I gave this talk at FounderCon (the annual TechStars founder conference). It's entirely focused on organizational health: (core values, culture, meeting, rhythm, vision, mission, meetings, company pulse, sales development)
TechStars Talk on Organizational Health (Kyle Porter)
CEO & Founder
7 Mistakes that led to Running a
@kyleporterThis deck is from a talk for TechStars Foundercon I gave on the topic of Organizational Health on 10/20/15. I’ve added the grey bar
below to provide context
I talked about how I love TechStars and want to see each of the CEOs in the room fulﬁll their dreams. I want to see all of your
businesses crush it. I want to see you ﬁnd product market ﬁt, to become the best places to work in your hometown or industry, to be
the best place to be a customer in your industry, to hire and lead teams to learn more, do more, and become more. And I want to see
you change the world.
About me: Wife April and baby Brooklyn. In 2005 after starting an entrepreneurship club (and not being an entrepreneur), I realized
there are so many amazing young professionals out there who have great big dreams but not a path to fulﬁll them. I wanted to help
them and realized the best way to do that was to create a great company. I made the decision to be CEO in 2005 and practiced/
studied/met amazing people until I *thought I was ready in 2011 when I founded SalesLoft.
One of my proudest moments was getting into TechStars in Spring 2012. Over 1500 companies applied and only 12 got in that year.
We were the ﬁrst ATL company to get out there as well. It was an amazing program. We had a lot to learn about diversity btw!
• Refunded a $40k deal
• Close friend quit the company
• Had to let go of all remaining staff
• Burned all our cash with nothing
to show for it
SalesLoft was ShitsLoft
@kyleporterBut I crashed and burned the company to the ground (link). It sucked. The reasons follow in the next slides of this deck.
Have you every heard of a dumpster ﬁre? This is a porta potty ﬁre and when your last name is Porter this makes more sense. I made a
lot of mistakes. I share them in this deck. But ﬁrst, I’ll share our before and after statistics.
No institutional Capital
This is our “weight watchers” before and after pic. We’re very proud of this. We’ve really been on an awesome ride.
The next few slides share more.
Cofounder Rob Forman
Core values, vision,
health, meeting rhythm,
For the ﬁrst version of SalesLoft, we overloaded the marketing and sales talent and didn’t offset it with exceptional product and
engineering talent. This changed when I partnered with Rob Forman. In order to be a great company I wanted someone else in the
trenches with me who was as good at engineering as I was at selling. Rob has been instrumental in our success and the architect for
many of the awesome things you’ll see below. Of the 6 kids pictured, 5 are his!
#1 best place to work in Atlanta
@kyleporterJust last month we were awarded Atlanta’s #1 best place to work for “mid-size” companies. It’s my proudest award.
And lastly, on a personal note, this is our tangerine farm. It was always my wife April’s dream to own a tangerine farm (she is 4th
generation tangerine growing/packaging/shipping). We were able to literally “buy the farm” due to company growth. April sacriﬁced A
LOT to let me follow my dreams of entrepreneurship and I’m stoked to help her achieve hers!
7 Steps to Organizational Health
Organizational health is the ﬁnal frontier of businesses. Too many CEOs think this stuff is beneath them. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Let’s get started!
#1 Core Values
How do you believe humans should act? If you cloned a set of qualities you have in others which you believe would lead to market
domination, what would those qualities be? You have a certain set of core values to you. Are you injecting those into the business? It’s
often coached you should just let culture evolve. That’s bullshit and that’s the mistake I made in SL v1. As an entrepreneur, you have a
more control over culture than anything else. It all starts with core values.
• Cloning methodology
• Share >1x per week
• Easily memorable
• Not aspirational but core
• Manage from them
Core Values Tips
#1: The way you create them is to clone the core values you and your cofounders love (Book Traction)
#2 Share the shit out of them. My mentor Charles Brewer of Mindspring read them at every meeting. They show up in every one of our
Friday team meetings, every weekend update email, weekly survey, interview, etc.
#3 Keep them simple - everyone at the company should know them. Always.
#4 These aren’t things you strive to achieve but traits you already have deep inside you.
#5 Hire, promote, manage out, reprimand, praise, based on the core values (books: The Advantage, One minute Manager)
3. Self starting
#’s 1-3 were our only core values from 2013 to Summer 2015. We then surveyed the leadership team asking them to submit the names of the
employees whom they would want to clone. From there, we mined out #’s 4-6. These were traits our best employees were exhibiting that we
were not recognizing in our core values discussions. Focusing on core values was inspired to me by Charles Brewer, founder of Mindspring,
David Cummings & Adam Blitzer, founders of Pardot, & Rand Fishkin, founder of moz.com. Rob Forman was a believer on day 1
(what? why? how?)
In V1 of SL, we didn’t discuss direction. We knew we wanted to make a big change but I didn’t talk about the details or the reasons why. I
didn’t refer to them as the reasons for decisions and I didn’t inject them into the business. This hurt us. On V2 of SL, we changed this. We
call it the “what, why, and how” of SalesLoft.
@kyleporterThink about Simon Synek’s circles in his Ted Talk. To be organizationally healthy, you need to know this for your business and share it with
your team. We’ve taken some liberty with the model and believe we’ve unlocked a blueprint to creating a healthy organization.
We always start with “the what”. We call this the “external scorecard”, inspired by Warren Buffet. This would be the headline to the Wallstreet
journal article (not techcrunch) as the ﬁnancial message to the world. We want to be a the next billion enterprise SaaS in ATL. And not
unicorn valuation but actual valuation stemming from revenue. Our “what” is to become a $100mm ARR SaaS.
@kyleporterThe “internal scorecard”. This is why we’re excited to come to the office. What excites you? How will you leave your legacy? What difference
are you going to make? Ask questions till you ﬁnd your deeper purpose.
Change our lives
Our number one “why” is to change the lives of our employees. I’ve always wanted to help others accomplish their dreams and having a
great business is one of the best vehicles in the world to do that. We want this job to be the best job our #rainmakers ever have. We want to
help them learn more, do more, and become more through SL. We realize they won’t be in this role forever and want to see them leave one
day and accomplish amazing things as alumni. How hard do you work to understand your people’s goals? It’s important & rewarding to
build a team of people through leadership, resources, and motivation to help others ﬁnd life fulﬁllment.
Our number two “why” is to change the fabric of the ATL tech industry. We wouldn’t be here without ATDC, Atlanta Tech Village,
the surrounding ecosystem and the entrepreneurs who have made it happen. We found our ﬁrst employees, customers, investors,
and partners through the Atlanta Tech Village. We’re using this company as a vehicle to give back. Examples: we launched the
Atlanta Startup Village after getting back from TechStars, we underwrote $25k to a entrepreneur led group at Georgia Tech for
hackathons, startup fraternity, and an accelerator program.
G2crowd is like the yelp for SaaS. I show this to the team to remind them we’re changing one of the oldest and most important industries
in the world. We talk about how countries and economies measure themselves by ‘sales’ and sales has a lot more room to be disrupted by
the internet, especially top of the funnel prospecting and sales development. We plan to take our logo and drown it in ink, then smack it
square in the middle of the timeline of our sales industry, bringing sincerity and process and helping companies adopt the biggest
innovation to happen to the sales industry, sales development. What are you here to do?
@kyleporterWhen you’re a sales guy and you make bold claims like that, you better be able to back it up with a gameplan. The “how?”, our blueprint
1. Put core values and culture ﬁrst
2. Build a world-class product
3. Customer acquisition MACHINE
4. Customer ♥
5. Foster the sales development community
How are we going to reach our goal?
What’s your blueprint to accomplish your “what and why”? What is your “how”? Ours is 1) Prioritize core values over everything (meaning
when there is a clash, the CVs win. 2) Be a product company. At the end of all human interaction, the customer is left with software. We
prioritize product over marketing and sales. 3) Be a customer acquisition machine. Not just for ourselves but for others around the world.
We have to be so good at acquiring customers that we can help the world acquire customers. 4) Strive always to exceed the expectations of
our clients, to anticipate their needs, and love them (agape). 5) Build the community. Just like HubSpot did for inbound marketing,
we will do for sales development
#3 One Page Strategic Plan
This is the single document that aligns and guides our business. It can do the same for you. We set this up each quarter during our offsite. Here
is a link to a shared template version of our OPSP that you can copy and use for yourself. Two books helped us generate this: (Mastering the
Rockefeller Habits & The Balanced Scorecard).
#4 Meeting Rhythm
Most companies practice “meeting soup” (random meetings, rarely on time, and that’s what we did with SL V1. We ﬂipped the script after
the reboot and instilled a very pragmatic approach to business meetings. Most of this was inspired by the book: Death by Meeting. Now, the
right meetings always occur unless something crazy happens. They start on time and end on time, every time. If you’re late, we reprimand.
The next slide walks through how we meet.
Weekly One on Ones
Daily stand-ups are held company wide by 7-12 person teams where they answer: “What did you do yesterday? What are you going to do
today? What roadblocks do you have? Weekly one on ones (o3’s) are held for everyone in the company for 1 hour where the report has
the agenda and it’s built to strengthen the relationship between manager and direct. Weekly tactical is a leadership meeting where we go
over the scorecards and priority projects on the one page strategic plan. Monthly breakfast is a presentation by the CEO where we go over
all the vision, mission, core values, new hires, wins, agenda for the month ahead and end with an AMA to the CEO/COO. Quarterly offsite is
the leadership meeting where we bond, build one-page strategic plans, and schedule the quarter ahead.
Bonus: Friday the team gets together at 8:40a for a gratitude meeting. Each person quickly states their highlight from the week.
At the end of the meeting, the culture winner from the week before gets up and gives away a pair of “rainmaker socks”.
It’s the “get one, give one” model. We no longer ﬁt on the roof of the Atlanta Tech Village.
#5 Company Pulse
Every Thursday, each individual contributor gets a survey from 15ﬁve.com asking them to mark their goals from the following week as
complete, then they set out their goals for the week ahead and answer the questions above. Managers review their teams responses
making comments and passing up answers to their managers. They then ﬁll out their own on Friday and it all rolls up to the CEO for a full pulse.
Here’s how the org chart structures to show each person that reports to the CEO
#6 Company Updates
Let’s wrap it all up. We’ve discussed the vision, mission, and core values. We’ve talked about strategic plans, implementing them with meeting
rhythm, and checking on the pulse of the company through weekly surveys. Here’s how I update the team and our stakeholders with everything
that matters to the company. We send the “weekend update” every Sunday night. You can ﬁnd a copy of the weekend update here.
#7 Department Cadence
We’ve shown you how intentional we are about the organizational health of SalesLoft. It’s hard but it’s worth it. While important, organizational
health is only one element of a successful business. We encourage you to be as intention about all the other departments in your company as
well. For the rest of the deck, we’ll walk you through our intentional process for sales development.
of ideal prospects
Executes rhythm of
calls and emails
SDR vs AE
We recognized that sales development is the biggest process improvement to happen to selling in the last decade and wanted to orchestrate an
amazing process of orchestration for this growing department. We explored everything on the market then decided to build the application of
record for sales development. Here’s some info on what we did.
Goal: 3x the # of qualiﬁed apps
The ﬁrst thing we learned was the importance of sales team’s “Cadence” AKA the number of sales calls and emails over a certain period
of time. All teams wanted their sales reps to execute on a Cadence but found it hard to stay accountable and execute routinely.
We created software to do just that.
The app is set up to allow you to personalize your email campaigns while still keeping high levels of activity. The software sends emails through
your own email server rather than transactional systems that get caught up in spam ﬁlters and promo tabs. Integration with your mail servers
allows for server level reply tracking.
We recognized that any good sales development tool would allow you to mix phone calling and emailing in the same system. Our dialer allows
you to pop on your headset and power down a targeted list of prospects without ever punching a keypad. The system of record for sales
development lets you execute on both email and phone.