In today’s market, a competitor can displace you in a matter of months, not years. Brad McGinity, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) at 15Five, and his crew know this. Technology combined with a new generation of employees is changing the way organizations are developed. Antiquated practices like top-down management, annual reviews, and poor or slow feedback channels will be the kiss of death for late adopters. Today’s younger workforce craves frequent feedback, flexibility, and growth opportunities as well as mentorships with leaders like Brad.
15Five has a performance management system to help organizations tap into the passion, creativity, and commitment of their workforce. But they don’t just sell it—they live by it. Businesses like 15Five will be most successful by unlocking the potential of their people, and more than 1200 15Five Clients agree.
Brad’s credentials include an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler, a fellowship at venture capital firm IDEA Fund Partners, Co-Founder and Green Pants Fashionista of Windsor Circle, Sales Executive at Bronto Software (acquired by Netsuite and later by Oracle), Business Development with New Media Campaigns, and the Special Olympics. I sat down to chat more about his journey and what is next for this Entrepreneur, Father, Husband, Coach, Mentor, and Marathon Runner. (Editor’s note: There are two Panera locations on Six Forks Road. Lesson learned).
Q. Congratulations! 15Five recently raised $8.2M in Series A funding. Great news, of course. So can you share your growth plans given this additional funding?
I’ll start with a big thanks to Brent Hill at Origin Ventures, who invested in my last company, Windsor Circle, and led 15Five’s Series A. It’s an impressive syndicate with Matrix Partners, Jason Calacanis’s LAUNCH Fund, and New Ground Ventures. The big investment will be in product. We’re No. 45 out of 30,000 companies on G2Crowd for user satisfaction with customers like Pendo, CapitalOne, Hubspot, and Tesla, and we want to continue giving customers the best results and experience that we can. In the last 12 months, our Sales-led business has grown 280%, so we’ll continue investing in sales and marketing to grow top-line revenue in 2019. While we’re headquartered in San Francisco, a lot of this hiring will happen in Raleigh, where we’ve grown the office from two to 19 employees over the past 12 months.
Q. Coming in on the ground floor of a startup means you have an amazing opportunity to define the culture. Can you share more about the management practices of 15Five?
We have three offices in San Francisco, New York City, Raleigh, and another 20% of our team working remotely all over the world. Despite this, we have a 4.9 rating (out of 5) on Glassdoor and have only had two people leave voluntarily in the past five years. This incredible retention rate comes through a focus on creating a culture that allows people to become the best version of themselves. We do this through a management system we call “Best-Self Management.” Best-Self Management is about creating cultural standards across the company, and support-focused coaching conversations that help people become the best version of themselves at work. We practice things like radical candor, growth mindset, psychological safety, strengths assessments, etc. We believe this is a sustainable competitive advantage for us, and honestly, it’s just the right thing to do for our people.
Q. You and I spoke at length about talent acquisition, management, and engagement and you have stated in your presentations: “Excellence is not something we do once. Excellence is something we do every day.” I love this! Can you share more about how and why this so important in your organizational development?
15Five strives to be a deliberately developmental organization. It’s actually one of the tenets of Best-Self Management. We practice this a number of ways: we give people $500 of “birthday money” to go grow in some way – this could be learning something new, or overcoming a fear. We pay for people to go to conferences, and we invest in skills training for each person. On my Revenue team, the Sales team and the Customer Success team each meet twice a week for 30-minute “skill-ups” to learn best practices. It’s important to note that we’re not just trying to develop people professionally; we want each person to leave 15Five having had significant personal and professional growth.
Q. 15Five has an HQ in San Francisco and Raleigh. What do you think the greatest challenge(s) is/are for a CRO in the present Triangle startup environment?
I’ve spent my entire career in the Triangle, so leading a team of people across Raleigh, NYC, and SF has taught me a lot. In the Triangle, we would all benefit by spending more time together learning from one another and building the local ecosystem of talent, insights, investors, and innovation that spurs growth. There are a number of organizations working on this (Triangle Revenue Exchange, Innovate Raleigh, American Underground, HQ Raleigh, etc), but it requires the full community to invest. And let’s be honest, that’s really hard when you’ve got a demanding job, a family at home, and want to maintain some friendships/hobbies. One big difference I see between SF and Raleigh is the convergence of this in people’s lives. Their social life is tech; their hobby is tech. That’s less common in the Triangle, so it becomes both a strength and a weakness for our region.
Q. We spoke in depth about multi-generational talent. In your role as a teacher/coach/manager/mentor is there something you learned from those you lead that you want to share?
I’m a “Xennial” (it’s a fake, real thing, I promise), so I find myself so often identifying with both Gen X and Millenials. Probably my favorite thing about Millenials and the people I lead and mentor is their desire to make a contribution to fixing things. I don’t see them blaming, I see them engaging. They constantly ask themselves, “What can I do to make this better?” That’s a worldview based on optimism and hope that I wish we all had.
Q. Share something we might not know about you—preferably personal.
Since college, I’ve had this goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. For me, it’ll be really hard, but it’s also attainable. Unfortunately, I’m a pretty lazy runner, so while I’ve run four marathons, I never really trained for the first three. Four years ago, I got focused and trained for eight months, going from “completely out of shape” to “Boston-qualifying ready.” I’ll skip the details of marathon #4, but the outcome was that I missed qualifying by 13 seconds—literally half a second per mile. If you do the math, I accomplished 99.99% of my goal… but I missed it. My wife wants me to check it off the list and move on, but I can’t. So I just started training for marathon #5.
Q. Most of us don’t go around saying “When I grow up I want to be a sales leader.” I said I wanted to be a veterinarian or lawyer but NEVER did I utter, “I aspire to be in talent management.” What did you want to be?
8 yrs old: Olympic swimmer and professional lacrosse player
13 yrs old: Sports anchor on ESPN. Stuart Scott was my hero.
16 yrs old: Professional racecar driver
19 yrs old: Sports anchor (hence Journalism major at Carolina)
23 yrs old: Nonprofit CEO
26 yrs old: Tech entrepreneur
35 yrs old: Husband, Father, Mentor, Coach, Leader. As long as I keep getting to do this, I’ll be happy.
Q. If you could change something/anything (pie in the sky) what would you change?
I’d want people to know how deeply they are loved by their friends and family so that they can stop doing selfish, short-sighted, unhealthy, and unkind things in a desire to feel worthy of being loved. We all struggle to feel worthy of love, but we are all worthy of it. I think this would help solve a lot of society’s problems.
Q. Tell me about a time you failed. No, kidding (had my Recruiter hat on). My real question is this: Fast forward 10 years from now—where do we find Brad?
45 yrs old: Husband, Father, Mentor, Coach, Leader…. and Boston Marathon finisher.