We are currently missing all of our goals with Great.com. It’s a source of frustration and powerlessness. We believe this is a common challenge in when building an organisation and in this episode, we explore how to deal with it and how to move forward.
Today’s episode is an update episode, where Erik and Emil explore the very real challenges and problems that come up when building the company Great.com.
This is an opportunity for you to get a behind the scenes look of what it’s like to build a company and also get an update on our progress. What we learn here is not something you will read in a book. It’s the real story of how Great.com gets built.
We started by exploring why we are missing the goals and it felt like opening Pandora’s box.
When planning the episode we were thinking about the missed goals from a logical perspective and found lots of valid reasons for it. When the microphones were turned on and things got real, the conversation, however, took unexpected turns. There were a lot of unexpected answers that came up and we ended up questioning the goals altogether and if we have even understood the goals in the first place.
Erik found that he didn’t feel committed to the goals himself and Emil realised that he had no understanding about why the goals were there in the first place. We both felt that we were lacking an emotional connection to the goals.
This became a very valuable episode for ourselves and probably the most important one we have recorded seen from the perspective of Great.com and the importance for our team.
[00:00:00] Hi, welcome to the Becoming Great AdCom podcast, a podcast for people who want to make their world or their own lives better through entrepreneurship and personal development. And this today would be an update episode where we talk about the ride, the challenges, the struggles that go through building the company, great SOUTHCOM, an organization that will give away 100 percent of its profits to charity. And I am here today. And as always, with the founder of Great Dot.com, Erik Berman. Erik, how’s it going?
[00:00:45] My day is going well. It started with Technic Kael’s and for you don’t know me. There is one thing that is my kryptonite. And that’s when technology doesn’t work the way I want it to.
[00:01:01] So I was thinking for a little while, but it would be like to be a rock star in the 70s, throwing out a TV out of the window, jumping and screaming and punching guitars into the walls. So I did that. And after that, it felt better.
[00:01:23] I can’t imagine you throwing a TV out of the window, buddy. I’m sorry.
[00:01:30] Me neither. But it would be fun. It looks fun in the movies. But, yeah, I’m. I’m good. I’m good. I’m. I’m not. Yeah, I’m a little bit excited, but they’re also a little bit nervous about this episode. And we’ll dive into why that is. And I’m here with e-mail. My good buddy, as always, who was the first one joining me in this great endeavor of great dot.com, my longtime old friend, one of the smartest guys I know, and the personal development geek with a big G.
[00:01:59] Pete, depending on which one to put it on. We’re gonna say big heart. No, he doesn’t. Yeah. He’s got a big heart, too. He’s got his big. So how are you today? My good friend.
[00:02:12] I feel quite lovely. This is our second podcast of recording in the same day. I feel like I’m in a good flow. Floating out there in the atmosphere. A flow state. And I’m excited to get into this because I’m not nervous. I don’t have any responsibility. I’m just asking questions. You are founding this company. So let’s dive into it, because today we’re gonna talk about goals, goals that we have set for our organization.
[00:02:38] And spoiler, we have not quite reached them. And here we want to give you an update about how we’re doing building this company. And we also want to give value for you. That might be running your own company and you might be struggling, reaching the goals that you have set, or you might just be struggling, reaching goals in your personal life. And we want explore how to deal with that frustration. So let’s jump right in. Erik can’t give the listener some background on these goals, but all day, why did you set them?
[00:03:15] Yes. OK, so let’s we’re rewinding the clock about six, five, six months to when all of the team of Great met in Sweden in August or September or something like that.
[00:03:30] And we were doing this workshop about what goals he wanted to set and where we wanted to be at what time. And the main goal that we landed on was that by August 2020’s, August this year, we wanted to reach break even on a monthly basis, meaning that we wanted to have revenues of about fifty thousand euros.
[00:03:54] And at the time, we had zero. And now we’re about halfway there and we have zero. So even close at the moment.
[00:04:06] And this became also the overarching goal that kind of led into a lot of smaller goals, like, OK, we want to have this many visitors coming to our site per month and we need to see this increase. We wanted to see this many agreements in place with clients and we wanted to see this many links coming pointing towards greater outcome because links will give us traffic.
[00:04:33] Could you just quickly describe what the organization is doing and what our business model is? It’s brief. It’s a summer to keep up.
[00:04:42] Thanks. Yeah. Basically, what great outcome will be. It’s a casino marketing company similar to what TripAdvisor does within travelling. But we will do it for the gaming industry and we will donate all of our profits to charity. And the reason we were in the casino industry is that that’s been the industry I’ve been in my entire life. I know this very well and I’ve built this kind of businesses before.
[00:05:07] So I put high goals to start with and then they catch me off guard.
[00:05:14] So in brief, the main overarching goal is that we want to rate reach break even by August and then that has tripled down into smaller goals that.
[00:05:26] In reality, are just stepping stones to get there.
[00:05:29] They’re all based on one overarching goal. Yeah, we set them in in August and we are constantly missing them at the moment.
[00:05:39] So why are we missing them? Are we doing something wrong?
[00:05:45] Say, Joe Akim, who is managing a lot of things and great. He’s got this red, yellow and green colored coding system where we have this Excel sheet with these different targets.
[00:05:57] And on a monthly basis, we need to reach this, this and this for it to be green in each part or yellow in each part or red. Meaning obviously good, less good and bad.
[00:06:08] And for the past couple of months, everything has been red and. To try and understand why that is happening is. So there’s a lot of things going on. First and foremost.
[00:06:27] And I feel that I’m caught on the spot trying to understand things and trying to invent reasons, I’m actually going to feel in what why would I actually believe so I believe a big part of the problem is that we’re a remote organization. We’re not sitting in the same room. We’re not working. We’re not meeting each other. All the times. I feel we’re losing a lot of productivity to this point. I believe that’s a big part of the problem. I still believe that’s a good strategic decision because I think in the long term, once we have figured out how to be productive. I have high productivity in a remote recession. It will benefit us. But I believe that’s one of the main concerns right now, is that we simply don’t get enough done. And I think that is due to. We’re not communicating well enough on a regular enough basis that things just that would have taken two minutes to just do when we were sitting next to each other, maybe calibrating what direction we’re heading in, understanding what someone is working on. These things don’t happen as fluently as I would. I think they would have done it if we were in the same room. I think that’s part of why we’re missing our goals. And my gut tells me that’s a big part. The other part I feel is that. I’m not reaching my goals. I’m not involved enough in everything and I’m supposed to be the leader and the main role model of things, and I’m not engaging enough with everyone. I’m not. I’m not communicating enough. I’m not showing the way enough. I’m not taking the full responsibility of.
[00:08:27] Doing the things that I know are necessary to reach our goals.
[00:08:34] So I believe the second biggest reason is me and my.
[00:08:42] You know where I may ask a question here. Because I know that you’re spending a lot of time building your social media platform, and that’s going to be a way to influence, which is also goal of great. Yeah, I know that you are. You’re not lying on the sofa doing nothing. Rarick Erik is working morning to e-mail every day. Pretty much not because he has to, but because that’s how who he is as a person. That’s how you find joy. So I know you spent years using a lot of your time with different projects that will benefit. Great. Is it a fair thing to say then that we’re not missing our goals because you haven’t been involved, because you have chosen to do other things?
[00:09:26] Ok, so let’s rephrase it. The main reason why we’re not reaching our goal is that it’s probably not the goal we are working towards.
[00:09:36] So I’m working really hard. I’m doing a lot of things, but I’m not working that much towards the goal of reaching break even in August.
[00:09:45] I think that’s so that’s more fair to say.
[00:09:49] Yeah. So I’m working very hard with my SO in my head and this is something that I realize that makes things complicated. Our goal is to be an insanely big company 50 years from now. That makes so much difference in the world. And that makes me not really think much about what’s going on now or six months from now. And I realize in my head and that might be a bit selfish in my approach. I’m already thinking so much about the future that I forget about the now and other people in the team wants to see results. Now, now, now. And I feel that I’m not prescient enough with the now to help them out with that. So, yeah, I think I’m I’m not focused enough on the goal that we have, which is a year from now. So I’m not sure I have a big enough buy in in that goal. And that makes.
[00:10:52] That’s a big reason why we’re missing it as well and why I’m not as engaged with as I could be.
[00:10:58] So help me understand if this is fair, because I think this applies to evaluating your goals in general. We’re saying we’re not reaching our goals because we are.
[00:11:09] Not in the same place, but we have chosen to be remote. We’re not reaching our goals because you are not putting enough time in, but you have chosen to put it into social media and influence. Is it a. Is it helpful to make this comparisons?
[00:11:29] So I think that this is what becomes very interesting with where this conversation is. Did we set the right goal? Yeah. Can you set a goal without a big enough buying engagement in that? What would have been a better goal? And I don’t have the answer to that, but I real and I haven’t been thinking about as much myself, to be honest. I realize now in this very moment that that’s what’s going on. I don’t care enough about this goal. I wish I cared about it, because that’s where we’ve kind of agreed to care. But I don’t care enough about this girl.
[00:12:06] And I think that might be as an employee in great like our business model is pretty complicated. I know some light on. I know the basic idea. We get Linkstar domain, which means that we rank high up on Google, which means that Kesena players find us, which means that we get an affiliation bonus from them playing casino. That I understand, but I do not understand. Like how many links do we need? And I don’t know exactly what is required for me to reach the goal of going break even if I was going around knocking on people’s door selling vacuum cleaners. It could. It’s much easier to understand that I need to sell six hundred and eighty vacuum cleaners for me to break even to do my part. But here it’s much more vague and I don’t know what I can do exactly. You know, for us to reach these goals.
[00:13:07] And that once again has come down to me explaining and following up on that goal, which if I if I wholeheartedly cared about this goal, if I felt that this is not just a number that we took out of thin air or a certain timeline, that didn’t really mean much then. I would probably a lot more engaged with people on the standing that.
[00:13:35] And a part of this gold is out of our control as well. Right. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s no guarantee you get X Linx, you get X money in the same way that you would make X dollars from selling X amount of vacuum cleaners.
[00:13:53] So, yeah, let’s boil it down, one reason is we’re remote. And once again, that too, to revisit that thought. Where are remote because it’s the 50 year vision.
[00:14:05] I believe is by far the best thing we can do for the 50 year vision. I think it’s a really crappy thing to do if you want to make the most progress in one year because it slows you down in the beginning.
[00:14:15] So I believe that it’s the best way of building something long term because I think that should get better people people have happier lives, people will stay on longer, there will be a different dynamic. But over the course of 12 months, I think the best thing you can do is just squeeze those 12 months into a bunker and work 24/7, more or less, if that’s your focus. But it’s not. And I feel I’m still very focused on that long term vision and. To be honest, I’m not sure if I want to change shit. I realize that I want to talk a lot about the team about this. Like what? What is really important for us and what kind of. Commitment to we want to do and how do we want to address this?
[00:15:08] And I don’t have that answer, really, I. I prepared for this podcast writing about what are the reasons why we’re not reaching our goals. And I had this list of technical things like, yeah, we’re launching in Sweden instead of in the US, which was our original plan. We had set some technical struggles.
[00:15:25] We have had quite a lot of problems with personal lives of our team members. There’s been a lot of relatives who’ve been sick, even cases of death. There is a lot of things going on in people’s life that holds back. But I realized that that’s not the main thing when I actually feel into it. The main thing is. Where my focus is and. Combined with that very remote team.
[00:15:57] And I also I also see that.
[00:16:02] The short term goal, but we’re going to do to reach that. It’s not the same thing that we would reach do to reach the 50 or goal. And for Yunus, a founder of this company and a decision maker, you care about the 50 years ago. Which means that you are going to do decisions that are not the same as the goals that we have set. And also, we have goals that are somewhat out of our control. So evaluating ourselves based upon them has a built in sense of unfairness in it.
[00:16:32] How do you mean with a sense of unfairness?
[00:16:34] So if we, for example, had to go. We’re gonna get Rs 1000 links. That is more in our control than we’re gonna make. Golberg Even Machen’s cause we don’t get we don’t know the conversion.
[00:16:49] Yeah, I can see that. There there’s so many elements involved with it.
[00:16:56] Yeah. Like when I used to play poker as a professional. The worst thing you can do is to say I’m gonna make X dollars this month because you are not controlling, but you can control how many hours you play. You can control how well you play. You can control how much you study. You can control your food. You can control your sleep. But not the outcome.
[00:17:13] You don’t control the element of luck.
[00:17:19] So, yeah, let’s boiled this down to some wisdom. What I realize thinking about this is that it’s tricky to set a goal based on money. Yes. Like you say now, it becomes abstract, hard to understand it. And you’re not fully in control of it unless maybe if you’re selling vacuum cleaners and you can control how many doors you you knock on and that way you can get it back. It is really hard. I realize also that it’s challenging to put a goal twelve months into the future. Regardless what you’re doing and build it from there, that I think what happens is if you build a goal top down. It’s like I want to accomplish this by them. Then you start taking that down to what has to happen for that to happen. Instead, if you’re building it from bottom down, like what do we want to focus on this month, the next month and next month and next month? And where would we get. You see the difference. Like, if you take the poker analogy again, if you say I want to win a million dollars in 2020, then you have to kind of backtrack back into how much money you’re going to make and see where it happens.
[00:18:38] But if you instead think, OK, how much do I want to play? How much would I want to study? How would I want to eat? Okay. I want to play eight hours per day. I want to sleep eight hours per night. I want to work out every day. I want to study at least 10 hours per week. And you create the goal based on what you want. And then you kind of see where it takes you. It would be the opposite direction.
[00:19:02] And I’ve never created a goal from that angle because it’s it’s harder. It’s tricky. It’s like. And I think it might be. I’m not sure if it’s even good advice to do it that way, especially from a business point of view. I like that approach somehow. I’m not sure if I’m buying into the idea of one year goals, at least not in a new organization.
[00:19:29] So what if we instead set a goal? I’m going to see if I understood the way you flipped us. So instead of saying we’re gonna make it, we’re gonna go break even by next year. And that means we have to do these tasks.
[00:19:40] Then instead, we have more overarching goals that in the future we want to get links and we want to influence people to live more lives that are more beneficial for the planet. Those are two overarching things we want to do. And now we sit down with all the employees of the company and saying to accomplish those things, what is the most productive thing? Do you think you can do with your talents to go in that direction? And then someone might say, oh, I can build a Web site and Solis’s oh, I can start a new charity podcast. Oh, I can I can get links from these casinos. And then based on what everyone think is the most productive things they can do in the long run. Then we say, OK, where do we think we’re going to get in a year’s time?
[00:20:30] Yeah, exactly.
[00:20:31] So basically, if we did it that way, we’ll realize, OK, I think that we would earn a thousand euros in February and maybe five thousand euros in March and then kind of build it on that. And then what number would we get to excite?
[00:20:46] Not that’s that’s not the goal. Well, it’s more like, OK, when we don’t do these things because we believe in these things and then we try to evaluate what would the result be rather than the other way around.
[00:20:58] Yeah. And then we evaluate, OK.
[00:21:02] So to get to the overall goal of more links, I will write X amount of articles. Good. This is how many articles I think it’s healthy for me to produce in the next three months. And then after three months or during three months, I look. Can I. Am I keeping the pace that I thought was healthy?
[00:21:21] I like that.
[00:21:23] And I come back to Timeline that I think it’s really hard to set a goal one year into a future in a company that’s less than one year old. I don’t think that makes sense.
[00:21:37] I think that’s a sudden change so quickly. And look, we’ve been running this for two years now that I’ve been involved and. There has never been three months where we haven’t completely changed what we think is the most productive thing to do yet.
[00:21:57] Yes, that’s so true. OK, so let’s get back to the original question as well, how to deal with not reaching goals.
[00:22:06] Then I believe really healthy to just talk about it the way we’re doing now and asking ourselves, OK, what is the real reason of not reaching these goals and not I feel it was very beneficial for me to just feel in. Toelke Erik, what is the real reason? Because when I was preparing for this, I gave a lot of. A lot of logic reasons like this has changed, as has changed, this has changed, this has changed. But I didn’t come up with a fighter jet because my focus is somewhere else that came from me just sitting in this moment feeling about it, like, whoa, that’s actually the truth.
[00:22:49] I also feel that it’s valuable to re-evaluate goals, that it’s hard to set a goal one year into the future, and it might it might even be a really stupid goal to focus on after a while because things change.
[00:23:07] So maybe someone is in an organization then, because we at Great tried to build a sense of safety where somewhat if someone feels like I don’t buy into this go, I don’t I don’t feel like this is the most valuable thing that I can do.
[00:23:22] I don’t feel like this goal comes from within myself. Like, what can someone do in an organization where goals, say, set and then you have to follow up on them?
[00:23:40] I don’t know. And I think that’s a big problem and I can see that’s being a problem and companies have been involved with in the past. But the goal is set from top management without necessarily understanding all the processes needed to get there. And it’s just a number. And then people have to just make it happen. And. I think it’s very little you can do to influence that rather more than being aware of it. And. Maybe even when you’re looking for a new job. Ask how is goal setting done in this company? What do this company want to accomplish this year? And use that as a question to understand if this is the place you want to work for or not. Yeah, I think it’s really hard to influence how a company sets goals because I realize how much I do it on pure autopilots and how much I need to reflect on this to get to another point and how hard it. It’s hard for me to impact this. And I’m sitting on the top of the pyramid. I would. I can’t even imagine how to deal with it. You’re four steps down the ladder or whatever or 10 steps down the ladder.
[00:24:52] Yeah, me. That is a couple of steps down the ladder. I just feel like there’s not much I can do about this goal. I just see red numbers and yeah, I guess we’re failing, but I don’t know what to do about it, so I don’t see how it’s really helpful.
[00:25:11] So why would. What happens if we don’t reach these goals, go and break even.
[00:25:16] Nothing happens. That’s the thing. I mean, this is also why oh, why I’m not committed to it in the same way. One of the reasons why we have this school is that we’ve kind of agreed that one’s for going break even. We will start looking at a different kind of salary structure and people in the team will be able to have a higher influence about what money they’re earning, because at the moment people are working on a lower salary than preferable. And that means that for the team, it becomes important that we reach that point sooner rather than later. Which makes complete sense and it becomes a real thing when it’s self-sustainable right now, it’s still my crazy hobby in a sense because I’m putting all the money into it and. That is also important for me to think about that. Yeah, but Erik, we’re doing this because it’s important to the team as well.
[00:26:15] Think about that because I feel that I can drift away from that understanding because I would just I know that I will keep putting more money into this, even if it takes another two, three, four, five, ten years to break even. I believe in this with my SO.
[00:26:30] I’m so dedicated to this long term vision. But that’s not something someone in the team can know in the same way I can, because they’re not in my soul.
[00:26:43] The fifty thousand euros or the break even point is somewhat a testament of that, this is real. This is security. This is not something that just gonna go away because right now, theoretically, I could say tomorrow I don’t want to do this anymore.
[00:26:56] Guys, let’s quit. And no one could really have an influence on that. So it becomes. We want to reach this goal because we want this to be real. We want us to feel safe. And just talking about it like this makes me also connect more to the gold and I’m connected to it otherwise and it makes me connect more as someone working at the organization.
[00:27:20] Because these things we didn’t bring up when we set these goals.
[00:27:25] Yeah. If that makes sense, so I think. I thought the main reason to Saddam was because I didn’t want you to feel like you’re spending money on this. Yeah, that’s not at all the case. Yes. That was my. That was my understanding up until now. So if what you’ve if you felt the reason why you wanted to reach the goals is for the staff to be able to set a more stable salary structure and for people to feel safety, then the goal becomes much less arbitrary.
[00:27:55] Yeah, that’s my main driver behind us.
[00:28:00] So I think this conversation highlights the importance of understanding the reasons for setting the goals.
[00:28:08] And house. And it’s more important maybe to connect emotionally, to go then to.
[00:28:15] Yeah, to what number it is or how you’re gonna get there. Her.
[00:28:23] And so I keep coming back to that original questions like what to think about when you’re not reaching your goals. And I think that this conversation is so valuable, sit down with someone and try to really understand why are these goals here? Do people understand these goals? Are we connected to these goals? Because to me now it becomes very clear that I haven’t been connected to it in the way that I could. You haven’t been connected to it in the way that you could. And. Then obviously that’s a huge reason why we’re going red everywhere because we are not emotionally engaged with us in a way we could be.
[00:29:03] And maybe why there isn’t a stronger sense of urgency within the team and within you to do something about it.
[00:29:12] When we see the red numbers.
[00:29:24] To me, this feels like a good place to wrap this episode up because I don’t think that I’m going to get from here to a concrete specific do this, do that to about goals, I’ve taken in a lot. New insights about the process myself. And it feels more like I was sitting in a therapy session than anything else, but it feels like it’s been very beneficial and very real up to here.
[00:29:49] I completely agree. I think this is a excellent time to wrap this up and.
[00:29:57] Thing I hope this was some insight into the inner process of building an organization. Yeah, me too.
[00:30:08] Yeah. Thank you, guys. See you next week.
[00:30:11] And if you are listening to this and maybe you thought, wow, this was an unexpected and interesting insight into what is it like to build an organization and you feel like, oh, I would love for more entrepreneurs to hear these type of messages. How can I get involved or help out then what you can really do that would help us out immensely. If you are going into your podcast app, whatever that is on app, a podcast or whatever podcast apps are out there and you hit the subscribe button. And the recent what that is helping us so much is that if you do, we have a chance to get into different podcast top lists, because those top lists are not based on the number of total listeners which in which case we would be fucked. It’s about how big percentage of the listeners are subscribing, which means that we have a great chance to get in there and your vote on us has a proportional big effects.
[00:31:12] Please do go in and hit the subscribe button. And I guess we’ll see you next week.
[00:31:20] Jerry. Yeah.