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How Remote Year Skyrocketed Their Growth Implementing The Scaling Up Methodology [Interview Transcript]

by Verne Harnish

6 minute read

    Earlier this month on November 7th, we ran a live webinar for CEOs and Executives from who are determined to scale up in 2018.

    In the webinar, I shared some proven frameworks and step-by-step formulas that you can implement to scale your business. On top of that, I invited Sam Pessin, Co-Founder and Head of Operations at Remote Year to share his experience working with the Scale Up Methodology and how it helped him.

    Now, I really liked what Sam had to say for a few reasons:
    1. He doesn’t sugar coat the challenges he and his team faced, before and during implementation.
    2. He was realistic about the results of implementing the methodology.
    3. You get an idea about how it will affect your business as well.

    This is great because I really want you to know what you’re up against when scaling your business. I will say this, scaling is for those who are willing to work for it. It’s not difficult, but it is hard work. Are you and your team ready?

    I wanted to share the transcript from the interview between Daniel Marcos and Sam Pessin in case you missed the webinar.

    Daniel Marcos: We’re going to talk with Sam Pessin — who is the head of operations at Remote Year. They've been implementing the Scaling Up Methodology for over a year and I would like to really understand some ideas from Sam. Tell us a little bit about Remote Year. What are you doing there?

    Sam Pessin: We started Remote Year about three years ago and it's a year-long — now actually also four month-long program — for remote workers to see and explore the world while they work remotely.

    Essential in this day and age with employees who want a flexible lifestyle, they want to balance work and life in a more effective way and they want to learn and develop and be exposed to a global community.

    We provide a solution for them but also for their employer to support them through that process of exploring remote work and exploring the world together.

    Daniel: How do you measure your growth and how much are you scaling?

    Sam: We measure it typically in programs. How many programs we launch of people. The first year we launched one, which was the biggest push ever. In the second year we launched six and this year we launched about twelve. We've been growing pretty quickly over the first three years.

    Daniel: Why did you decide to implement Scaling Up? What did you read and why did you want to implement it?

    Sam: That's a great question. I actually read Verne's book and then I reached out to the email in the book and eventually got connected to you, which was how we stumbled upon the methodology.

    I think the early days of a startup, you sort of see a problem and everyone just kind of runs towards it and you just throw everything you have at every single problem and I think as we got to about 50, 60, 70 people on our team we started to have to make more complex decisions about resourcing and problem-solving and it wasn't effective anymore.

    Or, just to say, “Here’s the biggest problem lets all go attack that," because then something else would sort of get deprioritized and we'd miss on the second or third most important thing.

    We just needed a way to sort of realign our team, our resources, and our projects towards our goals on a frequent basis. We needed to be nimble. We needed to be agile and we needed to just be able to have a conversation about that in a dynamic way with the right people in the room along with us.

    I think the other thing that was really a driver here was just to be able to communicate better. As our team grew it was harder and harder and harder for everybody in the organization, especially since we're a remote company, to really understand what was going on.

    What were the company's priorities and how did that impact them? And how did that change their behavior? And how did that just create general buy in, engagement and excitement to be a part of what we were working on as a team. I think those were the two main drivers.

    Daniel: When you decided to implement Scaling Up, who did you get involved, how did you get your team rallied around it? It's a question we get all the time. The CEOs that want to do it, they read the book, they go to a conference, they meet Verne, and then wonder who do I have to rally behind me to help me get this done?

    Sam: That's the toughest part. Although, the answer is simple. Me and my co-founder Greg, we were the first ones to buy-in and I think when we wanted to do it, we had the sort of executive sponsorship, which is piece number one.

    Piece number two is that you need somebody who is sort of project managing the whole process. We had actually recently hired a chief of staff, named Monte who came in and helped us and really was like the day-to-day champion of this process on an ongoing basis and still continues to play that role, which I think has been really important with communications cadences, sharing presentations.

    Really just kind of getting out into the leadership team and understanding what their priorities are and kind of being effected behind the scenes like that, that was the second piece.

    The third piece, Daniel, if you remember when you came and visited us in Mexico, there was a lot of skepticism up front, even with those two pieces in place. We had a legacy leadership team of about 13 people who were certainly skeptical of embarking on this journey and I think once we started to go through the daily stand ups and the weekly calls, and the monthly calls and the quarterly calls people really started to value that time together and really saw what it did for them even just the simplicity of getting more information every day from the rest of the organization or having goals that we put in front of us that we can track every single day and see progress.

    It didn't all happen in that one weekend of us sort of launching. It happened over the next two or three months as the team started to absorb and just see those stand ups being useful to them, adding value.

    Daniel: What results have you got from implementing Scaling Up? What results have you seen?

    Sam: The main thing is you want to drive towards are your KPIs. We have certainly been tracking progress more effectively. It’s hard to say how much it’s improved because we weren't even really tracking it before. I think we're able now, even just from the first day we launched it, to see progress towards those milestones and I would argue an even more important thing like I said before, is just board-wide communication.

    To be able to have a leadership meeting and then have those messages kind of cascade through the organization and really inspire and motivate people and help people understand what's going on, it's so important to a start up these days.

    To have a mission-driven culture, also full buy in. People want to be a part of it, people want to know what's going on. People want to know what decisions are being made and why they are being made.

    And I think the way that the Scaling Up process has been framed and the way that we've also taken it internally to Remote Year and sort of made it our own has really enabled us to help the whole organization through and through. Just be more aware of what's going on and engaged in that decision making process.

    Daniel: Awesome. Sam, thank you very much. We really appreciate you coming to the webinar and sharing your thoughts and ideas on implementation. Anything you want to say in closing?

    Sam: Thanks for having me. We've gotten a lot out of this process and definitely around to help if anybody wants to reach out personally, my email sam@remoteyear.com and happy to chat about implementing this or anything else.

    What setbacks do you anticipate in your organization while scaling up? Leave me a comment!


    Scale Up With The Guidance
    Of Business Growth Experts

    Scaling Up Master Business Course 2.0 is a result of collaboration between Verne Harnish and Growth Institute. It was designed to help you effectively implement the famous Scaling Up methodology step by step under the guidance of Verne Harnish & Scale Up Coaches and with support of a mastermind circle.


    Registration for the next intake of Scaling Up Master Business Course 2.0 is now open. This online class is limited to 75 selected leaders. Team applications are also accepted, and there is no limit to how many people from one company can join. Apply here now before registration closes.


    Verne Harnish

    Verne Harnish

    Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO's premiere CEO program, the "Birthing of Giants" and WEO's "Advanced Business" executive program both held at MIT.

    Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up.

    The "Growth Guy" syndicated columnist, he's also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored "The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times", for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword.

    Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine's annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity.

    Nombrado por la revista FORTUNE Small Business como uno de los “Top 10 Minds in Small Business”, empresario, autor y columnista de la revista FORTUNE, Verne Harnish, es un consultor de gestión muy buscado, especializada en liderazgo, planificación estratégica y el crecimiento del negocio. Su libro, “Dominando los Hábitos de Rockefeller: qué debe hacer para acrecentar el valor de su empresa en rápido crecimiento” ha sido traducido al español, chino, japonés y coreano. Verne es también el fundador de EO, la Organización de Empresarios (http://www.eonetwork.org), y el CEO de Gazelles Inc.


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