25 mins read time

How to Scale Your Organization Systematically, featuring Nikolai Ladanyi

EPISODE SUMMARY

On this episode of the Virtual Frontier, we have Nikolai Ladany. Nikolai is the founder and CEO of Scale Up. Scale Up is helping other organizations to scale business systematically. Manuel and Nikolai talked about the key factors for successful scaling, and why the vast majority of start-ups and SME’s struggle with scaling.

EPISODE NOTES

Manuel and Nikolai talked about how companies and organizations in general, can scale systematically. Dive with us into the topic and listen to Nikolai’s approach and thoughts. Scaling is in fact something really simple. The first step, verbalize everything an get the implicit knowledge out of your brain.

  • When scaling is simple, why so many entrepreneurs struggle with it?
  • How to be focused on things that really matter?
  • What are OKR’s, and how can we use them the best way?
  • Why do you want to make yourself as a founder redundant as soon as possible?

Listen to this new episode and find out.

EXCERPTS YOU MIGHT WANT TO JUMP IN

Nikolai tells us what are important aspects when it comes to localizing content and ideas. [03:44]

Nikolai speaks about the basics of scaling and how to make yourself redundant. [08:27]

How to conduct successful and productive meetings. [12:56]

Start your meetings with silence and get aligned. [20:16]

Manuel’s experiences with getting things done and how OKR’s help him to stay focused. [25:38]

Scaling means that you are able to liberate yourself and do other things while the core of your business continues to run without you. [30:42]

Nikolai’s own story of failing and scaling as an entrepreneur. [37:00]

Why it is so risky to fall in love with your own product or service [40:57]

Links and hints:

Books mentioned in this episode.

Scaling Up English edition by Verne Harnish

Wachstum durch Führung: Die 10 entscheidenden Management-Prinzipien by Nikolai Ladany and Verne Harnish (German Edition of Scaling Up)

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits from Verne Harnish

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s by Bill Campbell 

Measure What Matters:  OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr

Vern Harnish’s website Scaling Up

The website from the EO Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Germany

Find more details about the Scale Up Summit on October 27.- 28.10.2020 in Düsseldorf

Get in contact with Nikolai, writing him an E-Mail

Watch Manuel’s TEDx Talk, and get inspired

You can learn more about Flash Hub and Virtual Teams as a service at Flashhub.io

Follow us on facebook and engage on our daily discussions.

Connect with us on LinkedIN

See what we go for you on our YouTube Channel

Give us your feedback and ask us anything related to our shows or guests. Just drop us a message on events@brightsolutions.de.

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Chris Reeves

Hello and welcome to the virtual frontier the podcast about virtual teams created by virtual team. I’m Chris and I’m part of the team here at Flash Hub. On today’s episode we have Nikolai Ladanyi is the founder and CEO of Scale Up. Nicolai and Manuel talked about scaling organization systematic. So here is Episode 20 of the Virtual Frontier, featuring our guest Nikolai Ladanyi.

Manuel Pistner

I’m happy to have Nikolai Ladanyi on our episode today of the Virtual Frontier podcast. Nicola is the founder and CEO of Scale Up and helps organizations to scale systematically. He brought the concept of scaling up to Germany, which was initially created by Verne Harnish, based on the Rockefeller habits. Hi, Nikolai, introduce yourself to the audience and let us know how it came that you started working with the Rockefeller habits and how you met Verne Harnish.

Nikolai Ladanyi

Hi, Manuel, great to be on your episode. Actually, I met Verne Harnish in 2011, at an event by the EO entrepreneurs organization, and he was speaking and he was talking to us about his Rockefeller habits, methodology. And I was extremely thrilled immediately because what I loved about the methodology is that suddenly, all the best practices that I had, in my mind so far that I’ve learned, right and left, and were combined cohesively in one system. So for the first time, I understood how, for example, people tools, how top grading tools related to strategic or to execution decisions. And that was actually the thing which really, really motivated me to go deeper into that. And I then started to implement the methodology in my company those days and had two companies one was the consulting firm and the other ones and IT firm. And as usual, when I come back from EO events, a lot of my colleagues that are more. Nikolai, not again, is coming back  from the seminar. So that’s always a bad news for them. And we realized that when we translate, or when we try to implement the American things, just one to one into the European context, that they lost a lot of the lightness. They lost a lot of the proposition  that they had in the American context. And when we started adapting the tools, translating the tools into European languages, like German, French, Spanish. In a way that we can mirror their likeness in the core language in a matter of the American society. And that was actually one of the core factors, why a lot of people who are using scaling up methodology now Germany, France or Italy, Spain, are quite happy because it’s not pure  translation of an American book. But it’s more an adaptation to our needs and the way we act and think,

Manuel Pistner

Makes total sense to me because I also work with people from all around the globe. And we have people from America, people from Europe in our team and what I realized what was a very, very important moment for me that the difference between accountability and responsibility is very precisely defined in English, but it isn’t in German. So which other which other difference do you see when it comes to comparison of American Rockefeller habits and German Rockefeller habits?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Well, the difference, it’s not so much about the difference in the methodology, it’s more the difference in how we translate the words. Another example is, for example, brand promise in the American  context, brand promise is clearly situated or located in the environment of strategic marketing, but above all strategy. But when you translate brand promise into German language, you often get words like Markenversprechen  and things like that. The same in French Promesse de marque. And suddenly, you’re very strongly entering the field semantically of pure communication and marketing communication. And thereby you lose a lot of the essence of the profoundness of the concept of brand promise Because for us the Scaling  up environment, brand promise is a concept how to think strategically out of the point of view of your core customer. And it’s not about how to improve the wrapping of the product. That’s one example. And another example that I like a lot, or that is that was very important for me, was the translation of the word core values. And when we translate American word core values into German language, we often end up with words Unternehmensleitbild, Werte, the same thing and French language we end up with words like Valeurs. But the German word Werte, or the French word Valeurs always has a semantic around ethical and moral striving attitudes. So there’s a very strong striving element in there. However, when we would then explain the semantics of this striving aspects on the moral and the ethical level, the American would say, hey, that’s not core values, that’s morale. And therefore, you can imagine that all those American management concepts that are based on core values when you translate the word core values, with a moral world, word, they don’t stick anymore. They lose their lightness. And therefore, when we use core values in the German language we often like to refer as saying, hey, it’s the verbalization, of how your brain functions of how you’re tick in your brain. “Wie ticktst Du”,  to make sure that it’s something that is very grounded. It’s not about nice words, it’s more, Hey, tell me, what are your convictions because you, as an entrepreneur, you want to make sure that I as your employee, that I know how you think, so that I can take decisions along your way of thinking when you’re not around. And scaling means that you’re not going that you’re not going to be around all the time, that you’re going to be a way most of the time, and you want to make sure that you ensure that I take the right decisions when you’re not around. And that’s the thing with core values. It has nothing to do with telling me what to strive for. It’s more telling me Hey, what’s your DNA today, in their life right now? So those are two examples where that illustrate quite well, the difference in semantic and how different translations even though Wikipedia or Duden, would propose these translations as being formally right, bring us on a completely misleading track with regards to improving the scalability of your company.

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, makes total sense to me. So what you’re telling, is that as I, if I, as an entrepreneur want to scale my organization, one very important thing is structured and systematical communications so that it’s not only me as an entrepreneur who has the whole vision and even the today’s vision and today’s DNA in my mind, but I can also somehow, yeah, delegate it to people that delegate it to others so that the whole organization does what my initial intent was, is that what you understand from scaling?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Absolutely, you know, scaling is nothing difficult, scaling is basically easy. Scaling means that you start to verbalize every aspect of your organization. Because once you verbalize it, you can start to explain it to third parties, so that third parties can do whatever you’ve told them to share and share whatever you’ve told them to do. And the basic principle behind scaling is make yourself as a leader redundant, as quick as possible and redundant means I need to transfer all the knowledge I have into the company. And the recipe book scaling up or the process in the book scaling up and also in our coaching is that our job is focused on asking all those questions to get out all the implicit knowledge out of your brain. into the explicit. To help you to everything that is unconscious to render it conscious. Because once it is explicit and conscious, then you can start to verbalize and delegated. And that’s it. That’s it. It’s not really difficult.

Manuel Pistner

That is that is really valuable for myself, but I think also for our audience. So when you say scaling is easy. Why do so many organizations struggle with it?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Good question. And I think a lot of organizations struggle with it because we, as entrepreneurs, and I’m including myself, we’re often very focused on developing our product. We’re often in love with our product. And we sometimes even when our product becomes successful, we lack of seeing that at a certain point we have to switch  away without focus from our product, more over to the focus of creating an organization that can deliver that product. And that is a shift in paradigm that is sometimes, well, that sometimes is overseen and scaling up is nothing else but helping you to make that shift as a leader. Or at least, if you realize that you’re not the right person to do that shift, to find somebody to do that shift for you. Because continuing to focus on the product one the one hand  is a good thing. However, what brought you here won’t get you there. It means when you grow a company beyond, let’s say, 20, 30 people, everything until 20, 30 people you can guide and you can manage implicitly. You can do that on a day to day level in your corridor. But once you grow Beyond 30 people, unique structures, unique processes in place, and most of us, we’ve never learned those processes and those structures in university or in our whatever education we made. And this is where scaling up comes into. We teach and we share exactly the tools needed, so that you can handle this insanity, so you can handle all the challenges that are coming once you grow beyond 20, 30, 40 people, and helping you to grow to let’s say, 200, 300, 500, people.

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, that’s what  I realized when I transformed my organization from a local one to virtual one, because then it’s, it’s even more important, you know, if you have a large office where everyone is in the same place every day, what I saw very often is that people have lots of talk communication. So they meet in the kitchen, they meet in the meeting room, they have a talk meetings here a talk meetings they are and sometimes they even scream to another employee like,  “Hey, can you help me to fix this?”. And on the other side, I saw that work can only be done with this Adhock communication because there is no system that provides structured communication. And then people believe that work can’t be done without an office. So when  you help organizations to step up to, to build such a structured system so that communication is done systematically, on which aspects and part of the organization’s do entrepreneurs need to focus?

Nikolai Ladanyi

There are a couple of elements we often like to focus. A lot of our knowledge that we share with regards to the meeting rhythm comes from Patrick Lencioni. He’s written a wonderful book called Death by Meeting. And in that book, he shares a couple of best practices and pitfalls. One of the most important pitfalls we always do in meetings is that for example, we have agendas that sound like, hey, let’s talk first about the new price list. Secondly, let’s talk about strategic procedures in developing a new market. And then let’s talk about region menu in the annual meeting. So, we are mixing extremely operational issues with strategic issues. And that is the core problem, because suppose we are in that meeting, we start first talking about the price list. So my mind is primed on thinking in details, thinking very process oriented. With that primed mind, I then switch over to a strategic topic. Usually those discussions become extremely bad, because I can’t tackle a strategic challenge beneficially if my mind is focused on nitty gritty processes. And in many situations you have  then end up with discussions like, Yeah, let’s go into France. And then suddenly you say, Nicolai  why should we go to France? Let’s say we tried to deliver something in Munich and it didn’t work out, then I come back. What do you mean, what didn’t work? What process failed. And so we end up with more discussions around problems, but we can’t ever face  the core element. So, Patrick Lencioni points out what we as entrepreneurs as a businessman, what we need is a feeling for meeting hygiene. And with meeting hygiene, he says, it means that we need to understand what kind of topics we raise, in what kind of meetings. And then we need different kinds of different types of meetings for every different topic. For instance, most of the problems that people have are of bilateral nature that means between two people, and they are waiting for something that somebody hasn’t delivered. Suppose you only have weekly meetings, then usually you end up with 70% of the topics that are of bilateral nature. Which means, suppose we have seven people in the meeting, two people talk and five people sleep and afterwards we say, hey, this wasn’t really worth it.

Manuel Pistner

So true.

Nikolai Ladanyi

Yeah. So Patrick points out and says, we first need something that is extremely effective in the programming environment. And that is a daily check in a daily huddle. And the daily huddle, we simply quickly chair. Hey, what’s the what’s the most important focus in since yesterday?  What’s the most important focus of the day? What’s the most important thing since yesterday and where am I stuck? And usually where am I stuck is the point where you can raise concerns where you’re waiting for somebody, somebody,  things where you are, where you have a challenge. with somebody, so you can always raise the desp.. thing. But since you’re meeting every single day for, let’s say, five to 12 minutes, you can solve all of those bilateral challenges on the day and on the spot. So therefore, when it comes to the weekly meeting, you finally have time to solve a certain type of challenges. And we say, let’s focus on the weekly meeting only on the operational issues and don’t mix operational issues with strategic issues. So the weekly meetings, they’re only for operational stuff, like, Hey, we need to look at this process. Hey, let’s quickly check in how we do the sales process here. Let’s have a look at our website. Let’s check on the price on the price levels. When you have strategic elements, you do that as a strategic meeting, and that is every month for let’s say two or three hours. And we deliberately also reserve one hour for the tactical, the operational weekly meeting. And that is two to the half, three hours for the strategic meeting. Because if you want to do really strategic thinking, you need at least 10, 20 minutes until your brain gets to the right temperature. And then you can focus on that. And having this kind of meeting hygiene, where you have a certain purpose for a certain meeting helps you to then have a structured approach to topics and solving things faster. Does that sort of…. does that resonate?

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I’m just wondering how. So that requires a lot of clarity. It requires lots of focus, not only for the entrepreneur, but also for everyone in the team. Like I mean, each of you guys in our audience, everyone knows these meetings where we have a clear agenda and People just randomly start talking about something and they even don’t realize it and all of a sudden the meeting ended and we didn’t get anything done. How do you make sure that everyone is really, really focused and does not get distracted? Without feeling personally offended?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Okay, so  there are two aspects, you’re rising. The first aspect you’re raising, and that is the aspect of how do we make sure that everybody is engaged in the conversation. There are two very small hat tricks that you can apply. And those hat tricks come from Google and also from… whats his name again, the Million dollar coach, Bill Campbell. Bill Campbell, who was the the the coach of, of Steve Jeff Bezos, and also also Steve Jobs. He has two hat  tricks. The first one was, make sure whenever you start a meeting, that you get everybody to say something. And Bill Campbell always started his meetings with the week and report. And that is that everybody in the room had to quickly say something that is done on the weekend. It can be something easy, nothing special. However, the reason was that if you get everybody to say something upfront, then the probability that the person will speak up later is much higher. You have a lot of meetings where only one person starts at the beginning, and the other people already check out. And that is what Bill Campbell wanted to present. And it’s a very effective methodology and they’re using it from the Silicon Valley. Most of the companies who who’ve been working with Bo Campbell are using that technique and it’s very valuable. The second hat trick that we use. That comes from Google that is making sure that everybody checks in to the meeting at the same time checking in also mentally. And Google has been thinking about different kinds of techniques and processes how to do that. And they’ve realized that there’s one very simple technique that can really combine that everybody checks in at the same time, and that is starting the meeting with one minute of silence. And we do that, we also do that we even do that sometimes in a virtual meetings, where we simply start, let’s say, 8one 8 two, and then we start by having one minute of silence. Everybody is silent  for one minute. The thing is, a lot of the times people have different paces and checking into the meeting, because there’s so many things going on in our mind. And I’m still sorting while you’ve already started a discussion and sometimes my sorting takes 10 minutes. But in those 10 minutes I’m not effective. So having this one minute of silence ensures that everybody has one minute to focus. What are the things in my mind? What are the things I need to do later on? Put all those ideas and the corresponding draws. The data of the meeting can think about what do I want to focus on? And then suddenly, you have at least 200% higher effectivity  in that meeting.

Manuel Pistner

Wow,

Nikolai Ladanyi

Those are… its a small help.

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, that’s really exciting. I mean, that sounds already very systematically in the beginning. So yeah, when people start a meeting, and they focus on first understanding what is in my mind and put all these things aside that don’t matter right now. I will try that. I will definitely try that. Thanks for this for this hint.

Chris Reeves

Hey, everyone, Chris here again. We’ll get back to our conversation with Nicolai Ladanyi in just a minute. I just wanted to give a quick thank you and shout out to Tine 91 for their review of our show on Apple podcasts, here’s some of what they said. really refreshing and innovative. Talking about virtual teams is always interesting. So thanks again for that review Tine 91. Tine had a lot more to say. But you know, I don’t want to spend too much time on that for you. Just go check it out yourself when you’re leaving a review for us. We really really appreciate everyone like Tine 91  that goes and leaves a review. Reviews like that really help people find our show. If you like what you’re hearing, please head over to your favorite podcast app and leave us a review. You just might be featured right here and this spot on a future episode. Now back to our conversation, the Nikolai Ladanyi.

Manuel Pistner

what I’m wondering is how does the methodology of OKRs help with scaling?

Nikolai Ladanyi

It helps every… well. OKRs  is nothing difficult and nothing special. And I think So understand OKRs in the context of the modern world, and the context of verbalizing priorities. I would say that there’s no difference between OKRs setting priorities or rocks. The only difference is that OKRs is a much more elaborate way, how to communicate priorities for a quarter. By the end of the 90s or in the 80s when we had 2 to  5% growth in companies and people were happy with two to 5% growth, it was okay to set a topic as a priority. In this year’s of 2000, 2005 and 2010, we realized the needed to be more precise when setting and describing a topic. And then we started to come up with this rule that topics need to be smart, specific, measurable, actionable, terminable and these things. But in today’s world where we have so much agility going on, even smart doesn’t help us anymore because it sort of narrows our mind. And this is where OKRs come into game. Because the OKR switches its focus away from understanding and helping the people to tell when it goes away from us as managers telling the people what to do more to helping us to explain what is the outcome that we desire, and how to measure that outcome, instead of telling the people what to focus on. Because sometimes if I tell somebody to what to focus on that person, or that explanation also implies that I need to be knowledgeable in how to solve the problem. And that is often not the case nowadays. And OKRs has to be seen historically or let’s say systematically in that development of time. So OKRs  is the wonderful way how to help organizations to understand what are the core elements that need to get done in this quarter. In the scaling up environment, we are absolutely using OKRs  as well, with regards to when we when we draw down when we come  try to define what are the priorities for a quarter we always use OKRs to do that and afterwards, We got to bring them into the into the organization. So I’m very familiar with that. And I love them. I use them all the time.

Manuel Pistner

I think it’s not so very common here in Germany or in Europe, but we started introducing it at the end of last year. And personally I realized it gives me so much focus. It really helps me to check in every morning and identify what is the most important thing that I need to get done today. Before we had OKRs I was crawling my email inbox, I was scrolling in slack I was checking here checking there, everything was and there were so many things more and more everyday and the person that screamed loudest was the one that I served first. And we have OKRs I can really shut up all this noise and  make much more clarity in my mind about what is the most important thing that I need to accomplish and then what do I need to do today to get one step closer to this goal? Yeah, how would you help organizations to understand for themselves that they would benefit from such a structured approach? You know, what problems do they face every day so that they, they really need to see Okay, I need like OKRs or structured communication structured meetings.

Nikolai Ladanyi

Yeah. Let me add one thing to the the ethic of OKRs because. OKRs, I was like a fashion at the moment, everybody thinks that OKRs is the solution to everything. And I think a lot of companies underestimate how much time you need to implement OKRs. Because OKRs also means you have a complete different way of thinking. We’re all primed and thinking milestone oriented. In OKRs, you don’t think milestone oriented anymore, you switch to thinking only outcome oriented. And that’s the long process for a lot of people. And even America, when you implement OKRs it takes the company’s at least nine to 12 months until they work. That’s been a study that has been made by john mayer, who’s written the book, measure what matters, who’s one of the grandmasters of the OKRs. Even he says in America, it takes nine to 12 months. So imagine, even as it takes an American nine to 12 months. It’s not surprisingly that sometimes in Europe, it also takes much longer than we think. And we have some organizations that have moved away from OKRs that have moved up to having clear goals, like smart formulated goals for for a quarter, and having the milestones they check in every, every week on that are corresponding to each goal. So the element is more, do we have a process in our management team? Let’s say six to five to eight people, where we together decide what are the things we’re going to do in this quarter? And what are the things we’re not going to do? Because we all have too many things to do. And the core question is rather to decide what are we not going to do? Once we decide what we’re not going to do and once we decide what we know what to do and what that we decided together, what to do? Then, obviously, we need a meeting rhythm to ensure that we are on track. Because we don’t have a proper meeting rhythm, like weekly check ins where we together, see and check whether we have made progress with regards to the core elements we’ve decided to do, we often lose track. And we all know that from the old times, if we never check in on something, then usually it’s dropped off from  our desk  and some other people some other things to sneak in. So it’s just like you said,

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, I just  want to put stress on that that’s absolutely the case. So whenever you try, whenever you don’t have a clear rhythm where people are kept accountable and where people need to report about the status, it’s not that they have to report it’s even more that they need to be aware of the current status and their progress. Now, let’s say company does this pretty well and they grow and scale and scale. So most people they set crowing equal to scaling. And previously you said there, there is a book death by meeting. It was almost laughing about this. There is also a term which says you can scale to death. What do I need to monitor that I don’t scale to death.

Nikolai Ladanyi

For us, we’d like to say that scaling is more an attitude and an inner attitude, how you look at your company. And scaling for us means the attitude that when you look at your company, that you look at it from a perspective that you want to make yourself redundant as soon as possible and create an organism that can run without you. Because scaling means that you want to liberate yourself to do other things, while the core continues to run without you. You can either continue to grow your company or you can do something else. And scaling to death for me is not really a concept that has that has come across my way of thinking. And I think if companies scale to death, it has nothing to do with scaling. It has more to do with a lack of leadership. Because the company that scales to death is more a company where the leader wants more then  than the company that he has created, can deliver. So it’s more about the challenge of the leader and not the the the attitude towards scaling. For me scaling is wonderful and growth is wonderful. For us, we also like to point out that growth is not only quantitatively, it’s not about getting bigger, richer, and so forth. It’s more a mindset. And I like to provoke by saying, We are growth maniacs. Because in a Vuca environment in an environment that is characterized by vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, if we live in an environment that is characterized by disruption, having a mindset where you say I don’t want to grow is the biggest invitation to failure because I’m starting not to look into my environment anymore. I’m, I’m becoming lazy and observing the market. However, if I maintain the growth mindset, if I maintain a mindset where I say I want to reach something bigger and higher, whatever it is, may be quantitative and qualitatively, it ensures that I’m staying alert. And we’ve seen in the years of 2010 2012, we had a phase where a lot of companies were switching to no growth or zero growth. And a lot of those companies either disappear, or they have adapted their methodologies because no growth or zero growth doesn’t really work because it makes our brain go lazy. And we can’t see the structures anymore, we fail to watch the market. And therefore we say, if markets are very agile, if markets are disruptive, the best insurance to reach the future is to have this growth mindset to have the hairy, big, audacious goal and follow that. Does that make sense?

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, that makes absolute sense. I mean, I realized that like four years ago, three years ago when my company was running smoothly, and I always managed to get out of the operational business projects were running and then I, I really became a little bit lazy. That really, really matches my my mindset. At this time, I was enjoying everything that had run smoothly without me, but I had no monitoring system in place that alerts me when I need to wake up. And that, yeah, that was the start of a crash that I shared in my TEDx talk. But can you give some people things to their hands like a very easy to use system or so? What do they need to monitor? What do they need to make sure they they monitor every week or every month so that this happens, does not happen to them?

Nikolai Ladanyi

What do you mean by this? You mean a failure?

Manuel Pistner

Such  a crush such a huge failure, such of being getting lazy and yeah, and not seeing that things are moving in the wrong direction?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Um, well, I think the best, the best advice I can give is, have a coach, have somebody that can see you from the outside that can help you to where you… have somebody where you have to be accountable yourself. And I think from my own experience, I’ve been in situations where I started in a couple of years where, where I grew a company quite swiftly from zero to more than 40 people. And then I suddenly was so in a struggle of continuing to grow the company and we had difficult times that I was absolutely not opening more to outside advice and a was running for the sake of running. And because I wanted to prove to myself that I can make it. And I was quite happy because I’m a partner and member of EO entrepreneurs organization. And in EO we regularly meet, and I meet with my fellow entrepreneurs, and a couple of them were able to see to what extent I was absolutely running into the wrong direction. And they were also able to see that I had difficulties hearing and listening to others. And it was them who helped me to see and get back into the helicopter, see my situation from the outside and really find the proper decisions. So I think getting an outside person whom you trust, with whom you can share your own information is extremely beneficial.

Manuel Pistner

Can you share some insights with our audience and myself, what happened to you?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Basically, it was quite funny because so 2011 I’ve met Verne Harnish. And I started implementing the thing we realized that we needed to to adapt a lot of things for the European context, but the German context I translated and wrote my first book that was the German version of the Rockefeller habits were I’m the co author, because I added an entire chapter with regards to adapting the things to Europe. And I published that book. And afterwards, I thought, Hey, I’m now the genius of strategy because I just wrote a book with Verne, and when I started my company in those days, the IT company, I thought I could ignore a lot of the principles that were preaching. Because of obviously, it’s tedious to do these meeting rhythms. It’s tedious to start and to focus before a meeting. It’s all those habits that you do. It’s not really something that I like as an entrepreneur or that many entrepreneurs are passionate about. And I would say I made three very, very distinctive mistakes. The first one was that when creating the founders team, we were strongly focusing on the skills of the founders. And we had a great combination of wonderful skills amongst the founders, and my co founders teams. But we didn’t pay attention at all, whether we share the same convictions with regards with regards to our thinking. We didn’t share the core values. And since we didn’t share the same core values, we hardly ever managed to find the common ground with regards to attitudes how we comport within the company or towards the towards our clients. One of my co founders, his conviction is the glass is always half empty. My conviction is the glass is always half full. And we got a price by Deutsche Telekom. And we were about we had Deutsche Telekom as one of our clients, so I was really happy. And I came back completely telling him, Hey, we have wonderful success. And his first response was, yeah, but mind you were going to fail sooner or later because you can’t ever rely on those big corporates. And for me, it was like a cold shower. And then I was coming, telling him Hey, no, no, it’s really gonna be great. And after some time, I realized that for him, people who see the glass to be half full are people from out of his perspective, who are not strong, who are naive, and who don’t have the balls to do good things. And I knew that and in the end, I used it least 70% of my time at my energy to hold the relationship with my co founder. And it only left me 30% of my energy to invest into the company. And I never realized to what extent I was always compromising in order to keep that relationship. Can you relate to that?

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, absolutely. That’s like you are looking in two different directions all the time, right?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Absolutely. And we are seeing so many teams where the founders are focusing on, yeah, those guys that have great skills, and they never realized that skills is not important. What is more important is, am I able to create an atmosphere where I can create my work and develop my creativity  and where we can help each other to grow bigger swiftly, and that has nothing to do with the skill set? That is second.

Manuel Pistner

It is more about mindset, right?

Nikolai Ladanyi

Absolutely. Yeah. The second challenge that we faced was a challenge very closely linked to being in love with our own product. We created a fabulous technology where we were able to send out PDF documents into apps where every person had his own app, and we were able to time bomb and to also geofence that document. So we were able to distribute documents without losing control over the documents. That was quite a fancy thing in those days. It was used for distributing sales manuals. So if a person leaves your company, you can retrieve the sales manuals. And obviously, it was quite difficult to find good customers. We had a couple of customers, but then I will never forget that situation. We were doing strategic thinking. And we thought, hey, our technology is so cool, that we are actually wonderful for all segments, were actually good for many, many, many industries. Actually, everybody could use us. So we we identified ourselves as being a ground technology. And we thought and the most effective way to grow was to find system architects and other other companies to do the last mile based on our technology. And we were trying to grow through system integrators. And what we didn’t realize is that we delegated the entire market approach to others. We were alienating ourselves from the core markets, and we were focusing more and more on us being in love with our technology. And well, and that’s always not so good. As you can imagine.

Manuel Pistner

I can definitely imagine that. That’s very valuable because I had this experience in one of my startups, like eight years ago, I was only focusing on the product, I built something that I loved. And then I tried to distribute it by some partners, but I never got in touch with a real market. And I never understood what the market really needs. I just understood that I feel the product that I really love. And I was the only customer. So yeah. That’s a big failure. Thanks for sharing that that’s very important for especially startups that are listening to this podcast. So we already came to the end of this episode, let us know where people can find more information or where they can reach out to you.

Nikolai Ladanyi

Obviously, you can always check out our internet site, www.scaleup.de. And I’d love to invite everybody to come to the Scale Up Summit in October. It’s going to be in Düsseldorf. It’s going to be on October 27th and 28th. You will be able to experience Verne Harnish live on stage and you’re going to experience another couple of wonderful speakers. And people like Philipp Depiereux will be also there talking about their own experience with digitalization scaling. And it’s going to be a wonderful two day event or one and  half day event where you have access not only to great speakers, but also to great breakout sessions, where you all you will have the opportunity to also actually work on your company. So 27th and  28th of October, that’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for the entire European scaling crowd together. And I’m very, very happy to answer all kinds of emails that you sent to me. So if you have a question, just drop me an email and I’m happy to answer.

Manuel Pistner

Perfect, thank you very much. That was a very valuable episode. Thanks for being on the show.

Nikolai Ladanyi

Thank you. And thanks for you Manuel for doing this. I’m very I was extremely thrilled when I saw your TED talk the first time and yeah, I’m very happy to be part of your movement.

Manuel Pistner

Yeah, thank you very much. I need definitely more of these open minded people because this will help to really transform the way how the world is working. So thanks for being part of it.

Nikolai Ladanyi

Thank you. Bye bye

Chris Reeves

I’d like to thank our guests Nicolai Ladanyi, for joining us today. You can find out more about Nikolai at Scale Up at scaleup.de. You can subscribe to the Virtual Frontier on Apple podcast, Google Play Stitcher or anywhere else podcasts are found. And while you’re there, please leave us a review. Reviews help people find our podcast. And don’t forget your review could be featured on a future episode just like Tine 91 was earlier Flashhub.io.  On behalf of the team here at Flash Hub, I’d like to thank you for listening. Until next episode, keep exploring new frontiers.

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