90: CEO Claire Lew: What Goes Unsaid Hurts Your Company The Most
No matter where you work in the world or what industry you work in chances are you’re going to be faced with the exact same problems. We have more in common with each other than we probably care to admit. We all know about the dreaded performance reviews, quality surveys and feeling like the management doesn’t listen to your ideas. As we walk around in this almost auto pilot like experience, we wonder why nobody gives each other open and honest feedback. Essentially many teams are almost like dysfunctional families. I recently came across a company that’s changing all that, but it’s their story that’s truly inspirational. They are a two-person company that’s experiencing steady revenue and company growth in more than 15 countries. I invited Claire Lew onto the show to talk about all those universal problems. The fact is that most employees leave their job because of their boss, not because of their job or the company.
Can you tell the listeners a little about you and what you do?
My name is Claire Lew and I’m the CEO of Know Your Company. We’re a software tool that helps CEO’s overcome growing pains. We specifically work with companies with about 25-75 employees and help them as they start to grow. For a lot of founders, it can be really difficult for them to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on and how their employees feel about benefits or the vision of the company. Or even knowing what their employee’s hobbies and interests are. The bigger you get the harder it is to have a handle on those things and to make decisions as a business owner because of it. That’s what we do and what we help with.
What challenges do you see companies most struggling with?
I would say that the greatest challenge these companies encounter is simply the fact that they are growing more quickly than they can really keep up with, which is an amazing thing. When you’re doing well as a company you hire, you change the organizational structure, you might move to a new office, and you might acquire another company. It’s interesting though human nature, our instinct in facing any kind of change, is resistance. So naturally employees and your leadership team are going to start to question why you are making these changes and that creates a lot of friction.
Do you notice that CEO’s are usually the last people to find out what’s going on in their company?
All the time and it’s not because of the competence of the person. It’s because we’re complicated as people and the more of us there are the slower that information travels and the more diluted and convoluted it becomes as well. Whether you like it or not as a CEO you’re going to be viewed differently, you’re going to be treated differently, you won’t get the information as quickly and it will always be tinged with a lens because you are the CEO they are giving it to.
What do you guys do differently to get around that and get different results?
We really focus first and foremost on trying to figure out how to help the CEO’s, our customers, get the outcomes they want. That’s always been really big for us. That’s what drove me in the beginning to quit my job and go out on my own and solve this problem. If you focus on how to best solve the problem for the people we’re trying to help, that’s where everything else falls in place.
We do this in a couple ways. One is obviously in the product itself and our features. In June we had our best month of sales because we made one very small change in our product. This change was about helping a CEO get slightly more participation because during our trial that’s what we figured out the CEO’s wanted the most. When we focused on that it tripled sales. It was a reminder to me to get back to the basics. When you focus on the best needs of your customer everything falls into place.
What’s next for you guys?
Our next big product that we’re focused on is building a Know Your Company resource center.
What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their own journey?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten is simply to trust yourself. The sentiment behind it is that at the end of the day you are the person who has to live with the consequences of your decision. When you think about how people tend to give you advice the thing you have to keep in mind is everyone is biased by their own perspective.
What’s the best way to get a hold of you or a member of your team?
My email address is email@example.com. You can also find me on Twitter @cjlew23. Then of course our website is www.knowyourcompany.com