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Guest: Bryce Maddock
Episode in a Tweet: An extraordinary 29-year old entrepreneur builds a 4,500 employee company in just a few short years with clients including Uber, Groupon, HotelTonight and Tinder.
Quick Background: Bryce Maddock and his childhood friend Jaspar Weir started TaskUs on a shoestring and built it into an international powerhouse serving many of the country’s leading high-tech companies. The premise of TaskUs is this: We can cut your customer service cost or your content moderation cost or your graphic design costs in half and we will guarantee the same level of quality that your current staff is delivering. From that idea, TaskUs will do $50 million in revenue this year. Here’s the story of how they did it.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
1. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses early and move on to something else.
Before TaskUs, Bryce and Jaspar tried to start a frozen yogurt business in Argentina. It looked like a great idea on paper until they talked to other Americans who had started food service businesses in Argentina. Bryce said, “Based on the consistent horror stories we were hearing, we decided it was probably not a good idea.”
Rather than push an idea whose time had not come, they quickly packed their tent and moved back to the states. Shortly thereafter, they came up with the idea for TaskUs.
2. As a leader, nothing should be beneath you.
As a 22-year old investment banker doing busy work, Bryce thought, “This work is beneath me.” Fast forward seven years later and he said, “There is nothing beneath me.”
Bryce realized, “The higher you go as a leader the more willing you need to be to lead from the front.” As a high-touch customer service firm, Bryce had to show his frontline workers that he understood their work. By understanding their work, he could do a better job creating a culture and work environment that would bring out the best in them.
3. How do you hire thousands of people in short order? You use technology.
This year, TaskUs has been averaging almost 100 new hires per week. They’ve got the hiring system down pat. Here’s how it works.
After a candidate comes in the office, they are handed an iPad and asked to take a picture of their resume and themselves. After filling out some basic information, they take a series of online tests to determine if they have the skills to work in a call center environment and if they have the skills to work on a particular client account. The final step in the process is, “A face-to-face interview to make sure they fit in with our culture because core values are super important to us across the entire business from the front line up to me,” said Bryce.
How long does this process take? “We’re working our way towards this being a two-hour yes or no hiring decision from the time they walk in the door that day,” said Bryce. Amazing.
4. It takes more than just metrics to build a fast-growth, highly efficient company.
In the call center business, “It used to be metrics, metrics, metrics,” said Bryce. But over time, he discovered it led to extremely high staff turnover. Today, he said, “We like to lead with who are you as a person? Do you live our core values?” Of course, TaskUs is not running a charity so they do hold their staff accountable, too. The difference is, “We want to build a personal connection that really is based on core values first,” said Bryce.
5. Don’t be a know it all, be a learn it all.
When asked what advice he has for entrepreneurs and CEOs, Bryce said, “I just have one piece of advice which is very simple. It is be continuously learning.“ Interestingly, he said, “Don’t assume that those people have to be older and more experienced than you are.” He said there are teachers all around you so, “Just keep asking questions and keep trying to improve yourself every day.”
6. There’s only one guiding principle he uses to make technology investments.
Technology changes so fast it can be hard to determine which direction to go. But Bryce has found a simple way to cut through the clutter. When looking at new technology, he asks, “Will this make a difference on the front line? Is it going to make it easier, more fun, more engaging, more effective, and more efficient for the people on the front line to do their jobs?” You may be able to use this or a similar line of thinking in your business, too.
7. There’s a big difference between winning and the terms of that winning.
While we all want to win, Bryce said, “Most people want to win on their own terms.” He gave an example of how people will work hard until working hard becomes too inconvenient, until it invades too much on their personal life.
In leading from the front, Bryce sets an example and doesn’t ask people to do what he would not be willing to do himself. He asks himself, “What kind of sacrifice am I willing to make to make sure that we win? How far am I willing to sacrifice my role, my ego, my own personal preferences and comforts to ensure that TaskUs ultimately exits as a victorious company?” When you do it for the team, even if it’s personally inconvenient for you, everybody ultimately wins.
1. Lead from the front. If you understand that no job is beneath you, you’ll garner the respect of your team and better understand the needs of those who have the most customer-facing contact.
2. Understand the benefits–and limitation–of metrics. If you manage people simply by the metrics, you’ll fail. Ironically, the more you treat your team as valued humans, the better your metrics will be.
3. Be a Continuous learner. The minute you stop feeding your mind with new ideas and stop yearning for learning, is the minute your business starts its free fall. You can learn from people all around you; just pay attention and ask great questions.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.