Another group episode hits your podcast ears as our host Jordan Samuel Fleming (back from being a guest last week) is joined by a group of very experienced Podio Partners to discuss what it takes (and what mistakes to avoid) if you’re thinking about building a business as a Podio consultant.
This is a great opportunity to listen in to an experienced group of consultants from a wide range of backgrounds who all have one thing in common – they have built thriving Podio consultancies and hundreds of different Podio systems.
If you’re thinking about branching out into the world of Podio building professionally, or you’re thinking about hiring a consultant to help you in your business, this episode will give you a great insight into the processes used by most successful consultancies and what you can expect if you decide to go that route.
Jordan Samuel Fleming (Host) – CEO of smrtPhone (cloud phone system built for Podio)
Pete Cuff – CEO of Future Solutions (Podio Consultancy)
Mike Demunter – Head of Quivvy (Podio Consultancy) and Quivvy Tools (an awesome extension for Podio)
Jarett Duker – Principle Consultant at Brickbridge Consultancy (Podio and System Development)
Joel Ordesky – Owner of Private Guru (Podio and System Consultancy)
Speaker 1: 0:00
Welcome to powered by Podio. Automation is everything. Supercharge your business with Podio. Get ready for another episode of Supercharged! with Jordan Samuel Fleming , your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation can have on your business when it’s Powered by Podio. Join us each week as we learn from the top Podio partners in the world as we investigate system integrations and add ons and hear from real business owners who have implemented Podio into their business. Now join your host, JordanSamuel Fleming CEO of Gamechangers for this week’s episode.
Hey everybody, and welcome to this episode of Supercharged! I’m your host Jordan Samuel Fleming here to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business is Powered by Podio. Today is another one of those special episodes where I’m joined by a group of guys, people here, all Podio partners on a podcast. Really that’s going to be focused on those of you listening who may want to actually build a business building Podio for other people. So I’ve got Jared, Joel , Mike, and Pete. I’ll get each of the introduce themselves in turn. Uh , why don’t you start off, Pete?
IHi everyone. I’m Pete cuff . I’m the chief exec of future solutions, a Podio consultancy based in the UK.
My name is Joel Ordesky and I go under private guru and I’m based in Los Angeles.
Yes. Hi, I’m Mike I’m the owner of Quivvy and Quivvytools a Podio extension , uh , are based in Ghent , Belgium.
Good morning everyone. My name is Jarett Duker . I’m a principal consultant of Brickbridge consulting, a, a Podio consultancy out of Louisville, Kentucky since about 2016.
Are you guys in Kentucky? We are. How did I not know that?
That’s excellent. That is, I don’t know what a great start to the podcast , I genuinely thought you were. You were in the Northeast?
Nope. We’ve been all over, but , uh , stuck in Louisville.
Oh yeah . Well that just proves that I need to do more research before I start a podcast episode. But I genuinely, in my head, I mean, it’s, what’s fun about this podcast is we do have a nice , um, I should’ve been, I should’ve tried to get one of my , uh, one of my Devs from the Philippines on today, just so we could really do the global , uh, thing from , uh, from Joel on the West coast all the way over to , uh, I guess I’m probably the furthest East in Poland. Yeah. Um, but anyway, today I thought what we do is , um, a lot of people , uh , get started with their Podio , uh, with , uh, with developing a business building Podio because they fell in love with Podio and then they, you know, and then there are lots of different ways that can grow. And we’ve got a , you know, we’ve got five different consultants of over five very different locations, all with their own little backgrounds . And , um, we thought we’d have a little discussion, but how we got started as Podio partners and things people can get a, can sort of take away and maybe look to build their own business on. So , um, uh , Joel you know, you’re the furthest , uh , uh , to the West of us. Um, just give us a little, like a little taste of how you got started in how you went into actually growing an, a full consultancy based in Podio .
So I sort of , um, I’ve been using it as a, as a client for many years , um, in various businesses where I was a vice president of COO doing operations. And then I sort of in my last job, Podio’d my way right out of the job. I , I did such a nice job of making it so the home office in another state could manage it that they, you know, realize that they could downsize my position in the COO back at corporate, could, could supervise my divisions, which were in other States without having me any longer. Um, and so , um, as I was out, I started getting frustrated listening to people. Uh, I was sharing an office with my brother and I got tired of listening to people , uh, yelling about where was this file, which Dropbox was it in, who knew the status of this, which is all stuff that I’ve managed in Podio. So I just built them something. Um, it was for , uh, entertainment , uh, script submissions , uh, and that sort of thing. They bragged to another company which hired me to do it , um , and paid me and I’m like, wow, I could make money at this. And then I built some more stuff , uh, and got onto the partner trend and then , uh , started building things for a lot of different businesses. I think the crux for me is that I understand business workflows really well. I understand electronic system processes really well and you put the two together and you basically have a end to end workflow solutions. And , uh, Podio is really great at that.
Absolutely. Mike, my memory , uh, I’ll let , let’s go. Let’s go to you. And, and particularly , um , I’m interested as well of not only like you , you know, the, the way you first started to , to , to get into the Podio business. But following up on Joel’s point about, you know, they bragged about this to someone else, the past that, you know, the referral handoff , um, I think is probably going to be something that is , um, that is a common amongst all of us. Is that common for you Mike as well?
Yeah. I woukld say so? Yeah. It’s like you for me as well, I started out with Podio really by accident. Basically just discovering it through Google thinking, Hey, this is cool , this is cool program. Uh, using it more and more. And then basically in my area or my personal life, I got the chance to set up a Podio organizations for like 30 people. And that’s basically how it all went. And then people talk to other people and say, yes , this is, this is working out fine. This is a , this is something you should check out. And yeah, long story short, that’s, Oh, there it goes. Okay .
And a , and Pete’s, Pete’s just give us a little synopsis.
So I think possibly like most other , um, Podio consultants now I started off with a different business using Podio as the primary tool. So it became, became good. My job became similar to Joel. Really, my job became get good at this thing , um , uh , make everything working . Um, and I , I really think that that’s probably the first key step into it is that I, I don’t think you can go from nothing to being a Podio consultant because there is an element of needing to do those hard yards where you make mistakes, you learn from what works and what doesn’t work. Um, and probably the biggest eyeopener you have is then when you look at somebody else’s Podio platform that they’ve built in isolation from anyone else, and as the consultant, you then start to put the pieces together and you go, well, I think I, the way I did that is better than your approach and the way that you did that as better than my approach. So overall putting together and here’s this new brilliant way of doing things and now I can be a podium consultant.
Fair enough. And around us off Jared . And what was, how’d you guys get going?
I think I’ll support Pete because we no you to be Podio consultants. Uh , our funny story is we were still sales meeting where we closed our first deal. Uh , it was a significant deal that kept us in work for almost three years. But , um, we had never worked in Podio before. We used it in our own company and , uh , we just dived in and we said, can we do this? And we said, we’re going to. So , uh , we worked on that project. We’re still working on that project , uh, four years later now. But , um, we did go from zero to 100. Both Gil and I were employed at other organizations at the time, both of us using Podio but have not worked professionally in it. But the , the magic of the platform is so strong that , uh, when this other company saw it, they said, we want this. And we said, we’ll build it to it for you. And we were in business.
I think one of the things I should probably elaborate on my comment on it was you tend to bring your own skillset to Podio and then learn it , uh , how best to use it in different places. So if , when I say go from nothing to being a full blown Podio consultant , uh, Jarett, you know , don’t bringing your previous , uh , it, it experience database to knowledge, architecture, experience, et cetera, et cetera, you just perhaps hadn’t used Podio before as the framework in which to put it in.
Yeah , absolutely. However , um, having seen comprehensive builds by like world-class professionals, now I have gained a whole new understanding of how much I didn’t know when I first got started. And the magic that I see some people work now still amazes me , um , particularly, but on my own team, they can do things that I just flat out can’t even understand anymore. We’ve gone to a new level now. So if you’re constantly learning and evolving,
yeah, absolutely. Now, let me , uh, I , I, I doubt there are that many people who go from zero Podio consultancies to a three year comprehensive contract you know, that’s d oes a pretty good leap. I don’t want to put that in your head is that’s a norm. U m, b ut, but I would curious, um, I think a universal truth about starting your own business is you stumble, you stumble and you find your way. Right? So, u h, and, and that’s, and you’re never gonna, you’re never g onna stop that c ause you have to make your mistakes. Y ou g ot t o learn from you, you got to grow as a, as someone in business. But what would you say some of let’s, let’s look at what could be classed as mistakes as a Podio partner. Maybe mistakes we made when we w ere first setting up and first starting up, u h, that are kind of more unique to the Podio, u h, ecosystem. Anybody have any ideas on that one?
Yeah, I would say that at night , we discussed this once before. Is that , um, you know, building absolutely anything, exactly. The way the client asked for is, is can be a mistake. And there was, I, there’s, this is about a workflow and if the client presents you with a totally flawed workflow, ie. You have a micromanager who wants to like task absolutely everything to the mask match where his employees are getting, you know, hundreds of tasks every day and at the end of the week they’ve got more than they ever had before and they can’t possibly check them all off. And it’s demoralizing and it’s high friction and it, it, it, it grinds the company to a fault to, to a halt, no matter how much the manager believes in micromanaging that will fail. Um, I think that, that, in my experience having done, you know, Salesforce and a whole bunch of different tools, what I discovered is that if the system induces so much friction and problem into the system, then the users will torpedo it no matter what senior management wants out of it. And so your ability to say no, or to nudge a client away from , uh , doing what’s possible but is totally ill-advised, is really critical.
Yeah. Kinda comment on that. I had recently a case, a guy on the forum, I wanted to have a time tracker and Podio. How did I say like, yeah, this is how you do it, but two , you really want time tracker. You have to decide business-wise first if your employees are going to accept that there’s a lot of friction to the specific examples. So yeah, maybe this is a case of think before you act.
Yeah, I would, I would agree. I think a large part of being a Podio consultant is actually being a business management consultant because it tends to be the people who want you to build something. I have a very clear idea in their head what that is and why it should be. It doesn’t mean it’s right. Uh, so you kind of need to start with the end in mind. What are they trying, you know, listen to what they’re telling you. Listen, interpret the words that they’d written say I’m going , you , you say that you want the moon on a stick. Can I just ask why you want the moon? What is it about the moon that you want and why do you think the stick is the way to get there? And you , I know, I know I’d come out with these things, but they’re fun . Um , because sometimes it’s not about the moon at all, but they think that it is.
absolutely, you spend most of your time trying to divine what the customer actually needs, not what they want. Because very frequently they’ll come to you with complex process diagrams that frequently they inherited from someone else who was in the position. And our jobs as consultants , uh , primarily is business focused to ask the important why and understand the critical process and the critical results they’re trying to achieve, not necessarily the road they took to get there.
Yeah. And learning, I think learning how to, how and when to say no. Um, I think is something that you, you’re gonna learn very quickly as a Podio consultant. Um, how and when it is necessary to say no and whether , you know, Mike, your time tracker one is a , is a great example. I mean, you know, they just because you can doesn’t mean you should and doesn’t mean it’s going to help. Uh , and, and , and I think one of the things that I, you know, that comes with experience building Podio is the knowledge of, you know, the great strength of Podio is you can do everything or anything in it. The great weakness of Podio is you can do everything in anything in it and you, you finding that level of balance between the client, the people, the users, the outcomes, focusing on the outcomes that you want and not getting bogged down in the process sometimes I think is important. Outcomes. Outcomes is something we’re increasingly focused on ourselves in our company as, as, as a way of cutting through someone’s convoluted process. Like, stop talking to me about the process. Tell me what you want to have happen. And then let’s think about whether that’s a good thing or not because you can get bogged down in details around that. Pete?
Okay . I’ve got a very brief example from one of my clients who came to me with a very long protracted process and we were mapping out how are we going to convert that into Podio and then when we got to the final question, they said, Oh, and that’s when we ask them where they’re based. So once we’ve qualify the lead, we ask them where their base, and they were based in a particular part of the UK, the Southwest. I said, what if they said they were from the Northeast of England like several hundred miles away and said , well then they wouldn’t have called us in the first place. How ? How’d you know that you’ve made the assumption right from the start that they know that you’re only based in one part of England, if that’s wrong. Did you really want to spend half an hour on the phone with them before you got to that question? So they flipped it completely on its head and turned that into the first question that they asked . Now it’s a very simple explanation of what is ultimately quite a complicated relationship that you need to build and maintain with everybody that you’re having a conversation with because you need to be both their best friends and their biggest critics simultaneously in order to ensure that you are helping them get the most out of what the thing is that they don’t know that they want yet.
I think, I think a lot of people forget that this is a totally different way of working than a paper and pen method and email and a project management tool method. This is more whole. And um, you know, I remember when I was working in TV many years ago, we went from the old telephone systems with the lights. If you’re old enough where you had it , you could only be on one line. You, you, you know, you had, every light was a line and you know, you got to say, okay, he’s on three, you know, because of that. And I remember they switched to an all digital system and the network I was at insisted that it had to be exactly work exactly the same way that the key system did. And they got it all in and it was a raging disaster. And I remember one of the phone guys was working next to me and he said , uh, he said, this was the stupidest thing we should have done, we’ve ever done. He said, you can’t run a system this way. And he said, and I, because I was a client, I was doing a show there. I had clout , I went to the senior guy and I said, you’ve done this wrong. Now fix it. Cause I need that . I have a TV show and I need to get it on the air. And they, they had to rework it. The point is that, that that’s true here too, is that that people often think that this will act like a human system. Uh, you know, this all paper, pen and pencil often, you know , I get people we’re working through, I make people work through, I do this, I do this. Then what about this? What about this and how often like I said, well what about this? And they go, Oh, don’t worry about that. That only happens sometimes. And I’m like, well a computer can’t deal with sometimes. I said that the script needs to know to go left right forward, back. I said sometimes reality or every once in a blue moon, every three out of a hundred, three out of a hundred, it doesn’t matter. The system can’t have a pothole like that in the process because there’s no human who’s going to go, Oh, this is the wildcard exception . So I’m going to pull the blue card out of my desk and use that. So, you know, it’s very important to get the whole thing down so that it all works successfully. So you don’t create failure.
Yeah, sorry. Yeah , that’s , it’s not, Podio is also another artificial intelligence system. That’s that you have to get to , people know that if you put this in, this is going to come out. Uh, uh, yeah .
Well, let me ask you guys all, one of the things, I mean, again, thinking about starting up a Podio consultancy thing , about getting , um, you know, going into it , um , what would your advice be to people around who in an organization to talk to? Because I think particularly maybe a new, someone who’s new to a consultancy approach may presume or assume that the decision makers in the top tier are the only people you talk to cause they’re the ones paying your bill. But I certainly wouldn’t agree with that. Uh, what would you, what would you guys say about that? Jarett, do you have any thoughts on that?
Yeah. Uh , this is one of my tenants of Podio consultancy is I always talk to the end user and I , I will decline a contract , uh , from someone who is saying, I only want to be the sole input. I’ve been burned on this on two different contracts where I did exactly what the C-suite management wanted and the final product ended up being never adopted. It was unusable. Uh , at this point I always talk to the actual user and I compare what they say their workflow methodology is with what I’m getting from a top down. And I find them to be very rarely identical. And the products are so much better when you talk to the people with boots on the ground always. So I write that into the contracts. Um, when I am starting a new project that I have , uh , access to all levels of users. Sorry , go ahead. Anyone .
I completely agree with Darren . I would always make sure that, I’m not necessarily thinking of it in this way, but you talked to the top, you talked to the bottom, you talk to the middle, everywhere in between and you try and find each particular kind of person’s pinch point, the pain point that hurts them, the thing that they find most frustrating about their job , um, or the organization they’re working in that you’re able to fix through a , a structure, a system , um, coming together around them. Because if I tend to find also then that drives Podio adoption that up until that point, everyone’s , everyone has been doing things their own way or in the way they’ve always done them. And generally speaking, if you’re coming into put a , if you’re doing Podio consultancy, especially the kind of larger projects where you’re going from no Podio platform to the world’s biggest all singing, all dancing Podio platform, then you’ve got to have that transition restage where they let the, let the past go and embrace where the company is going. Now, generally speaking, you’ll find the people at the top are all, you know , super keen to get this going because it’s going to drive the efficiency and a return on investment. Fantastic. Whereas people at the “bottom” would just want their job to be done. They want it to be easy. They want it to be straightforward. They want to save time. And so if you can fix both ends of that , uh , by saying to the kind of senior management team, your, your workforce are going to be even happier, even more efficient. They’re going to love their job and you say to the people at the other end is, I’m going to make your job easier. You’re just going to push a button and it does all this stuff that takes you hours. It’s going to do it in seconds. Then you get, you drive the adoption.
Yeah, I found it a lot of time , a good entry point into a company who doesn’t use Podio , who doesn’t know it. And there’s a lot of companies out there who don’t know for you to , to actually listen to say what is like a real problem you have and fix it with Podio and not really start talking about this all encompassing thing that Podio is that it can basically take over your whole, the running of your complete business. You know, as you say, they have a really specific problem you say. Yeah. And then the back of your head you think like , yeah , this is going to be step two, question two and question three which is great. Uh , but just basically fix their first problem. And you have like taken first hurdle and adoption of Podio because yeah , let’s be honest. Yes. There’s lots of people, companies out there that don’t know Podio yet, so we have to have a good first case. And I also like to talk with all levels of within the company, both to boss, both to the employees, so it’s going to use it and preferably like a middleman as well. I really like to have someone in the company who’s really Podio minded and understands how it works. Uh , underneath you know that, that he kinds of filters stuff from coming from all the employees. As a Podio partner, I don’t want to have like play support for 20, 30 users, whatever who directly contact me. I prefer to organize that a bit through like one knowledgeable Podio person within the company who I can talk to. I take like 80% of all issues. I can deal with him or her one-on-one and the other 20%, yeah, let the users connect to me and they feel like really connected to their supplier and it’s really close relationship , uh , as well. And but not for every nitpick they contact you. Yeah .
Let me, let me ask you guys a followup on a couple things Mike said there. Two , two things in particular. One about the notion of, of a Podio champion. If you’re going into a business of finding those Podio champions in the business and how important that would be , um, uh , for people , uh, if particularly if you’re starting out on a Podio consultancy. And the second thing I would just wanted to kinda touch on which, which came out of what a couple of you guys have said , um, is that the kind of , um, I don’t know how best to describe it, but the idea that um, Podio consultancy , um, should focus getting started with Podio. Mike said, fix one problem and that’s what you said Mike, fix, fix one problem. And in the back of the mind you’ve got, you know, this will be question two and number three, I think one of the pitfalls of a potential new Podio partner is to go in and try and fix all problems at once, is to go in and try and over over egg it. Cause it’s not just about getting them bought into Podio, it’s also being your ability to deliver and implement the larger systems into an organization where they’re new to Podio. That can fail very easily until they get momentum with Podio. What , what do you guys think about those two points?
I think it’s , it’s really important to , I mean, small wins are critical, especially if you’re going into an organization that has no Podio, small wins over are , you know , immensely important. Um, one of the things about big systems that you’re talking about, I think is that I find when people try to go for a big system, there becomes this friction of, okay, we’ve given it to you all. Can you build it? And when it’s all functional, we’re going to step into it. And that is a lose, lose, lose proposition. Um, I say to clients, look, this is not that way. I’m going to build the house. And as soon as I’ve got a room that doesn’t get rain on you, I want you in the room. Okay? And yes, there’s going to be construction going on around you. There’s going to be stuff happening. There’s going to be, you know, foibles of, you know, something may misfire and we discover it. But the truth is, everyone who makes like a totality system and then drops the users in, finds that they wasted a huge amount of effort in directions that turned out not to be productive or good directions. The users just revolt. Um, even if you have an advocate who was involved in the building of it, you have a problem because it was just that one person’s view. And there’s there you need to take everybody’s needs into consideration. And so I’m always saying to clients, look, you need to be very, this is an involved process. I’m for me, I custom build. Um , I think most of us do. And I, you know, you can’t have a custom built suit or dress and not show up at the Tailors , um , for fittings. It , it doesn’t work that way and the more they participate. So I think you can’t do , uh , you can’t build all the house rooms in the house simultaneously. Um , you’ve got to do it. And even, you know, you know, I often someone said, well, can’t you just hire more programmers and to work with you? And I’m like it again, it’s not so straight like construction. It’s not, these are proven process methodologies where you put a two by four to a two by four and you build a house. There’s, there’s a lot of customization and process thought involved in this and you know, you kind of have to build it room by room and conquer it, you know, part by part. And also again, this goes back to the business flow that , that both Pete and I’ve mentioned that that you have to be a business consultant and I would say seven out of 10 clients don’t successful fully understand their work flow completely. If you really did the business exercise of mapping the workflow out with everybody in the room, you discover that, that people know one little secret all over the place and that , that no one can speak to the whole thing. That’s why what Mike said about like he asked to be able to speak to everyone in the organization is just critical. Um, the moment someone says to me, Oh, I’m not going to let you speak to the scheduler. I’m not going to let you speak to the receptionist. You know, you’re, you’re, they’re just dooming themselves.
Yeah , I would agree with that. Uh, I would agree with that. Um, what about, I mean , uh , like, you know, I know , uh, Pete, we’ve, we’ve talked before , um, you know, in your, your lovely, your different analogies that you bring in every different discussion whether we’re building a bicycle , bicycle, Oh no, I don’t really want a bike or I want to go to Edinburgh. No. How are we going to get there? Uh , I think I can list them all off. I’m gonna have to create some sort of weird Podio meme for joking about them now. But absolutely. You know, thankfully that most of them happened on my podcast, so I get to keep , they’re now copyrighted Jordan Samuel Fleming. Um, but , um, no, but, but being, putting all that aside, what we’re really talking about , um, you know, some of this is, is around that method of discovery is around the method of discovery that is going to get you what you need, engage the clients in the right way and not overstretch your ability to deliver. Um, and I know I think that’s a balance as a new consultant particularly that I think is something you find over time. I , I know myself, we, you know, I , when I first started, I think our probably , um, our, our expectations around what we could deliver , um, because we could build everything. It doesn’t mean that we can execute everything successfully into the client. Um, and uh, you know, that I think is something that anybody going into this game should really focus on.
Yeah, I would agree. I think it is very tempting when your , when you’re sitting in a room and you know, again, that’s rewind the clock to when we’re getting started here. We’re going from not being a Podio consultant to being a Podio consultant view. You know that you’ve got some knowledge in your head about how you can help these people. You just need to find out how and there will be this kind of desperate clamber. So let me show you how amazing this can be. Let me show you how much value I can add to you. Let me show you how indispensable I am so that you will keep coming back to me so that you will get me in the first place. And you can kind of paraphrase on what other people have said here. You can say, you know , I’ll build your entire system. I’ll get it all done within 20 minutes. Give me 10 grand. And you, you’re crossing your fingers that they say yes. And then if they do actually say yes, you’ve backed yourself into the most monumental corner that you are creating a world of pain for yourself further down the road. It is better to start off small. It is better to say, let’s talk about one area of your business that we can focus on. Just know that there are lots of other things that we can do as well. Um, I would also kind of advocate building up your own war chest of examples of workspaces that you’ve, you can use from either a previous organization or your current processes that you use internally because there is nothing better than showing somebody something that is already working, that you click this button and look at this magic happen . And then the , the understanding that comes behind that , uh , comes with time.
Absolutely. Um, does anybody , um , just to , to sort of round this off , um, you know, particularly , uh, you know, the situation we’re all in right now. Uh, you know , uh, I would guess that most people are working from home right now. Um, uh, Joel, I can’t tell if that’s a zoom background or ..
Speaker 1: 44:05
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