Episode 2: Shrad Rao – How To Build the Business You Want to Work At

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Gold Nuggets

  1. A new team member should be someone that you would want to invite over to your house for dinner.
  2. An entrepreneur shouldn’t love a product or service. They should love problems and solving them.
  3. Don’t over plan. As an entrepreneur, it is usually best to execute and then iterate.

Meet Shrad Rao

Our guest, Shrad Rao, CEO and Founder of Wagepoint, a payroll software company with a remote team of over 70 people, always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur.

During our conversation, we discuss building a remote team of people you love to work with, communicating effectively with a remote team, how to conduct social events remotely, how to set the right expectations for your team and how to build a company that you would want to work at, and much more.

Smart Man, Smarter Woman References

We talk about a lot in each episode; however, we don’t want you to miss a thing! Here are some key items were mentioned if you want to take a closer look.

Donut App – https://www.donut.com/

Article from Harvard Business Review on Emotional Intelligence

Learn more about our Cloud Accounting Services here


Steve Loates (00:00):
Welcome to Smart Man and Smarter Woman, a podcast for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. I am Steve Loates.

Juliet Aurora (00:10):
And I am Juliet Aurora.

Steve Loates (00:12):
And we are your co-hosts. We have a great show for you today with our very special guest, Shrad Rao, CEO and founder of Wagepoint, an awesome payroll software company. But before I officially introduce, Shrad, let’s hear from my wonderful co-host, the Smarter Woman herself, Juliet.

Juliet Aurora (00:36):
Welcome everyone to our podcast episode. We are certainly looking forward to having this conversation with Shrad. We are huge Wagepoint fans, use it with almost all of our clients that have payroll and also as a person and a leader have had a great amount of respect for Shrad, what he’s built and the culture that he has in his organization, so looking forward to picking his brain over the next half an hour and being able to share some of his wisdom with all of you. So welcome, Shrad.

Shrad Rao (01:10):
Oh. Hey, guys. Thank you very much, Steve and Juliet. Just so you know, you two are my two favorite people, so I’m very happy to be here and I’m happy to share with your listeners whatever I can, I’m happy to put it out there.

Steve Loates (01:25):
Awesome. Well, thank you, Shrad. As I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, this is for entrepreneurs. Our goal is to provide in each episode, hopefully some entertainment, but most importantly some value, perhaps, some insights, some tips, some gold nuggets that may help other entrepreneurs no matter where they are in their own journey.

Steve Loates (01:50):
So a little bit of background about our guest. He splits his time normally between Toronto and Atlanta, although this interview he is actually in San Francisco. He graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a BA in accounting. He has achieved his certified management accountant designation. Early in his career, he spent time as a financial analyst in several different industries with large companies. He then moved into the SAS space and in 2012 founded Wagepoint, an online payroll software company.

Steve Loates (02:30):
Today, as he continues his quest for global domination of the online payroll world, his company is serving tens of thousands of happy customers throughout the US and Canada. He also happens to have, which I don’t think is by accident, the world’s friendliest team at Wagepoint, and certainly we would agree with that. So, welcome and thank you again for joining us.

Steve Loates (02:58):
I am sure during these crazy times with all of the payroll subsidies programs being announced in the US, Canada that running a payroll software business has probably been pretty boring in the past few weeks, not much going on. Why don’t we start off by maybe sharing a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get to where you are today?

Shrad Rao (03:29):
Yeah, for sure. No, it’s been a real snoozefest at the company. All payroll companies right now are essentially the epicenter of everything that’s happening in terms of employee layoffs and stuff like that, so yeah. I mean, the joke is that we’ll sleep when we’re dead, literally in terms of the mountain of work that we have to get done is just, has exploded. It has gotten a lot better though and in part because of the government’s response and how well they’re tackling, well, how well in some cases they’re tackling the situation. So it has gotten better, but yeah.

Shrad Rao (04:08):
My entrepreneurial journey is, it’s an interesting one from my perspective because for me, it was very deliberate. I didn’t accidentally fall into it. It was sort of a chosen profession for a very long time. I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur since the time I was very young. It was either that or a journalist, or Indiana Jones. I couldn’t get Harrison Ford off his Indiana Jones street there, so I had to figure out the other two. I wanted to be a war journalist and my grandpa is like, “No, you won’t.” And so then, I was like, “All right. Then I guess I’m an entrepreneur.”

Shrad Rao (04:48):
For me, being an entrepreneur is actually just about being able to give yourself, build the future that you want. That’s really what it is. I mean, yes, it’s nice to be financially successful. There is a huge amount of validation in that. But, the fundamentals are being able to curate your company. I don’t want to suffer fools. I want to pick the people I work with and I want to love them. I don’t want to just like them. And then, I want to be able to influence change. I want to be able to decide based on a variety of inputs where we should head. I also want to be able to be wrong, which is something that people don’t often think about. But, if you’re an entrepreneur, you get to make those decisions, and if you are wrong, you own them. So I guess it’s all of those things that make me, made me want to be an entrepreneur at an early age.

Shrad Rao (05:41):
And so, I came to Canada as a university student. I didn’t know a single person when I actually moved here. Literally, the first person I met was a guy who, the taxi cab driver that took me to my university. I’ve always had hustle and just doing whatever it takes to make it work. So, somewhere around the time when I was a, so I call this indentured servitude, because when I had actually graduated from university, you have to work with the employer that was on your work permit.

Shrad Rao (06:19):
First of all, you had to get a job and you had to do that within three months of your last exam, which is crazy. The last thing you want to do going into your last exam is thinking that you only have three months to find a job or you’re kicked out. And because Canada’s tuition credits are so good, you would essentially recover half of the tuition paid, which would be about $40,000 if you actually stayed back and got a job. I owed it to my father to be able to do that because he paid for my education and I was repaying his retirement, so I had to hustle.

Shrad Rao (06:51):
I called Irving Oil’s HR Department because I wanted to work for that company. So, I called them up and I said, “You don’t know me. I don’t know you, but we should meet and here is why.” So, I went to meet them. They said, I was a junior accountant position. You guys will find this funny. They took one look at me and they said, “You do not have the personality for what we’re going to ask you to do. You will come in and go postal on everyone. No, we will call you back when we have a better opportunity for you.” I said, “That doesn’t help me stay in the country.”

Shrad Rao (07:27):
But then, just incidentally, I got a job at Sobey’s as a financial analyst. And then, six months later I got a call back from Irving saying, “Remember we told you we’d call you back. This is that opportunity. Come back. We really want you to join.” They sent me this beautiful letter, which now I have lost, so I’m sorry about that. That sucks. I mean, yeah so, they sent me this letter. I came back to Irving and then I did four and a half years there, I think.

Shrad Rao (07:54):
In the meantime, I finished my indentured servitude, so I was no longer trapped with any one employer and I got my immigration. Literally, within six months, I was like, “Here you go. Thank you very much. Good-bye.” I had saved $18,000 to go and give myself one year to do whatever it took to find my business. I’m also an entrepreneur that I am not in love with the product. I’m totally in love with the problems and solving them. If anything, I could turn off that part of my brain when I hear other people’s problems when I don’t have to solve it. But, that’s the genesis.

Shrad Rao (08:29):
I’m giving you a bit backstory too to how I thought about entrepreneurship and then how I got into it. Because I had came from another country I really had to be very steady and very disciplined about how I actually got to this place.

Shrad Rao (08:45):
Finally, the story about how I got to payroll is, because I like problems, I was looking for a… I was looking to solve a problem in a specific type of market. I wanted a product that was a painkiller and not a vitamin, so basically a need, not a want. I remember thinking, I wanted to be able to trip over customers anywhere I go. If I was eating somewhere, that could be a customer. I was getting my haircut somewhere, that could be a customer. That’s what I wanted to do. Day one decision, I knew I was going to build SAAS unit economics. So, I was going to keep an eye on gross margin and make sure that it looked like a SAAS company and that was a day one decision. So, it was a combination of those things that led me to payroll.

Shrad Rao (09:34):
I looked at that space and I was like, there is legacy players, large income. I don’t want to use the word dinosaurs, but you can if you want. And then, they have this huge market. I had a very distinct feeling that they were under serving small businesses because the problem is with payroll, you can’t have, you can’t be everything to everyone. You have to pick your group and then you have to commit to them as if they are the only people on the planet and nobody else matters. So, that kind of rigor and discipline, you need to have for your target market. And given the fact that they were all over the place, I had a sense that we could make headway there. So that’s the journey from an entrepreneurship standpoint to how I got to payroll.

Juliet Aurora (10:22):
So, that was a very interesting journey and very different from some of the other guests that we’ve had and other stories that we’ve heard. I’ve known you for several years and I didn’t know all the nuances of that story.

Juliet Aurora (10:38):
My first question though is, so what was the role that Irving brought you back because they thought that you were the right… What was the right role that they brought you back for?

Shrad Rao (10:49):
I was a financial analyst.

Juliet Aurora (10:51):
So, it was a financial analyst.

Shrad Rao (10:52):

Juliet Aurora (10:52):
So they didn’t think that you were, you had the personality for a junior accountant, but that you did for a financial analyst, so that’s interesting. Okay, I was just curious.

Shrad Rao (11:00):
Yeah, I think one was more, I don’t want to use the word load function because that wouldn’t be fair. It is more standard fare day-to-day versus an analyst, obviously. Yeah, I think analytical thinking and I think they just figured I would be able to communicate business information to other people in a way that would make sense for them.

Juliet Aurora (11:23):
Okay. And so, one of the things that you said, which resonated and again, I’ve never heard it articulated that way, was that one of the things that you knew about going into business for yourself was that as an entrepreneur you had the ability, and you made it sound as though it was a good thing and most people may not, so I wanted to reinforce it, that you would own your own mistakes.

Shrad Rao (11:51):

Juliet Aurora (11:52):
So, yes, you’re in control of your own destiny, but that you also get to own your mistakes. So I thought that was great and I wanted to pull that out of your conversation.

Juliet Aurora (12:03):
I guess, the other thing that from my perspective is different from other entrepreneurial journeys is most people don’t approach it the way that you did where you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur and then you went looking for a product or a service in order to fulfill that need to be an entrepreneur. Most people do it the other way around where they have a product or service that they’re passionate about and have that product or service before they make the decision to be an entrepreneur. So that is very different from most people that go through this entrepreneurial journey.

Shrad Rao (12:41):
Yeah, I think so. I don’t know actually. I think tech entrepreneurs tend to be like this a lot, in a sense that it’s about a problem that they’ve identified that they want to solve. I just happen to have a sense for what problems I wouldn’t want to solve. For example, even today, we have, we’re getting new customers, which is crazy, right. You would say, why would new businesses be forming or even businesses be switching over at this time during COVID? But it’s because it’s a need product not a want product. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a have to have. I was looking for that specific type of thing.

Shrad Rao (13:19):
So yeah, I think being methodical and it’s very important to have passion, but my passion is about business building, but particularly when it relates to the company that I keep, which means that what I’ve always wanted to do is build a kind of company where people in my company feel like this is how businesses should be built. We weren’t going to follow some standard format for how companies should be built. We’re going to build our own version of a company and that was more interesting to me. So we happen to be payroll.

Juliet Aurora (13:51):

Shrad Rao (13:52):
But, this is the whole purpose for me is to build something where the collective group of people feel like there is something. The energy for our company is totally different than any other company that I’ve ever been to. That’s in part because it’s a totally a day one decision for how we would structure the company and how we would treat people in the company, yeah.

Juliet Aurora (14:13):
So that’s very interesting. Again, very intentional not only about what kind of product or service you wanted to offer, so need versus want and as well, what you wanted that, the end result to be of your organization. So some great pointers already for members of our audience who maybe are struggling in their journey and don’t know what it is they want to do. These are some great starting points for them.

Shrad Rao (14:43):
Thank you.

Juliet Aurora (14:43):

Steve Loates (14:44):
There was some great, great comments there. One thing I would like us to do is, particularly with what’s going on in the world right now and how so many workers are being really forced to work remotely. Many who have never done it before, so it’s a whole new experience. And of course, with Wagepoint, you guys have always been remote.

Steve Loates (15:12):
I did read your article in The Globe and Mail, which I thought was great, on mental health tips for people who are experiencing all this for the first time. I would love if you could, perhaps share a little bit of what you talked about with our audience of some of the things you feel are important based upon your experience to help people who were being put in this, what, like I say, for many it’s just a brand new situation of working solo remotely.

Shrad Rao (15:48):
Yeah, for sure. Wagepoint has always been remote. It’s actually now we seem like oracles, but it wasn’t, it’s not the case. It has nothing to do with the pandemic. For in reality, the reason we’ve always been remote is because payroll is a hard resource to find, or rather a hard skill to find. I didn’t want geography to be another thing we had to contend with. That was it. So it’s another deliberate decision around what do I care about? Do I care about where they live, or do I care about them having payroll skills? I said, well, obviously, it’s the latter. So then we just decided to become really, really good at remote. Everything we have done, all the success we’ve had, all the tens of thousands of customers that we’re serving now are all done remotely. So I’m definitely proud of that.

Shrad Rao (16:38):
But, while I know this is a challenge for some people, for us it’s now second nature. I don’t even think about it. But, for the most part, the best tips I can give, one of the biggest ones is, there is a confusion of how to reach out to each other. So for example, it feels like maybe you’re interrupting someone’s work now because you’re actually calling them, or sending them messages, or whatever. We have developed a cadence where it’s okay to interrupt. It’s okay. So you basically set the parameters for what that’s going to look like.

Shrad Rao (17:13):
So for example, if you say, I have office hours from 2:00 to 4:00 every day, you can bother me as much as you want. Everyone can bother me as much as they want in that time. But, before that and after that, that’s my time to get work done or think, or whatever it is. So my point is, set the parameters for communication as if you were in an office. Do the exact same thing because it’s very helpful. What is really unhelpful is when nobody really knows the rules. Right? So that’s one of the first things. And that immediately alleviates anxiety, just being able to say, this is how you can reach me.

Shrad Rao (17:49):
In my company, I’ve very accessible, so people are constantly pinging me and I’m pretty good about making sure I keep them in the loop. When I’m not reachable, they don’t feel bad because they know that I generally wasn’t available. That is a cadence we have built over the years, so that’s one. Just set your communication’s plan even when you are working from home. Make sure that it’s okay for people to know when and when not to reach out to each other. That’s important.

Shrad Rao (18:14):
The second thing is around having social events, which again, we’ve seen a lot of companies do this. We’ve done this many times over the years. We’ve had office Christmas parties remotely, which was really fun. Of course now, we do everything with Zoom just like everyone else. And again, this is all depend on how long COVID goes. I know some people like Juliet are just itching to go back to the office. But, we’ve had fantasy football for during the World Cup. So we do all kinds of things that keep people interested and excited in.

Shrad Rao (18:51):
We also mix teams up all the time. So at our company, we use Slack. We have an app called Donut, which is a free app, if you guys want to download it. It’ll randomly match people in the company to talk to each other. So that’s another way that you could break some of the silos down.

Shrad Rao (19:11):
Fundamentally though, it’s all about expectation setting. Make sure that you have your employee or your staff and you have a very good understanding of productivity looks like. This is not the time to be wishy washy with productivity because this is actually what causes stress for the employee. When they are doing a good job, especially in the remote team where they cannot show visual cues of that by coming to work on time and submitting work on time or looking busy, if they can’t do those things then they don’t know how to demonstrate that to you. So make sure you have that solved, probably before everything else. Those are some of my best tips.

Juliet Aurora (19:54):
That’s some great advice. So I have a question. So what does an office Christmas party remotely look like? So I know that there are some companies who are 100% virtual and once or twice or three times a year, they bring everybody together in one physical location and sometimes that’s around Christmas, so that they can do a Christmas party. But, what does a virtual office Christmas party look like at Wagepoint?

Shrad Rao (20:21):
We also do that. We bring different groups of people together. In November, we had, it was called a WTF conference. And that was an acronym, by the way. Each letter stood for something. And so, I had asked the group to come up with a name for the conference and then they fooled around with me by coming up with that. So anyway, we remained to Wage Stock and it was really fun. I mean, it was crazy fun.

Shrad Rao (20:49):
But, outside of the in-person virtual Christmas party is, one, we actually send physical gifts to each other. So, we did Secret Santa and we did physical gifts, so at least something feels tangible in the way that, that exchange is happening. We basically get on a call, maybe do a Round Robin of how thankful we are, or whatever, what is the best part of the year. Of course, there is a lot of us right now, so it’s harder to do, so we may break that up into pods.

Shrad Rao (21:18):
I’m a big fan of this. I don’t want the same group to keep meeting each other. Even if they don’t meet each other enough, that’s fine. Then you solve that on your own time. When you come to an office virtual Christmas party, mix people up that have never met. Hopefully, your company culture means that they will get along anyway, which is how it works at our company. So yeah, it’s just basically us start talking to each as real people and not talking about work, but talking about things that make us happy in our lives. And so, it’s really no different from what happens in a regular party.

Juliet Aurora (21:51):

Shrad Rao (21:51):
Except, we do it online.

Juliet Aurora (21:53):
Okay, thank you. Just for reference for our audience, how many employees do you currently have on the Wagepoint team?

Shrad Rao (22:02):
So with everyone, we have almost close to 70.

Juliet Aurora (22:05):

Shrad Rao (22:06):
Yeah. It’s a big team at the moment and it’s only going to keep growing. So obviously, some of these things we’ll have to keep reassessing and reconfiguring. For example, I would rather have four small mini conferences than one large one just as an example, just to keep the cycle going. So yeah, stuff like that.

Shrad Rao (22:26):
Also, one thing that we are looking at, and this COVID has kind of ruined this a little bit, but we have, we actually are looking to build a social clubhouse for employees in multiple cities. So basically, work still happens at home, but the social elements of work happens at this place, like at a little spot that we are going to create for people. We’re going to make our own small WeWork, so that we can actually have a tangible representation of our culture, but also have a place for them to come together and just be social. And because productivity in the house is so high, I can’t actually justify putting them in an office and having that potentially at risk. It’s for all very funny stuff.

Steve Loates (23:11):
Yeah. That’s great. I mean, listening to you, it’s obvious that culture and the culture of your company is something that is very important to you. We’re always taught that when we’re hiring new team members that not only do they need to fit with our culture, but ideally, they should add something to our culture, something positive.

Steve Loates (23:41):
What are some of the thing perhaps that you look for when it is time to add to your team? When you’re looking for, regardless of position, what do you look for in an individual that you know, okay yeah, this person is going to be great for our culture and our team?

Shrad Rao (24:03):
Well, that’s a great question because as you guys know, I still hire everyone or at least, I always do a culture call with every single person that is about to join the company. A culture call is essentially me talking about who we are as a collective enterprise, or as a collective group of people as opposed to what we do. The work we do is sort of easy, right. I mean, once you know payroll then do you have the skills? Great, let’s shake hands on that. But the who we are is far more important because now you’re inviting someone into that group. And you, as the person who is making that decision, is essentially taking the collective group’s hopes and dreams about who we are bringing in. You have to represent them, the whole collective.

Shrad Rao (24:48):
So first of all, I don’t make decisions that are based on who I like because I am a certain demographic, a certain age, whatever. If I’m only picking people I relate to, that’s not the right way to do it because they’re not going to work with me. They’re going to work with the collection of people inside the company. And so, my job is to represent their interests essentially when I’m about to hire someone.

Shrad Rao (25:14):
One of the first things that I look for, because I know this is super important for everybody, is if someone appears to be kind. I know this is a hard thing to gage on a call. But, there are people who, they’ll tell you stories about their life. That’s the other thing, I almost never do interview questions because I don’t even know what to ask that would be… How would you even assess who someone is by those questions? I think this is a fundamental problem when it comes to hiring is you don’t, you look at the what and not the who. The who is everything. The what is just a part of it.

Shrad Rao (25:47):
And so, really what I do is I try to understand who they are and ask them question about their life. And in those questions, sometimes they’ll talk about looking up their parents or something about just their general demeanour that seems very kind and gentle and compassionate. These are not words that, again, you use in business, right. That you don’t use words like kind and gentle. But yet, those are the types of things I think my team would appreciate. I know this sounds crazy, but they are excited about this experience of working with another group of people that feel the same way.

Shrad Rao (26:23):
And more than anything else, I look for realness, somebody who is just real. Somebody who I believe is just representing the best version of themselves that’s real because I try to make them feel comfortable early in the call to make sure that they know that they could just be themselves. And that has worked wonders because literally I hear a sigh of relief from that. So it’s all of those things. It’s never just one thing. But, I do know that the foundations are almost always based in that authenticity.

Juliet Aurora (26:53):
And so, do the candidates that you speak to and that you have the culture call with, they’ve already gone through a vetting process from other members of your team?

Shrad Rao (27:06):
Yeah. So they’ve gone to the what we do already. And very often, those people, whoever is sending them over to me will tell them, “Just be yourself. You don’t have to be nervous. He’s the most casual guy ever. You’re going to have a casual conversation.” So by the time they come to me, for the most part they’re just ready to accept what is about to happen.

Shrad Rao (27:29):
I hear this all the time, “I’ve never had an interview call like this before.” And I said, “That’s because this is not an interview. This is me and you having a handshake agreement to how you are going to attract inside of this company with all of the 70 people that sit in there in a virtual environment? It’s us making an agreement, a tacit agreement about that. That’s why this is not an interview.”

Juliet Aurora (27:51):
I remember hearing you say in one of our previous conversations that one of the things that you use to, I’m not sure judge is the right word, but to evaluate is whether or not after the, at the end of this culture call, whether you would, is this someone that you would want to invite to your house for dinner? And then if it isn’t, you wouldn’t hire them.

Shrad Rao (28:13):
Yeah. I mean, if you think about it, right, they are making a decision for themselves. They have to want to come to dinner first, right?

Juliet Aurora (28:23):

Shrad Rao (28:24):
That’s just the first part of the invitation. The second one is do I want to invite them, right? If I knew they were going to be coming over, am I excited about that? Am I going to go out of my way to do something special for them, right? It’s not even about my house, it’s about my collective house again. If I brought them to a party inside of this company, could we all be friends with this person? Again, it’s not any one person and it’s not any one trait because there might be something that is annoying about them, but can we love them anyway is the question?

Shrad Rao (29:00):
And there is some things that we cannot, right, like if someone is racists or sexists. I know these are very obvious, but if they say something that’s inappropriate right off the bat, you know they don’t have the judgment for that and that is really what we’re looking for. And do you have good judgment? Because if you have good judgment, you can drop that person into any scenario.

Juliet Aurora (29:17):

Shrad Rao (29:17):
So that’s pretty much it.

Juliet Aurora (29:20):
So do you find, I mean, a lot of business owners, small business owners especially, entrepreneurs with a small team tend to hire people when they’re in panic mode, when they have way too much, they’re overloaded and they just need to hire somebody. I need a body. So do you approach it differently that you’re looking for people before you actually need them?

Shrad Rao (29:47):
Yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s part of the planning process. I don’t know if you have ever experienced this, you guys, but have you ever when you first hired someone and you just realized that you so much more time to do other things?

Juliet Aurora (30:02):

Steve Loates (30:03):
Wasn’t that feeling amazing? Right? And then, you were like wait, I had this other thing, I could give it to someone else too and then this third thing and whoa. This is how companies are built. Right?

Steve Loates (30:12):

Shrad Rao (30:12):
I’m sure you’ve experienced what I’m talking about.

Juliet Aurora (30:14):

Steve Loates (30:15):

Shrad Rao (30:15):
That is why we pre-plan. It’s because as soon as I start feeling like something that I’m doing is getting overloaded, or something someone else is doing is getting overloaded, it’s our job to sense it before it happens. You won’t get it always. Sometimes you’ll be early. Sometimes you’ll be late. But, your job is to know almost before it’s about to crest because you can sense something is, the energy of the place has changed a bit.

Shrad Rao (30:38):
I talk about being very esoteric about the way I approach stuff sometimes. You have to balance the, if you are relying only on fact and data then as an entrepreneur you’re not focusing on the fact there is a lot of decisions that are made abstractly without a linear process like this happened therefore this happens. You are making abstract decisions very often, so you have to be able to evaluate even from the urgency of someone’s voice in your team, you have to be able to evaluate how busy do they… even the feeling of busyness is something for you to pay attention to. That’s really what I’m trying to say.

Juliet Aurora (31:18):
Okay, thank you.

Steve Loates (31:20):
That’s terrific. I would like to mention something as well. That I mean, it’s obvious, or it certainly is to me, I don’t want to speak for our audience, but that your leadership style, your management style and I know one of the things that I’ve heard you say on several occasions is you want to build the kind of company I’ve always wanted to work at.

Shrad Rao (31:51):

Steve Loates (31:52):
I think that’s awesome. I mean, the first time I heard you say that I thought, yeah, this is a guy I want to get to know better. You don’t hear a lot of people say that.

Steve Loates (32:04):
And so, I just wanted to mention something to our audience. On the Wagepoint website, there is a resource that if you have connected with anything you have heard Shrad say in the last 10, 15 minutes about building a team and managing a team, then you really need to check out this resource. It is called, The Epic Guide to Employee Management and it is awesome and it is free.

Steve Loates (32:37):
Go to wagepoint.com, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link and grab that resource. It really is an awesome resource. It talks about communication with your team, time management, performance management, facilitating employee growth, lots and lots of stuff. I thought it was fantastic.

Steve Loates (33:02):
And if at the same time, you want to sign up for Wagepoint, I don’t think Shrad would have a problem with that at all. But even not, even if you’re really happy with your current provider, go grab a copy of that resource. I think you’ll be very glad you did. It’s very well done and there is lots of great stuff in it. So congratulations on putting that together and having that on your website, a great resource.

Shrad Rao (33:28):
Yeah. Thank you, Steve. I really appreciate that and you are now my favorite podcaster.

Steve Loates (33:34):
Thank you. Well, that was the aim, but thank you anyway.

Steve Loates (33:38):
The coming out of this crisis as we will because all things do pass, is there advice you could perhaps give to entrepreneurs, maybe something that they could think about regarding their own business, perhaps evaluating or changing in their own business that might help them to come out stronger on the other side of this and help their business come out stronger on the other side? Because so many of them right now, I think are, they’re maybe floundering a little. They’re scared. They’re frustrated. Right now, is probably as tough a test of being an entrepreneur as you could possibly get from any. So anything you could share?

Shrad Rao (34:31):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it really depends, right, on the type of business you are. If you are the kind of business, or that is impacted by this my heart goes out to you. I know how hard it is. Our business has also been impacted given the fact that we service small businesses and we’re not immune to the fluctuations in that market.

Shrad Rao (34:51):
But in terms of advice, see, part of the, I think part of what I notice young entrepreneurs in particular are doing, but many even seasoned folks in different industries, is we tend to over plan and as opposed to execute and then iterate. I would say that now is the time to execute and iterate because you need to be more adaptable than stick to your plan. This may seem very common sense, but this is I’ve actually seen this happen more because now, I’m fortunate enough to give advice to people here and there when they ask me for.

Shrad Rao (35:33):
What I’ve noticed is that people say things like, “This is where I hope to be at this time. I’m just going to keep working on that.” I was like, “But, have you really just taken it three months at a time instead?” Just think about what you’re going to do in three months and then tomorrow do something for that.

Juliet Aurora (35:49):

Shrad Rao (35:49):
So instead of thinking about your one year, literally plan three months at a time because you will actually be much more flexible in your own mind when you are planning at the shortest possible turn around or at the shortest possible time than if you actually are planning too far out. So that is my biggest advice.

Shrad Rao (36:06):
Even for me, for my own business, yes, I have some vague idea or some idea of what’s going to happen in the future. But, I’m just taking it three months at a time. It’s almost like trying to get to the end zone for football, right. You just want to huddle and get to the next 10 or 20, 30 yards and then just worry about that, what happens next, over there.

Steve Loates (36:30):

Shrad Rao (36:31):
That’s what I’m suggesting is probably the right way to think about it.

Steve Loates (36:33):
That’s great. That’s great.

Shrad Rao (36:33):
Or rather one way to think about it.

Steve Loates (36:37):
And maybe don’t let perfect get in the way of excellent.

Shrad Rao (36:44):
Well, I’ve never been a perfect person. I’ve always been an 80% and done person. This is partly what I was saying, you have to give yourself room to fail. This is what I meant. If you are waiting for perfect, you will actually find it very hard to get stuff done.

Steve Loates (36:57):

Shrad Rao (36:59):
There is a place where you need to do perfect. For example, in payroll cancellations, don’t try to be 80% there, right.

Juliet Aurora (37:06):
Please don’t.

Shrad Rao (37:07):
Yeah. Those would be detrimental, so where it’s negative then don’t do that. But, where it has neutral consequence than just 80% is fine. Don’t try to make everything pixel perfect when that may not be your most important thing to focus on at that point.

Steve Loates (37:22):
Okay. That’s great. Well, that brings us to the part of the interview where for those of you who have never seen, there was, used to be a show on TV called The Actor’s Studio hosted by James Lipton. It used to be one of my favorite shows and one of the things I loved was at the end of the show, James Lipton would always ask some questions to his guests and every guest got the same questions. And so, we do that here on the podcast. Those of you who listened before know that. But for the new listeners, this is what we’re going to do right now. And so, without further ado, we’ll get started. What one word best defines an entrepreneur?

Shrad Rao (38:15):
Good question. I’m going to say the one that I say most resonates with me. I think balance is the best word.

Steve Loates (38:24):
Good. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Shrad Rao (38:32):
Foreign journalist.

Steve Loates (38:35):
What profession would you not like to do?

Shrad Rao (38:41):
Sewage worker. I think that’s a pretty common one.

Steve Loates (38:47):
That’s a great one. We actually haven’t had that answer before.

Juliet Aurora (38:50):
No, we haven’t.

Steve Loates (38:50):
I think that’s a great answer. What sound or noise do you love?

Shrad Rao (39:02):
I love the sound of laugher at my jokes.

Juliet Aurora (39:08):
Of course. That was a given.

Shrad Rao (39:09):
Look there, you’re doing it right now.

Steve Loates (39:10):
Oh, okay. What book would you recommend for entrepreneurs?

Shrad Rao (39:22):
I don’t read a lot of business books, but there is a Harvard Business Review that you could get. There is a collection of different articles, HBR articles. It’s called, On Emotional Intelligence. I would recommend that. In those papers, it actually talks about how EQ outperforms IQ significantly. I think that a lot of people, again, who try to make decisions very logically will find it illuminating.

Steve Loates (39:52):
Okay. When your own entrepreneurial journey is completed, what do you hope your legacy is?

Shrad Rao (40:03):
I hope I’ve built a safe, happy and productive environment for people to have worked in for the time that they have worked with me.

Steve Loates (40:13):
Excellent, excellent. Okay, good job. And if our listeners want to connect with you and reach out to you, what is the best way for them to do that. I’ll spell your name just so everybody gets it right when they want to find you. It is S-H-R-A-D R-A-O. What’s the best way for them to connect?

Shrad Rao (40:40):
I would say, LinkedIn would be the best. Just go find me in there. It’s literally Shrad Rao. Twitter is another one. Yeah. I mean, if you sign up and you tell them, “Hey, listen, I heard about Shrad on the podcast and I want him to give me a call and just to talk to me for 15 minutes, I’ll do that.”

Steve Loates (41:00):
I appreciate that.

Shrad Rao (41:00):
For the third way to get in touch and that is my Easter egg way.

Steve Loates (41:04):
Okay, that’s awesome. Thank you.

Juliet Aurora (41:08):
That’s very generous of you to offer that to our audience.

Shrad Rao (41:12):

Steve Loates (41:12):
Terrific. I am as most of you know, I love quotes. And so, the quote for this episode, “A true leader has confidence to stand alone, has the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

Juliet Aurora (41:48):
Perfect quote. I think that’s very appropriate for our guest this week.

Steve Loates (41:52):
And I thought so too.

Shrad Rao (41:55):
Thank you, guys.

Steve Loates (41:56):
You’re very welcome. Again, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it. You’ve been a great guest. Lots of great nuggets for our audience. Thank you to my awesome host, as always the Smarter Woman. Thank you, most importantly, to you, our audience for tuning in giving us a listen. I really hope you found some value here and if you did, please subscribe. Leave us a review, share with a friend. It’s all greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Until next time, take good care of yourself, those you love and bye for now.

Song by Adam Vitovsky / CC BY 3.0

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Episode 2