Compensation Philosophy: An Interview with Ryan Leavitt, CRO and Co-Founder of LearnCore


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Show Notes:

1:00 – What is LearnCore?

3:06 – On the first LearnCore hire.

” As a startup, you need two things in finding great early employees. One, you need someone to take a risk. You need to be able to sell the dream to them. A lot of times, there’s not a lot of revenue. There’s not a lot of customer. You need people to buy in and really want to be part of that and really take that risk. Number two is something we learned early on especially with that first employee. I learned this from talking to a lot of folks who had been there before. It’s that we weren’t looking for people with specific experience for a specific role. At a startup, my first employee, that role could change literally every day. We needed people that were nimble, that were agile, that were very good decision makers and they embraced the challenge, but also tried to solve it and wouldn’t sit there and watch the challenges happen.”

4:49 – The team at LearnCore learned how to build the best team for their startup by failing first.

5:50 – Favorite interview questions and accountability.

“We really focus on building a culture of accountability at LearnCore. People, of course, are accountable for their own performance, their own actions, but what they do is accountable to their team, to the company as a whole. When we build that type of collaborative environment where everybody has that ingrained belief in what we’re doing and is passionate about the success, then they’re let down if someone else on their team doesn’t want to be there or isn’t working as hard or doesn’t really have the same passion.”

8:15- Ryan discusses core values at LearnCore.

 “What we realized is that there wasn’t necessarily great alignment in our values, because we had determined them as a leadership team. We recently did is during a lunch activity over a couple hours as a team, we broke up into groups and did some sort of team building in an activity where we would come up with all the core values that were important to everybody across the team.”

12:38 – Ryan’s philosophy on leading and managing people.

“I think that all goes back to listening and communication. Without that, I think it’s hard to be a really good leader. That’s something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally, especially to people that are running all the time and going a million miles an hour, but it’s important to slow down and leverage that when you’re trying to be a leader.”

14:17 – Compensation Philosophy at LearnCore

“We always want to be competitive with the market and give people the opportunity to earn even more. Because of that, we want to make sure that ever role has some sort of performance based comp. What it does is it helps to align incentives and make sure people focused on succeeding for themselves and performing well and for their team. “

16:49 – Performance management and employee/employer feedback.

“When there are people that we’ve hired that their performance is not up to par, and that could be maybe they don’t have the skills and we need to coach them. Maybe they don’t have the right attitude and they need to be coached. Maybe they’re just not a good fit. Whatever it is, if their performance is not at the same level and their passion and their dedication is not at the same level as the other folks on the team, they feel that. It frustrates them as well. What it does, it forces us as leadership to have those feedback conversations earlier and more often. We need to be able to quickly realize: how do we solve this? Is it a performance plan? Is it coaching to specific skills? Maybe that person is a great fit for the company, but they need to be in a different role. Maybe they’re not a good fit for the company and we should let them go. We need to make those decisions quickly because again we’ve created this environment where it does impact other people on the team.”

19:43- Greatest lesson learned about the people side of your business.

“People management, when it comes to either managing or making sure the team is happy and productive or finding new people, is really, really difficult. For us, I’m spending now probably about 40% of my time on recruiting and hiring because we need to have an absolutely great team. A good team doesn’t cut it. We need to have a great team, especially as I mentioned before, each person is really two to three percent of the company. We need to really boil it down. It’s on us as leadership to build that team.”

21:39 – What is LearnCore best at when it comes to the people side of their business? Learning and getting better.

23:30 – What’s keeping you up at night?

24:43- Ryan is currently reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willinks and Leif Babin, two former Navy SEALS.

“What was a goal that you set that you failed? Was it their fault? Did they own up to it themselves or was it external factors? A lot of this is around how that focus and expectation and communication is really important from a leadership standpoint. They also combine that. They mix that message with some battlefield stories. That makes the book a little more entertaining too.”

26:26 – What is your greatest challenge in the next year?

“It’s this idea I think of compounding. That’s not just revenue growth. That’s not just number of clients but in our team. If we achieve the goals that we’ve set out to build this really great, really dynamic team of passionate leaders at LearnCore, the recruiting and our brand in the marketplace and the number of fantastic candidates that come in will hopefully also compound.”