Augusto Digital Insights: Founder Series, featuring Marty Balkema, Augusto co-founder

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Marty Balkema, co-founder of Augusto, shares his theory behind building a client roster and positive reputation by banking on trust and hiring great people.

In this episode of the Augusto Digital Insights podcast, Brian Anderson interviews Marty Balkema—a 20-year software development veteran and the COO and co-founder of Augusto. As a leader on the executive team, Marty has been instrumental in helping to shape the company’s operations and culture. This is one part of a series focused on the people and relationships that guide Augusto’s vision for the future.

Marty and Brian first met when Marty was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, working for a company called Rapidparts—a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Association (MCFA). Marty was responsible for the development of their Lift Truck Solutions platform, and he hired Brian’s team at the time to help.

Because of the way Brian handled the unintentional budget overage on that original project, the two men maintained a long relationship—and, eventually, friendship.

Marty shares about his unique educational experience at what was then called GMI Engineering and Management Institute (now Kettering University). As a fully cooperative school, the pattern of education was that students worked for 12 weeks in the field then attended school for 12 weeks. He quickly began to love solving problems around technology.

When Brian was considering starting a consulting business, Marty’s family was looking for an opportunity that would allow them the freedom to live wherever they wanted. That paired with the opportunity to consult on software development led Marty to jump on board.

Marty shares how they built a client roster and positive reputation by banking on trust and by performing solid jobs. He also talks about the importance of hiring great people who want to pursue client wins—then setting them free to do their jobs. As part of his job, Marty creates a culture and environment at Augusto that sets talented people up to thrive.

We thank Marty for his time on the Augusto Digital Podcast and for the way he creates a team of amazing workers!

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Brian: This is the Augusto Digital Insights podcast. I’m your host Brian Anderson, I’m the CEO of Augusto Digital. This series is focused on the people of Augusto. My goal is to highlight the diverse skill sets and personalities that make Augusto special. My guest today is Marty Balkema. Marty is a 20-year software development industry veteran. He is a co-founder of Augusto. Marty has been instrumental in helping to shape our company’s operations, culture, and serving as a leader on our executive leadership team. Marty and I first met when he was working in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a company called Rapidparts—a subsidiary of MCFA, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Association. Marty was responsible for the development of their Lift Truck Solutions platform, and he hired me and my team to help, and that’s where all this started. Welcome, Marty.

Marty: Thanks, Brian. Looking forward to talking today.

Brian: Why don’t you just kind of share a little bit of your background, some of the highlights of your history all the way back from high school and into your early college days? What did you do to get to this point?

Marty: Yeah. I think that probably the common thread is I always had access to some really good managers and mentors and things like that, throughout the whole journey. I had a really interesting college experience in computer science in the sense that I had co-op internships throughout the whole process, which was obviously very helpful to have real world software and programming experience really early on, and not just the academic part of it. So I think I started to appreciate the importance of on-the-job training and solving real problems and things like that around technology. And then I think, getting out of school, I had an opportunity to work in startups and got a chance to work in public education and build systems there across a lot of different technologies, and integrating large sets of data and things like that. And then found myself back in manufacturing in Michigan. Brian, you mentioned Rapidparts, and I learned a lot there. Had some great co-workers and mentors there. And that’s where I really started to see that I enjoyed and was pretty good at taking somebody else’s vision, a vision that they had maybe as a non-technical person, but they had a business model that required technology components. And I could understand what they were trying to accomplish, and I could start to break that down into what it was going to take from a technology standpoint, timeline, budgets, all those sorts of things that I could make a plan and help them make that come to life and really enjoyed it. And then that was, I don’t know, seven years or so doing that in the world of material handling and forklifts and eCommerce. I got a chance to do some global projects and travel a bit there. And also, I got a chance to work with a lot of software vendors. So I was writing RFPs for vendors, choosing vendors, and I got a chance to outsource projects with people like you and the company you were working for. And just learned a lot about consulting from the client side at that point of what did I like best about great consultants and vendors. And then I did a year of consulting where I got to work with some really amazing companies, big companies, big projects, Fortune 100, federal government, things like that. And that taught me a lot too because then I got to see the other side of it of some 20-year veteran career consultants that knew how to navigate accounts, knew how to build teams, knew how to build delivery processes, and things like that. So that led me to about roughly five years ago, feeling like I had learned enough I guess and had enough experience in relationships to kind of start to go out on my own. And that’s when you and I got connected with our partners and Augusto was formed.

Brian: Okay, but let’s unpack just a couple things in there. So you mentioned the schooling that you got. I thought that that was an interesting start to a career because you went to the GM Academy?

Marty: Yeah, so I had a double sided diploma. So when I started it was called GMI Engineering & Management Institute, what used to be General Motors Institute, which used to be Flint Institute of Technology. So it was originally formed in the ’20s to help train General Motors executives, and it continued down that path of top engineering and management talent and then in 1986, it became a private university and other companies outside of General Motors could send their people there, but it always remained as a co-op college. And then between the time I started and graduated, it was renamed to Kettering University. And so it’s still a fully cooperative school. It’s one of the only schools in the country that educates its students that way, it’s pretty unique.

Brian: And by co-op, it’s like part of it’s school and then part of it’s on the job, right?

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: You’re actually doing that job?

Marty: Yeah. So I went to school for 12 weeks, and then I would go to work for 12 weeks. So half the year in the workplace, half the year on campus.

Brian: And was that for GM that you were working with as your co-op?

Marty: Yeah, good question. So I was working for a West Michigan base, while they were actually based over in Detroit area, they had a plant, a manufacturing and casting plant. And they’ve changed names a bunch of times, but they were like a tier one, tier two supplier of automotive parts to the big three and just about a 1000-person manufacturing plant.

Brian: Yeah, so super experienced technical education, but real life experience. Seeing how they’re using the data, how they’re using software systems, and contributing to those as well, as a developer.

Marty: It was fun like 19, 20 years old, going to do like ERP implementations and HRMS implementations in Southfield, Michigan, staying in a hotel and doing consulting projects for the other plants. So yes, it’s a really cool thing to do when you’re not even out of college yet. It was fun.

Brian: Right. Yeah, I had a similar … Not the same kind of schooling, but similar kind of experience when I went to CRO right out of school, a consulting gig and I went to every small town in the Midwest, it seems like working on different software projects, and just got tons of great experience, and diverse sets of technologies and problems and got to do some global travel with that. And it’s just really, really interesting. So it’s like those early foundations kind of set the stage for what we’re doing now.

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: One of the things that you said in there also was you kind of worked on both sides as a consultant and as someone who was hiring consultants and working with the industry. And you’d mentioned that you kind of figured out eventually what you liked in consultants. I imagine that has an influence over how you lead here. What are some of the thoughts around that?

Marty: Yeah, it definitely does. It’s big time, that’s one of the reasons why you and I co-founded Augusto is because we were so aligned on some of these key points. I would just summarize it to say, when I was on the client side, I wanted somebody who did what was best for me and what I hired them for, as the client, right? Like they were focused on adding the value that I had asked them to, and they saw themselves as a consultant, as an extension of my team, meaning: “Hey, I’m the client, I’ve got to change how the business things are done, I’ve got to deploy my resources, I can hire people internally, or I can pay a partner in a vendor. If I choose to pay a partner and a vendor, I want you to recognize that those dollars or that investment could have gone a lot of different places, but I want you to be an extension of my team. Otherwise, I would have hired people internally, and I’m leaning on you because you have a particular set of expertise.” And then the way that plays out on a daily basis, I would say the other thing is it’s all about communication and expectation setting. So I think at a partner level, like a relationship level, it’s seeing yourself as part of the client team. I looked for that. And then communication expectations and execution, actually being able to deliver what we do.

Brian: It’s interesting that execution was last because…

Marty: It’s like par for the course though, right? You have to be able to execute. But if you execute, and you do a poor job of being a team, communications and expectations and all of that, that won’t last very long is what I found.

Brian: I think that’s a big reason why we saw it that way. We saw things very similarly. I’ve been mostly a consultant. I did do some contract work inside of companies, but mostly a consultant entrepreneur focused person. So I’ve always had that belief, seeing almost every client as a potential lifelong relationship.

Marty: Right.

Brian: And I know quite a few of them actually are. It’s a pleasure to work with people that hire us and we treat them as friends and we’re trying to make friends with them from day one and try to help them reach their goals.

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: And then usually if we focus on those things, then the right stuff kind of falls in place for us. We end up having cash flow and profit and growth and stuff like that. But it’s really focused on our customers first, I think, in many cases. So what led you to co-found Augusto? We could tell some fun stories, a couple of golf trips and conversations and stuff. But what ultimately made you decide to become a co-founder?

Marty: So for me, personally, kind of the personal life side of it all, my wife and I had made a goal several years prior, so that’s been almost 10 years ago, that we wanted to be in a situation where we had the freedom to be location independent, right? We have strong family ties in Michigan, the Midwest, but we also have a bunch of ties down in North Carolina. And we also are interested in all kinds of other areas. And we thought, “Well, wouldn’t it be cool if we could figure that out someday?” And there’s different ways you could do that. Nowadays, you can get a remote only like a remote first job. They’re certainly more frequent now than they ever have been, especially in the last few months.

Brian: Yeah.

Marty: And that would afford you that kind of flexibility. And then obviously, we had to figure out the children’s education part of it. But another route was to become a business owner, right and start a business. And so that’s the route we chose. And that led to, like you said, you and I having conversations. You were at a similar point in your career with our other partners at Augusto. It was just a good fit, good timing, kind of good cross intersection of what was going on in your life and career and my life and career and very similar goals. And so, yeah. That’s kind of how I see it. There’s obviously a lot more detail, we could go into some time. But that’s like at a high level what I remember.

Brian: Yeah, you ended up moving your family back from North Carolina, right?

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: To come back and co-found Augusto.

Marty: I was doing some independent consulting, and having success with that, but the opportunity to found Augusto… and I knew those early days were going to be a lot of hard work, right?

Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty: And not that they aren’t now too. But in the early days, it was good. It was a good decision to come back to Michigan and have close proximity for at least a little while.

Brian: Well, let’s just tell a couple stories about some of the early days. What were the early days like for you, because I remember, we still pedal hard but I remember pedaling really hard back in the early days when it was just you and me. I remember we built a relationship with Brightly. And they were instrumental in helping us kind of get the early steps of growth going. And then we both went on and we were working on independent projects for a while. And I was working embedded at a client for a little while. And then we were still out hustling, winning work and having lots of conversations trying to form like what this thing was like. What were some of the inflection points that you remember?

Marty: I have fond memories of all of it. Like it’s all hard, right? There are always good days and bad days, but I really have enjoyed the whole journey. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t hard times, but it is an amazing thing that you go through to build a business and make a living for your family. And it’s not like you and I were early 20s, with no responsibilities when we started this. We were in our 40s and had families and mortgages and the whole thing, right? And had opportunities to make a good living just by working for another company. And so it was a big decision. We definitely had to step out on faith that we could leverage our skills, our hard work, and the relationships that we had built over a 20-year career. And I would say that’s the biggest thing, like you mentioned Brightly so whether it was partners like Brightly or it was relationships with clients that we had from former parts of our careers. The thing that we banked on was trust, right? We had the trust of enough people. Either partners who we could leverage their trust that they had with clients or we had individual client relationships who trusted us enough that they would give us a shot like, “Hey, you guys just opened a company, I happen to need this, let’s get it going.” And then it was up to us to continually re-earn that trust. But that’s the word that I think of most when I think back to those early days was we were just banking on trust, because we weren’t really great sales guys or marketing guys. We didn’t know how to tell our story all that well. I’m still not sure we can figure that quite out.

Brian: We’re getting closer. It’s evolving quickly.

Marty: Yeah, but we knew that if someone gave us a shot, we would do good work. And we knew what good work was. And I said, the other thing Brian is, it’s not like we founded a company way outside of our wheelhouse. We founded it square in our wheelhouse. We knew how to deliver software projects, right? We knew how to put teams together, we knew how to break down a vision, we knew how to navigate the client team. We knew that if we were focused on making our client contact win at their job, we would have a better chance of winning the deal, and we’d have a better chance of executing the deal, right?

Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty: And so we just banked on trust over and over and over. Now, that’s how I recall it.

Brian: Yeah.

Marty: It was fun. It’s been exhilarating. And as much as you’re saying like we pedaled really hard. Well, we’ve had pretty darn good success so far. More big things to come, but it’s been fun. It’s been a great journey.

Brian: One of the conversations I remember us having, talking about trust, we actually came up with an equation because we were talking about trust a lot, and how we can continue to develop trust. And we basically said that value was a multiplier of trust. So the formula was: Growth = Value X Trust. You remember that conversation?

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: What were your thoughts on it?

Marty: I don’t know if that has like a fear or proof or whatever. But it seems to ring true, like what I remember from it was, it was around at some previous consulting examples we had in our career. And we just were like, “Hey, if we always bank on delivering value quickly, our assumption is that clients have an endless amount of work.” Maybe not right now, maybe not continuous, like endless is different than continuous, right? It might not be project, to project, to project. But if you are known inside of that compliant company, as well as inside the arena of the region, or the tech community, or whatever, as someone who focuses on hearing what the customer needs, delivering value as quickly as possible. So that value can be realized as ROI on their investment, you will earn trust, and the multiplying effect of value and trust leads to all the good things. And again, it might not be that account just keeps going and going and going. It might be that account is a small company, and they only make big capital investments every so often. But they told their friend at dinner the other night that they had a great experience with Augusto. And next thing you know, we’re getting a call and an introduction from those folks. So following that equation, and building our processes around that, teaching our teams about that was fundamental. And actually living it out, like making decisions to do the right thing according to that equation has paid dividends and I think it will for years to come.

Brian: Yeah. I had a question here of why do you think Augusto is growing? And I kind of feel like we just answered it. It’s that fundamental focus. And from there, we’ve put a lot of great people in place, like you’ve really helped to put some really talented people around all of us and build the procedures and the processes that lead to a consistent product. Maybe you could just go a little deeper into some of that.

Marty: Yeah, sure. I think you hit the nail on the head. There’s another phrase that I picked up from my previous job at Rapidparts and MCFA. But the phrase is “easy to do business with.” I also think that’s a really simple way to say why we’ve had the growth we’ve had. Like we’re pretty easy to do business with. We’re easy to get ahold of. We’re accountable, we do what we say we’re going to do. If we’re going to show up for some meetings and things like that. If we said, we’re going to get back with you, we do. There’s a lot of things there that are pretty easy to do, and make decisions to be like, but not everybody does that. And I think that we’re also accommodating in the sense of the way that the arrangement is with a partner or the way we are with clients. And so I think that’s an important thing. But at the end of the day, it’s the stuff I said earlier, the fundamental blocking and tackling is around delivery execution, communication, and expectation management. I think our model is interesting too, because we have always bet on making sure that there’s really strong leadership on all projects. And so we call those engagement leads and technical leads, and the caliber of people that we’ve hired and put into those positions, the way that we’ve fundamentally incentivize those folks to do a great job, we literally have aligned their incentivization to the growth equals V times T equation, we’ve really bet on that whole scenario. And I think people get motivated, but you have to be careful what you incentivize. And so, I think that that’s really interesting, from just a fundamental decision that we’ve gone with. At the end of the day, those leaders are like the front-line representation of the product that the client sold. So guys like you and I, and some of our other account execs are finding opportunities, we’re telling the Augusto story, and then we’re saying, “Hey, trust us,” and then we introduce them to, “our product,” which is our amazing people. And our process, right? And I think that when we’re in that situation where the people representing and leading that product are the thing in the forefront of their mind is, we’ve got to execute, continuously deliver value, you’ve got to be great at communication, and we’ve got to be great at expectation management. And then all good things happen after that, right? Obviously, we have to be able to write code and integrate systems and save to databases and present beautiful designs and all the things that we do that people pay us for. But the way that we do it, like the way that we do a kickoff, the way that we run our Agile process and all that. But I also have to say, we only deserve just so much of the credit because the talent we have at Augusto, the interesting people that we have all over the country now on our team, that have just interesting things outside of work that they’re involved in but yet, they’re able to come to put in a full day’s work and thrive, so to speak, like use their gifts and talents and have a good time and be part of a team and all that. They deserve a ton of the credit, of course. We just kind of are like facilitators of these people doing the work that they love to do.

Brian: We’re just trying to build the ecosystem for great people to thrive and to help grow that culture and help deliver a lot of value. Build really long standing relationships. I feel like the people we hire kind of have that in their ethos. It’s like they’re those kind of people already, we just found them or we attracted them in some way because they were attracted to something that was already in themselves. And so it is really fun to put together and watch these teams grow and thrive. What do you think are some of the keys for the team and for culture building? Where are you going with that next from your perspective?

Marty: Yeah. I would say that it’s basically just keeping going with what we were just talking about, right? Creating an environment for people to succeed, right? So as we grow, there’s enough going on projects, clients. It’s amazing how, we don’t know every detail anymore, right? And I think that the key now is creating this environment for these talented people to succeed like a culture of success, right? So that doesn’t say we haven’t made mistakes along the way and had some failures here and there, but for the most part, it’s gone really well, right? Clients have been very happy, and delivery has had very little failure in the big scheme of things. And so keeping that success going, that’s what people are striving for.

Brian: I want to key in on something you said there about failures, right? Because even our relationship, really what cemented our relationship was a failure and how we responded to a failure. Maybe you could speak to that, because I really feel like we are going to bend over backwards if we screw something up. Or if something gets screwed up in some way, even if it’s not our fault completely, we’re going to bend over backwards to make it right.

Marty: Yeah. So when you and I first met, I was working on early phases of building out this concept of Lift Truck Solutions, and the first app was around this fleet tracking app. Basically, it was a web-based app. There was going to be data coming in across the dealer network from a lot of different independent companies. And we were going to have to synthesize that and build features around that fleet tracking data. And we were in the first phase of building that out and we got to a point in the project where it was clear to me that we were, let’s just say, 75%, I’m making up numbers here, but 75% through the budget, and maybe 35% through the feature set, something like that. And obviously, that wasn’t going to fly. I needed to be accountable and responsible for that budget to my bosses. And I called you up and said, “Hey, we need to figure this out. I think this project is going sideways.”

Brian: That’s a really nice way of saying how you sold me out.

Marty: Yeah. And for me, right? This is where the empathy for our clients comes from because I remember, it ignites an emotional reaction of I remember what it was like, because this was my first opportunity where someone at my job had entrusted me with a large sum of investment, and then said, “Go find a vendor, manage that vendor, go execute.” And there were portions of that that were out of my control. And I think that helplessness of, “Hey, this is affecting my career, because of how my vendor was performing at the time.” It was hard, right? That was an emotional situation. And frankly, I was young and not super experienced. I hadn’t had that happen a lot, right? And so I wasn’t super experienced on what to do with it. And so I called you up. Did you have anything to add there or do you want me to keep going?

Brian: No, I’m just waiting for the next part.

Marty: So I do want to tell the end of the story about the big lesson learned, but I’ll go to the middle part as we just slugged it out. As far as trying to figure out how to do the best we could with the team, we swapped out some resources, we got like a new engagement, or a new project manager in place there. We focused on delivering quickly, just getting back to the basics of an Agile Scrum process, when we’re demoing on a regular basis, we’re reprioritizing the backlog, we’re focused on this week or this two weeks, and we just did everything very much in an open transparent way. Ultimately, it went over budget. And you advocated very well for the leadership of your company that you were working for at the time, to get us some reprieve on some of that budget overage a little bit, that was great, and you did everything you could. And to your point, that was pivotal in our friendship and our relationship. You took it seriously that this was affecting my career and our overall product strategy. And you essentially put yourself out on a limb, so to speak, with your team to advocate for your client. And that’s how I recall it.

Brian: Yeah, I remember that really well too. And I just remember being really upset with myself like, how did we let it get into this situation? Everything was going so well and then we lost a little focus on it. And next thing you know, everyone’s busy and you think everything’s going great, and then you realize, “Oh, we’re actually not heading in a great direction.” That was a really good lesson too of how valuable Agile is. How valuable it is to have a team that actually works together, not just our team working together, but our client’s team and our project team working closely together. I think we started calling it the hybrid team back then, right? And it’s like, we’re actually a team, there’s nothing to hide, we have to be as transparent as possible. We have to get as small of stuff done as fast as possible. We have to be able to show value, produce value for the business as soon as we can, right? That was part of the changes; we had to change different people out because there were philosophical differences. And it was like, once we got the right team in place, things smoothed out, we were able to make it right.I think it was a refund of some of it at some point of the overage and then that relationship went on for years. It went on even after both of us were gone for both of those companies.

Marty: Yup.

Brian: And really, like I do remember, the way we navigated it together, this is the kind of person I want to do business with; this is the kind of person that I want to keep a longer relationship with because I think he’s a stand up person. And that’s a lot of how I feel about the people at Augusto. I think you’ve done a great job of bringing that to the table as well as we’re trying to wrap ourselves with great people who have great morals, caring and empathy, and also wicked smart people who are super talented with technology and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. And I look back on that project. Marty, if we would have had AWS back in those days, or at least that knowledge of what was possible, and all of these tools that are there now, we could have knocked that one out of the park so much faster.

Marty: Oh, yeah. Totally, right? The newer technologies that our teams are using today, if we had started back then. So this was probably what? 2013-ish in there.

Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty: But I also think about like, if we had people like,Joel Ross or Justin Wolgamott on the team at that point. The big lesson there too, just let me sidebar on that. Outside of the client relationship kind of thing is the product mindset and the lean project management mentality. So even more than Agile, we weren’t great at understanding lean that well, back then. Meaning we had a hard time not trying to do the whole vision right up front. And if we could have done it over again, we would have made smaller bets, tested those things, and then gone on to the next phase versus trying to do a really big project, which has way more chance for failures to happen. We could have had something built, and in the hands of users adding value in four weeks or six weeks or something like that, versus months and months and months. And then because what’s interesting is we tried to get the whole feature set out to the market, we went over budget, only got a portion of the feature set out. And then it turns out our hypothesis didn’t validate and only a portion of it ended up being the valuable part in the first place. That was probably one of the biggest lessons I learned that I’ve tried hard to carry through. And it still challenges me today because you see the whole vision, and you’re excited, and it’s so hard to eliminate. It’s so hard to reduce, but learning that the best product and not just product manager people, product mindset people, but the best company leaders. It’s one of the things I’m studying now. It’s about reduction, right? It’s about what we are not going to do. What are we not going to build? Not to say we won’t do it or build it later. But what are we going to focus on? Most importantly, what are we saying yes to? Right, and that whole mindset? I first started learning that at that point.

Brian: Yeah, those were big lessons for me too, big lessons. And I would say that my evolution of product thinking, that was a big influence on it.

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: And I still think today as we sell Augusto work, it’s always like, what’s the smallest thing we could start with? Any budget. Well, let’s just start with something, let’s get a hypothesis, let’s get something to the point where it doesn’t even have to be built. It can be a wireframe, it can be something else to test some of this stuff earlier on. We just want to get you to the point where you’re picking up momentum on stuff that’s actually going to move the needle.

Marty: Exactly right. I want to go back to like, it’s a couple of ideas… I was starting to go there on the culture thing. What we’ve done well, what we continue to strive to do well is… I was talking about the culture of success. But the first thing is, you got to define what that even means, right? So defining and setting expectations about this is how we work, these are our processes, these are the core values and standards and really having a good onboarding process, like finding the right people that aren’t going to be in conflict with who you hired number one, and then have a good onboarding process.

And then just have like these day-to-day ways we work that give trust to the individuals to perform on a daily basis. But also having mechanisms to know that execution is happening, communication is happening, those kinds of things. The other thing I’ve learned because I think I’m like this too, is I do often and there’s probably a differing opinion in different people, but people do like to separate the work they do at work from their personal life, right? And so it’s often talked about work-life balance, and all of that. But I think in general, people want to win, right? People want to win at work. And then people want to succeed at home or at raising their family or in their relationships with their friends, or they may be playing a league or whatever it is that they love to do. It’s all about like, “Well, hey, our role in your life is the work part, right? And we want to help you succeed there and help you make enough of a living that you can also go win over here.” But creating that environment where that’s our mentality, I think bleeds over. What I’ve noticed is people end up just like, “Wow! Ever since I started working here at Augusto, I’m seeing success happen in a lot of areas. And they’re not looking over my shoulder, they’re giving me the freedom to be results oriented type of management style.” And I tell you, man, when you find talented people, and then put them in that results focused environment and trust that they’ll perform, more often than not they do. So that’s kind of the mindset, I think.

Brian: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think in general, both of us are competitive, and we want to win at things, we want to help our teammates win and then also, I think, like you used to say earlier on always, and you still say it often is: the hardest part is knowing what to do.

Marty: Yeah.

Brian: And so it’s like, a lot of our processes, a lot of the ways that we organize are to quickly identify and help prioritize what to do. Because if we can just line up the work and organize ourselves, we have people that are super results oriented, super accountable, they want to do a great job, and they’re going to do a great job. And so it’s just a matter of lining up that whole set of processes from setting expectations, building trust, all the way from the sales process, all the way through the delivery and all the other future engagements that we’ll work on together as a client and a team, a consulting team. Yeah, it just leads to great results and relationships and stuff. And it’s not floofy, it’s just a philosophy of how to live, how to organize. And so that’s probably why it bleeds into people’s real lives outside of their work lives.

Marty: Exactly, we just believe that people want to get up most every day and put in an honest day’s work, right? They want to come to work, they want to work hard, they want to stay focused, so we build a culture that assumes that and expects that. And people are either attracted to that or they’re not, right?

Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty: And then I think we also do a good job of being very aware about putting people in the right seats. So that’s the built to last like Jim Collins, you got to find people. Are they the right people? And then put them in the right seats.

Brian: Yup.

Marty: And if you identify a mismatch, you can’t always make the change on day one, but we are trying to get people in the right seats as often as possible. And I think that’s super important, right? Alignment to what people are good at and they love to do or the next place they want to take their career is going to make it better for everybody, right?

Brian: Right. Yeah, I remember Dan said, “I can always trust what’s in your best interest.” And so that’s part of that. Putting people in the right seats is like, once you’ve identified, once we kind of see where the best fit is, and what’s going to be the easiest for you to get into flow so you’re at your highest performance level. Why would we keep you away from that seat?

Marty: Right. Exactly. Yeah, totally. So it’s fun. And I think that the cultural stuff around some of these four or five mindset fundamentals, the culture just kind of happens after that.

Brian: Yeah. Well, cool, Marty. Thanks for taking time today to just talk about this stuff and get you more introduced to our audience. Looking forward to many more years of success.

Marty: Yeah. Let me know any questions. I love talking about this stuff, it’s fun.

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