How to Create an Organization that Adapts Quickly with Adam Petrilli at Web Presence

You want to create an organization that adapts quickly. My guest today is Adam Petrilli, Founder of Web Presence. His company was ranked #208 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Discover how to create an organization that adapts quickly.

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Adam Petrilli: The Transcript

Target Audience: Adam Petrilli is the President and Founder of & He develops and executes winning strategies while inspiring teams to embrace change to promote business excellence. He thrives during challenging situations and in making high-risk decisions with a strategic revenue-focused perspective to generate achievements while boosting EBITA, business analysis, and free cash flow during startup, growth, and turnaround phases.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Adam Petrilli
You have to keep people happy. Otherwise you’re deliverable to your client will be subpar. If your employees are put first and they understand their value and the importance at the organization and they’re empowered to help their clients and generate new business the customer will always go.

[00:00:19].980] – Intro
Welcome to Growth Think Tank This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs. The fastest growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

[00:00:37].500] – Gene Hammett
You want your employees to change quickly to adapt to new demands inside the workplace right. These demands come from the customers that come from market pressure they may come from just a changing of policy so that you can better serve the organization. But if you have employees that resist that change it becomes difficult as a leader. So what do you do. Well one of the things you can do is create a place where you encourage those to adapt quickly. How do you do that well. You bring them in that they have a willingness to learn.

[00:01:11].010] – Gene Hammett
They have a willingness to really grow beyond where they are today. And that’s really much more important than the current skills they have now. You may think I’m wrong in this but so I wanted to go out there and create have a conversation with someone who really has seen this work for them. Adam Petrilli is the founder of Web Presence. They own net reputation dot com. They were number 208 on the INC list in 2019 and almost 4 million in revenue and they’ve continue to grow past that with 28 employees as much as the market’s changing.

[00:01:42].930] – Gene Hammett
They couldn’t be where they are today without having employees that adapt quickly. So we’re going to have this interview to talk about how item looks at adaptation and about change and how he gets them to go beyond their discouragement. And one of the more interesting parts of this is really just about how you must treat your employees so make sure you tune into the full interview here with Adam. Now here is the interview with Adam.

[00:02:09].680] – Gene Hammett
Hi Adam how are you?

[00:02:10].650] – Adam Petrilli
Hi Gene. Thanks for having me.

[00:02:12].450] – Gene Hammett
Well excited to have you here at Growth Think Tank. This is a pleasure to have you here. I’ve already let our audience know a little bit about you at a personal level and some of the success you’ve had with growing the company. But tell us about Web Presence.

[00:02:27].430] – Adam Petrilli
Thanks again Gene. So Web Presence was founded in 2014. We were running another company that was a target or unfortunate to have a significant amount of negative feedback from customers strictly based on the business that we were in. So we were in a logistics business and a very high volume of customers regardless of what we did. You couldn’t keep everyone happy. So we we saw the direction that the Internet was going. You had more than ever consumer feedback profiles that were coming on board shopper approved trust pilot Yelp google reviews Facebook reviews.

[00:03:09].070] – Adam Petrilli
Everyone wanted to build a platform for consumer feedback. And at the time we had one competitor in the space reputation and they said they were building a software that was focused on monitoring Internet reputation but not really providing the services and solutions to come back negative publicity or negative consumer feedback as well as to focus on generating and collecting positive feedback about consumer experience. So when we first launched the company we were strictly focused on the services of content removal so we would reach out to the individual review platforms to question Terms of Service or the validity of the feedback.

[00:03:55].870] – Adam Petrilli
We would also at times reach out to the consumer directly and try to negotiate on behalf of our customer to say hey you know what can we do to make this situation better. And you know to have your experience with us be a positive one instead of a negative one. And that brought us to where we are now.

[00:04:16].600] – Gene Hammett
Well your fast growth is something that I know you’re probably proud of. Almost 4 million in revenue in 2019 or just 18. And then you your number two 0 8 on the INC list 28 employees you’re continuing to grow after that. We don’t have to get into specifics but what do you think the core reason why your company continues to grow at the pace it does.

[00:04:43].640] – Adam Petrilli
I think we continue to identify problems that consumers and businesses are having and we try to build a solution to that problem. There’s a consistent amount of challenges that business owners have when managing their Internet reputation as well as individuals and we’ve created solutions to these problems some first the market and that is definitely fueled our growth to where we are today.

[00:05:11].170] – Gene Hammett
Well problem solving problems does create this opportunity to serve the clients in a new way. But you have some really interesting thoughts about how do you create a team around this and it really is about hiring people and then nurturing them to adapt quickly. Why is adapting quickly important for your company.

[00:05:30].680] – Adam Petrilli
Well I think adoption is important to life. I think the only thing constant in life is change and the sooner you’re able to adapt to that and if you’re not going to be prepared for it at least expect it and just make sure that you’re your mind is in that positive mindset of hey this is a problem. This is life business. Let’s try to find a solution to it. I have a quote around this office somewhere and I forget who says it and I’ll follow up with Eugene on this one but you know whatever the problem be a part of the solution. You know every day in life in business you’ll come across problems. But I think if you have that attitude of hey I’m just going to expect this you pivot a lot better and we’ve definitely tried to find employees that have a willingness to learn a willingness to adapt and to be real with life and say hey you know change is constant. And how are we going to overcome this particular change that may come.

[00:06:37].770] – Commentary
Now hold on for a second. Adam just said change is constant. Well if you believe the change is going to slow down then I’ve got news for you. You’re going to create a lot more frustrated and stressful than you need to but if you accept that change is constant accept that change is inevitable then you will have a much better chance to create the organization and be the kind of leader that leads change. Because here’s the thing about leadership the difference between leaders and managers is a big gap. Managers will take a current process and fine tune it. They will adjust it. They will get you better results. That’s a great manager right. But a leader who is able to see opportunities and see something that’s never happened before is pushed beyond those things and create new steps. They’re not iterating. They’re really creating a new path forward. We need more leaders in our work today. And if you believe that change is constant you definitely want to make sure you’re investing in creating more leaders inside your organization. Back to Adam.

[00:07:38].090] – Gene Hammett
Now finding employees with a willingness to learn is that starts in the hiring process is there anything you do specifically in the hiring process that you can share with us.

[00:07:48].410] – Adam Petrilli
I can I’m very upfront in our hiring process. Excuse me but simple things. Every employee has a strength and what. While we definitely try to focus on filling positions. As a startup we have the ability to create other departments or other roles and responsibilities that are a benefit or play to that individual’s particular strengths. So instead of trying to put an employee in a role we try to build that role around the employee. Again we’re a startup so we very much still have the ability to adapt because that’s a core core fundamental of our organization is change and trying to overcome problems as quickly as possible.

[00:08:35].270] – Adam Petrilli
So if someone’s not working out employees not working at a particular position we’ll give them another opportunity or say hey you know maybe this is a better fit for you. You’ve been with the company for three years. You know the industry very well. Maybe you should work on our data side instead of our customer base or or vice versa. Maybe you should be out in the field more instead of being behind on the phone. So while outside sales is not a traditional role that we’ve had in the organization over the last five years it’s now something that we see some of our sales reps are good at. So we’re saying hey you know let’s create that rules and responsibilities document that’s more focused on the outside sales process where they’re knocking on doors because that’s what they’re good at.

[00:09:19].160] – Gene Hammett
I can appreciate the fact that you are able to tailor the role to the person’s strengths and a lot of people will say that but they don’t really do it. So you’ve found some value there in that output that they come back the results has been higher than just putting them in the set role.

[00:09:39].980] – Adam Petrilli
Absolutely. I mean your… They enjoy the role that they’re enjoying what they’re doing more because it’s their strength. So they’re not struggling with it. We’re not trying to teach a dog new tricks while we’re we’re a huge fan of learning new things. Sometimes people have a core set of fundamentals of a particular style even the way people sell. We obviously have our core requirements but outside of that some people talk about fishing some people don’t know and same thing with the customer service department some people have better relationships with customers than others but it’s whatever kind of works you know we’ll make our recommendations. But as long as it’s working that’s all we’re really concerned about.

[00:10:25].920] – Gene Hammett
What other steps have you taken to ensure that employees adapt quickly to all the change that comes about in your world.

[00:10:35].360] – Adam Petrilli
I mean you can’t. We do our very best and when there’s discouragement we try to let them know hey it’s OK to be discouraged. We never said this was going to be easy but it’s possible. And I think a lot of adapting comes from the discouragement of one having to learn something that they don’t already know and that’s pretty much I’d say that’s one of the biggest push backs that we have when it comes to adapting let’s say that we’re gonna start selling or offering a new product or service at the organization when our core group of employees don’t initially understand that or the need for it in the initial stages it’s very it takes some time to create that habit and to encourage the learning sometimes up to 90 days.

[00:11:25].270] – Adam Petrilli
But eventually we’ll get them on board. It’s okay. It’s gonna take a little bit longer but we’re gonna figure it out together and it’s a group effort. We’re very much a team. I say teamwork the hell out of this place all the time. If anyone has a particular question they know where to go and find the answer and if they don’t I’m always available. But you know the adapting is all. We try to tell people the benefit of adapting and I use it you know even in life all the time you wake up on Monday morning a guy this morning had car trouble. You know it’s OK. Don’t let that ruin your mood. Adapt. Call. We’ll see you later in the day. Not a big deal.

[00:12:07].880] – Gene Hammett
You know this this idea of discouragement goes in to the human brain and thinking and really about confidence. Are you taking time as a leader to talk to people about their individual confidence or fears that keep them from adapting and that’s one reason why they’re able to create that kind of adaptation that you need.

[00:12:30].760] – Adam Petrilli
We have a team here. We definitely have a team and we we we we encourage everyone to work together as much as possible. And you know even on a personal level people want to talk I’m here to play a mentor and a friend outside of the business role as well and so are most of my other leaders within the organization. My sales managers know that if people at home lives are not well or we’re not being considerate of what’s going on outside of work they’re not going to be a good resource for us at our company.

[00:13:08].710] – Adam Petrilli
So I think we definitely. Take that deep consideration a lot and we definitely check in on that and we let people know it’s OK to be frustrated it’s OK. We’ll get through it. We’ve all been there and I’m the first one to the first one to say it for sure.

[00:13:27].220] – Commentary
Hold on for a second. Adam just talked about the personal lives as employees now as a leader you might have caught that and said You know what personal lives don’t have a place inside of our organizations. But I’m here to tell you I want you to rethink that and we’d like to reframe that definition because we bring our whole selves to work. We have problems that we come in to the door with that we must be addressed and as leaders if you’re ignoring those. If you think that you know you want to create a professional organization and we don’t talk about personal problems you’re missing an opportunity to truly connect with that individual because everyone has problems everyone has things going on in their life. And maybe it’s not even the problems maybe it’s the successes that you’re able to participate in and show some interest in. If you take a moment to listen to those personal stories then you will have a much more loyal staff because they will feel that you care for them. And actually this actually plays into a framework that I created for some of my clients because they were looking to increase their retention rate. If you want to make sure your employees stay going to be very intentional about that then you want to get the stay conversation framework. I’ll give it to you absolutely for free. Just go to www.GeneHammett/stay and you can download the four parts to a stay framework part of that is the personal conversation and what to do with it and the details behind it really do matter. So go to www.GeneHammett/stay and download the easy one page framework. All right.Back to the interview with Adam.

[00:14:57].220] – Gene Hammett
You know hundreds of other founders and CEOs this one question you had given me the answer. But I want to I want to bring the audience back to that conversation. So I said as a leader what’s more important your employees or your customers?

[00:15:11].810] – Adam Petrilli
The employees always felt first. I mean you have to keep people happy. Otherwise you’re deliverable to your client will be subpar. If your employees are put first and they understand their value and the importance that the organization and they’re empowered to help their clients and to generate new business the customer will always come.

[00:15:34].770] – Gene Hammett
You know that’s a little bit of a new kind of approach. I mean I think some people would say they always kind of put that customer experience or have always you know really focused on the customer experience. And I get it like I care for my customers too. But I understand that my employees are really the face of the business for the most part through customer service the kind of engagement like that. When you put employees first what is the real benefit as it relates to the entire culture?

[00:16:04].370] – Adam Petrilli
oh we have a great culture. We try to encourage positivity like I said if you’re having a bad day go home. But I think the empowering and the positivity of the organization goes a long way to growth. Again when people are happy to come to work and they enjoy their place of work more so than they don’t they’re just you’re gonna have better customers you’re gonna have a better deliverable to your customers and then you’re just going to grow organically based on that.

[00:16:35].290] – Gene Hammett
Well I want to switch gears here for a second because you know Adam you’ve you’ve have a different approach to leadership. I’m sure you’ve probably made some mistakes along your journey of fast growth. Is there something that comes to mind that you saw it as a learning moment.

[00:16:50].350] – Adam Petrilli
Yes absolutely. So we’ve always been what I consider to be encouraged. We have what I call encouragement leadership or management where we encourage people to read a book a month. We encourage people to work a little bit longer than nine to five. We encourage people to work Saturdays and Sundays so they’re ahead on their upcoming week. But we we don’t hold people to their hourly work what they’re working you know how many vacation days. Well while we do take all those types of things into consideration we really try to empower people to just be the best employee that they can be and to take this opportunity of the Internet which we know is so young and opportune.

[00:17:40].600] – Adam Petrilli
We’re in a great place right now as a company and the Internet. And we just try to encourage people to maybe go outside the box a little bit. There’s another quote the extra mile is never crowded. So you know when I wake up and a little bit earlier and get on the road a little bit earlier than everyone else when you don’t want to sit in traffic you know we we don’t tell the employees Hey get here early. We say hey you know Tom if you got here at 7:00 a.m. this morning you wouldn’t have sat in traffic for 45 minutes.

[00:18:10].750] – Adam Petrilli
So we try to position it a little bit different than holding people to two basic hourly salaries and just just add another line item and just another number. Now we really try to encourage people to be the best that they can be when it comes to their career and even on a personal level. And we really we get it from people. We we really get the effort back then. I don’t think we would get if we didn’t have that type of leadership and management style. So we have roles and responsibilities documents for every individual within the organization.

[00:18:48].660] – Adam Petrilli
There’s simple words like you’re encouraged you’re not required or your goal instead of a quota. We don’t have quotas we have goals. And if you fall a little bit short that’s OK you know we’ll work with you to get there next month. And I really think that type of leadership and that management has really gone a long way to empower people to accomplish the goals that they want to accomplish and be the best they can be on their career path.

[00:19:17].870] – Gene Hammett
Adam, when you see that you have been running this business for a few years now and it’s grown so fast what is one defining moment that you would share with us that we could all learn from?

[00:19:28].700] – Adam Petrilli
So accountability becomes a big one now we’re getting. I don’t want to say we’re moving away from that encouragement leadership but we’re definitely starting starting to now the accountability at organization once you get to a certain level becomes really really key for each department. You need to make sure that you have accountability across your organization. Otherwise it falls on the back up myself or other executive leadership that shouldn’t be doing things very basic things like making sure the refrigerator is full of drinks and the trash is taken out. You know there needs to be accountability across your organization for all tasks that are associated with running a positive and successful business.

[00:20:09].980] – Gene Hammett
Well Adam I really appreciate you being here at Growth Think Tank and sharing this web presence has created a category in this business and I really know that having employees adapt quickly has been a huge factor of that growth. So thanks for being here and sharing your wisdom.

[00:20:28].760] – Adam Petrilli
Yeah. Thanks Gene again appreciate the opportunity.

[00:20:31].490] – Gene Hammett
Oh I love this interview. I really appreciate Adam sharing some of the real ness behind what’s going on inside of organization your employees if they’re resistant to change will give you stress and frustration and they will feel stress and frustration. But if you have them really adapt to change and then becomes a way of the culture. I think you have a much better chance to grow the business as everything changes.

[00:20:57].080] – Gene Hammett
So if you’ve got some good lessons from this as a leader I really want you to share those back with someone that would feel like they would get something out of it. So make sure you tell them about growth think tank. Now if you are got some challenges yourself if you’re looking to go beyond accountability looking to go beyond where you are as a leader today make sure you reach out to me. [email protected]. That’s my email address. So I’d love to connect with you. As always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.


Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


GTT Featuring Adam Petrilli



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