Never Been Promoted

Ted Shelton: Pivoting from Failure to Success: Hard Lessons from a Serial Entrepreneur

January 18, 2024 Thomas Helfrich Season 1 Episode 18
Never Been Promoted
Ted Shelton: Pivoting from Failure to Success: Hard Lessons from a Serial Entrepreneur
Never Been Promoted
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With a background in global management consulting, Ted Shelton's foray into entrepreneurship and pitching to VCs was a journey like no other. Filled with moments of triumph and tribulation, his experiences shed light on the daunting complexities of securing funding and achieving success. But little did he know, an unexpected twist awaited him, one that would change the course of his entrepreneurial journey forever. Want to know what the twist was and how it shaped Ted's path to success? Keep reading to find out.

About Ted Shelton:
Ted Shelton is a Partner with Bain and Company, based in San Francisco California. Ted covers topics including automation, artificial intelligence, and software development for Bain's Fortune 500 clients. With a strong focus on advising private equity and large corporations, Ted's extensive knowledge in areas such as automation, artificial intelligence, and software development provides a depth of insight into the funding landscape. His experience as an entrepreneur in residence with a venture fund in Silicon Valley equips him with a firsthand understanding of the complexities of securing funding and the intricacies of pitching to investors. Ted's comprehensive understanding of the different stages of investment, ranging from angel investors to private equity, positions him as a valuable resource for entrepreneurs seeking strategic guidance in navigating the multifaceted world of fundraising.

In this episode, Thomas and Ted Shelton discuss about:

  • Strategic Business Exits: Discover the key to thriving beyond your current venture.
  • Harnessing the Power of Coaching and Advisory: Elevate your entrepreneurial journey with invaluable guidance.
  • Navigating Decision-Making in Entrepreneurship: Uncover the essential factors shaping your path to success.
  • Embracing Challenges and Seizing New Opportunities: Unleash your potential to thrive in a dynamic business landscape.


 Key Takeaways:

  • Mastering VC Pitching
    Proper preparation can make a difference when pitching to venture capitalists (VCs). Pitching involves more than presenting a great proposal; it requires decoding subtle signals and questions that could indicate VC's true thoughts. 
  • Coaching and Advisory Power
    In entrepreneurship, having someone trusted on your side to provide guidance and support can make critical decision-making easier. 

“I think the promotions often come because you created the opportunity yourself." —  Ted Shelton

CONNECT WITH TED SHELTON:
Website (Company): https://www.bain.com/our-team/ted-shelton/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tshelton/

CONNECT WITH THOMAS:
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Email: t@instantlyrelevant.com

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Show notes by Podcastologist: Hanz Jimuel Alvarez

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Speaker 2:

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 1:

Welcome to another episode of Never Been Promoted, where we help you unleash your entrepreneur by meeting other entrepreneurs and people that are smarter than me, which isn't hard to low bar, but I've brought on today Mr Ted Sheldon. Ted, how are you today? I'm doing great. I'm great to see you again. We have history together with other employees and I make you feel a bunch of forms. Before you come on here, it's really for you, take a moment to introduce yourself, your title, the company you work for, and then we'll get into how that's relevant to an entrepreneur and what stage.

Speaker 3:

Sure, ted Sheldon, a partner with Bain and Company. We're a global management consulting firm. We actually have a lot of work with entrepreneurs in the form of the work that we do to support private equity. So we're probably the largest provider of services to the private equity industry in the world, advising them on investments and acquisitions of companies. But actually the majority of our work is very large companies, so I spend most of my time talking about automation, artificial intelligence and software development with some of the largest companies in the world.

Speaker 1:

The person does know, maybe just quickly the difference between an angel VC and private equity.

Speaker 3:

Sure, Well, your angel investor is going to be the one that takes the really big bet. They're the one that says okay, I believe in you, I believe in your dream and here's a small amount of money to help you along that path. And I think a lot of angel investors certainly the angel investors hope for return on their money, but I think there are other motivations that cause angel investors to want to be involved with startups and innovation and entrepreneurship. A venture investor it is a financial business. They are looking at a very close to their internal rate of return on capital and they have an investment thesis. In fact, I had the opportunity to be an entrepreneur of residence with a venture fund in Silicon Valley. Super fun, because as an entrepreneur, you hardly ever get to see the other side of the table. So I sat on the other side of the table and watched these entrepreneurs come and pitch and then got to sit in the meetings with the partners to listen to the debrief, what they thought of these entrepreneurs afterwards. And I think the thing you have to understand as an entrepreneur is that those VCs they are not technologists, they are not experts in your business. They are financial industry participants. They understand how those systems work. But a venture investor is still going to be someone who is saying you may not be at revenue, you may not be at scale, but you have got a proven technology, a good product, work at fit. We are willing to invest in scaling your business. And then the private equity, though, is a very different piece. They are coming in after you are really at scale, After you have got revenue. Maybe it is a recapitalization, maybe it is merger. They take companies private, but they are typically at that later stage. They are all part of the same continuum of investment, but at those different stages.

Speaker 1:

That is a very good explanation, by the way, and especially the venture capital side. I actually think that might be an area to dive in, just to start, because I think the angel, like you said, it is usually small amount, big payoff. For them. It is gambling money, if you will, for the wealthy. They also need to be like you and have this mentoring type of let us see what we can, whether there is those pieces. But the venture capital I think you said it really well A lot of people do not realize they are business and so they raise money from other wealthy angel investors, maybe even where they put them on a formal amount of money and they have a responsibility to beat the market, beat what they could have gotten anywhere else, and they do not do that. People pull their money out and they do not become a VC. And so I think what I would love to hear about is maybe the top one, two, three themes that you would see or you would hear about after the pitch, because you have a lot of entrepreneurs out there trying to raise money. We have been through it. I know ours is because we are a services company in Selig. No one is going to invest in that, at least from that group. But tell me about what you would hear that people should maybe think don't ever do this. Or this is like the number one mistake that a really good idea, an entrepreneur make.

Speaker 3:

Sure. Well, I think the first thing to think about is the VCs. When you come in and pitch them, every reason to be as nice as possible to you while you're in the room. And I remember sitting in one of these sessions where, oh, it was so friendly, it was so supportive. They were really excited and I'm like, wow, this is great. It's one of my first meetings, I'm sitting in and I'm going to actually see a company funded. The guy leaves the room and then suddenly the knives come out. They're like, oh, that guy was an idiot. It's terrible. He's got the worst ideas. The thing he did last was also a failure. This is going to be a failure. I'm like, oh, this is not yet funded. So the first thing is that, as an entrepreneur, is you are going to be glad in. Do not walk out of the room thinking, just because it felt good and they were nice to you, that it went well or that you're going to get funded. So really watch for those tells, watch for what the questions are. I think the second thing is and entrepreneurs out there probably heard this, but for those that haven't, you know, a VC will say I would much rather invest in a strong team with a bad idea than a weak team with a good idea, because a strong team is going to figure out how to pivot and how to make that company successful. Most ideas, when you come in and you've got a hypothesis, are wrong, and it's only through engagement with the market that you're going to learn that it's right. If you're a weak team, you hang on to your idea for too long and you don't have it and you don't learn. And so I would strongly recommend going in with that attitude saying, hey, this is our hypothesis, this is why we think it's worth testing, but we're engaged in learning and pivoting and making this work and show the strength of your capability of comprehending the market, the opportunity, the technology, space, whatever it happens to be, and the ability to be able to then pivot quickly. And then I think the third thing that I see often as a mistake is entrepreneurs do not come in with a really clear understanding of what they would do with the money. So you come in and you say, hey, I want $5 million. Great, what are you going to do with it? Oh, you know, grow the company. No, have a plan, have a really clear plan. This is our hypothesis, this is the things that we need to do to go and test that hypothesis. We need to go and run advertising, hire salespeople, build this additional capability whatever it happens to be. We'd be really crisp about this is how we're going to get to the next stage. And, by the way, that next stage probably is another funding room. And so they also need to understand that you're very realistic about understanding that you're not suddenly going to have a billionaire because I gave you one round of funding. This is a long drain. I think there's certainly the outlier of something that becomes super successful at a short period of time, but most of these businesses it's five or 10 years to turn it into something that's going to really give the returns.

Speaker 1:

That's fantastic, and I think, the idea of a strong team. From my own personal experience, I would co-founder. He's helping more technical things and he's fantastic, but he's full time someplace else. Having the idea that can pivot, you also will have to want to have that team. But I mean, I think about myself. I really don't want three people. I don't want to be doing that right now. I don't want to have three equal partners. We're all fighting over what should be. You know, it's just my brain's not there yet. I've actually made a pivot myself from a company that wanted to do more of this open AI kind of app build and saw quickly that oh my gosh, this is going to be so commoditized. The companies are going to be started and lost with an update from open AI like instantly, and it happens now. Right, you have all these companies are like, oh, we're the content king. And then GPT turbo comes out and like, well, you don't need to do that anymore, because if you just talk to the chat and you're like, oh, and so I ban in that, just with the services and for the reason that you said, there's something to be built, but I'm in the marketplace servicing it, understanding what it is, and that's a hard thing when you initially raise money from angels and said, hey, we're going to be this digital company that does this, and I'm like, hey, I have to pivot the services to make this company work, and so our hypothesis and the outcomes are completely changed, like, anyway, the point is you have to pivot and have that, and I think the team part is important, but you got to be ready to accept having a team, and I also think if you have a stronger team, much more likely to have a really good idea, that's tested because you're putting smarter people that have been more experienced together, so your chance of success on the idea is probably raised in anyway, and that's great advice. Back me up, though. So take me forward. Take me when the big boys get involved, and so talk to the entrepreneur that has raised money that's in that that spot of how much equity do I give up? Who do I go to? And I know they're probably being educated, but give them the insider's view from the big. We're talking like series A, b, c or going IPO Like, so give the big boy advice.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, I think there's a couple of interesting things here, right, when you are an entrepreneur and you have invested all of your energy and care into creating this entity and market presence, it feels really good when it's working and you wanna hang on to it and you wanna own it. But 100% of something that's worth nothing is a lot less than 17% of something that's worth a lot. And so I think one of the things that entrepreneurs have to get their heads around is there's a point in which you are going to lose control, and that's a good thing, right, because the fact that you are no longer actually in control is a likely sign that you're succeeding. That or, as this has gotten big enough that a lot of people wanna be involved, right, and in a corollary to that is that and I see entrepreneurs make this mistake as well that we sort of say hey, I'm good at everything and I'm going to be, I'm gonna keep as tight of control over everything as I can, as opposed to saying I need the best athletes in each role and I understand what I'm good at and where I have the most value and where I need to take my job and carve off the pieces of it that I can give to other people and really give it to them Not give it to them and micromanage them, but really give it to them and let them and look. Your job as a leader then is to make sure that you've picked the right people and that you're empowering them, not that you're actually doing their jobs for them. And then there's a point of which the entrepreneur has to say you know what I'm actually. One of the things I'm not the right person to do is actually leave this company anymore and be able to say, hey, there is a person that I'm going to bring into this leadership role and I step back and stepping back to me in all sorts of things. Stepping back, I mean, hey, I'm gonna. Actually I'm more of the product genius and I'm gonna focus on that, or it may be more. Hey, I'm actually really great at going out into the market and related to customers and I'm gonna do that. Or it may be, hey, I actually need to step away from the business all together. But I think entrepreneurs, it could be, because it is a very emotional thing and it's very hard to separate out the emotion from the financial reality of like you have an asset that is going to increase in value if you relinquish control.

Speaker 1:

It's a great. I mean the idea of someone taking over your company that you started and like becoming the parent of your baby. Right, it's like, hey, I know you've been the father, but I'm now the father that I can imagine being. No, because at that point you might be financially successful enough when the money is no longer the motivator. You're like I kinda want my thing right, but you're like the idea that you have to step away, like even I'm like you know at some point. You know I've heard talks of CEOs saying, oh, I've taken an IPO, and all the work they did and when to time the market and who's gonna buy, and just all the little tricks they do for the day of the IPO all these I was like I never wanna go do that. That sounds horrible, like you wouldn't see your family for a year, or friends, and I'm like I think I'd rather be the guy that gets it to like a $10 million mark, that says, hey, you wanna buy that at a you know 8x factor instead of your 10 tip or whatever it would be, and then go do another one, like I think I'd rather just bring it up, hand it off, get a little money, go do something else Like that's more in my personality. But so those who can make that move, and if you're that entrepreneur like and you're already struggling with that, what would you recommend to prepare for it? Is it just a coach? Is it just suck it up and just be ready to hand it off to the right? Or what do you tell that person? How do they get ready to do that? Cause I'm sure that's part of the reason why they don't go with certain companies, cause they know they're gonna get replaced.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I know for sure. I'll tell you a story from one of my early entrepreneurial days. So I was the first outside executive brought into a company called WhoWare. Whoware is long gone. It was an early internet company. I joined in at the end of 1996. So that's dating myself as well. But I was brought in by the VCs because they had two college kids that were founders. We're a billion guys. Both of them, both I was Stanford and they building these kids had no actual business experience and so I mean, and I wasn't that far ahead of them, but I already had a couple of years under my belt of being an executive in a large company and they brought me in and it was really interesting to watch them go through exactly this challenge of understanding when to step away from the business. And we were one of the fastest growing internet companies. We did sell the company ultimately to Lycos and at the time we sold it it was the eighth largest website in the world. Of course 1998, eighth largest is a lot smaller than like 600 people hit it a day.

Speaker 1:

It was huge and I got it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but it was a super successful early internet company. But it was in part super successful because we recruited outside leadership and we ended up bringing in an executive from Apple who came in to be the CEO. But it was a tough discussion with the founders and I remember walking multiple laps around the building for hours with the founders who were ready to trash the entire company. They were ready to just say I would rather have this company go out of business and lose control, and you had to kind of talk them off the ledge. So to your coaching point. I don't know that you needed like a formal executive coach or something like that, but having somebody in your life in that case it was me for those founders but having somebody in your life that you trust that's willing to sort of talk you off the ledge, talk you away from the emotional rawness of it and be able to say hey, you know what, if you step away and let this thing be successful, you can go on and do the next thing. Like to your point about saying, hey, I'd like to get it to a certain point and sell it off and not take it through the entire cycle. You can do that as an entrepreneur, where the business does go on to go and we could have gone public. We actually had to choose between going public and being a part of Lycus. We chose the Lycus acquisition but we were able to take that business further than the founders would have been able to take it because they were willing to step away and ultimately that meant that those founders have been able to go on in their lives and go on and do more businesses, more things. But having that coach, having that somebody who is not emotionally invested to be able to talk you off the ledge, is super important.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and one of the things that comes to mind and I don't know all the details, but I just remember the public side of this was, I think it was Snapchat was offered like a billion dollars from Facebook at one point and they said no, yeah, they're worth 10 or something like that. And I'm thinking, looking at the tech, I feel like someone could copy this in a month, like it wasn't well video Copy the technology, but they couldn't copy the viral spread of the idea. I don't think it ended up selling for that. And I'm thinking like those founders maybe they were. I was thinking at the time are they being influenced by their investors to say no deal? Because I'm thinking the founders, even if, even if they just made a million dollars from it, money was their motivation, they made nothing. They have one, you know one, of 1%. Whatever it is their next thing is guaranteed to get funded. So what are their next ideas? And it was greater, bad as it is, they probably take secondaries on their next. That's been from the first day. Well, secondaries be where you take a common share, payout immediately your shares. People, I think I have that right. It's a dream of mine, really, just a secondary. But I look at that thinking and what influences are in place, because I don't think it ultimately sold for that. I think it was like much, much less. Well, wait, stop, chance to publicly trade a company, right. But at the time they had I just had got a choice to exit into Facebook, right, to become part of that platform, and I'm thinking, man, it's cool, it's whatever else. But I don't think it was like that original. It was like still video, still messaging. There was a viral engine to it. Anyway, they did their decision. But, like, those are the moments where I wonder, like in the background of the scenes and entrepreneur, how influenced? Maybe you have another example from your current role where you've seen an entrepreneur. You have the founders saying we want to be done, we want to exit, take the deal, and then investors who control 80% of it, let's say are saying no, yeah, no. I mean look, I've seen this a couple times. One's like I want my payout, I want to move on, I want to be done with this because I'm not controlling anymore. I just want the money, I want to be out there, I want to be done, I want to move on. How does an entrepreneur that's in that spot, or maybe facing that spot, how do they navigate that?

Speaker 3:

Well, I mean part of it depends upon what level of control of the company you actually still have. Right, you know, sam Altman demonstrated that with zero actual equity control, that he has complete control over open AI because, you know, and if those 100 employees are willing to follow him out the door, yeah, here in.

Speaker 1:

November of late November 2023,. Oh, you're listening to this. You know this is the open AI, going through three CEOs over the weekend and then all the employees quitting, bringing back the original CEO and the board members that instigated this route. So yeah.

Speaker 3:

So when I say how much controls an entrepreneur have, it doesn't necessarily mean equity control, right. There are lots of kind of control points that an entrepreneur can have over a business. You know, there was an early internet company that I was an investor in called E-Vite, and in the beginning of 2000, they had a very attractive buyout offer and the founder exactly to the point that you're raising the founder said I want to sell. By the way, as an early investor I was super excited too. I would have made a ton of money. You wanted an liquidation event. Yeah well, I thought it was a good deal for the business, it was a good deal for the employees, but the venture around investors that you were later on in it said no. They said, you know, not only no, but because you wanted to sell it, you're fired, Get out of here. And so they got rid of the founder and then ultimately, unfortunately, then you had the dot-com crash. I mean it's hard to ever call the market right. I mean we sold to Leica in August of 1998, right before the huge 99 run-up. E-vite didn't sell at the beginning of 2000, right before the big crash, right. So you can make mistakes on all sides of this and, by the way, the investor is earning me smarter than you as an entrepreneur. No one is good at market timing, but ultimately, when you're talking about a conflict between an entrepreneur and the investors, it does depend upon how much control data you have, and not are you the smartest, or are you right?

Speaker 1:

Well, exactly and I know that typically when we do these shows of like, I think, this advice to entrepreneurs just about how to think from the day one, I always ask kind of the questions of things you wish you would have known. Maybe tell me one thing, looking back, what's the one thing you wish you would have known? What's an entrepreneurial life lesson? I wish I would have known that Bitcoin was going to go to $100,000. The time machines aren't allowed. And the answer, by the way, I will give you a note on this I agree with you on the Bitcoin. I remember and this is where trust matters, right, there was a guy I remember this was like 99-ish, if it was 99, summer 99. And I don't know what Bitcoin was at that time, but it wasn't over, it wasn't very expensive.

Speaker 3:

But I was like you needed multiple Bitcoins to buy a pizza.

Speaker 1:

Check. It was something where it was like, first of all, I don't think I had $500 or $1,000 left or all my name. But we were sitting there and I remember this guy goes hey, do you want to get on this IPO called Red Hat? Now, this guy was super tactical but he was really sketchy, weird, kind of hacker, loose type, and I was the opposite of that. I didn't really trust him. Brilliant guy and he kind of came from wealth and he kind of was you know, dad's got money, kind of like one of those types, right. But so he was okay, throwing 10K here or whatever. And I was like, oh no, no, no, thank you, I just don't trust you. Red Hat would have been a good call to buy into. Pugh said hey, listen, there's this thing called Bitcoin. You should get some, you know, and I'm like looking into it. It wasn't expensive, but I was like I don't want to be part of this Silk Road weirdness like dark web. Yeah, drug money. I bought the case and he was 100% right. No, I should have realized he was smarter. Anyway, look back, entrepreneurial life lesson could be about you know how you know, because entrepreneurship really does intersect partially with real life, like business and your life become much more entangled. You know everything is amplified. It's not like you can check out and say, I don't care, I'm going to get a check. You can never really check out. And so on your life lesson. What would you have told yourself back it up, 20, 30 years?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, I think that one of these that I have learned that I would tell my younger self is that you have to be careful about the lessons that you take from your experiences. And we, we do things and we try to learn from them, which is good, but we may learn the wrong lesson out of a particular experience, and so you actually need to be able to say hey, let me actually look at this from multiple different perspectives both the perspective of how I experienced it and why I you know how does the outcome, but also from other perspectives to understand, like what would have happened so, so just make this very pragmatic. You know, I think one of the things that happens with entrepreneurs is that if you are successful at something, you think it's because you are smart and that you're the best at what you do, and in fact, it can often be that you were lucky. Right Now, there's a good thing to do, which is to put yourself in a place where what will happen right. So one of the reasons why Silicon Valley is a good place for a tech entrepreneur to go is it's much more likely that you're standing on the soccer field next to a venture capitalist who wants to invest in your business, Then, if you're in Omaha, just you know, increase the chances that you get lucky, right, that's, that's smart, but recognize when it's locked and not skilled. That got you to where you are, you know, you happen to be an hour late to the reception and some other guy was an hour late and you bump into each other going in, and it turns out to be the biggest customer you've ever landed, right, like you know. And so don't take from it that, oh, we had the perfect marketing campaign and that's why we succeeded. No, no, you succeeded because you were accidentally an hour late to that reception. We bumped into somebody, right. The dynamics for an entrepreneur, then, are constantly be questioning what you think, you know, and, and the entrepreneurs that I see who succeed and then fail, are the ones who actually can't get their heads around the fact that their success was not related to those selves, that there were other externalities and that they have to be able to. Then, when those externalities change, they have to pivot what they're doing. They think, oh, I'll just do the same thing again to work before.

Speaker 1:

I couldn't agree more with that. And that's the blind luck arrogance versus methodical thinking and pragmatic like a systematic way to reinvent yourself to see if you need to. I know personally, every 90 days I formally look at my business and go, hey, how can I simplify it, how can I need less people? And we'll get into, kind of some of your background automation and, by the way, automations are often the answer. Sometimes it's let's stop offering that product, let's stop doing this service, let's not be in that market. Yeah, exactly. And for us, just a given example we're a services company. We help people. You know people come to us to stop right, as is right now in 2023, our business model and tip of spurs. People come to us to stop guessing how to make money via LinkedIn. Does that mean you not need web or you don't need an email campaign? No, we get you there, but we do it for you. And so one of the pivots that I've realized here in Q4 of 2023 is I'm out of, I'm out of, I'm out of maximum. I cannot take any more sales calls during the week. I'm taking 40, 30, 40 a week. It's unbelievable. I mean just to find the time to fill a podcast or write a book was like it's very difficult. And so what I found is I need to pivot to do it yourself. Course, I need to pivot to group sales and teach people to do it. I need to get away from do it for you because it creates a lot more work, a lot more salaries. But if I could teach people at scale, I get the same value proposition to somebody, and someone else is doing the work and the ones who really need us to do it for you, I can charge more because they're going to be in a position to do it. And as you think through that, I get you know. That's where I think entrepreneurs miss sometimes is sometimes you got to get out of your little zone and comfort and really pivot to something a little more difficult or that's allow you to have more time to do other things. So I couldn't agree more with you on that. Looking back at your lessons, because I know I'm not smart. I'm a smart ass, no question about that. Am I? Am I my starlings? Hi, I mean right, my brilliance has found more in humor, but not even everyone would agree with that. So, but but I do agree that sometimes you look back in the lessons and really self reflect and I read a chapter about this in the book of looking at humility, look at yourself of in light of how others help you and think more of others than yourself first. I think those are all kind of tied together. I see this already with people we work that they can't figure out why things aren't working, and working their last business it's hard to say because you're stuck in 2010. You're not thinking the same. Thank you for that In your own journey. What's one of your happiest moments?

Speaker 3:

Well, I mean, should I be? You know the appropriate answer. That is, something having related to my family. But I know that what you want is something.

Speaker 1:

No, no, actually, so related to your family is kind of the point. That'd be great, like hey, listen, I love that when my kids did this or I got the idea behind. That is your happiest moments shouldn't maybe be about your entrepreneur all the time, but they may be tied and so really, what is one of your happiest moments in your journey?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, I do think that a mistake that I have tried to avoid is being so wrapped up in the work that you don't enjoy life. And for me, enjoyment in life is the three daughters and the wonderful partner I have in life and now I'm a grandfather, by the way. So my grandson just turned one year old and I'm getting to enjoy that next phase of life as well.

Speaker 1:

Get out of that kid, I'm sure.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, he's too young to even understand.

Speaker 1:

He's being spoiled. But with love. I didn't mean financially, I mean with love like well, no, no, no.

Speaker 3:

He spoiled lots of ways. I mean the good, the spoiling paths to this kid, Hi, I mean, this kid's been all over the world already.

Speaker 1:

He was in France this summer, One years old stamp books already filled in the big passport because you know it's coming. Get the extra page passport, pay the money.

Speaker 3:

Not a ridiculous, yeah, but. But I see what playing playing in a pool in the backyard in a southern France Chateau and you know, with my one year old grandson that was super fun. But you know just why. Actually, you know, honestly, raising kids is an enormously challenging but can be rewarding experience. And I think you know my, my house experience is seeing, you know we're just all home for Thanksgiving. You know we're recording this the week after Thanksgiving and having my three daughters all home and seeing how successful and happy they are in their lives with each of the very different things that they're presenting right now, you know that that's very gratifying and you know, being able to be there now as the grandparent, you know that they anchor for this expanding family, then having them all come to our room for holidays. So it's it's it's why we do any of the rest of this.

Speaker 1:

It's a. That is a. That is the kind of happy moment I love to hear because it's it is tied to your journey of work, tied to your journey, and I'm sure there's regrets in there. I'm just interested in time. I know they're there because you've loaded too much work and you just spend more time, like the fact that you're in the moment now. You know that's it, that's the moment today being the happiest ones are a week, you know, and that's. You can't ask better for that, because that those happy moments make some of the everything in the past come together of okay, it's working, that's fine, yeah. And then the last question, going to go to a speed round, is just, you know how, what's next for you? You know you're a partner of Bain. It's big money, big. You know lots of handshaking, probably good. You know good trips and crazy conversations. But what's? What's the next? 10, 15, look for you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah Well, people, people ask me like don't, can't you just retire? Like why are you still working, right? And then my answer is um, well, you know, if I have the kind of job that I hate it, or that was you know, or that was truly destructive right to my, to my, my being like, if I, if my job was digging dishes right, then I would be eager to retire. But, um, but, I love my job, I love what I do and I love the intellectual challenge, the opportunity to interact with um, you know, the most senior executives, the largest companies in the world who have the hardest problems, and that's that's sort of our mission at Bain is, you know, if you, if you are running one of these very large global companies, you need to be able to tap into a deep set of expertise on narrow topics at any given moment as you're navigating that business through whatever changes are happening in the world. And we're there for you, um, and and it's tremendously gratifying to be able to see the impact that we can have. And also, you know, in in picking Bain, one of the things that was really important to me is our um commitment to what we call stakeholder capitalism, and what we mean by that is that, while it's important to do things for our clients that improve shareholder value, that shareholders are only one stakeholder. And then, when we look at a business, we are helping the employees, we're helping the customers, we're helping the communities that the businesses operate in, we're helping the planet as a whole and we, if you look at our logo, there's an arrow at the top which is off, center, which is, and our our saying about that is that it's pointing to true north. So you know, north would be straight up and down, but actually true magnetic north is off and always change. And the whole point of true north is that is that when we talk to our clients, that we want to talk to them about things that are difficult, that maybe they didn't want to hear, but are the right things to talk about. So when I talk to a petrochemical companies, I talk about carbon footprint and I talk about the obligation that we have as as citizens on this planet together to try to reduce the carbon footprint. So and that's always very welcome when you're in the room full of executives from petrochemical company. So what I hope to do over the next 10 years is continue to sit in this. I will be the first to enter a very privileged seat of being able to be an advisor to the most senior executives and largest companies and be able to speak truth to them, to be able to actually help us improve as a species, as a planet, as a society.

Speaker 1:

I mean, and I think the key thing is there, you love what you're doing and the moment you don't, you'll do something else and you'll exit correctly. And I think that's you know, is that even I'm glad to my journey. It's hard. I mean like listen, I mean even where I am here, about three years into my own company, I make a tenth of what I used to in the corporate world. I'm likely, in my mind, 10x happier, and it would be 100x happier if I could bring that number up a little so the partner of my life could be like hey, I'm glad you're having a great time. But you know and she said yesterday, like you still need my corporate job to kind of make this work. I'm like, well, yeah, of course I know. Like you know, there's a thing called you know, I can't take too much of my company, I need operating capital, I need to make sure I have enough to pivot. Anyway, those become debates entrepreneurs have and they're really the real ones, right? And so once you can start paying yourself more, where you get to a certain kind of level where everyone in your family is like, okay, okay you're, you've replaced some corporate, now you need to make up all the savings you didn't do for the last three years. Your life changes and so I think, where you are, you've done, you know, you've taken the risks. You had wins, you've had falls, you're a grandpa, you know. P pop, whatever, whatever. What's their nickname for you? Grand poppy, grand poppy, and which, if you're, if you can say it, first name of your grandson, I?

Speaker 3:

don't want to say it, because it's not fair to my daughter to be a publicized child.

Speaker 1:

Stay high and to him or her say, hey, little turkey, whatever the nickname is, this is me talking to you from the future. You know you could say hi to them because they may hear you one day when this very famous podcast takes off. You're like, that guy had like eight followers when I met him and now he had like the internet, ted, listen, let me ask you I'm not going to go through all the kind of hot seat questions, but I do want to ask you a couple of them what's your, you know what's your favorite business book, or like, or what's the one at least for this, for the entrepreneur listening? Do you say this is a must read? Hmm, or list?

Speaker 3:

One book that's a must read. Well, first of all, if you're an entrepreneur, you don't have any time to read.

Speaker 1:

But listen. That's why I threw that that listen thing on there. Put it in your ear while you get your exercise for the day.

Speaker 3:

And is this an opportunity to pump your book.

Speaker 1:

No, it is not my book, the one book you should never been promoted. You haven't read it yet because it hasn't been published yet, but what I know.

Speaker 3:

I'm excited about your book, though. I'm looking forward to reading it. So look, I would say that you know, the book that has had the biggest impact on me this century so far is a book called Wealth of Networks by Jochim Bankler. It's a it's a. It's a thick read, but, but I think it is. It is going to be remembered as a very insightful moment in understanding how the world has changed because of network technology. So you know what he intentionally resonates with the title and with the content, to Wealth of Nations, which was the you know the book in 1776, believe it or not, 1776. This something else happened that year too, but it was published by Smith and talking about the Industrial Revolution and sort of sketching out in the very sort of nascent form that it was at in the late 1700s, but really amazingly predictive about how the world was going to change. And I think Jochim Bankler's book is similarly. The world is, the world is changing and it is changing right now, every day. So really, really powerful book. So the other one that, as a human being, you should read is the Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil.

Speaker 1:

I haven't actually upstairs on a dresser. I was actually thinking of rereading it. It's been probably 10 years or so maybe since I picked it. It's been a while. Maybe that might be a little too far, but it's been a long time since I read it. He nailed that I mean it's like it's kind of leased me 10 years.

Speaker 3:

It is. He's updating it though it's coming out. The Singularity is Near by Ray Will come out next year, 2024.

Speaker 1:

But the concept of it is spot on. I love the idea of the books the Wealth of Nations. At that time things felt very modern, Incredible, Maybe more so than even now we're seeing stuff that's already modern being faster. But there we're going from candles to like automobiles soon, Like with them, like a hundred year, like you're getting, like what We'll be flying here in a hundred. So imagine a hundred at the rate we're going now. I asked this question a couple of years ago. Is there anybody on LinkedIn that you recommend to follow?

Speaker 3:

Ethan Mollick. Stop everything, go find Ethan Mollick. E-t-h-a-n, m-o-l-l-i-c-k. Ethan Mollick he is a professor at Wharton. He's one of the really early educators to start understanding the impact of generative AI on education. But then also, as a business school professor, has been using it in his classrooms, teaching business school students and thinking about the implications for business. Super important Thinker in the space, writes really regularly. He has a blog as well, called One Useful Thing, but just find him on LinkedIn and you can find the rest of what he's doing.

Speaker 1:

I mean and I ask that question because I find new people to go like find, and you know the great minds of the world is they tell me oh, that guy is pretty cool. Because, as you know and I certainly know him in LinkedIn your feet will get very narrow if you don't branch out a little bit and look for stuff, and then you'll start finding value in the things you read every day because it'll be repetitive. What's the most important and entrepreneurial trait?

Speaker 3:

Well, I'm going to go with curiosity, which I think is actually the most important trait for human beings generally. And what I mean by curiosity is really a couple of things, because I think, bound up in true curiosity, you have humility, which is to say you accept that you don't know everything and you don't know what you don't know. You are open to being wrong and having your mind changed. You are excited and interested in the observations you can have of the world around you and you are in a state of constant learning. So curiosity for me includes all those other characteristics, but absolutely I think it's the most important thing for us as humans to have.

Speaker 1:

And the most common answer is resilience or some kind of thinking around that. I 100% agree that curiosity is the number one trait for success in the future of something that changes often. Curiosity, creativity, which is the type of adaptability, humility, it's smashing your own biases and preconceived notions of things, because if you're curious and you learn, you pivot to something new. You learn something new. And that curiosity ties to reading a new book, reading something like pick up and I don't know. Read the Torah if you want. I mean, just challenge yourself in something you thought would be that's ridiculous. Take the most ridiculous thing and go look into it and you might find something cool of why it is. I love that. Here's my final question. This is an important one. That was a pause for dramatic effect. I'm working on my pauses in conversation. Have you ever I'm so bad at it have you ever been promoted?

Speaker 3:

Have I ever been promoted? Well, in the sense of being promoted. So promoted is funny word, right? We use the word promoted in the business context of saying, hey, did you move from one level in the organization to the next level in the organization? We use the word promoted from the perspective of like, hey, there is 10 shelving is going to be speaking on a particular podcast and you put it on LinkedIn, you're promoting it. Right, I would say not to counteract your title of your book never been promoted. I have been promoted in both ways, in both senses, and I don't on the business side. I think the promotions often come because you created the opportunity yourself. I think there are certainly cases in large organizations where there's some sort of regular career track and you're recognized. But I'll tell you my most interesting promoted story was there was this thing at the University of Chicago, where I went to college, called Arch Development Corporation, which was a technology commercialization arm for the university, and I was in love with technology and I really wanted to be involved and I walked in and I said I want to work here. I don't care what job is like, whatever job you have, and so I was the assistant to the assistant of the guy running the commercialization office and so basically I just ran around and got coffee for whatever right, but I would be thoughtful and sit there and listen and say something. When I had something to say and one of the partners in this business noticed and promoted me and said hey, we're going to let you actually take on running some of these projects for us. As a college kid and it was because I put myself out there, because I worked hard, because I was thoughtful and listened and made a good impression that I was recognized- you know I write a lot in the book of 50 chapters and if I think about, I'm already thinking of my next book.

Speaker 1:

Right, it's either going to be called Ask the Leave, which is all the shit I should have done in my career, which, god knows. I've been asked to leave plenty of times, but it's a volume two. You describe the thing is just show up. You showed up Like you didn't say hey, listen, I'm not being on this team list, I'm the starting quarterback or even second string. You said I'm going to be assistant to the water boy and I want to stack cups and occasionally I may, like you know, jump in here if I see something and, you know, get yelled at, but the coach recognized me that it's something valuable. That point, the show up, which ties to resilience and some other things, is so key and I think I don't know I could never figure out how to get promoted. Oh, by the way, because you've been promoted, you can't join the club. Sorry you're out, but can't join the never been promoted club. But you sure it up. Well, I read your book though. Yeah, you have to read the book. You'll have to figure out how not to get promoted. You have to go backwards now, but I love that. Just show up, you took something that you knew was there. And finally, like the last part, you know, I know your expertise is an intelligent animation. That's kind of our roots of how we met. But leave the entrepreneur as they think through their whatever they're doing plus automation. Give them like 30, 60 seconds of where to use technology and how to use it. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

If you haven't already gotten a paid bus account on OpenAI's GPT for chat GPT, go do it right now. And then, where I said we use the mullet, go read everything that he's been writing. You can also read my blog, infinite Future, or newsletter LinkedIn calls some newsletters, so I write pretty regularly on LinkedIn as well about how to use generative AI to dramatically transform the way you do work and you can make everyone in your organization a super human by giving them this technology. It's not a replacement for people. It is a way of extending the capabilities of people in your organization and of yourself. But you really have to invest in learning to change the way you work. So like I had a long email that I needed to write this morning and I realized, hey, wait, I don't need to write this email, I need to let chat GPT write this email for me. And so I go into chat GPT and I write here are all the things I want my email to talk. You still have to like hell at all the things you want it to do. Then you write this email, write in a professional tone, do this right, and then, when it got done, I had to edit it because it didn't. It doesn't get everything right, but the amount of time that that task would have taken me dropped from 30, 40 minutes to four or five minutes. That is the most important thing that you can use technology for today is individual productivity. Change the way you work. Use generative AI, give it the guidance, do the correction afterwards, but if you integrate it into your daily work stream, it will absolutely multiply your effectiveness and capabilities.

Speaker 1:

Ted. Thank you so much, dave, for joining and all this advice. If someone's going to hold you I think you had a newsletter how do you want them to get a hold of you and what should they do? You kind of you're calling me.

Speaker 3:

Well, linkedin is easy. This way I'm pretty easy to find. If you type my name in, there are a few other Ted Shelton's in the world, but if you write Ted Shelton Bain, there's only one Ted Shelton at Bain. So you'll find me. You can follow me. You can read my infinite future newsletter If you send me a message. I'm actually pretty good at replying. Don't pitch me because I don't have time to review your product or idea, but if you need help, you need advice. I'm a pretty given guy. We have it at hell.

Speaker 1:

Ted, thank you and listen. No pitch slapping. It doesn't want to pitch slapped. Ted, thank you so much. Everyone who's listened, thank you so much for another episode of Never Been Promoted. Taking the Time, learn From Entrepreneurs and go unleash your entrepreneur and I hope, maybe one day to hear your story as well. Thanks again, ted. Everyone have a great day. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

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.

Pitching to VCs and Avoiding Mistakes
Equity and Team Building in Growth
Transitioning Leadership in Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship and Lessons Learned
The Future and Purpose of Bain
Curiosity and Promotions in Entrepreneurship