You’re stuck in a middle seat on a long flight ... with no wifi. So you take your conference notes and literally flip them upside down.
That’s what Sangram Vajre did five years ago, and his idea of flipping the funnel has exploded, to say the least. Terminus has grown from a 3-person company to 200 employees and has reached thousands more through the Flip My Funnel conference.
I was thrilled to interview Sangram Vajre, Accidental Evangelist and Co-Founder at Terminus, about what it took to completely flip his perspective on what matters in work, relationships, and life.
“From day one, I have been so focused on the problem that we solve as opposed to the product that we sell,” Sangram said. “Let's bring the community together around the problem.”
Creating a shared vision
In a startup, it isn’t easy to get people to collaborate on a team — or take on new roles. “Leadership is hard,” Sangram said. It takes the willingness to grow and to learn.
“All leaders are learners,” he said. When he acquires talent, Sangram shares his vision, which attracts and retains people who have the same values and want to go to the same places.
Sangram trains his employees to talk about their mission, not their product. He also believes that customer testimonials are even stronger still.
“You can never tell the message at an emotional level when you're repeating yourself, until you get someone else to come and tell the same message,” Sangram said, explaining how energized his employees get when hearing their customers share their mutual vision.
With their program Customer in the Flesh, they bring a customer into the office every month or so to hear how Terminus has changed their lives. “Let's talk about things that are positively impacting their lives,” Sangram said. “That has a transcendent impact on the organization, not for hours but days and weeks and months after.”
“All leaders are learners.” — Sangram Vajre
Sangram will be speaking at Leadercast 2020 Positive Disruption. “Positive means great things that are happening, positive, uplifting,” Sangram said. “And then disruption means messy, means that you're going to destroy something to rebuild something. So there's this tension between these two words, which I love because that's real, that's raw.”
Positive disruption is what organizations are trying to do: How do we use the same level of positivity around work and disruptive ideas around making it move?
But not just work. There's no more important organization than your own family.
Sangram was brutally honest about how he has struggled with balancing work and family during the startup phase. “In the first two or three years, I forgot about my family, and that led us to an incredibly hard place,” he admitted.
This is the defining lesson Sangram learned in the last five years of running a startup and being a husband and a father of two: “Our priorities are what we do, not what we say,” he said. If you say you’ll never miss a game, but you miss every single one, you haven’t prioritized that quality time.
Bottom line: Leaders have to do what they say. “That's what a leadership role is about. If I'm not a good leader at home, then I am definitely not going to be a good leader.”
“Our priorities are what we do, not what we say.” — Sangram Vajre
This is how Sangram helps his company leaders realize that they need to act within the purpose, mission, and vision of Terminus: “I strongly believe that the major needle mover in any organization for how good they become and how people interact at work are the one-on-ones that you have,” he said.
(He’ll be sharing a lot more about this, including frameworks, at our Leadercast Live event.)
“If you can get your one-on-ones right, you build incredible transparency, incredible trust, incredible radical candor in those conversations,” Sangram said.
If you make those one-on-ones work, your team will work well. If you make your team work, they will make your customers feel amazing.
Here’s the proof. When Sangram looks at reviews that customers have given to his products and services, so many of those include praise of the people of Terminus.
“The most unsexy thing that happens that nobody would know, nobody would hear, nobody would see is what happens within your office one-on-one with your direct reports — and the trust, the relationship, the transparency that you build with them,” Sangram said.
That incredible transparency will be shown in the results, in the way employees behave with each other on the team and in the way they behave with customers in the marketplace.
“If you can get your one-on-ones right, you build incredible transparency in those conversations.” —Sangram Vajre
Contact Sangram through his LinkedIn and check out all the resources available at the Terminus website and at FlipMyFunnel.com.
Check out the full podcast with Sangram Vajre by clicking here.
If you don’t use Apple Podcasts as your audio player, you can also find every episode at this link.