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Kison Patel is the Founder and CEO of DealRoom, a project management software for complex financial transactions. Kison has over a decade of experience as an M&A advisor and developed DealRoom after experiencing first-hand a number of deep-seated, industry-wide inefficiencies and challenges.

We cover a ton of really great lessons on the productizing of process and how Kison has scaled teams and culture. If you’re a founder or anyone in a startup, these are solid lessons and Kison was a real pleasure to chat with.

Plus check out his podcast, book, and more at https://kisonpatel.com/ 

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Good morning, everybody or afternoon, wherever you are, whatever time it is you listen to this. This is the DiscoPosse podcast and you’re in for a treat because you’ve got Kison Patel from M&A Science. Kison is also a podcaster, a great content creator and somebody who really has a mindful approach to his sharing of information and really wants to help people. So this is a great discussion around the process of founding his original ideas and productizing them working with the team. We talk about culture. It’s a really great, wide ranging discussion.

In order to make great discussions like this happen, I do have to, of course, give you a shout out. And that is you all make this happen. We just blew past 100,000 views on the YouTube channel, so make sure you go check that out. And of course, who else makes this possible is our fine friends who support the podcast, including everything you need for your data protection needs from the friends at Veeam Software. I’m a fan because I’m actually using their platform myself for protecting my own real production data have done for a long time and worked with a ton of people in the community.

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And if you’re somebody who does travel, even though we don’t do much of it lately, you want to make sure that even when you’re at home and when you’re on other people’s networks, you want to protect it by using a VPN. This is important because number one, gets control over your data in flight, protects it. And secondly, it also can do things like prevent unnecessary ads, perhaps even like this one from getting through. So it’s easy to do. All you got to do is go to tryexpressvpn/DiscoPosse.

I’m a customer and I definitely endorse how it is important. Plus, I use it for web testing, which is really cool. You can actually choose your location. You can test for latency and see what the response is from different parts of the world. And while you’re doing that, of course, don’t forget to grab a nice tasty devilishly good cup of coffee from diabolicalcoffee.com. We have some wicked cool mugs. So go check it out.

All right.

This is Kison Patel. I hope you enjoy the show.

I’m Kison Patel with M&A Science, and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.

Thank you very much. This is going to be an area where we can cover a lot of exciting ground. You’re doing work through both the product side with what you’ve done with DealRoom, you’ve got more product work that you’ve done. You’re doing work on the actual activity of mergers and acquisition. You’ve got a huge important and stored background in that. And you are a prolific creator of contents both through, you’ve got your podcast, you’ve got video work that you’re doing, and thankfully, I get to share some video time with you, which is great.

And you’ve written a book. You are busy. You’ve got a great voice, not just on the microphone, but literally. I love the way that you bring content to this world. So with that, if you want to give a quick intro for folks that are new to you and we’ll talk about what you’re doing with M&A science and with DealRoom and much more.

Happy to. My name is Kison Patel and I come from a background doing M&A advisory. I did it for about ten years. Working originally with private owners of small businesses to buy, sell and then grew in the career to work with corporates on similar transactions at larger scale. Then the recession happened around 0607. We did a lot of reflection, found that out myself and aspiring to get into the software space, got involved with a start up that didn’t work out. But what it led me to was an understanding and the way that software engineers would use project management software to manage building software.

And then I took that inspiration and started the company DealRoom a bit later in 2012 as project management software for mergers and acquisitions. Then learn shortly after there’s a whole bunch of things that you need to learn that come along with it in terms of how to build software, properly build a good software, how to get market fit, how to really develop a go-to market and then rebuild your software for scale. Because once you start getting customers, you realize that little thing you originally built with wasn’t really built or stood up for scale.

So it was a lot of fun experience. I was really fortunate in that journey. A friend of mine in marketing was, hey, man, you should do a podcast. And I was like, what the hell is a podcast? Don’t worry about it, you’re the next big thing. And that was probably the best market advice I ever received. We started podcasting about five years ago with a podcast called M&A Science. I think the one thing is, I was fortunate enough to have a good marketing team that was really good at repurposing content.

We would take transcripts of these interviews, write blogs, eBooks, and then recently published our second book. And then that evolved into doing online events, which evolved into owning and operating an online school for M&A. So now we have a few different business lines today, back in a nutshell.

Yeah, well, this is what’s really sort of the key story when you talk about successful startups, and I’ve seen it. I’m lucky at the point that this will go out. We’re just past 200 episodes. So I’ve talked to a lot of founders and you’ve seen this consistency in the success is often taking real lived experience and then translating it into productizing and creating products that very genuinely map to experience that you’ve brought to that company. And it can be through as a technical founder or as a business lead founder and finding a technical co founder because of your really strong background in M&A, and then your willingness to bring it in the open through podcasting, people often say, like, Well, you’re giving all this stuff away. Why would I buy the book?

Well, I’ve read the book.

It’s fantastic, right? It’s a great read. Secondly, it’s a way to kind of continue to go back and reference like, okay, where am I at it? You hear about sort of The Magic Box principle as another popular book and the idea of where you are in the acquisition process. But then when it comes to DealRoom, I like this. You’ve brought together two important things. One, you brought business to a technical platform, and at the same time, you brought development learnings through that previous startup to how you are going to build and scale DealRoom.

So I really want to find where those two things came together. When did you know it was working, that it was going to bring these two things together, or what were those first few months in defining what DealRoom would be?

Okay. So this is a really good question here. When I look at where we’re at today and where we first started is very different. And I wouldn’t say the attribution success was so much of our M&A experience. That’s what got the foot in the door. And I would attribute 10% of our success today from that. The other 90% comes from being obsessed, being extremely, that’s our competitive edge is that we obsess over M&A. We can talk about it nonstop within our own organization. I’m constantly encouraging team members to learn about M&A, to be able to speak about it, understand the specific pain points challenges.

When we look at those early days, the problem you have when you come from the background and the industry is you bring a lot of assumptions with you. So with the experience that I worked in to, primarily worked in hospitality and small financial institutions, the experience I had in those markets is what I based a lot of the assumptions and how we should build a product and take it to market. And you’ll find out at some point either, ideally, sooner than later, that you’re wrong about a lot of those things.

And then the right thing to do is build the feedback loop really go through a process where you can validate your pain points that your problems you’re solving for. That’s a whole process of its own to be able to do that in an unbiased way because one, it’s our idea. We have some entitlement around it, and we tend to ask people for feedback that know us and they want to be nice and encourage us to follow and chase dreams and things of that sort. But that’s not what we want.

We want to identify who the cohort of customers are and we get the unbiased feedback on what are the key problems that you’re facing and understand how I see it and if it aligns. We went through that process about going through the first few months. We started with an idea of building a marketplace for M&A. We thought, here’s the lifecycle of deals. We’re going to start off with the very front end. Where do you find deals? How do buyers and sellers connect? And that’s where we found out we’re wrong about a lot of things.

We put this marketplace together. In the first year, Eric, we operated it. We had about 200 deals listed and 1200 users and realized we just build a sophisticated dumpster for deals. It wasn’t going to go very far. And it was at that time we realized we need to go back to the drawing board and step back because it was the typical thing as the founder, where you have ideas, you make an outline with what they call feature creep. You build this massive outline with 100 different features you wanted to do.

Then you’re like, all right, let’s start with the top and start building this front end stuff. We went back and took more. I think if you Google customer development interviews, there’s a lot of articles about it, and it kind of walks you through how do you validate the problem that you’re solving for. When we went through that exercise, and the goal for us was to do 40 of these interviews to really validate what we’re doing. And we realized one, finding deals wasn’t the biggest problem for the customers that we were looking to work with.

It was more on the management side. There was a lot around how do you get deals through the process, coordinate with so many different people and drive efficiency. It wasn’t so much managing the front end to find the deal, it was really managing everything in between, so close. So we shifted our focus and went through a whole other series of challenges because we focused on one market and had a lot of uphill challenges where we didn’t understand the competitive market, the legacy technology they were using, their sales model. A lot of whining and dining.

They’re just very relationship driven, and we’re trying to go to market as a light touch technology solution that wasn’t happening. You’re not competing against late dinners and nights out at the nightclub, ball game tickets with funny market.

There’s ‘no dinner at Nobu’ option on the checklist of buttons you can click, right?

Yeah. Like a free dinner with it. So it took us a little while we probably got into year two, three and realized our early adopters were actually corporates, we shifted our focus and started working with corporates back then, and our product evolved as you work with customers and continue the feedback loop where we started solving for the integration challenges after they buy a company need to integrate it. And now we’re more recently doing the pipeline management on the front end. And when I look at the product today, very little of it is from my original ideas, very little of it.

It’s 95% from customers. Or maybe there’s some little insight we got from engineers and problem solving. But, yeah, I don’t know, when I look at these companies or aspiring entrepreneurs today, it’s so much of what I emphasize is really assuring that you’re validating the problem you’re solving for and continue that feedback loop as you start modeling out solutions, even early mockups and keep getting feedback. And it allows you to show people you’ve committed to it. Identify your early customers, more importantly, give validation. So if you do go to market and raise money, there’s so much evidence that you’ve done to validate that.

Hey, I got this idea and I’ve talked to so many people. This is what I’ve learned. You know how to speak the industry language better, better speak on the problem you’re solving and how you’re going about solving it.

When you read every founding story of a company, it’s always like, this is chapter four, and it’s the pivot, right? And it’s funny that chapter one is about the founder. Chapter two is about how the cofounders meet and chapter three, this is where it was. It started in a Starbucks in San Francisco or Pete’s Coffee, I guess, is probably the more common thing. Or in Chicago, I’m not sure what the local favorite coffee joint is, but then chapter four is we realized we had to pivot, and it sounds like a shift in a timeline, like it happened on a weekend, but it’s a grueling process to be able to evaluate and make sure that you’re doing the right thing through that process.

When you began it, Kison, versus when you are on the other side of it. Where would the perception deviate from how long and how challenging that process would be to pivot into what your market approach was?

Good question. I think I remember asking a friend for advice about marketing, and he said, I don’t want you spending a dollar in marketing. I want you to go back to the drawing board because I don’t think your business model is where it needs to be to put marketing money into it. And he challenged me to go back and really validate the problems that we’re solving for. So it took some time because we really went back to the drawing board and did it in a different way.

We got out of the drawing room and went out and started talking to people, went through a whole series of interviews. I was fortunate I had interns that summer, so I had some extra help. And it’s nice when you have two people doing the interview, one person really focus on asking the questions.


And important to learn how to go about it because you want to approach it. Two things. One is being dumb, where you put away your assumptions, assume you’re wrong, assume you know nothing, so be dumb.

And then two, be curious. I think sometimes we get a little, we ask a question and move on to the next question. But that’s not being curious. Being curious is really getting in there. Like, why is that happening? Why do you have that problem? Well, why did so and so do that and digging in to really identify some root causes. I think that going through that and then being patient where you can know that, I’m not going to have a couple of conversations and change my mind or go make a big decision, like pivoting the company, but that we can make a commitment.

At the time, we committed to doing 40 of these interviews, and that’s what really led us to see a pattern from these different interviews. Then we started realizing that we needed to shift and focus in the area that matters most to the people we’re looking to sell to.

It’s a real challenging period, and especially in a founder’s life, because, like I said, you have a hypothesis and down the road, eventually, the hypothesis may not be, it’s not that it was wrong. It was just that in order to go to market, there may be something else. There’s a hidden treasure amongst the hypothesis that’s the actual marketable productized thing that you can bring. But it’s such a weird thing when someone just asks you that bold question of like, what if you just actually talk to somebody and found out whether they actually need to solve this problem.

Actually, ironically enough, in a merger with two large companies. At that time, I worked at Sunlight Financial and we were merging with Clarica, and I got brought into, they’re like, one of those, like, they tap you on the shoulder. Can you come over here and I need you to sign this paper and we’re just going to bring you in and chat with a few people. And I was one of the technologists that was in the architecture team, and we were suddenly in a room with these people like, oh, these are all these senior architects from this other organization.

Not hard to put together what’s about to happen? And so we were, as you said, right, bringing our assumptions, bringing our sort of bravado to, like, I know how to do this. And then after a couple of days, we actually brought in a fellow from Microsoft, and he was this young kid. When you say that, I’m like, I’m an older gentleman. I could say young kid proudly, he’s about 26 years old, and he was from the consulting services, and he walks in and literally, it’s like he walks in, puts his jacket down.

He looks at the diagram. He’s like, what are you trying to achieve here? So we need to bring these two directories together. And he just says, what if we just created the third directory and actually just got rid of these two altogether and just bring them up. And the brashness of that approach, like immediately, we were like, you’re torn because you’re like, I don’t like that I’ve got to give up what we just did. But you’re like, he’s probably right. And that’s what it was just like the fact that that question got asked by a third party allowed us to be free in accepting it.

And that’s what’s really hard to separate yourself from because you bring the hypothesis, you bring the team the idea, and then somebody comes from outside. And it’s such a beautiful moment when you’re like, you’re right. I should really think about this for a second.

True. You never asked too many questions.

No. And that’s it. And through that moment, I’ll say, right, you’ve been an M&A advisor for a long time. So how did it feel that all of a sudden you had probably been the person that would bring that question to many people, and all of a sudden it was being asked of you. What was that feeling like?

It’s so different now, coming from background, when you work with clients, you advise them on transactions, represent them as buyers, represent the sellers. So today we are a company that’s based on products around education and technology. So I feel like we’re the closest resemblance is to the people selling the picks and shovels to the gold miners during the rush days. We’re seeing a lot of increasing activity around M&A, a lot of interest around it. And different even, new sectors, even smaller companies are starting to think about acquisitions earlier.

For us, we provide a lot of educational resources around best practices. How do you go about doing this in a way that doesn’t disrupt the business so much that a lot of people get pissed off and quit and you lose a lot of value when that happens. And instead, keep everybody motivated and align so you can hit the goals that you originally planned with doing the acquisition. To, also the other technology part of our practice is setting up, which is now a lifecycle management solution that we can take all these.

A lot of times, there are companies using a bunch of Excel trackers and a lot of communications, primarily through email, and we’ll set it up in a nice stack. So there’s a single database to run your pipeline, run your diligence management, coordinate with all the folks you need to both internally, externally, enable good collaboration and also preparation for those integration activities and use that same environment so you can run and actually execute integration, and you don’t have any delays with team members having to relearn all this stuff.

They learned about the company already, and that’s been another great part in working with organizations and setting that up. And today, now we’re working with larger multinational companies like BP, Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health, Emerson. But it’s very different from going from one end where you work on a smaller transaction where you’re very hands on. You’re in the middle of the deal, directly, working with the client, the lawyers and really hands on making sure the deal gets through. Now to be on the other side, we got to work with the team, but we don’t have all the intensity or pressure that we do.

And I enjoy the problem solving part of it because you’re dealing with more, which you’re familiar with, Eric. With technical challenges combined with directories and things of that sort. And for us, we get to do it on more of the logistics through the whole process. So we don’t get into a lot of the technical integrity of the challenges with integrating companies. But it’s fun. I definitely like what we do now. I like the fact that we can come up with an idea or a way to solve a problem and scale it out, get it in front of a lot of people.

Well, that brings in the perfect sort of question around scaling. And you’ve talked in the past as a founder, sort of the right time to scale, which is probably one of the most common mistakes that people do. It’s this idea of like, going, when is the MVP ready? And that’s another one I hear all the time. People are like, if you think it’s ready, you waited too long. And also the challenge of, you’ve talked in the past about people that build for scale when they haven’t even gone to market.

And when you developed your platform, did you find that sweet spot where those things needed to line up?

I remember for us, a pivotal moment was when we had our site crashing almost every day and we had paying customers. I remember specifically, we had a 200 million dollar deal we’re managing, and it was so hectic and chaotic because they’re trusting us with managing a significant transaction. Our site keeps crashing. Bugs are popping up, and that was the point we knew, we need to build for scale. We ended up bringing in a CTO that helped re-architect, rebuild the product to follow a microservices architecture, build a team that knew how to write code for scale.

Now, it’s funny if we look back at that. I mean, remember, even Twitter was sort of famous in the early days for what they called the Fail Whale, right? And it would be down for hours at a time. Quite sometimes it was actually down for a couple of days at a time. They had active people they were bringing into this platform and it just couldn’t keep up. And it would just go down. Back then, there was no, is it down or is it just me.com, right? People just sort of generally accept it.

But now it’s funny if you launch DealRoom right now, and you had suffered that kind of an outage, the risk would be, I think, much different, the level of acceptance of people on the dependence of software and availability of that software. It’s integral. Now, what do you think if you had that sort of challenged moment right now, what would it look like to your customers and keeping them?

You know, that’s an interesting thing, because you see this thing happened in the market where companies can get hacked into, and nowadays you got to be prepared. It could be anything. Could be one employee fall for a phishing scheme and the same password everywhere. Now you’re very vulnerable. It’s a challenge of its own. It’s a challenge of its own to really manage. I think if we had to deal with it today, we’d have a lot of calls, but I think you’d rebound over it. If you look at all these organizations, like Solar Winds, some of these other firms, we have a big one with what was it, not AOL, Yahoo. That was Right-Media acquisition.

They had a big breach they had announced.

That’s right. Yeah. Worst possible time, right?

Yeah, it is. But like with the solar winds, it created a lot of awareness. I feel like it made it tougher for the startups out there that are working with large companies. Now they’re getting more scrutinized in terms of how they’re handling their security. But in terms of them, they definitely, like, bounce back. And the old saying that there’s no such thing as bad press. The older I get, the more I believe in that. You think about the news with Robin Hood and everything recently, and I’m like, unbuy their IPO.

I’m like, no, that’s all good. It doesn’t matter. It just got their name out there. And everyone in the world has heard of Robinhood. Now you can always take the bad character and become good. We’ve seen Microsoft go through it’s cycle in terms of how the market looked at it, and now they’ve completely turned it around. But as long as you’re in the news, you keep building brand equity. I think we would probably explode with our support if we had something like that to happen, but you’d recover from it.

I’m knocking on a lot of wood to make sure.

Let’s talk about going beyond product one. So you have DealRoom. You are doing a lot around the education and you’re wrapping stuff around it with M&A science, which is really cool. We’ll get into that. Actually, I’m really excited about that area. Then you sort of solve one problem, then you say, okay, well, now we’ve got to effectively build this. Everybody has a data room, right? We’ve gotten this problem solved with managing the flow of the diligence in the transaction. And so you’ve got other products that you’re developing.

So let’s talk about the rest of the portfolio.

Yeah, we have books. We look at them as products. We wrote a book called Agile M&A. It’s a fun book. The whole trend right now in software is taking Agile and making it as complex as you can with scaled Agile frameworks and things of that sort. And we did the opposite. We took the idea of Agile and dummied it down so even a high school kid could understand it. Since that’s where we got to make it for our finance folks to quickly understand as well. And the origination of it, too, was a lot of the things I noticed our own engineers were doing.

I kept correlating to my M&A experience and thought we should have done this. We should have managed diligence this way. This would have been way more efficient, made a lot more sense. I started blogging about it. I don’t think to this day, a single person has read those blogs, but it led me to interviewing Google and Atlassian where those ideas were validated. I brought up some of those examples and they’re like, yeah, we’re actually doing that. A lot of it stemming from the engineering culture.


That was a good wake up call that gave me inspiration, motivation to write a book, and try to put a case study behind it.

Then I remember, Christina, at Atlassian was like, don’t just write a book, make it a framework and look at our team plays. We took a lot of inspiration from Atlassian’s team plays and built around the idea of having game plans and plays and have actually encouraged practitioners in the industry to write their own little techniques. That was the bigger problem. Like even going back to starting the podcast. The idea of starting a podcast in our industry wasn’t simply to get talk time. It was aligning it with a mission where we noticed in working with these corporations, there was a lack of standardization.

All these large companies were working with had a very unique way of doing M&A, and that’s where we realized the bigger problem was the fragmentation of the industry. Everybody’s essentially working in a silo. It’s not like accounting or law, where there’s a lot of common bodies to reference and standardization. M&A didn’t have that. It’s just all Wild West. Everybody’s got their own way of doing it. And that led to the idea of, can we find what actually works? Can we throw some signs here and find where the proven techniques are, identify them, have some evidence around this.

With M&A, it’s difficult. It’s not quantitative. We’re not transferring currency, and we analyze a bunch of quantitative data. Instead, we do qualitative interviews, just like we were doing with those discovery to validate the problems we’re solving and how we’re going about the problems we’re trying to solve for and how we go about solving them. Now, it was about can we take that same approach? And we’re already learning so much around this, but interview practitioners in the industry and enable them to share their lessons learned and doing the same approach.

We’re doing a series of these interviews and identifying the patterns to really understand what are the key challenges practitioners face? How have they overcome them and what actually works? Do we see a specific way that actually works? That’s what started this whole series of building content for M&A based off of those interviews, but then creating dedicated resources to build more structured content like the courses and things of that sort.

This is the beauty of your approach is that you continue in the true Agile fashion, right? As we look for what’s the next thing? The OG sort of Waterfall approach of stuff. We’ve seen it fail in every possible angle of both business and technology. It’s been successful despite itself, I think, there’s really the truth of that early project management world. But nowadays, it’s really fantastic that you can see it come into play. We talk about Gene Kim as sort of one of the greatest voices around early movements with DevOps.

But he says I took everything from Deming and from Goldratt. I just took manufacturing stuff and then brought in here Eric Ries. Of course, Lean Startup is about based on lean manufacturing. Their human behaviors, that when you unlock the science behind it, you realize that you can have opinionated approaches to things and you see it play out in the M&A space. There are sector specific things that have to be fairly opinionated for regulatory reasons and such. But generally, like I said, there’s a playbook.

There are things that are in there, and then you can find the wiggle room around that we as humans, we almost don’t want that to be that simple. I guess it’s kind of a funny. It’s a dichotomy of the human system is that we’re like, it can’t be this easy. There’s no way.

Yeah, there’s some real truth to that. Well, humans tend to complicate everything beyond. There’s a lot of stuff out there. When you look at best practices and look at Agile, all these techniques, there’s too much out there. I think that’s what makes it challenging is there are so many things you can look at and whatever vertical, whatever industry or function you’re in. But ultimately, one common element that really drives success is a culture of continuous improvement. We mentioned Lean. I think that was my favorite part of Lean.

They used a Japanese term Kaizen, which is a word that translates to good change. But in reference to lean management, it’s continuous improvement. My youngest son actually named Kaizen because my wife had a dispute with giving my name. So somehow the compromise was Kaizen. So I was reading a book on lean management at the time. But if it’s one thing I could drive in any organization to create value is continuous improvement as a culture becoming change-oriented. Too many companies get stagnant. It just happens. It can happen in startups in various ways.

But the more you can continuously drive, to continuously influence continuous improvement, you really get something good there. That’s where we keep adding new products. We’re identifying new problems, creating new solutions, pushing ourselves to improve on all fronts. But I think that’s the one common thing that really drives a successful organization is that culture. Or if you’re in that situation, and you work in a larger entity. There is a lot of stagnant pieces that need to be awoken and revitalized with that kind of approach. And you reformat the culture and still that change-oriented values.

When it comes to doing something like this that has a financial impact, sometimes with it, is there additional responsibility that you feel in the rigor that you have to apply to the software development process and the way you run your teams because it’s dealing with sensitive financial transactions in the end, and especially when it comes to stuff like firm room where you’re dealing with really true regulatory public information. This is one that often separates people. The moment they say, like the more we have to touch money, stop developing your software because it’s a dangerous game.

Yeah, it is. There’s a lot. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could waste a lot of money, which I learned the hard way. You can waste a lot of money quickly and have nothing to show. That’s why I’m a big believer in taking the light rapid prototyping in the beginning, to really validate what you have and then have this clear expectation you’re going to rebuild what you stood up in order to have it ready for scale. That part is definitely one component of it.

I think thinking back the biggest challenge was balancing that with the security nature. Like you mentioned today, it’s a never ending thing. Every year, we’re dumping more and more money into security, dealing with adding more certifications. It’s all the SOC 2 Pen-Test, whatever other certifications more we grow as a company, we just reinvest into that front, I think especially it makes it easier now being all virtual. Then you just reallocate office expenses into your digital infrastructure, which includes security. Early years was extremely difficult. It takes about three years to really get security nailed down.

Looking back out of it, there are some deals we’ve done on the platform that we should not have been doing. We just did not have things set up the way they should have. It really takes. There’s two parts. There’s infrastructure and how you have that set up, and then there’s your actual application. What are you doing for us? Because the nature was managing highly sensitive information. We had to learn. What are the key things that help with that automating watermark so if a document does get out, you can trace it back to who leaked it out and making sure you have a really rigorous audit trail, which isn’t common in software, that every single click or interaction is tracked and logged and auditable and tamper proof at that.

There’s a lot of little things, and then you have to learn how to build that stuff. It just was a challenge of its own to really create those kind of functionality that, it’s truly secure. Like I said, you start getting things, but security is a roadmap like that thing, it’s a never ending roadmap.

For sure.

And you got to keep updating it and prioritizing it. Work with external teams to help you find out where you should be prioritizing.

You can’t treat security like a juice cleanse. This is not a thing that you just throw developers and a couple of weekends, like you said, it’s an evolving thing, especially as we see new compliance frameworks that come in new regulatory things that we got to be prepared for. But it’s funny when you say the early days, there were stuff where the systems may not necessarily today stand up where you were four years ago on this stuff. But the funny thing is, it was being done with paper being passed across tables in the past.

The irony is the rigor that we’re held to in systems technology is far greater than the failed human to human interactions of literally people talking in open hotel lobbies about a potential deal. And meanwhile, you’ve got people from some hedge fund just sending all their interns to walk around the base of every Shangri-La to see if they can find out what’s going on in the world.

Yeah, that’s so true.

Now the next piece is the idea of giving good information away and guiding through the community. And the result, whether even planned or unplanned, often of like, actually eventually leads to bringing business. And I think this is a beautiful thing. I love that you’ve got such a great education opportunity in what you’re doing, and you’re doing it through blogs and you’re doing it through your Academy. And then you probably will find by bringing this real good education to the world that those people will be like, hey, we’re about to go through a deal.

I think I know where I want to go. The folks that taught me how to do this. It’s an interesting move in business that you can educate first, and then business often comes as a result. How has that played out in how you’ve done work with the Academy?

Eric, if you’re going to build a startup today, that’s software focus, a part of your strategy should be building a media company within your company. It’s becoming a must because that’s allowed us to really position ourselves as a credible resource, trust our brand and allowed us to dominate over competitors. We have competitors bigger than us, and we’re out ranking them in Global Alexa ranking. We’re getting better speakers at our events at our podcast. We’re more in-tune with the community, and that’s the biggest driver of it is the fact that we’re running a media company within our organization.

We’re 30 people in the business now, and our marketing function is ten, in full stack. We got everything in house editors, podcast editors, video editors. We got multiple writers, full time designer just for marketing.

It is such a perfect phrase. I’m going to steal that totally from you. I love this idea that the media really is such an important part and we miss it because like I said, number one, it gets your voice out there. It allows you to create this beautiful narrative through storytelling. And that’s why the way that you write is beautiful because it’s like reading a conversation. And it’s not quite often, especially in technical companies. They treat it like technical writing, not like technical marketing, and their different things than new ones.

But technical writing is like manual creation, very distinct flow, very machine- like in the idea that simplified to the point, no fluff. But then technical marketing is show something technically, show something that’s detailed and in this case, the M&A, is the tech, the function behind it, but make people care about what they’re reading so that they stay through to the end. And like I said, I’m a fan of your content because the style of the writers that you’ve got has shown that I want to get to the last paragraph every time.

That’s great. I’m glad. I definitely got a great marketing team that drives a lot of that.

Now in going to the M&A side and your background when it goes right, it’s easy to recreate history on how it went right when it goes wrong. It’s really tough for us to visit that, but when it does go right and go wrong, how do you use your retrospective view to go to the Agile format to look back on a deal? Wherever it went and really bring that and try and find data and signal amongst what happened to then influence the way you would approach it the next time.

For us, we’re not hands on. We’re not in there engaging with the actual employees of the company that’s getting acquired. But we do spend a lot of time with the companies we work with, really understanding how their deals are going. Where do they see value getting leaked and what are the outcomes then going backwards and understanding what were some of the causes around that? I’ll tell you, this is the fun part to get into this. When we see M&A go wrong, it’s because of the people.

It is not financial or somebody screwed up the model. People having problems, communication problems, accountability problems. That’s the reason why you’ll see billion dollar deals get screwed up. We see deals where they did it for 5 billion a year later, they’re writing it down to 1 billion. A lot of value lost. Probably a lot of people left that company. I hate tattling on some of it because I don’t want to throw our own clients out of the bus. But we’ve seen it where they’ve bought a business unit for $3 billion and had a lot of aspiration on new products that they were going to introduce.

A year later, the whole executive team left frustrated with the way the integration was handled, and they end up writing down that business a year later for 1.3 billion. And five years later, there’s no innovation coming out of there.


What would have been probably a company that was on it’s up-and-up could have been a 510 billion dollars company today or greater, but it’s gone. It’s just going to be a small little thing that’s in a stagnant state and will probably stay there. So such a critical thing as the people experience.

And I would say the lesson learned from doing 100 of these M&A focused podcast is all about the people, align it from the very beginning. No surprises. What you have planned and what you’re going to do with that company you’re acquiring. Put that front and center. Put it to the point where there’s clarity and crystallization on what the final state is going to look like when both companies come and merge together and bring down the front. So both executives, the buying executive and the selling executives, CEOs, are aligned around it.

That’s one. That’s what that division is going to look like. From there, they can start developing a go-to-market outline and understand what that’s going to look like. I think the other thing is for those two CEOs to understand values. A lot of the problems when we talk about people conflicts and frustration are because of culture clash. We’ve seen a lot of examples of that. If you can align around that early, the way to really root it is by getting clarity on each organization’s values, then getting a sense of, hey, How’s this going to work?

Your organization has a very rigid, top down management approach. We’re a flat, believe in Agile empowerment and have our folks running their own show. How is this going to work together? And we may not want to fully integrate, maybe we can still work together but keep some of that level of independence and be open and clear about it, that it is a different culture and it’s not going to just integrate together. That stuff gets lost out the window. And I think of you grooting it by values allows you to really align.

When you do build a story and have the communication publicly to the employees, the customers, the vendors on this big event that’s going to happen. That’s going to create a lot of change and why it’s happening and then also, like, validating it. In addition to that story, we also see why we’re going to get along and can really articulate it well. And that’s an important thing. Thinking about the events that happen after you close a lot of change management, the largest amount of change management organization is going to go through.

There’s a nice narrative and everybody’s aligned around the rationale for the deal. And there’s a good story on, hey, this is actually exciting, and I want to be part of this like, heck, yeah, there’s opportunity for growth out of this. If this comes together and the organizations create the value that they see by combining these entities and creating a better solution for customers to be happier and acquire more customers. This is a great thing. And now I see what they’re doing, I want to be part of it. When you’re left in the dark and all you’re dealing with your own fear and uncertainty because you’re just like, oh, this acquisition is happening.

I know what that means. They’re going to want to cut costs.


And I know there’s not room for two lead PMS in this team or whatnot, so that fear, uncertainty, doubt sinks in and I’m going to start looking for another job. I haven’t even heard the news yet, but I’m already out there. It all comes back to the people. If you can manage the people experience from the very beginning, make it engaging. The other thing I think often doesn’t get done in M&A is a reverse diligence.

You’re doing diligence to understand if the company is worth paying for and the risk of it. But at the same time, you should be encouraging them to do diligence on your organization so they understand how it’s going to fit in as you complete the acquisition and be able to ask some of those questions, be able to get clarity, make them part of that understanding earlier. I think that empathy at the end of the day, if you can look across and we talk about curious earlier, but really spend the time to understand people are frustrated and you can see in their face.

You can always start when you interact or meet somebody and I’m doing a lot of this on video, but you could tell if they’re happy, having a good day, you’re having a bad day, something’s up, you have something you want to talk about, you can see it. And if you lean in with that, people tend to open up and really sends them out. Like, get a good understanding and some things you got to put out there and just put yourself in their view and get a sense of what are they thinking. Saying, hey, you’re probably dealing with a lot of change and a lot of extra work right now and then they’ll tell you like, yes, I am.

No, I’m not. Just by listening. That’s like, the most important thing. I think M&A, we get so much caught up in a plan and driving top down management, pushing to change. But at the end of the day, people are dumb. They know what they’re doing. You just got to level up with them. If you can take or flip the 80 20 ratio around and spend that time just to listen and understand, you’ll get a sense, you’ll know, you’ll know what they’re concerned about, you’ll know where their heads at, if they’re motivated, if they have a clear understanding about what’s going on, if they’re committed or not, until you have that, there’s no point in talking at people.

It’s really wild, and that carries into every part of our interaction with people. Right? Even when I’m in front of analysts all the time and in customer situations. And there’s a great book called The Coaching Habit, which is one of my favorite ones. I use it a lot for leadership, and it starts with the simplest things. The first thing you ask is what’s on your mind and give them the chance to immediately convey. And then the favorite thing is the second question is called the awe question, A-W-E, and what else?

Because they’ll always have a canned response and then you say, and what else? So I’ll do this even in situations where they ask about your technology, like, how are you better than or different than X or whatever? And I’m like, well, what’s the thing that really excites you about that platform that you’re talking about? And they go through? And I don’t even have to ask the ‘and what else’ question sometimes because as they’re talking up this thing to be like, you know what I really wish it would do.

And it’s like being in the therapy session. It’s so fantastic versus if I had gone in and like you said, just treated it like a diligence exercise of like, you’ve asked me these questions, I will show you the technical comparisons. If I throw data at it, I can give it all the context I want, but in the end, just be humans to each other. Like, it’s so amazing the impact it has. And at the end of that experience, especially when you’re dealing with M&A like, the amount of uncertainty, it can have a profound effect, not just on the direct human impact, but the actual value of the organization that they’re buying in the end.

Because like you said, if you have a lot of uncertainty, it creates certainty. People who are certain that they’re going to get out before they find out what’s happening. They’d rather control the outcome. He said, I don’t know the outcome yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to end this way. So I’m leaving. I see it happen all the time, especially as startups get sort of consumed. When I was at SunLife, it was a 5000 person organization that was buying a 5000 person organization. They were on the buy side of the transaction.

They were the end name and the brand would be attached to it. But it was literally mashing two ships together, and the leadership exchange was very interesting because then you would have all these people underneath. They’re trying to work out the org chart, and it wasn’t obvious who was going to do it in the end. And it’s a really weird experience, because by all matters of science, it should just, it works. Right. We know we’ve got the org chart here, the org chart here. Perfect.

Grow the business. Do this. Follow the details. Profit. Us humans get in the way of that.

I had an interview with one of the HR leaders who’s in a Global HR role at the time, Sallie Cunningham. And she said it best, where a happy workforce generates more income.

But to go to what you and the team are doing both through being able to educate on here’s the process that you’re involved in, right? Here’s how you can take best practice and bring it in there. And then it gives you the confidence that the platforms that you’ve created are built on these foundations of, like, these people know what they’re doing. So it gives us real credence. You’ve got skin in the game. You’ve lived the life before you came to start the company. It’s this beautiful flow.

And like you said, the truth is, I’ve heard you say it before. It’s like Excel is probably the number one software tool in the world for everything under the sun. And it doesn’t need to be that way. So when you show people that there’s a better way to do this, it creates that happiness that Sallie talked about, it creates the comfort that, hey, we’re using a system that’s built by people that understand what we’re going through, and it lets them focus on the matter at hand, which is retaining their culture through a merger.

And there’s very few schools on that, unfortunately.

No, there isn’t. And it’s interesting because they’re talking about changes amongst us behavior and the way we work together and think about which really stems to a lot of core leadership skills. And then the other piece, we talked about the technological solutions. A lot of people are fast to adopt, slow to adopt. That’s a whole area we didn’t really talk much about when we talked about the startup cycle, where there’s a lot of ideation going to market, getting the market fit and all these things you have to do to really prepare to have a product you can take to market.

But the distribution model, that’s actually the hardest thing to get. Right. You’ve seen it. We’ve seen it so many times where it’s the best product, but they didn’t have the best distribution model. And we’ve seen it where the lagging product actually ends up being the winner because they had a better distribution model.

Look, I’ll say this. This is my opinion and my opinion, alone, right? Microsoft has a lot of bad products, right? But yet they’re out there all over the place. I say this as running a lot of Microsoft organizations over based organizations over time. It was hilarious that we used to joke in the early days of like, well, they don’t have better products, they have better marketing. But it really was, they had better distribution. They had ways in which and it didn’t even make sense if you looked at it by the data. Right?

If you were selling Microsoft software, you made, like, one point on the deal. There was no margins, there was no way to discount it. You were literally just a pass through to write down the contract. You were papering the deal, and then you would try to hopefully wrap services around it. So by all measures of how it should go, it shouldn’t have worked. And yet they became dominant because they solved a specific problem. And then they marketed it so beautifully and created a distribution channel to make it easy to consume and get.

And that was truly it. And now, with the ability to digitally adopt most products, distribution is really different. Right? So on that basis, Kison, what’s the distribution solution? What’s the thing that you saw as your way to differentiate in distributing a platform today?

That’s the whole thing to figure out. We talked about validating your idea, validating the solution. When you’re validating your solution, you should be validating your go-to market. Really understand how is this customer, how their channels to learn about new products, get information? Who do they actually trust and understand where you should spend the time to find their influence? I think that comes in shapes as an ongoing partly, I think there’s other drivers with the startup where you start off with one view on what you’re solving.

And as you explore the market, you’ll find different areas you want to focus on. For us, we started with smaller M&A deals in the beginning, and as we now work on with the larger companies, we’re working and know that, hey, if it’s a larger company, they’re going to have bigger problems. And it’s interesting to solve bigger problems. And inherently, you get compensated better for solving bigger problems. So you sort of shift the model and start going upstream. And we went dramatically. We went from $100 a month self service solution to now. We’re selling enterprise anywhere from $30 to $150,000 annual subscriptions, so vastly different.

But I think that’s one big part is understanding that. What problem are you solving for? What market and what’s the value of it? A lot of people are familiar with that. You typically tend to go lower than you actually should. We learn that, too? We’ve been bumping our prices up every year since we started the company, and it’s always been the best where everything is always net positive results. We end up getting more clients and selling more.

There’s just so much truth to that perception of how you price your solution. You price it higher, they value it more. They’re more likely to use it, make sure they get value out of it. Or if you give it away, nobody cares. They’ll just throw it away and never use it. There’s the pricing model part. But then there’s a huge part around the language, how you talk about the product, how you position it. There’s so much that goes into it. I got to give a lot of credit to the marketing folks out there.

That’s not easy. There’s a lot of in-depth psychology to learn, and it’s a never ending learning thing. How do you pull that language you learn when talking to people about their problems and solutions? Pull it up front and really make it part of your website content, the things that people interact, the way their part of your brand. And there’s a lot to really think about. And then it all ties back together. I think your values tied back to there in your organization, because when you think about distributing your product, a lot falls to the customer experience and your values drive parts of that.

And they’re the pillars of the customer experience that you’re putting out there. So how is your team aligned around what they’re committed to on values that then transposes over to customer experience, and that turn lends into your distribution model. And one thing, where one of core key first value is responsiveness. We manage confidentiality and we could be working on a billion dollar deal and not even know it. So we just treat everything like a high sensitive billion dollar transaction, and they’re extremely responsive throughout the company.

That’s one thing. But now that goes over to the customer experience that goes into our distribution model. When you reach out to any of our sales team, interact with them. That’s the one thing I want you to be very, immediately understand, that they’re responsive. When we’re done at the meeting, you should get a nice summary follow up, and they should be prompt. They’re not going to wait around where these guys go. That’s a big thing. That’s part of our values that then comes out when it comes to customer experience that affects your distribution.

That very much is how people interacting with you, what perception they’re getting, especially if they’re going through competitive process and evaluating benchmarking against competitors.

So this brings a good question of how did you scale your culture through the changes in your go to market?

I don’t know if it’s scaling culture. The culture shifts quite a bit when you think about a company and you start with just two people and you’re like, okay, I’m going to think and design. You’re going to build and you influence each other right there, just like you see it when you have a partnership and then you add people and it’s so critical in the beginning. And I really wish I put a lot more thought and emphasis on the culture when making early hiring decisions and made that the primary driver.

Then followed by the capabilities. Sometimes if there’s a trade off, you’re going to work with somebody in a unique role and they’re going to be, maybe, quirky, and that’s just what it is. And that’s fine. But are we aligned on values? Are we committed to this? The responsiveness of him. Picking on an example, when we go through an interview process today, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for, how long does it take for them to follow up this interview and how well of a follow up did they do?

Attention to detail is another value in our company. So we want to see how well they wrote the follow up. Do they say, thank you. Nice meeting you. Or did they really summarize the key things we talked about? And we have one candidate, knew the values we talked about because we review them in the interview process and articulated why they would fit and be aligned with those values. It’s like done. Perfect. So when it comes to scaling it, I didn’t think of the one thing I didn’t understand, I thought it was a soft, fluffy thing.

You just put on your about page to get some warm, fuzzy feeling for some website visitor. But no, they’re really real. When you think about envision, your success and where you want to go and you reverse engineer that, it should boil down to those core values. And then you build off of those core values. When you hire people, you make sure they’re 100% aligned and let that be your leading driver to make your hiring decisions. And that’s probably how you scale your culture out.

It’s doing it like, think about the envision. Where do you want to be? How do you imagine the company operating and reverse it? Get commitment from other current team members. You have work with them as a workshop and say, hey, I really want to do this right. I want to have these core values that we all can stand for, and we make this part and we do it. First interview, you’re going to hear the core values. Second interview, you’re going to hear about core values. Final interview, you hear about core values. And it’s just constantly there, but it’s just reinforcing it saying, hey, this is what our expectations are.

I don’t want you to go through this process and find out there’s culture fit. We want you interview multiple people and get a sense of the culture. But this is what we align. We’re committed to these core values, and we want to make sure that reflects and that you’re a fit for it. If you’re not the person that’s ultra responsive in attention to detail, then maybe this isn’t going to be the right fit. Let’s talk about that. You can be missing. I don’t have attention to detail.

Maybe you have one of the values, you may be a little behind and that’s fine. Let’s see where you’re at with the rest of the organization.

Yes, it’s not just the message that’s written behind the reception desk. Culture is how they behave when you’re not looking, right? And if you’re not willing to go right to that, right? And like I said, approach it early and nearly higher. And it’s funny I used the phrase scaling culture, and I like that you sort of said, it’s not really scaling. It is an adaptive process. And I love that you’ve been able to be curious on that. In that you’ve accepted that, yes, some stuff happened.

It’s like we figured it out, but just the fact that you’ve assessed it that way. You’ve never said, like, well, here’s the original values we had, and some people deviated like, no, we’ve adapted as a company as we change. This is what builds successful culture is the willingness to listen as much as to send them a link to the corporate values page on the website.

If I were to go back and do it again, I would have introduced core values earlier much earlier and would have evolved them, too. I think as a company, all those things will evolve. Those things. The way you talk about yourself, those things will evolve. I think one key thing is try to get your positioning down early. That’s the most critical thing. We went and positioned ourselves to sell directly against the legacy competitors that were data rooms, and that pinned us down and probably stunted a lot of our ability to have this detailed positioning that we are different from them.

We’re a lifecycle management solutions, what we really evolved and shaped it to. I think if we had that positioning earlier, it would have helped the market understand where we actually sit that’s different than what they’re used to.


But I think I’ve seen that where companies, because even within, you’re in a big category, you can still carve out a niche and saying, all right, whatever, we’ve done all the organic stuff now, it’s like diapers, but organic diapers. We do custom printed diapers. That’s kind of our thing is like, the customized baby.

I don’t know, but you know what I mean?

It’s artisanally crafted. Whatever. There’s some other moniker you attach it to.

You can get that early also. I feel like it took us a little while. We were kind of battling with data room, data room plus project management jumping around with different positioning. So some of those things. Marketing team is critical again here, but get the heads together, kind of put together all the learnings and really come up with something that there’s a good commitment behind.

Yeah. And I love again the curiosity of the process and the willingness to go back and look at what went right and what could have been done differently and then letting that influence your future decisions and accepting that, yeah. It’s funny we made these mistakes early on versus most people are like, no, we’re here because we’re here and it’s very easy in that human behavior to just say, we’ve been right, the market’s been wrong.

We talk about continuous improvement, that’s the thing that’s creating that culture. I think one key thing is encouraging people to face those things is the criticism. Yes, we want positive criticism, but sometimes I don’t have time for that shit. I don’t have time to sit there and tell you the good and make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

The good sandwich. We’re like, I really appreciate how this is going. And you’re like, oh, no, here it comes.

Let me just go straight to it. But I think one key thing is brief. Occasionally, you have to brief the team. Like, look, I want to give you direct feedback, because objectively, if I can help you get better, the team gets better. And I think that’s one part, is you got to preface it. You got to mention it here and there. Remind people because they do take that communication of personal business and fuse it together. You need to remind them to consciously split that up. Put personal out to the side and take the business context I’m providing to you.

I’d say that’s one piece of it. There’s another, losing my thought on this one. We had the..

What’s it? Go ahead.

But this, Ray Dalio, really kind of became prominent in this idea of, like, the radical transparency and radical candor. And it’s funny, I’ve actually interviewed a few people that have worked there and they’re like, yeah, it’s radical. Candor is not a good thing because some people just think it’s a license to be an asshole. But there’s a way in which people have taken that fundamental and been able to say, like, you can still be empathetic but give truth and transparency. And it is about don’t dance around it. I could sit here and I could tell you, you’re doing great in your job.

You’ve had a great few months. All you’re doing is just setting them up to wait for this hammer moment versus you say, one thing we want to sort of solve right now, there’s a problem that’s been happening. And so I want to find out what’s the right way we can work together and we can get this fixed because, like, things are going well, we’ve got lots of great stuff. What can we do to fix this particular thing? Just make that the focus. Don’t try and hide it amongst a compliment sandwich.

Yeah. I think making sure there’s a ‘why’ attached is another big thing, that’s very much in conjunction with this. You get the criticism, but there’s got to be clarity on why. Like, hey, we’re doing this to specifically improve this. Other thing, anything you put in there, you should have a why to it. I teach my kids early when they start learning how to say thank you and sorry. It’s like, don’t just say thank you and sorry, because they’re very transactional words that have no meaning to it. I need you to add some meaning to it.

Tell me why. Thank you. Why? For what? And they think about it. And I remember we always go to restaurants, and it was, thank you for the great service. And thank you for the recommendations. My daughter would go to the grocery store check out. Thank you for being so quick. Thank you for the conversation. Add some context to it. Sorry for what? Sorry for bumping into you. Sorry I lost your umbrella. And same thing in the workplace. You’re going to ask somebody to do something. Add a why to it.

Make sure there’s some clarity on why. And a lot of times, people, nobody wants to be told what to do. So can you look at something and frame it as a problem and invite them into the conversation, has appeared to solve the problem? Hey, the bathroom is super dirty. Go clean it. It’s like, how can we keep this bathroom clean? Well, maybe I’ll put this reminder to myself and I’ll make sure it gets done. Okay, great. You don’t have to tell people what to do. I think if you identify it, frame it as a problem, invite them in through a question, then it creates this nice lateral positioning that you both work together to solve it.

And more likely, they’ll know what they need to step up. And they’ll own it, too, because they presented the idea, right?

Yeah, it’s the involvement of it. Boy, oh boy. I can say the folks that work with you and for you, Kison are a lucky bunch. But I really respect your approach, the platform and the education you bring. So we’ll definitely make sure we point folks to.

Let’s talk about how easy it is to be a hypocrite too. Because that’s a whole thing of its own. Everybody’s on a soapbox with some great things to preach. But the reality is it’s extremely difficult not to be a hypocrite.

It’s hard. Yeah, that’s it. There’s a real difficulty in taking the tenets and making them practices. It’s very easy for us to point to the wall. Look at the culture statements. Culture statement says we do this and you’re like. But transparency with confidentiality is an interesting line, too, because you want to be transparent. But be careful. There are certain things we absolutely cannot cross a line of transparency on. And it’s a human challenge to make sure we build a separation. I get asked all the time. Even if you go into analyst or specific customer situations and you say, look, we sign nondisclosures walking into this room.

Of course we did. But if you say you mentioned a customer name that you’re not supposed to mention outside of this room, they’re humans. They’re going to go to the next person and say, yeah, these guys are selling to X. There’s a point of making sure that you can understand that human behavior. And like you said, creating accountability and eliminating hypocrisy. It’s a challenge because we’re always forced to split the line. And as a leader, unfortunately, as the founder, as the head of the company, you sometimes have to make very difficult decisions that may seem at the moment to be hypocritical or antithetical to the values.

But there are legitimate, immediate things that need to be solved that require hard decisions. I can tell that you would approach it in a way, saying like, there’s the why I don’t like what we have to do right now, but here’s why we have to do it.

It’s creating a framework. It’s creating a communication framework that evolves into decision making framework and having your team aligned around it so that if you’re not around, things will carry on. They’ll know that there’s a flow for the way they communicate, the way they bring up the problems, the way they make decisions on how to solve them.

We need a framework for life. So I’ll look for that. That’ll be the next book, Kison’s framework for family success. My two year old daughter. She is so funny. She’ll run into something. She’ll just be running around and she smash into my legs. She goes, Sorry, Daddy. She doesn’t even almost know why she does it. But she knows, like, I bumped into you. I should say, sorry. So cute. And then, like I said, when they get older, you want them to add the context to it.

I think about four or five years old, get them to start doing it then. And you’ll be surprised. I remember going to a fine dining restaurant. My daughter, she was only seven years old, and when we’re checking out, she told the server, Andy, thank you so much for the great service and the recommendations you made. And the woman at the table next to ours just, like, cracked her head, whiplash, like, oh, my God. And she’s just like, how do I get my son to do that?

It’s funny. And it’s something that’s just good because then they can build off of it. A lot of the Ray Dalio principles are great. I actually read Ray Dalio’s principles to my daughter when she was seven. Obviously was way above the reading level. I’m done with Harry Potter. I actually want to read this. It actually does the job. It gets you right to sleep. This will be great, but it led to a lot of good conversations. When we talk about open minded versus closed minded, how do you establish these goals and build milestones to it?

And I started doing it with her ever since then. Just say, let’s talk about these goals. What are you trying to do? Well, if you’re trying to do that, what do you need to do? How much time do you need to spend towards those goals to make sure you go in that path? Let’s start thinking about what are we doing? Between once your taking up your time between proactively using and reactively using your brain and these little nuance things. It’s fun. It’s really good. That’s what actually led to the personal podcast.

We didn’t talk about that at all, but I started this year. It’s called BossMove, where I interview influencers about what are their top three principles for success and leadership.


We can collaborate on that, but we do a little workshop, so imagine the audience are high school kids because you can’t come out and do the Gary V, be empathetic, be vulnerable.


Like, no. What does that mean to a high school kid? You got to really break it down into some practical how tos. And it’s a fun, challenging interview, because when you start thinking about it, you’re getting into a lot of details about what is the mindset component there.

How do you take that thinking and build it into a real behavioral pattern that becomes a part of you. It’s a fun interview.

That is wild. Yeah. I’ll definitely have to pour over that one. And that’s when I’ll recommend. I’ll make sure I get links as well as part of the show notes. There you go, there’s Ray Dalio and his authoring team. They need principles for teens. Principles for. It would be great to have principles for the five year old range. There’s definitely the ability to take that almost like parables and like, Aeop’s Fables sort of took this idea of stories and made them accessible. But they really were truly telling these big, bold, almost biblical type of things.

But then they just made it about bunnies and turtles.

I’m hoping because we have the model in M&A science where we’ll extract what we learn and write up plays. And there the step by step how tos. And we started drafting it pretty early in moves for this BossMove podcast, you learn this life lesson and do a write up. How do you turn into a practical how to? And one day, I’d love to see it evolving into something like Khan Academy, where here’s the free public school that teaches you the life lessons that you don’t learn in school.

There you go. I’m holding you to it. We’ll be back in a year with Kison to announce the moves.

The Boss Academy.

That’s it. I love it. Excellent. Well, Kison, thank you very much. And for folks that did want to get connected with you, what’s kind of the best way that they can do that?

If you want to learn M&A. We have over 350 published pieces of content. You name it. We got it. It’s on mascience.com. If you like to connect with myself, I’m always on LinkedIn. Just Kison, K-I-S-O-N, Patel.

That’s it. I love it. Well, thank you very much. And yeah, I definitely recommend people get in there and take in this content. It’s fantastic. We’ll have links to the podcast as well. And yeah, now listen to BossMoves. Go do it right now. Go click that button.

My principle is discipline. You have to have discipline to be committed. So if you’re interested in M&A, you want to learn. Check it out. I love your style. I think you did a great job interviewing. I enjoyed this conversation, Eric.

Great. Thank you very much.

Looking forward to following you and seeing who’s up next in your podcast.

Maybe I’ll be lucky and I’ll be able to get on the Moves podcast. That will be my new goal. Is be valuable enough to make it on the BossMoves.

Yeah, let me know. You can start thinking, what are your top three principles? I think that’s a good one. We talk about what lends to values. You got organizational values. But do you have values personally? And are there certain principles that shape those values? And then is that something common you have with your partner? I don’t know, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on your principles pretty soon.

All right. Mark the calendar kids, will be on that one. Great. Thank you very much.