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Conquer the Chaos: Developing the Entrepreneurial Mindset with Sangram Vajre

Sangram Vajre knows what it takes to start and scale a business because he’s done it successfully time and time again. In this episode, he’s sharing his secrets. The entrepreneur started at Salesforce, where he studied the billion-dollar business and used what he learned to launch his own company. Now, Sangram is the founder and CEO of GTM Partners.

Listen as Sangram discusses the tricks of the trade and the mindset that can help entrepreneurs break free from chaos and enjoy their journey.

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Clate (00:56.235)
Well, welcome everybody to the Conquer the Chaos podcast. I am your host, Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Keap, and I'm really excited today because we have somebody who is such an accomplished entrepreneur. He knows the highs and lows, the early stages, the great triumphs, someone who's been in and around software for a long time. So I've heard of him a lot, but I've never had a chance to actually talk to him until today. So I'm really excited about it. Sangram Vajre, thanks so much for being with us on the Conquer the Chaos podcast.

Sangram Vajre (01:30.498)
Glad and excited to be here. Let's talk about the problems and the challenges that we all are facing every day. And maybe there are some wins along the way that we can talk through.

Clate (01:39.279)
I love it. The chaos, right? Well tell us, Sangram, tell us a little bit about your background. You've done so much as an entrepreneur, but just give the audience a little feel for who you are.

Sangram Vajre (01:49.962)
All right, so from a entrepreneur perspective, I ran marketing at Pardot, this is like really back in the day, and then we got acquired by Exact Target in six months. So I went from a small company, SMB company, to a bigger company, about a thousand people. And within six months, Exact Target got acquired by Salesforce, which is a 10,000 people company. So I went through that chaos of just reimagining everything I knew and how to do, in a really six months time frame. And it really changed a lot of how I think about building a business now. That all happened in about 2013. And late 2014, I started another company called Terminus. We went from like just three co-founders to about 300 people. We had a private equity buyout a couple of years ago. In that company, it was a software company. So we raised over 100 million as part of it. We helped build a new category that didn't exist before. But in the early days, we didn't have any money. In early days, nobody knew us. In early days, we were building this movement. I ended up writing books that my father would be like, so like what? You wrote English words? Like, you know, like, you know, how is that even possible? So, but entrepreneurship makes you do some of those things. So I did that. And now I have a new startup called Go To Market Partners. So going from a product world and software world now to services world. And this go round, we're not raising any money. We're building a proper lifestyle business, if you will, and building it from ground up. But I'm using some of the same principles that I've learned in the software world over the last two decades.

Clate (03:30.619)
Okay, awesome. So I think, uh, everybody listening can hear you've had the experience all the way from brand new startup to, a company with a hundred employees, a company with a thousand employees, a company with 10,000 employees. I mean, you've had a, you've had a wide range of experiences and now you're doing a lifestyle business as a lifestyle entrepreneur, trying to take all these things you've learned and conquer the chaos.

Sangram Vajre (03:56.714)
Yeah, and it is so interesting, Clate, because people say, well, you know, why would you ever do this? Why would you go from a product company to a services company when you know how to raise money? Why would you go do that? And a lot of times, I think it comes down to at least where I'm in my life right now is that I want to work on something for the next decade of my life that I feel passionate about, that I'm not trying to get another job, I'm not trying to just get another win. I wanna really build a solid. And when I say lifestyle, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm three days working and three days on a beach. Like that's not a lifestyle business. I'm talking about like still hard work. We're working, you know, 50 hours plus a week, but you're doing something that you just care about and passionate about. And you wanna do that for the next 10 years, but not because somebody told you so, because you want to do.

Clate (04:49.823)
Yeah, well, and what you've just described, you know, I, I'm, you and I, uh, have lived in the software world a lot. And for a lot of times, you know, lifestyle entrepreneurs, the software world and the way that Silicon Valley does it and capital and all that stuff, it really doesn't make a lot of sense. And frankly, it's not, it's not real small business. It's not what, it's not what lifestyle entrepreneurs normally do. And, um, I have great passion for the lifestyle entrepreneur, what you just described. And because it's not about just building something off and selling it, or building something up and selling it off as quickly as you can. It's about your passion, it's about what you love to do. And most of the time, that is a service business for lifestyle entrepreneurs. Not always, there are product businesses as well, but most of the time it is service businesses. And so I'm really excited to have you on because the world that we serve, of entrepreneurs, generally speaking, they are lifestyle businesses. There are some that have big dreams and plans to scale something big and they may wanna raise capital, but the vast majority don't. They have this passion, this thing they love to do. They want to create something that impacts their customers and that they have a great thing for their employees, but they also want this business to provide freedom for them in terms of money, time, control over their lives and impact. And that is, you know, the quest that most lifestyle entrepreneurs are on. And yet a lot of times finding that freedom is very, very difficult and the chaos of the business swallows them up. So we'll talk a little bit about that. Tell, tell us, give us a little background first on you, you know, what, what makes you tick as an entrepreneur? You just told us that you really, you're passionate about what you're doing and you want to. You want to work on this for the next 10 years of your life. Where did you get the entrepreneur bug?

Sangram Vajre (06:54.254)
Oh man, well, I go back to, you know, I came, I’m originally from India. I came to the United States in 2002 and I went to the University of Alabama, which it's a culture, culture shock in any coming from India, a small town., to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Like, I don't even know if anybody can really fully fathom how different of a world you're walking into.

Clate (07:12.851)
Yes, I can only imagine.

Sangram Vajre (07:23.214)
And over there, right? And over there. I was like, well, I didn't have enough money. I had 350 bucks as part of it. And my parents said, well, you know, we're taking a loan for your first semester and now you go figure it out. So I had to figure it out, Clate. Like, what am I gonna do? So even before entering the university to go to my first class, I was trying to look for jobs because I had to figure out a way to pay. And one of the things I found out in University of Alabama Tuscaloosa that there is a department called Critical Languages Department. And if you could find three people, three kids, to learn a different language, you actually can get your entire tuition paid for. Um, so I just literally found boys with that have like, you know, uh, girls that they were dating that had that Indian background or, and then similarly, and I found those three people or four people and said, you not want to learn Hindi. Like you should learn a language that the other person in their family is like. And they bought into that, that dream, which, uh, which I was selling to them. And, and they, they signed up for it and that paid for my entire tuition in University of Alabama. And I had to then go and buy the book because I didn't know how to teach. Like, I, like, I know growing up the language, but so I bought the book on Amazon. But I feel like that was the moment when I realized that I actually can sell. And I think part of entrepreneurship is that you better find a way to have a way for other people to believe in something that you believe in. And if you believe in something, if that comes across from you, I think the other person would buy it even if they don't believe and fully understand what they're getting. But if they trust you, believe you, they will take that leap forward. And I think that was my taste in the beginning of it.

Clate (09:09.755)
That is a great story. You said several times in that story, figure it out. You know, your parents said, you're gonna need to figure it out. You said, I gotta go figure it out. You realized, I can figure it out. And you know, I think that the figure it out gene is very strong in entrepreneurs. They realize, oh, you know what? I can do this, I can figure this out. I realized, you know, I have that gene as well. And one time I was reading, it was in the early stages of running our business and I was, you know, we were just totally trying to figure it out, you know, trying to get a product that fit in the market. And, and, um, I was reading a story about my great grandpa that his son, uh, my great uncle had written and this, the story that my great grandpa was also an immigrant and he, he told the story late in life, he said, you know, I, I used to tell people when I was young, pick me up, drop me in any city with nothing in my pockets. And by the end of the day, I'll have a new suit and money in my pocket. And he just had that mentality that I'll just go hustle. I'll go to work, I'll go find a need, I'll work and figure things out. And so, you know, I've noticed that about entrepreneurs. They're not afraid of figuring it out. They're not afraid of moving into something that's like, you know, just like my grandpa just dropped me down anywhere and I'll go find a way to earn money, create value. And, uh, I love that you went and just had your parents ingrained that in you. And then you hit the campus at Tuscaloosa, Alabama and decided I got to figure this out and, and you did it.

Sangram Vajre (10:51.478)
Can you imagine that? Right? Like it's crazy. And I'll tell you one more thing that maybe aligned around this, the figured out part is that I've been a serial D-F student. So I've never been an A student in my school. Right? Like, so what that teaches you is that, you know, you're not better than anybody else. Right? It just is ingrained. Like I knew growing up, like, oh, I'm not the smartest kid in the, in the place. I'm just not that kid who learns everything and does everything and ticks every box. So you have to like figure out like how are you going to stand out and how are you going to do things. And I think entrepreneurship, Clate, I wonder how you think about it. It's a lot of that because you're not afraid to fail, because you're not afraid of somebody saying no to you. Like what's the worst that can happen is say no. It doesn't stop us from testing and giving. And I look at a lot of people who are like, man, you're so brilliant if you actually just believed in yourself a little bit more and allowed yourself to fail like that combination is really what we're made of. It's nothing special it's just that is like yeah okay we'll fail and we'll figure out it's the obvious thing is like we want to figure out how to fail because that's what you know yeah right.

Clate (12:05.095)
Yeah, yeah, we failed. That's what helps us figure it out. Yes, no, I completely agree with you. And I think that's, you know, the point about grades is a very interesting one. You know, I remember at one point I was in graduate school, they said, you know, the A students, I can't remember what it was, the A students go into academia, the B students, and it's the C students that make all the money. And I remember thinking, oh, really? Is that, is that actually how it works? And over time I came to realize it's actually pretty dang true. It's not so much the, um, you know, the, the top students that end up doing really well financially in life. Um, not, you know, obviously there's some, there's, you know, some exceptions to that, but there is a lot of truth to that. And I think especially in entrepreneurship, this is true. Um, you know, you have a lot of times entrepreneurs are, are just, they're, we're not great students, but we, from a, from a classroom standpoint, but we study and learn really well and figure stuff out and adapt. And we're not afraid of that failure that, that creates the winning. So I love it. I think that's a great point. So tell me, tell me a little bit about what, what lessons did you learn in your bigger companies that are now helping you in your lifestyle, business as an entrepreneur.

Sangram Vajre (13:26.422)
Well, with the part out through Salesforce, I spent a couple of years at Salesforce, purely for that reason. I wanted to learn how Salesforce does its magic. How do you build a billion dollar company? I just wanted to know, not that I want to build a billion dollar company, but what is the mindset of somebody who is actually thinking like that? Like what is it that's happening? Actually, what was super interesting to me was, they at Salesforce, I heard Mark Benioff and he would have all the executives come together and he would share like, here's the message for 2012, for example, at that time. And it's going to be customer success is the new thing. It's the cost we every company needs to build a customer success platform. And he would use Dreamforce as the one anchor event as the forcing function to get product to deliver on product to for sales to hit quotas, for partners to go create an ecosystem and app exchange and all that. And he will get the entire community behind it. And he would use that one forcing function to galvanize the entire company. And as a matter of fact, the entire industry, the entire media around that one thing. And I've watched that for two years straight. And I learned from that was you gotta create forcing functions. If you don't have a forcing function, certain things wouldn't happen. And I think at a big company, it just works. Is what else, how else are you gonna get the product to deliver? Everybody has excuses like, well, can you deliver all this? Well, yeah, I'll try to get to do it. Nothing really forces until that you have to show up in front of a hundred thousand people and deliver this product keynote.

Clate (15:02.939)

Sangram Vajre (15:12.038)
That will get somebody going. You gotta sell so many deals at this, right? You gotta build your part. So it allowed me to think about, in any business that I've ever built after that, like both Terminus and GD Partners, we use forcing functions and we have just learned to do events really well. None of the events cost a dime to us, by the way. We can get into that if people are like, well, events cost like a hundred to ten, no, no. You can build a small 10 person, 100 person event and still not, it won't cost you a dime as long as you know how to execute and you're creating value for people. And that's how you build businesses, both of my businesses, started with that premise. And that's a big lesson I learned.

Clate (15:45.431)
Okay. So let's dig into this a little bit. You know, I certainly have appreciation for what you're describing at the, you know, Salesforce and their Dreamforce annual conference. You know, what we did for years, then Infusionsoft with Icon, what we're now starting to do at Keap with the Let's Grow Summit. And I appreciate the power of events to galvanize people to drive product. There's so many things you're talking about that just really resonate with me. If I'm a, if I'm sitting out there as a lifestyle entrepreneur, it's me and two other people in my company. What's the principle that you're describing that I could apply to help, you know, propel the business forward. Talk, talk about what you learn and how, you know, how they, how they could apply this in their business.

Sangram Vajre (16:32.802)
So I'll give you a real example so people can then use that and apply for it. At Terminus, when we started as three co-founders, we were like exactly what you described. We were just sitting in a room, sitting in Atlanta thinking, well, who the heck cares about us? Right? Like, why? Why us? Like, you know, so you get to those midnight moments where we're like, was that a mistake? Like, why are we doing that? Like, you know, you sometimes look at 3AM in the morning at the ceiling trying to figure out a strategy. We all had these moments and maybe continue to do so, and at that time, was like, well, how I want to do an event like that's a great idea. So I reached out to everybody that I knew who could sponsor an event and said, I want to do a Terminus event. I want to launch an event in the marketplace. Guess what, Clate? Everybody said no. Why would I sponsor your event? It makes no sense. I was like, we didn't have funding. We didn't have money. We're like, well, no, you pay. And they're like, why would we sponsor your event? Makes no sense. I'm like, okay, well, what do we do? So on a flight. Long story, I came up with this idea called Flip My Funnel, which was the idea to just change the way you talk about the problem that in the marketplace instead of focused on this broad spectrum. Everybody knows a funnel and the leads come in and only 1% turning to customers. What if there was a better way to do it? And so I bought a domain for eight bucks called Flip My Funnel and then wrote about it and then reached out to the same sponsors, people and said, hey, look, I'm putting together an industry event. It's called Flip My Funnel. Each one of you will be allowed to do a keynote. As long as you don't pitch your product, you will be allowed to do a keynote. The only point is you got to talk about how you're going to challenge the status quo of marketing and sales at this event. 100% of my 10 sponsors that I reached out to said yes.

Clate (18:21.419)
That's awesome.

Sangram Vajre (18:25.162)
So we put together the first event all paid for by these 10 sponsors, they all got to do the keynote as long as they're not pitching their product. And we were a booth just like everybody else. We ended up selling 25 deals out of it because I'm doing the keynote, I'm setting the narrative for it. So people knew who's behind the event, but it wasn't a Terminus event, it was a Flip My Funnel event. 300 people showed up to that event and that became a road show, that became a podcast, that became a book, that became some movement. And all that was started with almost the idea that how do I take an event like that, build something like that, but without any money. So we never paid a dime to build something.

Clate (18:58.025)
I love that. I mean, it's a really great leadership moment where you see something that people can grab onto. You start writing about it and it starts to attract and then you're able to execute an event like that. I think that's a great example. I think of a similar, the same principle that I see every day in small businesses that is just holding a webinar, an in-person seminar, even if it's 10, 20 people. The point is that you are doing something one to many instead of trying to do one by one. And I think if you take the heart of the principle that Mark Benioff at Salesforce is leveraging is he's getting a huge audience so that it's this mass message that he's able to deliver. But if you apply the small business version of it, it's just, do you wanna do phone calls one by one? Do you wanna do things one by one? Or do you wanna talk to a group? And it's not that hard to put a group together. You see financial planners putting groups together at a steakhouse to have a seminar. You see people getting on and doing a webinar with 10 people talking about some problem that is challenging that target customer.

Sangram Vajre (20:24.398)
Great, I'll even add one more thing to that as you think about it, is we, recognizing what, how, because we wanted to build an industry event, that means it's not our event, we actually invited, and this might shock some people, we invited our competitors to come and speak at the event and be part of the keynote. And not just once, but every single time. So by doing so, by default, we became an industry leader. This is a very next level thinking for somebody to just start using that as a way of like we want is you can put an event together and get people together and allow your marketing and sales process to work. But imagine if you actually became the de facto standard in the industry or in your region or in your city, whatever place that allows your small business to do. And you actually had the, you actually became the go to so people knew you for it. The reason we became a leader wasn't because we could just talk about it. We became a leader because everybody else, even our competitors talked about us and they drove people to our event and we already had the people who would come. So, and not once they literally said, well, if you're gonna do it and you do it that well and you're not pitching as we're not pitching, yeah, we'll do it. Without necessarily everybody knowing the fact or at least subconsciously that in a year's time frame, we were so far ahead in the headspace for every one of our customers and future customers that when they thought about ABM, they thought about us. And that is a really big shift from when you think about how do you get inbound coming to you and how do I not just keep calling people to get deals done but people are not coming to us because they know that we know what we're talking about.

Clate (22:09.491)
Yeah. And that's, you know, that, that thinking of, of sort of going beyond the competition and actually setting a standard, you know, that, that's something that it's a principle that works very effectively. We see it all around us. You know, a lot of times you, you see, you see competitors pop up in retail locations right by each other and it seems a little bit odd. And then you realize, Oh, that just makes it really convenient. I mean, that's the whole concept of a mall. You just bring a lot of people together. And when you create a marketplace, so to speak, the way that you did with an event, then you bring a lot more traffic, you bring a lot more people into it, and you establish yourself as the leader, the way that the developer does when they put together the shopping mall. So that's a really, I think it's a great principle, and it doesn't necessarily just need to be something you do in thought leadership to establish an industry. Small businesses can do that by just bringing people together. I think one of the things that holds back small businesses more than anything else is the rugged individualism that causes them to think they gotta do it all by themselves instead of like just partnering with people and collaborating with people and bringing more people to together, it creates a better dynamic for business to occur and it's something that you've done well, so that's very cool. Tell me, as you get going in this lifestyle business that you have now. What are the things that you're learning that maybe you thought, oh, well, this is very different than when I was in, I thought I had this figured out, I thought this would be easy. And the reason I'm asking is that I went from being at a larger software company very early in my career to then starting the company here at Keap. And I will tell you that so many things that I took for granted in that company, that I just didn't realize. I mean, I had to come to, I had to do everything by myself now that I have, you know, I had a couple of partners, but I was doing all the sales and marketing. I was trying, you know, trying to get the revenue going entirely. And I just didn't appreciate at the time, how much infrastructure and resource and sort of just a running headstart you have when you're in a bigger company versus when it's you. And it's like, it, you've got to figure this all out. So I'm just, that's something I realized was, whoa, there's so much that you have to go do to set the foundation, getting a business started that I didn't fully appreciate until I was doing it myself. I'm wondering what types of lessons you're learning as you get going at this, at this type of a business versus the kinds of businesses you're in before.

Sangram Vajre (24:58.846)
Well, I mean, this is probably a therapy moment for a lot of people because, you know, we literally like this week we're like, all right, 2024, we have to figure out what kind of a do we do W2s or 1099, like, you know, all the employees because of the amount of tax you pay is like, wait a minute, what we're paying this much, like, what are we doing this? So it is like mind blowing, you never really see those things. And then the other part is, you know, the last company we raised money at the end of the day and we see that company raised over a hundred million. So you really don't think about cash flow in a way that you have to think as a services business. Everything is cash flow. Like, you know, the money coming in. So it's all cashflow and like it's really hard.

Clate (25:37.847)
Small business = cashflow. Yes.

Sangram Vajre (25:52.758)
Like, wait a minute, we sold like, for example, we're at 2.5 this year and I have very transparent books. I share with people everything what we're doing and even write about it. So hopefully one day somebody could look at it and make much of it. But that doesn't mean we have 2.5 in the bank. You have to explain to your team, like, oh, everybody's celebrating, oh, we got 2.5. No, that's 2.5 that we will get next year. Like, this year we still had like one and then our payroll is more. So all of these things are, we have a phrase inside of our company called burn less calories, not in the season that we are in, we're probably, we wanna burn more calories, but burn less mental calories. So we are burning so many calories on things that are not productive. And I'm learning to very quickly weed them out. How do we not do the things that are just creating busyness in the business as opposed to everybody working on the most important thing in the business? So important because in an SMB, you don't have a lot of wiggle room to waste a resource of like three months on something. You have to make sure those things are working or you have to have a really good plan B on some of those things. Otherwise, most companies, they never run out of money, or run out of ideas, right Clate? What they run out of is money. So as an SMB, I think we all are recognizing everybody listening probably has 50 other ideas on their existing business or new businesses. The problem is you'll never run out of ideas. You will always run out of money.

Clate (27:25.723)
No, absolutely. That, you know, that I always say the difference between big business and small businesses is the time that you need to get an ROI. In small business, you've got to get that ROI. You got to get a return on the investment right away. In big business you can wait, you know, it can take a long time. And so, you know, I think that savvy lifestyle entrepreneurs are really good at following their nose at what's going to pay off quickly. And they do those things that pay off quickly. And then over time, the business gets bigger and bigger and you can start to do, you can start to do things that take longer. But yeah, we built our business to 7 million before we raised capital. And I loved the bootstrap years. And to be honest, I didn't so much love the years when we had a lot of capital cause there was a ton of waste and I hated it. I don't like waste. I love running a profitable business. That's the right way to run a business. There are reasons at times to invest more and to be unprofitable, but I don't like that phase. I like the phase of running a profitable business and that's the way most small business owners run their company because like you said, cash is king. You gotta have cash in order to make it work. So the entrepreneurs that sometimes struggle are the ones that have lots and lots of ideas but they don't narrow in on and focus and execute on the things that are going to produce cash the quickest.

Sangram Vajre (28:55.626)
Yeah, it totally can derail. Like, I have one of the mental frameworks that I've used is this idea of a dreamer doer driver, which literally is, most entrepreneurs are dreamers. You probably, as I've said those words, most of them have already associated themselves with one of those theories, oh, I'm a dreamer, which is you have ideas and you wanna do great things. You're, I've learned I'm a dreamer. I don't know, Clate, it sounds like you're a dreamer as well, because you're coming with ideas. But as I go through it, see if you change it. I'm a dreamer, and to me, new ideas is how I just wake up. I wake up with 10 ideas. Like, I don't do anything. I don't have to work out to come up with 10 ideas. It's just how I wake up. So I have to work extra hard to not vomit all my ideas on my team and be very careful of not taxing everybody, because they all get taxed with my new ideas. So to be very diligent, I write it down, I put it somewhere, I find ways and opportunities to make sure I'm saying the right, bringing the ideas when it makes sense. So I have to tax myself to do that. And if I can execute a new idea well, then I own the right to be a dreamer. Otherwise I'm just distractor and chaos for the rest of the company, right? And a driver is somebody who's like, all right, I know where we need to go, I wanna go there yesterday. Like, you need a driver in you or on your team that's going to take you faster. I want everything yesterday kind of person. But the problem with them a lot of times happen is they're so going at it that they burn themselves out or they burn the team out. So you have to be careful around that part of it. And then the third one is a doer, which is like the most trusted people in the company. They get stuff done and you may be a doer leader and the people like, you know, we trust you when you say something that's amazing, but they need this vision. They need this dream that, why am I doing what I'm doing? Otherwise, they just have a long list of to-do list and they never end that to-do list. They keep doing because that's what they're doing. So I've learned the hard way that a great small team or a big team in even large companies, but in a small team, even more importantly, finding a dreamer, doer, driver set of team makes it very good business. If you had a whole bunch of dreamers, then you're all cooking up ideas and nobody's getting things done. Like you don't want that. Maybe you're facing that in your organization. Maybe if you have all drivers, you're just killing each other because you're all having priorities and you want to go fast. Nothing is really productive. And if you're all doers, you're just working yourself to death and really doesn't have a vision where you need to go. So I'm curious if you see that, Clate, as well as a great combination of dreamer, doer drivers.

Clate (31:44.159)
Absolutely. I love the way you say it. It's very sticky. It's very similar to what Michael Gerber says in the E-Myth with the visionary, the manager, and the technologist. Basically the idea is the visionary is the dreamer, the manager is the driver, the way you're saying it, and the technologist is the doer. Well, when we read E-Myth early on in our business, it was very impactful because Scott, Eric, and I could see ourselves in that very, very clearly. Scott's more the dreamer. Eric is more the doer. I'm more the driver. That's, you know, that's just now, and we all have a little bit of each of them, but, but if you just had to say, which one do you best fit? Scott's the best dreamer. I'm the best driver and Eric's the best doer.

Sangram Vajre (32:36.418)
That is such a winning combination, right? Like it feels wholesome when you pull that together.

Clate (32:40.347)
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I love your dreamer driver doer. I think that's a fantastic way to put it. And I think for, you know, if you think if, for, for our listeners, if you think about it, you, you really want to build out that complimentary skillset. And if you, if you're sitting there and it's just you, you need to be thinking about what part of my time, my dreaming, which part of our time, my driving, which part of my time are doing, cause you got to get those balanced out if it's just you, but more likely what you'll want to do is start to hire contractors or partners or family members or whatever, to build out that dreamer, driver, doer, skill set. It's a really good way to say it, Sangram, I love that.

Sangram Vajre (33:14.75)
Yeah, and I've learned that the hard way too, because once I actually hired somebody, multiple times, I actually hired somebody and I was wrong. And I'm like, wait a minute, this person came highly recommended. They have been in the industry. They have seen that, been being there. We talked, they get it. Like, what's the problem? Why did I fail? And within two weeks, we just, oh no, it's not the right person. Happened it one more time. And Clate, that's when I realized, oh, I'm hiring for the skillset, not mindset. So if you're building a new department where you need somebody to come in and like just figure it out, you need a dreamer. You don't need a do-or-driver. They may be there in a big company have done that. They have teams. No, you need somebody who said, oh, I love chaos. Like this is great because I got to build it. But if you've got a great operations going on, you don't need a dreamer there. They're gonna blow things up. So you need somebody who can keep the trains running and you want somebody who just checks it and make sure everything is done right. So it's a good combination of skillset mindset when you're hiring your first set of team members. And I've learned the hard way that, oh, it's not always mostly actually is not about skillset, it's actually about mindset. And SMB is so much about that.

Clate (34:26.635)
Yeah, you know, when I talk to our customers and listen to entrepreneurs, one of the most crucial points for the business early on is when they hire their first salesperson. And a lot of times the business owners doing sales or you know, there's, they've been kind of somebody's been wearing that hat, but now it's time to actually have a person who that's what they do. And I think back in the early days of when we were hiring sales to get the business going. I remember the first person that we hired in sales was less of a doer and more of a dreamer. He liked the idea of being a part of this entrepreneurial business, but he really wanted to just sit around and dream more than get on the phones and just go hustle and figure out how to sell. It didn't work out. It was one of the most painful hires we had because it was that scenario where there wasn't enough money to pay him and us. We, we needed to actually not pay ourselves for a little bit while we had him on the payroll and he was supposed to start producing and he, and when he didn't produce at the rate we needed to, we got to a point where we're like, okay, we've got to let this guy go. And we, we all liked him, but, but he didn't have the, the just hunting, hustling, go get it done. It was more of wanting to sit around and strategize with us. And it was like, that's not what we need. We need you to get on the phone and go figure it out and come back and tell us what do we need to adjust in order to be able to sell more effectively. And then I think about subsequent hires we made in sales who were just like, go get it done. And there was a total difference there. And I just think it's because that first sales role is so critical, you need someone who is able to just go execute like crazy and just, you know, plows through walls and is gonna do whatever it takes to sell. And that is not something that small businesses get right every time. I see them missing on that one over and over and over.

Sangram Vajre (36:35.114)
Yeah, no, it's hard. It's, I mean, if anybody, I mean, the greatest encouragement I can give anybody right now, because I'm in the boat right now with anybody who's in the $1 to $5 million business range is no two conversations are the same, back to back. You could, like, I could have a day where one meeting is like, oh, everybody's, the team is really happy or somebody on the team is really happy and the very next meeting is about somebody on the team is very sad. And you know, you can, you have to adjust on one, you sell a hundred K deal and the other one, you just lost a customer. So we all have to be so, so resilient on it. And one of the things I learned, Clate, is also that my energy level matters to the team that we are getting to lead in SMB. And if you're one or two people, it really does matter. So if I go by the meetings and the energy of the meetings up and down, instead of having a consistent meeting, no matter what's going on and just having a little steady, know that not everything is not perfect. And just I walk in every day, my prayer every day is to just have wisdom and discernment on what is happening and actually really try to solve problems and expect problems as a matter of fact and not to walk in a day. The problem is when a day I wake up, I'm so happy, I'm so all good. And then first problem hit and I'm like, oh my goodness. No, I need to wake up expecting problems, to not be negative. But my job is to problem solve, move roadblocks, find ways, that's what I'm supposed to do. That's what I signed up.

Clate (38:15.963)
I love it. So let's, let's finish with this because I love the, um, you know, mindset is the number one key to success for entrepreneurs and you're, you're touching on it right now. And I agree with you that a lot of times we, as entrepreneurs are going in, hoping everything's going to work out well, you know, like, you know, you think about, you think about the common phrase of, you know, have a good day and that mindset is like, you're hoping that things go well for you instead of like, no, I'm going to go make it a great day. Whatever happens, it's going to be a great day. I'm going to go make it great. And I know there's going to be all kinds of crap that happens, but I'm going to make it great. And I think that, uh, if we're not careful, we end up living into a day-to-day life of like hoping things go well, like getting validation from the world that things are going well in our business instead of like. No, we're just driving our business forward and it's gonna be great and we know there's gonna be issues. And like you said, you expect those things. How can an entrepreneur get into that space? How can they avoid that tendency we have as human beings to kind of seek the validation that things are gonna be okay, or try to sort of passively live in a way that I'm gonna have a good day versus sort of imposing my will on the market and running my business in a way where I can stay positive and make it great no matter what comes my way. Do you have any tips for how to get in that right mindset

Sangram Vajre (39:51.862)
Well, I am about to show you something. So I have this thing. I do this every day. I write down on a piece of paper, if anybody could see it, it literally has three things I'm grateful for, three things to do and my prayer for the day.

Clate (40:06.437)
Love it.

Sangram Vajre (40:18.858)
And I just learned this over a period of time that at the end of the day, my list is never gonna end. The problems that are gonna come my way, it's just never. But at the beginning of the day, I wanna start with a clear mind of like, what am I grateful for? So the fact that we get to do the business and I have to use the right words, not that I have to do the business, I get to do it. Right, I get to do this. So everybody, we all get to do this stuff. So let's first and foremost, what are the things I'm grateful for? So I write down those three things and it's typically like, God and family and team, those are typically the three things coming. Three things to do is typically one of the most important three things I need to do today. And it could be a sales call, it could be a one-on-one meeting, or it could be thinking, whatever those three things are, and my prayer for the day. That's how I start every single day for several years now. And at the end of the day, I just scratch off the three things to do. So even if there are a hundred emails that I haven't answered, or even if I did what I could, and I can lay my head down saying that I put in honest, day words of effort. And at the end of the day, that's what we are called to do and I think we need to do.

Clate (41:13.995)
Thank you for sharing that fantastic advice. I, you know, I can't, I can't recommend that enough. I have a little gratitude journal that I write it in the morning at night. And it's something very similar to what you just described. People can go get it. It's put out by Intelligent Choice. Um, go look at their five minute journal. They call it the gratitude journal, but it's something very similar to what you just described and it just, it just helps us set our mindset the right way at the beginning of the day and then reflect on it at the end of the day. And, um, it's powerful stuff for entrepreneurs as mindset is the number one key. Well, Sangram, this has been fantastic. I feel like we could, you and I could go on talking for hours. Uh, but I, we've gotten a little longer than we normally do for the podcast because this has been so much fun, but I, I appreciate what you've shared. I think you've, you've got, you've had a lot of big company lessons that you're applying in small business. I love the passion that you have for as a lifestyle entrepreneur. And I really appreciate the thoughts that you've shared. I think you're, I think your dreamer, driver, doer, framework is a really good way for people to think about building their team in the early stages and even if it's if they're a solopreneur they can think about those three hats that they wear so to speak. And I love your advice on mindset and it's very obvious that you live it every day your energy is, it comes through and I've loved having the conversation with you. So any last words that you want to share with our audience before we wrap up?

Sangram Vajre (42:39.074)
Just echo on one thing is like we get to do this friends like we get to do this, Clate. And the day I made that switch in my mind, it made a tremendous difference in the way I operate every day that we get to do this. There's so many worst things you could have. There's just you could be in such a different part of the world today. You could have so many other issues and family and whatnot. But if you're an entrepreneur today, you get to do this. And that is a phenomenal blessing. So own it, live it and do your part.

Clate (43:11.689)
I love it. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for being with us. Sangram has, this has been a great episode and, uh, I know that our listeners will get a lot out of this. I think that way you finished it with, we get to do it is a fantastic piece of advice. Thanks everybody for listening in on this episode of Conquer the Chaos. Get out there and do great stuff. Build your business and keep growing.

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