Hero section
Season 01, Episode 11

Founder & Co-CEO of Winning by Design, Jacco van der Kooij

Founder & Co-CEO of Winning by Design, Jacco van der Kooij

About the Episode

Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we’re talking to the Founder & Co-CEO of Winning by Design, Jacco van der Kooij.

.

Subscribe and listen at

Full Transcript

Collapse
17:53

Chris:
Welcome back everyone. Today, I’m talking to Jacco van der Kooij, Founder of Winning by Design. Hey Jacco. Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I love it. All right. So real quick, tell us a little bit about your business. Just what you guys do. This is an invitation to a pitch.

Jacco:
Okay. Here’s what we do. When you are a company that grows revenues, let’s say from $1 million to a hundred million dollars, you go through different go-to market strategies. You go from selling online to selling direct, to potentially using a channel. We help companies define those go-to market strategies and we help them deploy.

Chris:
Got it. So is it like a consulting and coaching and training business or what’s the, what’s the core? How do you make money?

Jacco:
Check, check, check. Yes. Consulting. Yes. Coaching. Yes. I’m training. So that’s all we just make money. Now you got to think about these projects, in general, are priced anywhere from a hundred thousand to $500,000, which is where the bell curve is. So these are not like $5,000 projects. Neither are they a multimillion-dollar project. So we’re not in the big where the big people play like McKinsey and we’re not at the smallest we were right in that middle spot.

Chris:
Got it. Okay. So why this business? Why, what gave you the idea to start this?

Jacco:
Okay. Okay. So most importantly, it was in late 2010 ish. And as I was attending a sales conference, a person showed up a renounced speaker, showed up, held their wallet. As the opening keynote held up their wallet. That’s the opening keynote and started to get the crowd completely hooting and hollering. And I mean like they got the entire crowd going at it, like I’m telling you the crowd was going and going and going. And as do, as

Jacco:
They, the first words out of this person’s mouth, or if you want to talk to a salesperson, you got to talk to their wallet. That’s not me. I felt we needed to change that perspective of what sales do and what we’re, how we talk about sales. We are here to help customers the same way, how doctors help patients. And we don’t want to talk about doctors as if they’re money motivated. Obviously, there are some, obviously, we’re in an opioid crisis. I mean, there’s a lot of examples, but I like to think that we have a little more honorary approach when we look at cells.

Chris:
Got it. Okay. So you’re bringing this, this, this honor, this, this a better approach than the traditional sales approach, to just really help growing businesses, scale their sales organizations. That

Jacco:
Is right. We think of sales. It’s not something that the seller does, but something that the buyer does. So we are our primary tagline is don’t help your companies to sell, but to help your customers to buy. And if you help your customers to buy automatically, you’re going to help your company to sell. So why don’t start with that? I

Chris:
Love it. Okay. So this series is all about growing, scaling a business, which you not only do for other people, but you’ve done incredibly for yourself. You went from, we were talking before the show seven to over 90 people in the last few years. Is that right? Is it yeah, that’s about right. Yeah. So, so what do you think is the, is the secret sauce? Like what makes your business so special that you’ve scaled like this?

Jacco:
Well, I think first and foremost, what makes any business great is when it’s run by passionate people who are experts at what they do, uh, if you’re passionate about something, but you’re not good, you’re probably really good, you know, Wednesday night entertainment, you know, you know, implying that you can sing, but cannot sing, but you know, it’s still hard can go a long way, but at just entertaining, if you are a passionate and really good about something and I call expert level, you can charge for it. And so what I’m looking for is to achieve that, then our people, the way we hire a recruit, where we look for is to reflect that both that passion and that expertise. And

Chris:
Did you hire experts from the very beginning of what were your first key hires?

Jacco:
Uh, we, I hired experts almost right from the beginning. Um, and what’d you look at what you find is that there’s, uh, experts, in general, have a particular nature that they don’t wanna work for a boss. They don’t want to work for a company because they’re so good at what they do. They kind of like our artists. Right. And so, uh, it brings different problems for them because sometimes we have people who think that I’m asking for Picassos. Right. And I go like, no, no, no. I just want the room paint. That’s right. Like just paint the room for me. I don’t, we don’t need to Picasso on this one, but yeah. So that’s another challenge, but that is of way more, you know, like a good challenge to have, then, then go the opposite route. People

Chris:
They’ll skimp on their first hires and they’ll think, oh, I can only afford someone that’s of this quality. So how did you think about it to really make investments in the right people?

Jacco:
I didn’t invest in them directly. I let them invest in themselves in our case, the way we grow is I simply let’s say, and that’s, it’s more or less today’s model. If we win a deal, the person responsible for that deal can make as much as 30% of revenue on the deal. So if we close, you know, like we have a number of people who are upwards of a million, 2 million, $3 million in revenue that they generate. So these people are easily making anywhere between 300 and 700 to $50,000 a year. I am a big believer in the straw and things. The lessons I learned when plucking strawberries on the fields of the Netherlands. Yes, I set the word strawberry. That was not a word that you were thinking about. You were going to hear today when you pluck strawberries as a 12, 13, 14-year-olds, you know, again, in the Netherlands.

Jacco:
So let’s forget about labor laws and stuff like that. You get paid by how much you pluck. And literally, it’s a box, right? You don’t get paid. How, how old you are. You don’t get paid necessarily on the quality. Although, you know, if, if it doesn’t look good, it will be district. You just get paid. That the beautiful thing about this is if you pluck twice as much, you’re going to get paid twice as much. How can, what I don’t like in today’s world is when you work and you work twice as much, you don’t, you don’t get anything extra. And so in our world, if somebody’s going to get married, somebody is having a baby. Somebody is looking to buy a house. Soon after the kids grow up, all these things are normal, you know, normal motions. Why wouldn’t you be in a position that you can work twice as hard that given year and leading up to that make twice as much money? Yeah. And that’s what our people do. And then obviously when the family starts to grow, then, you know, in the beginning, they wanted a little bit off time. I’d take off three months. Like, yo, like, I don’t know, but

Chris:
They’ll pay it very much pay by results. And that’s, that was ingrained in you early on.

Jacco:
That is right. And we, we call it, uh, you know, we paid by productivity, not activity and productivity is what the customer wants.

Chris:
And is that only for your sales roles or does that extend to every role in the organization?

Jacco:
It extends to a number of roles, but not to every role. So nowadays have 92 people. I believe we have, we have HR, we have financed. So we have more like, like the supporting roles who get paid differently. But what we do and this year was the first, last year, 2020, it was the first year that we would make it a real point to play everybody that is having a winning by design.com email address to make sure that they are being paid profit share so that they are, you know, like, uh, yeah, they are experiencing the gains of the overall team effort.

Chris:
I love that. So experienced, participate in the results, experienced some of the gains. That’s right. What do you think is the hardest part about adding more people to your team as you’ve gone from, you know, 10 to 20 to 50 to close to a hundred now,

Jacco:
Quality, quality, quality. That’s I think that’s the story of everyone. Quality is of the hiring process and managing the people it’s primarily focused at managing expectations. Um, what needs to come with, uh, with an organizational structure like this is accountability. And you know, like that is, that is tough for anyone, you know, like, and so we need to manage accountability. Did you deliver the quality of work that the client wanted? And if the client didn’t want it, didn’t like it. And we have to recreate that content who pays for that extra pay. And that is a conversation we have, you know, like you’re, you know, not necessarily that’s the person who has to pay the money back. You know, there are many cases where we just ask somebody else to do it, or we ask that person first to do a better job. And then over time, we may ask another person to do it because maybe the skill set wasn’t there or something like that. We just want people to know that that happened. And then obviously we have always a little budget, extra buffer in inside these projects to pay for unforeseen costs.

Chris:
So do you have any cadence of check-ins with people to make sure that quality is good? Accountability is good. Any tricks that people should, uh, should implement themselves? Talk a lot. Yes.

Jacco:
The slack channel is not a one for us. Like, and I think the same thing for Microsoft teams not getting favoring one or yada, but yeah, like if we now look at the amount of communication needed today is just a lot, lot of slack we use. Are you familiar with asynchronous communication? Yeah, of course. Okay. So we do a lot of, you know, like at forms of asynchronous communication, which are, you know, like directly creating videos, a lot of slack channel communication and whatnot.

Chris:
Yeah. All right. Great tip. I love that. So on this crazy growth path, was there ever a point where you worried things just wouldn’t work out? You thought you were growing too fast, it wasn’t going to work. Was it w w was there ever one of those moments?

Jacco:
Well, I would say it’s like almost every day, right? I mean, like go, uh, not before coffee in the morning, so, but no, it, it happens frequently. I think that when you go, what many people don’t realize as you grow? I did. Yeah. Like I didn’t start a company to become a CEO of in this case, 92 people, you know, and stuff like that. I did. That’s not how you wake up one day. He said, that’s what I want to become. What you wake up one day and say, I see a problem and I want to fix it. And then as, as it develops, you end up being a CEO and nowadays I’m the founder. And you know, like, uh, we have to transition those responsibilities to my co CEO. Who’s now the CEO of the company. But in, in that mindset, you know, like, yeah, you don’t, yeah.

Jacco:
You don’t plan to be a CEO. You become, it is very much. And I believe in this, this is for, you know, in, in, in the world of politics and government, you don’t, you know, like the best government officials or those who don’t want to be there, actually being chosen by the people and pushed front. Like you would be good at it. I think the same thing, I wouldn’t say a good CEO necessarily, but I think that the same thing holds with a CEO. You don’t wake up one day and decide, I want to become a CEO. You just automatically grow into that.

Chris:
Yeah. You become one. I like that. So it just evolves over time based on experience. And I think everybody probably second guesses themselves a little bit, but you just keep pushing. Yeah. You need that morning coffee, maybe a few, some days. Right?

Jacco:
Okay. I have to tell you something for those folks who are listening right now, you, you have to seriously what you are missing out on and what I know that you’re not seeing, but I got to tell you, okay, here it comes. But those of you who do not know Chris Roseo, this guy has a haircut that is to die for. I am telling you, Chris, how do you wake up every morning with that haircut? Tell me,

Chris:
Man. You know, I learned to cut my own hair during COVID, which is like, now, now I, now I just cut the sides of myself, like every couple of days. So it always looks freshly done. I

Jacco:
Dream about hair like that. I’m bold. So I dream about hair like that. What an amazing haircut.

Chris:
Thanks, man. I appreciate that. All right. So back into this growth story, maybe you can use that little rewind sample that you’ve Got. Yeah. Oh, rewind. Let’s go. And it’s time to rewind.

Chris:
So, so thinking through this trajectory, you know, you’re growing so fast year, over year, over year, what was it? Was it like a certain idea, a certain service, or a course that you offer a certain connection? Was there a, something you can pinpoint that really unlocked that next level of growth for you?

Jacco:
Yes. The moment that a particular group of people joined and you know, like certain people, have, you know, like a, an additive impact, certain people have multiplication impact and some people have exponential impact. The problem is you’re looking for exponential impact, but those people, you cannot have too many off because they’re going to bite each other. It’s just like, it’s an, you know, like, so you can only have a coop, a couple of people who have that exponential slash compound impact. And you need all of them. It’s not like one is more important than the other. Everybody’s important. What you need is people. As on this case, uh, Dominic Levin joined and, uh, uh, Dan Smith joins, and those people have created an exponential impact, that different stages of the, of the development of the company,

Chris:
Everyone listening needs a Dan and a Dominique, but, you know, delegation is one of those things. A lot of people complain about and struggle with. So what’s helped you get better at it.

Jacco:
Oh, okay. So it’s not delegation. It’s, what has helped me is to realize now for the listeners, I am I’m advising and counseling CEOs who undergo these challenges. So I’m in an, in an, in an unfair position that they are asking me to give them guidance, which essentially is me talking to myself at the same time. Right? And so the one piece of advice that I saw almost always is that CEOs have a hard time delegating and in particularly stepping away, almost always. The number one challenge is, is why they have issues with that is because they are unwilling to see whoever picks up the task make a mistake. They’re unwilling to let that person make a mistake. What your number one task is as you are becoming. And as you’re growing inside, the company is to delegate, which means that you got to let people make, give them the chance to make their own mistakes. But those mistakes can not be fatal to anyone. Right. So the trip and fall, you just gotta let it happen. You just gotta walk away. Don’t look like, and even if they trip and fall, sometimes you pick up. Sometimes you just walk away and not as you figure it out. And that is, yeah, that is, uh, it’s really hard.

Chris:
And you went so far as to get a new CEO. It sounds like you said a co CEO or now the CEO. Tell me about that.

Jacco:
Yeah. So dominant. Well, yeah, like the Dominic had that expertise set already historically. So she already brought that to the table. What you need, you need a partner in your business that knows the business of where you’re going to, not where you’re at right now. So you need that experience. Hey, I know, you know what the next two, three steps look like. Um, Dominic knew dad having been a former CEO, having great financial experience, you know, like a MBA, a great level of background, VC level background. So she already knows where we’re going. Um, yeah. And yeah, and that point in time, once you make that decision and you transition that gradually, I want you, you know, we did it about over a year or something like that. But when that comes out, you know, like you’re just, we’re now at the stage of me letting go,

Chris:
That’s amazing, incredible self-awareness to surround yourself with people that know how to see a few steps ahead. So kudos to you for that. What’s next for you and your business. What’s, what’s one thing you’re working on right now that you’re excited about in the next stage.

Jacco:
So as I ask y’all like, what do you think the problem is? If I tell it to do my job, what do you think? What is the next problem I’m going to run into? You don’t have a job. I don’t Have a job. Yes. Okay. Please.

Jacco:
A gentleman. I do not have a job. Okay. Anybody

Jacco:
Know, looking for no, essentially I have to reinvent what I bring to the table and in the, and that is the challenge. Now, what I know is that my mind, my heart, where my brain is, is essentially what I, what the value I bring to the company. We now have better trainers than I ever could train. We have better architects that I ever could be. We don’t have a better person running a business, but still, if it comes down to pure hardcore sales knowledge, and y’all like, how does it customer work and stuff like that, that’s still, I feel still be very, you know, like comfortable in sharing that knowledge. And so that is my role writing books speaking to, to, to, uh, to large clients and, you know, creating that confidence that we have deep insights inside of them. So Jocko,

Chris:
If people want to connect with you, if they want to learn more about your company, about your books, I know you put out a ton of content. Where’s the best place for them to connect with

Jacco:
You? Last place is, uh, YouTube, where we have a channel fully loaded thousands of followers, as, as you know, hundreds of videos, in-depth knowledge on sales. And that simply is youtube.com/winning by design. From there. I think everything else will prove itself. Look me up on LinkedIn, Jocko, Tata named J a C O and sales. And it would be hard fetched for you not to find me. I would say that is because of the unique nature of my name creates unfair SEO advantage.

Chris:
This is the guy. So if you’re looking for sales, training, sales expertise, growing a sales team, go to YouTube, like you said, search for Jocko search for winning by design. You will learn so much Jocko. We got to collaborate on some sales process training or something. I’m going to follow up with you on that, because that could be cool. Exactly. That’s what we need to be doing. Amazing. All right, everybody. So you heard from Jocko, he went from seven people to 90 to 95, almost over a hundred people just by adding the right mix of other people, to his business. People that are additive, multiplicative and

Chris:
That they add. So hopefully you can borrow a page From his playbook as you build yours. Everyone, we’ll see you next time. Jocko. Thanks for being here. Thank you for having me.

Check out some of our other shows