting corporate ties, but I think it's a little bit I was interpreting as the reamer of entrepreneurship, right, that leaves you a little frazzled, but I think people that do that love that right, love having a few tears in the shirt and a ripped tie and all of that right, it's just a metaphor for life is all it is really.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I needed some kind of brand. People branding is important. It's a chapter on personal branding. It matters, Are you? You know? I wanna just point out that Stellar did not sponsor the episode, but we're gonna trick him in, not trick him. We're gonna talk him into it after this. But if Stellar had sponsored this episode, what would Stellar say right now, Do shamelessly, plug their company.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you know, every company needs to be a Gen AI company. By the way, you know, it's kind of like in the dot com era, right, you have petscom that suddenly you know you're going to go buy all your pet food there. But actually Petco itself, right, the brick and mortar store actually just needed a web presence to enhance their brick and mortar and actually sell, you know, online as well as being able to go to the store. So that notion that every company became a dot com right, when it used to be this kind of carved out thing. So now you know, we're kind of seeing that again, these companies, everybody's branding themselves as an AI company. But really every company is an AI company and AI can help every business.

Speaker 3:

And I think Stellar can help you integrate AI into your business, right, and just make it part of your business. And you know, that's where I that, you know, I just think we can bring so much value and I think that companies can take small bites. Right, it's a little overwhelming, you know you're reading in the paper every day about, about Gen AI and AI and you don't know how to participate. And am I going to have to spend millions of dollars to participate? But I think you can take small little bites, test small little products, projects and products right and Gen AI, and just participate in that market. I think it'll be so much better off. So, but I think having a trusted partner matters because you know the real, the real innovation that's happening is companies. You can leverage your proprietary data right In new ways. Now you don't want to risk your proprietary data out to open AI and out to the world right and for Stellar. Having a trusted partner to help you in a great AI is very important?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, and you do need so. Just from a background, you're a trusted partner is why people hire consulting firms like McKinsey or Accenture or whatever KPMG, whatever it is Because they they don't know every answer, but they know more. And then when you get to the point where you're you're developing and you're trying to leverage new technologies and innovation, it's important to know someone who's done it, because you'll just burn money, otherwise you'll just you if you do it yourself. The W2 load, the lack of focus, the corporate infighting that usually happens over all of it. An external partner comes in with one mission to do something and they get it done and and you'll get it done faster and ultimately not cost you as much and have more success. So I couldn't agree with you more, because it I've seen it more and more where you're always coming in after they tried it internally. You know they had a good team, but you didn't. Unless you've hired a whole team to just do that would be that you're kind of almost setting up a whole business. You need to trust it 100%.

Speaker 3:

The other. The other disruptive thing I like to speak to around this notion of trusted partner is, and to your point, those big guys that you named there's. There's a big part of their business that and they they don't like to admit this, but it's kind of butts and seats, right, and they they bring in armies of people. And I think the wonderful disruption with with JAI right now, right now, is you know, we want to come in, we want to bring technology solutions, but not butts and seats and people and and you know big expenses that you're paying month, though, for month, for years and years and years. Right, we want to come in and I actually want to disrupt that model that McKinsey and Accenture and these guys are doing and improve that. You can do it, you know, without bodies and people in seats, but actually with technology, you know, yep.

Speaker 2:

I think, just to agree. That'll be true, but especially for the builds, you'll you'll have groups, that'll, you know it'll. I think AI actually will speak to it and you know it'll, it'll be, it'll be good. I have opinions on generative AI where and I I'm writing the kind of the content for this this is a little might be a little rough, but if you think of two lines on a XY graph, one red, one blue, the red ones above the blue one and the perception that red and blue C is the distance from the bottom, x, like the X is going right, left, right. Anyway, the point is that that top one is people who really know how to use generative AI.

Speaker 2:

Let's say, for the example of content creation, good content writers were already above the blue, the not so good content writers, as they've moved along and generated about AI has come out their perception, they've both like look how much better I'm doing now because the blue is going above, but the red is exponentially shooting up because they were already better at writing and now they're using a technology to accelerate them. The same will be true for development and nothing else. But what they don't have the perspective of is how far they are apart. So the problem with it is the blue and stink. They're doing great and they're like why is my content not working? Or why is my code, why is my absent? It's because the people who already knew what they were doing are accelerating, because they know how to use it better, and so you're even further behind. But your perception of it is oh, I'm doing awesome. You don't have that gap that you realize. You are so much farther behind than you were, right, I love that.

Speaker 3:

That's exactly right. That's my point. I gotta go right. Yeah, there's these related poets. Right, that are. Basically, you know, gen AI is not going to take your job, but the person using gen AI is going to take your job.

Speaker 2:

That's right Now. It won't listen. People are going to lose jobs with this or the collective efforts of jobs because of genitive AI and entrepreneurship, by the way, is not outside of this. This is not as a corporate thing. Like we said, thousands of companies get wiped out and investment because I can go get it for free now for genitive AI. The idea is that you have to be creative, you have to know your skill set so you can know what you do really well and then go leverage technology to accelerate you. And that's where your entrepreneurial background will be, because you know, you spot the moments of I got to do something different, oh my God, because there's a tidal wave coming. I got to get. I got to get a little water.

Speaker 2:

It's hot seed time. By the way, we have 15 minutes left. This hot seed doesn't take 15, but we have off air tar. We have some new things going on. Afterwards, we have dessert being served in a coffee, so we have to. All right, hot seed time. I'm very clear with everybody. I do this so we can collect data, so we can find future sponsors. Are you ready to help me collect data for future sponsors of the show? I'm all in. What is your favorite calendar scheduling technology.

Speaker 3:

Hmm, good question. So I'm a I'm a Calendee guy the uh, it's funny. One of my employees is trying an app of scheduler AI and I actually haven't gotten his report on it yet, but I see his invites coming from scheduler AI now to coordinate meetings. But I'm a Calendee guy and it seems like a very practical, useful application A hundred percent.

Speaker 2:

No, the guys, uh, and they don't sponsor it either, but Atlanta Tech Village, where part of the Atlanta Tech Village, that's where Calendee came out of. So and I didn't know that prior, but I'll tell you, I'd come. I love Calendee APS. You were answered that question correctly. As long as they sponsor the future. You answer that question correctly today as of November 2023. All right, and the question number two, pot seat, favorite CRM.

Speaker 3:

This, this, that's an interesting one. So we started and this is not a CRM, but it has a CRM module with Mondaycom. And, however, I actually recently converted to HubSpot and it in the last couple of weeks and it's interesting. Hubspot has a really low entry point for startups and they actually have a pretty long window to grow into the higher cost module. So I'm kind of gambling that by the time I I need the you know, probably the fuller power of HubSpot that I'll I'll be, you know, in in high growth mode as a company. But boy, I love the, the deal I got to get started with them and it's super powerful.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you can do just from entrepreneurs tip, but you can do a if you apply for their startup. It's like 30 to 90 bucks a month, Vincent, what do you pick and what they do. But just be aware that thing shoots up to 3,600, 2003, pretty quickly. So manager contacts very well and understand where your integrations are. But the other pieces I find on the CRM, I think HubSpot's great. We will likely go to it. We just keep Monday MailChimp, honestly, to keep it cheap because we don't really need more now, right now. But you need a person lined up to it. I will tell you that you'll need a resource that's working on it to get the most money.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's. That's a good point, because and, by the way, I like Monday, and then we actually still use Monday, because I'm using it in other use cases private management, you know other things. The Mondays are really great, but I did. I did get suckered into the cheap, you know. Choice with HubSpot.

Speaker 2:

We'll crack cocaine get you going on that CRM. Crack exactly management Um CRM, that's what it stands for. People, not customer. Favorite business book.

Speaker 3:

This one's a no brainer for me. I love this book the Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Have you read that? I've not read that one yet. Oh, you got to read that, you got to read it, you'll love it.

Speaker 2:

I will put that on my list.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the hard thing about hard things, it's his, his sort of journey doing during the dot com, sort of tough times, and in his navigates the classic entrepreneur. You know, gun to your head every day, you come in, the next day another gun to your head, the next day come in another gun to your head, and how he navigate, that it's been Horowitz from Andresian, horowitz right, and it's his, his story of kind of leading, leading businesses.

Speaker 2:

It's, it's fantastic Try that I was hoping you were saying never been promoted. That was the right answer. That's okay. The book's not available for you yet.

Speaker 3:

It's not out yet. It's not out yet.

Speaker 2:

I mean I can send you a word copy, but it's so hard to read that. All right, the, the who's your favorite, maybe up and coming or somebody you like to follow on LinkedIn. That's like somebody you're like, like really it's a good experience. But, like so, who in the LinkedIn world are you, are you following?

Speaker 3:

So there's a guy named Simon Sinek and he's got something called the optimism company and if you just want something to feel good and it's kind of inspiration all day to day, which I think he you know, cause I mean there's a million, for for me we're eating a bunch of AI people and all that stuff. Right, you know, I'm constantly absorbing that, but when I just need to feel good, simon Sinek S, I, any pay is a good one, and then I actually this one. This is more of a hardcore business, but there's a, there's an organization called ITEI it's the information technology industry and the CEO of that's Jason Ockman, and he posts a lot. He has a podcast that's really about the intersection of government technology, which right now is super relevant and it's kind of relevant for us, so I've been following him closely. Two the good one.

Speaker 2:

I will have that for sure. What's your favorite bank?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'm a Chase guy, but let me tell you why I'm a Chase guy. I'm a Chase guy because they bought my bank that was going under First Republic. So I'm definitely grateful for Chase right now I'm given that they kept the First Republic sort of capabilities and customers alive.

Speaker 2:

I'm a fan of Chase too as a startup, and they don't sponsor yet, but they will one. But we got lines of credit before we had revenue Like they did so good for us from a merchant services and everything. I've had an incredible experience. I can't say that about my personal bank, but we've moved some personal stuff there too, so I would recommend that as well.

Speaker 3:

I have too, by the way, both three this acquisition of First Republic. To your point, just on the day-to-day business side, we got a great actual banker that we interact with and it's a great relationship.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and then they're getting into the startup community more and more, which is good for entrepreneurs. What do you think is the most important entrepreneurial trait?

Speaker 3:

There's a couple that I have speak to, the first one and I'm going to give the word, but then let's talk about what it really means, which is the word is persistence, and I think I had a guy I used to work with who always used to talk about near-death experiences for your company and there's no getting around, you're going to go through near-death experiences and if you're not persistent and fearless, you can't do it. And I think you actually have to be, because I think every entrepreneurial opportunity I don't have you read Elon Musk's biography, the Walter Isaacson?

Speaker 2:

biography. I don't know how to read. No one knows this. The minute that I came out about that, right now.

Speaker 3:

It's a great book. But you realize all of his success. But PayPal, spacex, they all they hadn't near-death I mean, he was one payroll away from not being able to make it. And so I think, if you can't, what? If you can't tolerate the stress of that near-death experience and you don't have to persist to get through it, I mean you just don't be an entrepreneur, right?

Speaker 2:

Because you're going to have those. I mean, a lot of people are not like Elon Musk, of course, but where and you've done it too you want to curl up in the corner and cry and say, can I just get a corporate job? I mean, this would be so much easier to check out every day than you think about. You're like yeah, that sounds horrible too, but there's some days you're like but I will tell you there is a mix for those. If you could find it, if you could find a employment job that you can be successful into some degree and not overstress about and have a side hustle, you're going to feel much better about the little money you'll make in your side hustle, then you'll. That might be the right mix for some people as the side hustle entrepreneur, Because it's a really nice.

Speaker 2:

There's a balance of safety net and stuff like that. I'm going to say, hey, if you want to be doing, You're not going to. You're going to have to lead the safety net to really experience it and to grow something bigger, because you really aren't going to be fully focused. Even if you work an hour a week on your W2 job, you're always going to be checking email. You're always going to be doing something Since resilience grit? That's probably the number one answer. I 100% agree, because if you've been through it you know you've almost quit.

Speaker 3:

You've almost got. The other thing, I think, is just so they're all trite but they're real right which is just customer commitment, fanatical customer. I just think you've got to create value for customers, right, you got to create unique value for customers. You have to be fanatically committed to that. It's like that grit, as you said, and persistence You've got to just have. Failure is not an option for customers. Customers got to win in the relationship. Entrepreneurs like us, you can't have a bad customer experience. You just can't have it. You can't have one right.

Speaker 2:

You've got to have customers that love you, you do and part of any love relationship. Right, you're going to screw up and so a customer can love you more. Because of how you handle the screw up, it doesn't mean you don't mess up. It doesn't mean you You're going to make errors. But remember you just tell them. Hey, listen, we're all human, but how you handle it and make up for it, don't get abused by a customer just creating stuff at the same time. I feel like that happens. But the truth is, if you're really messed up, own it and be like, hey, let's get this right and let's fix it, because the truth is someone really values it, sometimes more than the service even you're providing. So 100% on that, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

And I agree and those are more common than you would think right when you stuff your toe, but then you double down and get the customer to a better place.

Speaker 2:

I will tell you this is something for you leaders out there, the people who run it. Don't blame your team because you just look worse than your. It looks like your organization's completely disorganized. You're going to have this inclination to say, oh, my team screwed up. No, you'd be like, hey, listen, I own it. My bad, let me work with the team to get this thing right. Even if the team fully screwed it up and you've told them 100 times don't do that, you have to own it. You got to own it with the customer, like, I got this. Hey, listen, we're going to make up for it. My bad, it's on me, the team, whatever it is. The point being is own it. Don't throw ever your team under the bus because you just ruined your company. If you did that Right, totally agree, all right. Last question this is a big one. Have you ever been promoted? I have been promoted.

Speaker 3:

I have been promoted and not so sorry to tell you that I've also been fired, and I think both being promoted and being fired are sort of critical steps in my journey. I don't know if everybody has to do some of that, but I have done that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you can't join the club. I still like you, so be friends, but you can't join the never. My next book will be called Ask to Leave because all the stupid stuff you shouldn't do, and so I've been asking plenty of times. I would call it fired. I've never been like you're fired. I've never heard those words, but we yeah.

Speaker 3:

I haven't heard those words either, but I it's pretty much You're out of here, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that one Listen. Thank you so much for joining. Leave the audience with kind of how to get a hold of you, anything you'd like to offer, whatever you'd like, but floor is yours for a couple minutes.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so, first off, anybody that is interested in a stellar jacket or stellar t-shirt one like ouror follow our page on LinkedIn Stellar, you can find us, I think it'sour company and our website's getstellarai but the first five people to email amber at getstellarai will send you athe first person a really nice stellar jacket, and we got five t-shirts to give away, so love for you to make some contact with us.

Speaker 2:

There's only four left, that is, email them. All right, all right, there are none. There are none. All right, there's still five. I didn't do it. Thank you so much for joining, Brett. I appreciate you getting up so early and sharing your story with us and helping other entrepreneurs Anybody still out there listening at this point? Thank you for listening. Stay tuned for another episode of Never Been Promoted Coming Soon, where you unleash your entrepreneur through learning from the lessons of other entrepreneurs. Thanks for listening.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to Never Been Promoted with Thomas Hellfrey. Make sure to check the show notes for our guest, contact information and any relevant links. Connect with Thomas personally at NeverBendPromotedcom.

Entrepreneurial Journeys and AI Services
Business Experience and Communication in Entrepreneurship
Discovering Strengths and Overcoming Regrets
Integrating AI With a Trusted Partner
The Impact of AI and Entrepreneurship