Nick Shucet 00:01

Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast. I'm your host, Nick Shucet. Today we have Matteo on the call. He's a relatively newer member of the group, but he's been around for a while and he's got some great stats to mention for his business. He's 3Xed his business three years in a row now and they're about to hit $20 million in revenue, which is pretty amazing, man.

Congrats on that, Matteo. How's it going for today, man? What's going on in the business? How was Prime Day? Let us know.

Matteo Lombardi 00:34

Amazing. I actually don't even know too much about Prime Day because I'm in a phase of the business where I'm not looking at the day-to-day too much anymore. I'm just focusing on vision. I did see the stats a little bit. I think we had 3X the normal amount of sales for two days of Prime, but we do zero promotions because we do arbitrage.

You're familiar with that. You did that before. We don't do any promotions. We don't focus on it. We see that the sales go down a little bit before Prime Day. The experience in the past has been, it goes down a little bit after. We don't see that much of a difference. We just have to be careful of our algorithms so that algorithms don't make wrong assumptions of what would be the sales into the future because of those atypical days.

That's the only thing that we have to take care of in our business. I don't look at day-to-day anymore. I just look at month to month. I look at what are the strategic things that we need to do, who we need to hire, and what we need to build. I try not to get myself with the ups and downs of Amazon that happens which used to change me emotionally when things are going up and things are going down, you're excited, you're down.

That's not serving me so I just don't look at it so I can focus on what I want to build in three years time frame. That's my focus.

Nick Shucet 1:55

Nice, I like that man, that's a good focus. It's something I've always struggled with and I still struggle with it, but I lean on something my executive coach told me and she's talking about flight plans, she's always making these good comparisons. We can make all these plans, but like a flight plan, I think she said, sticks to the route 8% of the time.

It was a low number. They make all these plans, but they always have to course correct. I think guys like us, and it seems like you're doing a good job at this, we have to be there to correct. We have a three-year, five-year vision, but when Amazon limits what we can send in or raises fees or whatever the hell they do to us, we've got to be in that position to react quickly and react properly, hopefully.

It seems like you're doing a good job at that. I'm still a little more down in the minutia than I want to be, but man it would be great to hear you talk about how you got to that point. Did you start out that way when you got into the business or was that something you figured out the hard way down just going through the path of the business?

Matteo Lombardi 03:12

Sure. For the longest time, I did start my business with this four-hour workweek mentality. I had started way before 22 years ago, buying and selling things online with a real company, just hustling and making a living that way. It was only in 2010 that I really decided to create a business after I read the four-hour workweek. I was creating with this four-hour workweek mentality, but I didn't manage to scale it.

I managed to work very few hours, but as soon as I wanted to scale, there were a lot of things that depended on me. I was trapped in this, always wanting to not be working on the business, instead of in the business. We all talk about it, but how do you do it? This was, I think, 2020 or 2021 when I read a book called Making Money Is Killing Your Business.

It says that if you are in any activity that is money-producing for your business, then you're bottlenecking the ability of your business to grow. I love that and of course, it tells more of those things in the book. I realized for a long time, how can I replace myself? This is I think a lot of entrepreneurs have this difficulty. They're like, okay, sure, I should replace myself, but how? It's expensive. Usually, we are underpaid. If you really look at how much somebody else would pay for us in another business, most of us are giving ourselves a salary that is below market rate, but we have independence, we have a great lifestyle.

I'm not complaining about that, but because of that, it makes it difficult to replace yourself. I was thinking and thinking and I thought, okay, I can't replace myself with one person, but can I replace myself with three? That was a light bulb moment with this book, with the idea of replacing myself with three so I had three different people in three different areas, one doing product research, one doing operations and one doing finance, controlling and accounting stuff and everything.

With that, I removed myself from it took longer than that. It’s hiring these people, training them, and finding the right person for the job because before I was just hiring people that wanted a job. I started hiring in the Philippines back in the day in 2010, 2012. I was just hiring somebody, look, I have the job we wanted. Now in this time in 2019, when my wife started helping me hire, she created a recruiting company.

Who is the person that would love this job, that would kill at it? We realized for product research, so you did arbitrage before, I had a light bulb moment, I thought this is a data analyst or a finance person because it's ROIs, it's cashflow, it's looking at all that stuff. I found a girl who was an engineer who was trying to transition to another profession. She liked the idea, but she really wanted remote as well.

She killed it, she became better and better and better and today she's like incredible at it. Also because she's doing that eight hours a day, full focus. she actually can produce way, way more results than I could because I was doing it a few hours a day, not fully focusing when I could. That helped really when I got out of all those functions that I was doing, even the small ones, it helped the business grow.

It was later, so I was still a little bit stuck in the business. I talked to a guy that was doing, I think he was doing, he took a company from eight million revenue to 20 million revenue, which at the time was completely mind-blowing to me. 20 million seems like another universe. Today we're doing that, it's super strange. He said it sounds to me that you need to buy back some of your time.

One of the things was getting an executive assistant, get a COO. I got an executive assistant, I got a COO, and instantly, again, I got freed a lot of my time. The executive assistant actually freed almost as much time as the COO. I think now I hired as a 12th employee in the business, I think I would have done, I should have done the sixth employee in the business. because the advantage of an executive assistant is that he's a very flexible person who can do well, not perfect, a lot of different tasks.

All those little tasks that you don't know who to give to and you end up doing because you're a founder, that's one of the things that executive assistant is taking off your plate and helping you not have to deal with a lot of little small things, including in your personal life. Those two hires were amazing and that's when I managed to almost get out of the business.

Then I met with a consultant one day. and whether I'm going to be a coach is a famous guy called Cameron Herold. He wrote a book, Second in Command, and he said, come back to me when you have a strong leadership team. I was like, okay, because I'm doing the US and probably doing it as well. Lots of people in MDS are doing the US fraction, the way to organize the business. You have the leadership team. My focus was for the last year, to have a strong person in each position on the leadership team.

That allowed me not to have to think about the storage or the things that Amazon is thinking around because they are all strong in their positions so I can give ideas, but often they're better at it, that thing that they're doing that they're responsible for, they're better than I am. I'm still giving ideas. I'm still the bridge between MDS. They have a doubt.

Sometimes I put on MDS. This is one thing I love about MDS is that 500 CEO brains there always open to help. If I have a big problem, I often go and put the question there, hey, I have this problem, how do you solve it? Often you get within hours, you get responses. Then I take those responses back to the team and say, look, this is what people are saying.

These are the ones I like, these ones that I maybe don't agree with. I let them solve the issue because if I solve the issue myself, I rob them of the possibility of growing into being the person who knows how to solve that issue. This way, the leadership thing has become more and more mature to the point that now my best contribution as the visionary of the business is thinking about how can we get there in three years or 10 years.

I'm no longer the best contributor in terms of the individual functions of the departments. It's a great moment that I'm enjoying a lot because I actually enjoy being a visionary, I don't enjoy doing these different functions of finance and research and all that in business.

Nick Shucet 09:45

Man, that's amazing. I really like how you have very specific things. The executive assistant was the 12th person I hired. I should have done it in the sixth person. People can really take that information and make sense of it right away when you put numbers on it like that. You said a lot of great things there. I definitely agree about MDS, man.

It's amazing. We need an MDS chatbot agent or something like that but only for MDS. We'd have to keep that MDS only. How did you get started? Did you always look at things this way and struggle just trying to make it happen and get things as segmented as you have it with your leadership team, or were you not even aware of the potential business that you were gonna grow and your role in it?

What was that like for you when you were getting started?

Matteo Lombardi 10:48

In the beginning, I just wanted to have something remote. I wanted to have a remote income, location independent because I noticed that I had friends across the globe and not in any one city and I wanted to see them. Sometimes people don't have that much vacation, they're working so I thought it was great. I go to their cities, I work online, and then in the evenings and the weekends, we can be together.

I can also sometimes travel a little bit while working and this was my biggest objective when I created that. Then later, I wasn't sure I could scale this. Usually, and you probably experienced this with arbitrage, everybody says it's not scalable, it's not sellable, it's not a great business, Amazon, blah blah blah. All these ideas slipped into my mind and I didn't believe I could make much bigger business than what I had.

The other thing I struggled with is I felt that I couldn't hire the people that I really would enjoy working with. Not that I couldn't at all, but it was very, very difficult. I didn't enjoy the hiring process. I didn't enjoy interviewing a lot of people. I wanted to have a business without people. I tried first, my first trial actually in 2016 was when I partnered with a guy to automate everything, to create software to automate everything.

It didn't work. We didn't manage. Then I lost. I invested about 50,000 euros which didn't work out at the time. Later there was a concept from Palantir, they're one of the companies of Peter Thiel. To check fraud, they had a mix of people and software. Software is great for some things, but people are better for other things. I suddenly realized that if I would automate again, I would need people and software.

Then with my wife's recruiting company, I really started finding more and more people that I truly enjoy working with. They could learn what I want to teach them and then they could surpass that knowledge through training and practice. We have people from Toyota, Ikea, Japan Tobacco, and KPMG. We hired people even though we had a guy from McKinsey.

We hire people from great companies in developing countries. We don't hire in the Philippines anymore. We hire a lot of them in Eastern Europe and some of them are in Latin America. With a stronger team, I really managed to build up and I realized, okay, I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to build up a complex team. Then I was using a group before MDS called Rhodium that I was part of.

Now I use MDS a lot to ask people, how do you do this? How do you organize? Then you have to team along. I read the books and then we hired an implementer. We had a consultant that through somebody through the network. I started networking with a lot of masterminds. Every time, how do I do this? How do I handle a company at this level?

How do I grow? How do I organize it? I joined Strategy Coach, for example. I joined everything I could to learn the things that I could not see. That's always been my search now. For example, this year I went to a lot of conferences. I'm going to an MDS experience next week, which I'm super excited about. What you need to be doing is talking to people who are at your level, solving similar problems.

People who are above your level, who have already solved the problems that seem crazy to you, you look at them and you're like, how am I going to solve this thing? It's like, it's not possible. Then you talk to people that have done it and they're like, this is what I did. Then you see what works for you because everybody solves things in different ways.

Then you learn. It's like we learn to walk. If you look at a toddler before he walks, he thinks like, my God, walking seems like the last thing on their mind that they can do and then they can do it. They can walk, they can run, they can play tennis. I think we can learn anything. We just need to go to people who know how to do it, and read books.

I read a book a week. I've read more than 400 business books in the last few years as an entrepreneur and just trying to find the people that for them is easy what for me is hard and get to learn from them. 

Nick Shucet 15:05

It's great to be able to fill your mind with just good content. I don't read as much as I used to just because I just don't find the time to pick it up. The people I follow on Instagram or the people I'm friends with on Facebook, I'm only allowing good content and positive content to come into my mind. I remember when I was reading regularly, it changed the way you think.

You start to use different words. You communicate differently. You're able to solve problems a little bit faster. My favorite that I really learned from Tim Ferriss was asking the right questions to help me come to my own answer. I think that's what a lot of entrepreneurs are good at just getting down to the right question that gives us that answer to allow us to take the next step.

Matteo Lombardi 15:58

I wanted to say something because you said about being busy and you probably heard this thing like this idea. I actually have a formula if you want on how I calculate the worth, how much is the time worth of an entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs. Then they look at the last 12 months and say this is how much I made, this is how many hours I worked and then you take a rate per hour.

When I say it's like, yes, okay, but you also have a business that is worth something. If you take how much is the business worth today, what is the theoretical multiple of profits that somebody would pay for your business? Let's say it's like two and a half, three, four times the only profit. Then you look 12 months from now, what would be the theoretical money that people will pay for your business?

You've made the income that you made in the last 12 months or the profits that your business made, plus whatever difference in value your business has because entrepreneurs create value in the future. Now, if you're creating value into the future, and if you look at your per hour, your per hour is gonna come like four or five times higher than what you think of your per hour by using the normal method.

Now, this is one thing. That shows you need to outsource a lot more of what you do. Now, a lot of people look at this only as a cost thing. If my hour is $1,000, then I can outsource some tasks for $10 an hour, I should do it, but there's another component of it that is even more interesting to me, which is energy. If you take everything you do, you divide it into four quarters, you have unique abilities, things that you're great at, you love them, and they give you energy.

Then you have excellent activities, and you're great at them, but it doesn't give you energy. Then you have competent and incompetent, they remove your energy. Now when you give away competent and incompetent, what happens is not only that per hour that a person you can hire is lower than your per hour, but also you're going to have more energy, you're going to be more excited about what you do, you're going to have better ideas.

You're not going to burn out because even when you're in excellent activities, what I realized is that you can burn out because you do them too much. You get tired of it because it doesn't give you energy. With that in mind, I've outsourced more and more so I can focus on what I'm great at. For example, I start all my Mondays by completing a free calendar.

It's called a focus day, something they taught us in Strategic Coach. It's just for thinking about what is the biggest thing I can do to change the game. That's the question I ask myself. What is the biggest change? What is the person that I could hire with the capability? What can I introduce into this mix of the business and change the game?

For example, last year, in April, I made two choices. I found a head of operations and I realized our company needed to work with a car manufacturer. It needs to be precise. Everything needs to work. We found somebody with experience in Toyota, and she was heading our operations department. Suddenly we were ready to grow and we doubled from one month to the other in September.

The other thing I realized is okay, we need to automate some of these decisions because we have a lot of people in research and we cannot 10x like six people to 60 people. How are we going to manage 60 people? How are we going to know that everybody's making a good decision? We need to automate this. We hired a developer. We started an entry-level developer, let's say, and to develop an MVP of software that would make the decisions for us.

That went amazing and that helped us grow tremendously in the end. All of that came from thinking in my focus day, what is the next ingredient I can introduce into it? I would argue that when you're doing too many things, the problem is the value of doing things is much lower when you're the CEO than the value of thinking of ingredients, things that you need to change in the business to create those game-changing results and growth.

Nick Shucet 20:02

Nice man, I like that you mentioned the energy quadrant. I think this is something I've seen come up in conversations in a way I've really started to think of myself and people. There's this what seems like an intangible thing, this energy that impacts all of us. I think we see it, if you're really into soccer, soccer is your thing. When you go play soccer, you're probably super motivated to do it.

You probably, at some point, you get more energy from doing it. Of course, physical fatigue's going to set in, but if you compare that to maybe that soccer player goes and plays golf, and he's just not motivated by it. It's a slower-paced sport, so it might be less physically demanding, but if he's bored as hell and doesn't wanna be there, he might get tired.

I think that’s starting to come to the forefront. I think it's guys like us who are really blazing that trail as we say things that don't make sense to maybe my parents or my grandparents like, oh you should do what you love, focus on what you like, delegate that. It's cool to see that shift happening. Have you ever gotten it wrong? Have you gotten it wrong, hired someone, and it didn't go well?

You mentioned the software thing in the beginning that didn't work out well. What are some other things you've encountered where when you reflect on them, you would have done it a little bit differently?

Matteo Lombardi 21:49

Well, we definitely hired wrong. It happens, but I think that we have around 85 to 90% success rate with our hiring. I think that's the gold standard. I don't know if we can do that much better than this. Things that we've gotten wrong. It's difficult because some things that I got wrong for example when I was hired, I didn't hire exactly. I partnered with a guy to help us automate a business in 2016.

I spent about $50,000 on that and that didn't work out. For the longest time, that seemed like a failure to me. That seemed like I made a mistake. I was a little bit afraid about code and about investing in technology. I'm not sure if you've seen Naval Ravikant, How to Get Rich Without Getting Lucky. It's one of the best contests I've ever seen.

It talks about leverage and the different types of leverage and one of them is code. When I heard that again, I realized, that he talked about four types of leverage. You have people, capital, code, and media. For example, your podcast, that's media. You do it once, it can be replayed with no cost of replication. Then code like the software that we have, the people that you can hire, and capital.

I realized I've done people, I've got better. At people in the beginning, I was really bad at it. I made a lot of mistakes, but then I got better and better. Now I think we're really good, although I keep trying to get better at it because it's such an important part, the main part of a company because everything is done by people, even code is done by people.

Then I've done capital, but if you've done too much capital, you put yourself at risk. If you have too many millions of dollars in loans in proportion to what you have active in the business, something goes wrong, you still owe that money and I don't want to default on anyone. There's a limit to how much you get capital, then the risk starts increasing.

I realized, okay, this code and media, and I thought about it for months. I was like, okay, what do I need to do, which one I'm gonna go for? Am I gonna go to media, try to do a podcast or a course or something like that? Or am I gonna try coding, try to automate this thing again? I realized that in the next 10 years if there's a skill that a business owner needs to build, and it's not 100% of the business, but maybe it's 80 or 90%, is code, is automation.

Technology can do some incredible things and it can become a competitive advantage. Now, if I have to fail for the next 10 years at it to succeed, I think that's worth it. With that in mind, I went and I was gonna try it again. The difference this time is something that I learned is that now I hire people who have been there and done that. Now, you know that there's advice you will say, oh, if somebody has the right culture or the right attitude, I'm going to hire them.

I don't believe in that. I believe nowadays you have to hire for attitude and capability. The best thing is to hire somebody who's been there and done that. For them it's much easier to get up to speed, to produce something of quality, and then you can help them continue to develop and get to a new level. That changed the game when we tried this again.

Again, the code was a massive failure for me for many years, and that was money that was not a little for me. Then later when I did it again, I managed to do it better and this time it was more effective. Then we made another change. This was 2022. We have this developer that we were paying about $3,000 a month. Then we hired a second developer four months later when we saw the results five months later.

Then in general, okay, now I need to get this to the next level. How do I do it? I was like masterminds connections, how do I do this? How do I do this? I was meeting with CTOs trying to understand how to do this, and how to get to the next level. Through my contacts, I found a company from a friend that has a fractional CTO service and this fractional CTO came in January.

At the time, I wasn't sure I was making the right decision because it was a lot of money, but I was like, okay, I want to try to get to the next level. I'm gonna give it a shot and it has been mind-blowing. The things that we developed in the last five months are just incredible. It has also been very pleasurable because always hitting that limit and trying to do something more, it's really fun.

I love it, both because of the results it's going to give us, but also because even if it didn't give results, I was building my capabilities. We fail all the time, and I think failure is not important in terms of it's not a negative thing. Just use it to learn, try again. We all learn here. I think when I was an entrepreneur, I thought that people had something special.

These entrepreneurs had something special and different or maybe they had their family support and some people do have family support and this and that, but the truth is they're just learning and iterating. It's about changing your behavior. If you're very stubborn and you do something and it doesn't work well but you keep doing the same thing, that's often the entrepreneurs that I see that are going into failure.

If you're willing to learn and open-minded and somebody tells you, hey, I'm doing things this way, instead of saying immediately, oh no, I don't believe that works, it's like, tell me more, how did it work for you? Let me try to understand whether there's something here I can take and learn and try to see if it's gonna work for me too. For example, I also hired a coach once or a coaching program.

I paid 5K at the time was also a lot for me. I didn't work at all. It was like completely nothing results. Then I was talking to a guy recently, and I was like, oh, is this pay for a coach, and then what if it doesn't work? I said, look, if I have to hire a first coach and a second coach, then it doesn't work, but the third coach is amazing. I see the first and second as the price to get to the third.

This is what you have to do as an entrepreneur. You need to be willing to invest, willing to lose, just don't bet the house because then you could lose everything. Just make incremental better and better bets. There's always some risk in the bets. If there is no risk, then maybe you're not trying hard enough. However, some other people want to do more conservatively and that's fine.

That's each entrepreneur. For me, I like to take a bit of risk and push a little bit the envelope because we're growing 200% year over year for three years. Now I'm going to do the fourth year, maybe 250% this year. It's just more fun for me to push it to the maximum of my ability.

Nick Shucet 28:20

Nice. it's always great to be able to have that mindset of looking at a problem in a positive way. It's not a failure, it's a learning opportunity, and it's something that allowed me to become a little more knowledgeable and operate a little differently in the future. I think we are out like that. You've got kids, right, Mateo? Am I correct to assume that?

Matteo Lombardi 28:45

Yeah, one year old. He's gonna be today, actually.

Nick Shucet 28:49

Oh nice, it's her birthday today.

Matteo Lombardi 28:52

Yeah, we're gonna go to the beach to celebrate it later.

Nick Shucet 28:55

Well, happy birthday to her man. You said little girl, right?

Matteo Lombardi 28:58

A boy.

Nick Shucet 29:00

A boy. Happy birthday to him, man. They come out like that, man. They come out pretty fearless. They're crawling, they start to get up, and then they fall, but they roll over and get right back to what they were doing. I think that goes back to information and the content we choose to allow into our minds starts to frame the way that we look at some of these failures or whatever we start to call them.

I've got four kids and all of them. I've got four, man. They fall, every single one of them, they fall, they get back up. Now we're teaching my youngest how to swim, my second youngest, and we took his floaties off yesterday in the pool. You could tell he was a little fearful, but he was charging it, he was going for it. Just excited about that opportunity to learn a new skill.

I get a lot of inspiration from my kids because I think as adults and as entrepreneurs especially, we come into this world with a lot of things that you see us trying to get back to now. Have you ever noticed any of those things in your kid as you see them navigating their world day to day?

Matteo Lombardi 30:21

Yeah, I think it's beautiful to me how much happiness and enthusiasm he has for the smallest things. There's a quote, and I'm not religious, but it's a quote from the Bible that I love and it says, to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must be like children. The idea is that children see things for the first time, so they can enjoy little sounds, and images like he's constantly doing and enjoying himself.

I think that we all have to learn that in terms of enjoying life and enjoying the little things in life more and more because there's another thing about this entrepreneurial life that I think I saw completely wrong, let's say, or at least different than how I see it now is that I thought it would solve some kind of problem, some kind of emptiness, some kind of need for life, but the truth is life hasn't really changed that much.

It's nice to afford things for sure, and it's nice to have some autonomy. The truth is, if I'm going to be unhappy, I can be unhappy as a millionaire, I can be unhappy as a poor guy. It doesn't really matter. You can be unhappy for anything, for the weather, for health, for the bus being late or the plane canceling on you, or a holiday gone wrong.

One of the good things I think Jim Carrey said something about I wish everybody would be rich and famous so that they can see that that's not it for life

Nick Shucet 31:52

That's a good one.

Matteo Lombardi 31:53

Once you get it, the good thing about it, the best thing about getting it, is knowing that this is not it, I think, because then you start putting all your energy towards just success for success' sake, for money because you think it's going to solve your problems. Then you take a lot of that energy and you say, how can I live beautifully? That's what I try.

How can I be open and loving? How can I help the people that I work with develop themselves and realize themselves? How can I just create beautiful relationships and beautiful things? That is way nicer at whatever level you are than just struggling to make more money or creating a bigger business. I think that was the biggest insight for me.

Nick Shucet 32:29

Yeah, that's an amazing perspective, man. It's so cool to have so many of these different vehicles. When I say vehicle, I'm thinking of Amazon. Where we can nurture that side of ourselves and have some financial reward, free up our time. Then I think a lot of us, truly do just want to try and make the world a better place and leave people happier than they were when we crossed paths with them and empower the people around us.

That's one of the great outcomes of having some success as an entrepreneur is you can shift your focus from money to those other things. I'm sure some of us get caught up in the money and that's fine. If that's your thing, that's your thing. I know for me, as a father, and husband, I want to get back to enjoying life being outdoors and enjoying my hobbies and things like that.

It seems like you've got a great relationship at home with your wife. She's really able to help you find some of these people that allow you to focus on the things that you want to focus on. Can you talk to us a little more about her service and what you guys offer and maybe a little bit about the process too if someone wants to give it a shot on their own?

Matteo Lombardi 34:05

For sure. I think that the problem when I was doing my own recruiting was that I needed to study recruiting. There's a book that I highly advise called Topgrading is one of the best books on recruiting and creating your own recruiting way. You need to study it, then you need to create a funnel and for each part of that funnel, you need specific people.

For example, if you're going to look at 300 CVs, you need somebody who knows how to look at CVs and who also can do it because, for example, I can't look at 300 CVs. Usually, when I hired in the past I was looking at 15 and then I was dead. Then I would choose somebody from those 15. Then they really have to go until they find someone. If they don't find the right person they would just go on and on and on. She created a service based on Topgrading and then later other recruiters and other things that she learned.

She has a team of five and they have a service, the company is called I think that they do a service that saves you time. That's very difficult to do as an entrepreneur at a company that is not a recruiting company, which goes out, posts the jobs in multiple places, also calls, goes into databases, and calls people to apply for the job.

In the future, do they really have the English that they said they do? They do a lot of vetting, they do then a 30-minute interview to make sure that this is the right person and that they like the person that they think fits the core values of the company. I think it's super important to have core values because a lot of people are hiring as a good person, a good employee is a good employee, a bad employee is a bad employee and I don't think it goes like that.

I think you need to find the match and core values part of it and then capabilities and others. So you want somebody that matches the core values and has the capabilities that you're looking for in that moment for that role. You need to be crystal clear about who you want and then they go and do the best they can to get the best person in front of you.

Usually about 50% of the people they put to us, we hire. We still have a job at the end of really making that choice. Does this person really fit our values? Only 90%, well, it's really good, but 90% of those people work. For some people, it doesn't work. That's okay too. When it doesn't work, I don't say like, oh, you're a bad person. Hey, it’s not working.

He's not going to be good for you, he's not going to be good for us, let's stop here, and let you go and look for something else. I think they do a tremendous job that is very difficult to replicate for entrepreneurs. It's been very helpful for us. There were others in MDS that I knew as well. Then it also comes to personal preference. Some entrepreneurs might want to hire on their own.

If you're really in the beginning, you might not have the money to use a recruiter, but that's okay too that you do it yourself. What I do think is that finding the right people is probably the number one ingredient for our growth and this is through a recruiter or through yourself just finding the right people is really important because the right people are going to learn what you teach them.

Then I'm going to surpass those skills with time as they do better. Then there's the great teamwork they're going to add to you, you're going to add to them as a win-win. Then I'm going to grow with you so I see when people are in the second year and the third year, it becomes magical. How much contribution they can bring and how much contribution we can bring to their lives.

We had people that we pay in them three times what we were paying them when we hired them two years ago. We have people that grew really fast. It really depends on how people increase their skills, and what positions are available for them in the company. Hiring developing countries is another thing that is I think game-changing. There are lower taxes there, and a lower cost of life.

If you travel around to Argentina, Brazil, all these countries, and Indonesia, the cost of living is lower, the tax is lower on their salaries. That already allows you to have a lower cost for you as a company. Also, I think that if you create a great culture, which in the US is more common, it's not everywhere, but it's more common, in online businesses like ourselves are a little bit at the forefront of what you can create in the workspace.

People are more thankful for that job and to work for a great company and they're more likely to stay for longer. There are fewer options out there of this quality. You need to offer something of quality so that people are attracted to come to work with you and then they stay with you for longer. The last piece of advice I would give in this, which my wife pushed me to do, that I really like is to create an HR brand website.

Some people that want to work for you, you need to convince them what is the work for you because sometimes they look at a job they only see the salary they see the things you want them to do but what about what is the environment, what is the growth, what can they expect this career development. The big companies have all that. Nike and Disney might go to the universities and they might pitch themselves to students.

We small companies are not doing that Today actually I just re-recorded our greeting video on our HR brand website so that they can upload a new video to help people understand what it means to come to work with us so we can attract and later retain better talent. Talent means everything because great people can help you produce great things and great results.

Nick Shucet 39:37

That's some great advice. Thanks for laying all that out. I think there's a lot of value in just having that information. From my experience, I would say if someone is thinking about doing it themselves, if you have the money, hire someone because it's not something you want to do fast. You want to slow down, you want to get to know these people, make sure they know your business, what work's going to be like.

It's so terrible, it's such a bad feeling when you onboard someone and then you lose them. Whether they didn't work out or they quit, whatever the case may be, it's really worth it to put that effort in upfront. I can't remember where I heard it, but it's really changed my perspective on hiring and how we approach it now because I used to look at it as a function of the human resources department.

Now I look at it as a function of the marketing department to find that person and build that funnel. That's worked out really well for us and that really clicked with me, Matteo. I think you'll appreciate this coming from the arbitrage background. When I was looking for products to sell, the first thing I looked for, wasn't positive indicators, it was negative indicators.

Why wouldn't I wanna sell this product? Why shouldn't I buy this product? Maybe you don't sell anything that Amazon's selling. Nothing else on that detail page matters to me if Amazon's a seller on it. Now that's how we built our core values and our job descriptions. I'm like. hey here's who we don't want. Let's make sure that's clear here somehow by the words you use or the way you say things.

Something like that. Fortunately, we have a writer now who can do her thing with those ideas that I have but man yeah we went from rushing hiring up until this year. Now we do three interviews and we take it really slow and then we fire fast. We hired an EA and fired her the same day, unfortunately.

Matteo Lombardi 41:52

Really? Well, we don't do the fire-fast thing. One thing we do is hire for value and not for cost. A guy said this in one of my masterminds and I was thinking about it a lot. We say this is how much we think this role should pay or in the marketplace but we tell the recruiters, if you find something to up twice that amount, if you think there's value there, let us know because we hire for value, not for cost.

We talk about it all the time, hiring for value, not for cost. Then we don't fire fast. We had some of the best people that joined our company become good in the third month. I actually believe that most people want to be great. If they were hired for the right job, if they have the core value fit, if there's no core value fit, we don't fire fast but if there's a core value fit and they were hired for the right job, I want to make sure that we give them the chance to succeed.

I think that it's different ways to do this. I was actually thinking of starting implementing more of that until I talked to an MDS guy at the beginning of the year in the Chamonix thing in France, the ski retreat. He said, are you sure what would happen to your culture if you start firing fast? I was like, oh, wait a minute. Then I realized that and so I talked to my leadership team.

Sometimes we give a person a chance in another department. If we think that maybe their skills and capabilities would be better elsewhere. Sometimes it's training, sometimes it's feedback. I would say that a lot of people, most people manage to improve their productivity quite a lot. The only ones that we're always going to find are when there's no core value fit.

I'll say 98% of the time there was a problem with core value fit and that's something that we should fire. We hire slowly. Actually, instead of hiring fast and firing fast, we hire slow and fire slow. We hire slowly. The other thing I say is do not hire if it's not a perfect fit. It doesn't matter how much we need a position, we do not hire if it's not a perfect fit.

I don't care because I prefer to have the right people for the long term than to patch a problem that then becomes a bigger problem later because you have somebody that does not really fit the culture of the company.

Nick Shucet 44:24

Right. I think we got fooled by just a really good interviewer and I think she just didn't quit her other job like she was supposed to. Just like the response time. Yeah, it was immediate red flags. That's my learning curve, Matteo is all if we think of it as a pendulum that's like swinging from end to end. I used to do it way too fast. Now I’m over here, trying to slow down on the hiring and make sure we don't put energy into someone who's not gonna really give value in return.

I'm far over on this end now on the fire fast and I'm sure I'll kind of dial it down a little bit as I just learned. We talked about earlier, trying something new is gonna have that learning curve and it's just part of the learning process. Now I can see some red flags and it's like, I pretty quickly on this one but at the end of the day man I'm a big believer in people.

I think anyone can change if you go back and listen to my podcast where Ian interviewed me. At one point in my life, I was pretty bad off. I'm sure a lot of people thought I wasn't gonna change so I come out of that really believing that anyone can choose to walk a different path any given day

Matteo Lombardi 45:52

I agree with you. I also think entrepreneurship has this interesting thing that you don't really know what's right. I don't know that the way I'm doing is the best one. I know it seems to work because there are so many ingredients in the soup that you don't really know where the taste is coming from. That's the thing with entrepreneurship. You're not really sure all the things that you're doing right or all the things you're wrong.

I think that our job, one thing that Naval talks about is values like to become better in judgment. You have to make those decisions. We're gonna go this way, we're gonna go that way. We need to try to improve how well you make those decisions but you're never gonna reach perfection. It's constantly that thing about iterating is paying attention to what others are doing and the argument for it.

Then rethinking, hey, should I continue doing it this way or should I try a little bit the other way and see what kind of results it brings me? The other thing is that I do think that different entrepreneurs can make different things work. It's like somebody has a hard culture, a culture of competitiveness, and that might work for them. There might be companies that are very successful with that.

Others might have a very different culture, not a competitive, it's a positivity and everything, and that might work for them but that doesn't mean you take the same entrepreneur and you switch them company and they would want to kill themselves. They're like, oh, what is this? I don't enjoy this. Then the company might implode because they didn't enjoy it.

You need to create an environment where you feel good with that environment and with the choices you have to make.

Nick Shucet 47:28

That's a great tip, man, because I think the theory is that you'll attract like-minded people into your organization and they'll stick around. I definitely think I agree with you on that. It's a great way to look at it. There really is no right or wrong. It's just we're all here figuring it out and trying to navigate it with like-minded people. I think that's what we're trying to do in our business.

We're not as big as you are yet, but we're you know, we're our projections and stuff we're trying to grow pretty aggressively more on the private label side while we maintain our wholesale business. People are important in making all that happen. Mateo, before we wrap up, man, why don't you let the listeners know where they can find out more about that service that your wife offers?

It sounds like a great one, so they can go and check it out.

Matteo Lombardi 48:24

Sure. It's and you can book a call with them and it all starts with a call and then you have to define the role for them. They go and check what's the salary and I’d really recommend it. Just try, to have a call, and depending on what you're looking for, they will tell you honestly what roles they can look for, and what roles they don't think they are the best ones for that role.

That's her service. Then you can have TrustPilot. You can read the reviews. Had a few ex-employees of different companies that wrote them a one-star review, but you will see if you see the reviews of clients, you'll see that people are pretty happy with her service.

Nick Shucet 49:08

Nice. All right. Well, that'll be down in the show notes so you guys can go check out that link and hit them up on the website and chat with them. Thanks for coming on and just sharing your story and what's been working for you in the business.

Matteo Lombardi 49:23

Thank you, Nick. It's great to be here. I just hope that this kind of podcast just inspire entrepreneurs to improve their businesses, to create better jobs, and to create jobs where people are satisfied. I think that's really a force for change, creating great products too, where people want products and they're buying stuff, but also creating great work for yourself and for the people you work with.

I think that's an incredible benefit. It's one of the most important things. I think it's a great way to impact the world.

Nick Shucet 49:54

Absolutely. Thank you, Matteo.

Matteo Lombardi 49:56

Amazing. Thank you, Nick. Have a great day. Ciao.

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