Attracting Talent with Culture with Bryan Jakovcic at Fusion Health

Hiring the right people is essential to growth. You must be attracting talent to your company. I have talked with many leaders about the importance of attracting talent in today’s tight job market. We are looking at every angle of culture as a competitive advantage. My guest today is Bryan Jackovcic, Founder and President of Fusion Health. His company was ranked #556 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Bryan and I talk about the aspects of attracting talent beyond money. We look at how you can use your culture to find the right people. Discover the keys to attracting talent from a company that has zero involuntary turnovers.

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Bryan Jakovcic: The Transcript

Target Audience: Bryan Jakovcic is the President & Owner at Fusion Health. Over the next 15 years, Bryan built Fusion from a startup on top of a dance studio (very loud) to one of New Jersey’s 10 fastest growing businesses. Bryan has designed Fusion with a culture fostered by entrepreneurship from within (intrapreneurship), empowering staff to own the vision through fulfillment and feeling directly tied to the accomplishments of the business.

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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.

Bryan Jakovcic
When you look at people who want to start a business, some of the biggest barriers to entry are the infrastructure and backbone and support. And that’s really something we’ve set up very well here from the beginning. Because as our business has grown, we’ve gotten too numerous different components and aspects of our respective industries. So we have a full-blown arm, D lab, 3d printing, things like that, which are really cutting edge, but giving somebody entertainment vision, you know, hiring a manager to help them develop these next-level products we’re looking to bring on, giving them the resources they need to actually be able to do that. And in the chain, you know, I do not believe in micromanagement, again, that largely stems from the fact that we were growing so quickly that I couldn’t be on top of that for every step of the way I needed to intrust people that I hired, to have the best in mind to be able to take my ideas and run with it with with the best in mind for the company and they’ve all done a very good job of doing that.

Intro [0:57]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one And only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of 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?

Gene Hammett [1:15]
Do you have trouble attracting the talent you need to keep the business running to keep it growing? Talent is a really important piece to this. And what I mean by talent is the right people to grow your business, the right people with the right skills, the right values. If you’re not attracting those people on a regular basis, if you’re not keeping them, you really are going to struggle as a leader and as a company. Today, we’re going to be talking about attracting talent with your culture. Your culture is one of the key aspects of getting the right people. What I’ve seen over and over again, is the right culture will accept the right people and develop them and you won’t have to fire people they will ruthlessly let go of the people that aren’t working out the way that needs to be. Now you still have to make some hard calls as a leader and a founder, but you really do want to have the right culture. So attracting talent with your culture is today’s topic. We have with us, the founder of fusion, health, fusion, his health is a really interesting kind of company. That’s software, but it’s also in health care, but for the prison industry, very focused, but they’ve grown astronomically fast. They were number #556 on the Inc list, they were at 10 million now. They’re over 20 million in revenue. They just hit 50 employees. And we’re talking with the founder, Bryan Jakovcic. Brian just really has a key insight into why employees are so important to the organization. He’s going to share with you one big fact about why companies are able to attract the kind of talent they need. And they do that with culture. We’re going to talk about how no one has ever left the company voluntarily. That’s a pretty big statement. We’re gonna back that up in today’s interview with Brian.

Commercial [3:00]
Before we dive into the interview, I wanted to remind you that you can actually get a tool that I’ve been working with clients with. For the last couple of years, I’ve refined this tool has gone through several iterations. Now we have it completely automated, you can actually go online and fill out the leadership quiz. To get the leadership quiz. Just go to That’s pretty easy, right? What you will get when you do that is you will answer a few questions, you will see where you rate based on the core principles of fast-growth companies. If you’re ready to grow your company or you want to see where you are, then make sure you go to inside it you will get insight into where you are, understand where you want to improve. And you will get them mapped into the 10 areas that are most specific to fast-growth companies. Again, go to and you can get that right now. Now here’s the interview with Bryan Jakovcic, founder of Fusion Health.

Gene Hammett [3:58]
Hi, Brian. How are you?

Bryan Jakovcic [3:59]
Good. How’s it going, Gene?

Gene Hammett [4:01]
Fantastic. I know you are a listener of the podcast, and we were interacting about your business growing so fast, you’re just outside the Inc 500. But tell us a little bit about Fusion Health.

Bryan Jakovcic [4:16]
Sure, so Fusion Health is a nation’s largest provider of electronic health records in the corrections industry started years ago, but again, over the past several years, the entire industry is really kind of, taken off and we’re at the forefront of that, going against some of the largest healthcare technology companies in the world.

Gene Hammett [4:37]
You know, before we cut on the interview here, we were talking about, you know, some of the things going on in the business and you were telling me about the first hires you made in the company. And when you were, you know, creating a very niche-based business-like, let’s be honest, you know, software and health care, but you’re going after the prison industry. There are not many people out there with the That all three of those as expertise. Tell us a little bit more about your first hires.

Bryan Jakovcic [5:06]
Sure, yeah, the trifecta call it ain’t happening. So I realized very early on that I’m not putting a job out there looking for somebody who understands healthcare, IP and corrections, they just don’t exist. You know, just because I learned that over the years, it took years to get to that point. So I really realized, you know, the, what I was looking for, as I start to grow and get, you know, employee number 123, and so forth was, I was looking for somebody who was capable, hungry, driven, you know, understood and saw my vision, quote, drink the Kool-Aid, if you will. And, you know, those are the people identified as being good candidates to help me grow the business.

Bryan Jakovcic [5:47]
So employee number one was literally by way of a friend of mine. He owned a little jewelry shop up in the middle of upstate New York. And, you know, he was looking to get into something new. I said, Hey, I got the thing for you. Again, his interview wasn’t a proficiency test. It was a common-sense test where I asked him to come on over to my house, which I was renovating at the time, gave him a hammer and see if he could actually figure out how to hang out, you know, put up a two by four with me and build a wall. He was so good. I knew that the hamster wheel was moving in there. And again, that was where I, you know, saw the potential Teller, you can kind of join my team and in follow my vision, his onboarding was literally, you know, bring him into jail, explain to them the software, give them a tour, and literally running right out of there and say, you know, I’ll see you later, back in the office. Maybe later tonight, I need to go back and continue to grow this business. So yeah, that’s really kind of what was the platform for our form of intrapreneurship here at fusion?

Gene Hammett [6:44]
Well, Brian, I’m really impressed with what you guys have done in a space that probably people don’t even know existed really. When I first talked to you it was just kind of like oh my gosh, like that’s so smart to be so focused on this and you put your customers Like you’re there to serve your customers, you don’t have the opportunity to lose a customer replace them that often. Because there’s not that many, they’re not building many more penitentiaries.

Bryan Jakovcic [7:12]
Well, not even that. I mean, the United States isn’t growing by way of counties, states, you know, that way. So our market and or our ability to capture the market is finite, you know, so every client is, number one, we have never lost the client. And we actually leaders in what we call the replacement game, so we’re taking counties and states away from our competitors. So yeah, so it’s not like the financial services model where people die and people are born and you can capture the next wave. These exist and then that’s it. That’s all that we have to capture. And, again, as I mentioned earlier, we are the largest in the country we manage approximately, our software touches about 350,000 inmates every day.

Gene Hammett [7:54]
The reason I bring that up is that you have a limited market that isn’t growing very fast. But yet when I asked you my big question, which was as a leader, what’s more important, your customers or your employees? You said…

Bryan Jakovcic [8:10]
Oh, boy, I hope to hear the same thing now, but I think it’s my employees still because that was the right answer. Right. Okay. But no, definitely the employees because without quality employees, we wouldn’t have the client base that we have our clients would not be happy. So definitely, you know, the employees that I have here. My family here is number one, and that’s why I’ve been so passionate about having a culture and building a culture where everybody wants to stay. Everybody’s happy everybody feels engaged and is part of fusions overall success. So yeah, definitely the employees because that quality employees, we would not have any customers.

Commercial [8:53]
Hold on for a second. Bryan just talked about building a culture for engagement. A lot of leaders will believe that We just need to pay our employees, and they will show up and be fully engaged. Well, here’s the reality, the pay is not enough. In fact, you want to create a culture and create leadership that aligns people together. They want to be aligned to a mission, they want to do meaningful work, they want to know that they’re growing inside the organization. And a lot of the aspects behind that you have to get right as a leader and it’s more than just what you pay them, or the flexibility you offer our days off. Make sure you creating a culture that can attract top talent. Now back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [9:32]
I’m writing that down here because I want to go deeper with you on this whole aspect of culture. When you talked about creating a business with culture and putting people first you actually share with to me again, some other data that I’m gonna pull from the pre-interview is you’ve never lost an employee out of their own will coming in and saying I found something better. I found, you know, you have let people go because they weren’t a fit for what’s going on. They didn’t measure up to certain standards. Tell us just a little bit about why that was important to the business.

Bryan Jakovcic [10:11]
Definitely. Again, culture is huge here as you grow one bad apple really affects the whole bunch. So that’s one of the things I’d mentioned earlier. Correct. We’ve never had somebody leave under their own volition. Somebody coming in here and saying I found a better opportunity. I found something that was a better fit. I found something that made me feel a larger sense of accomplishment so forth. So yeah, with that said, that is true. And I’m very proud of that. You know, when you look at the people who have come and gone, the ones that I typically term as the ones we voted off the island, you know, so it’s not even me walking in terminating the employee, I do it you know, when it is done, it’s with a very heavy heart because of the level of investment that goes into again, teaching somebody healthcare corrections, it you know, it’s a bad day and a sad day when that has to happen. But again, to build a culture of positivity and productivity, everybody needs to jive and work well together. Otherwise, you know, it can definitely have a huge negative, hugely negative impact, you know, on the business and come close. You know, I’ve gone too far a few times before we ever to somebody.

Gene Hammett [11:23]
Well, Bryan, let’s dive into this. Because the big idea behind this interview today is everybody is struggling with attracting talent to their business. I have not met a business who is growing. That was like, Oh, yeah, this is easy. They want the right people they want those people to be highly engaged and hot and hungry, as you say. But also they want them to stay. They want the retention number to be as high as yours is which almost virtually impossible. Let me ask you…

Bryan Jakovcic [11:56]
I’m sorry.

Gene Hammett [11:57]
I was just setting up a little bit the real question behind this is you’ve set out to create a culture that attracts talent. Tell us about some of the key elements that you see as in the culture that attracts top talent.

Bryan Jakovcic [12:12]
Sure, I mean, so we’re based within you know, I view of New York City. So again, that’s always been a challenge of ours being based here in New Jersey, because there’s a lot of things in my opinion that goes to attracting top talent. I’m you know, across the board, based on PayScale, we’re paying at least 90 percentile in salary and compensation packages. We offer a large number of PTO days, on top of all holidays, you know, we closed down the last half of December Christmas time. So again, you know, letting people reenergize things of that nature. Again, a more comprehensive package when it came to the build-out of our new headquarters here.

Bryan Jakovcic [12:54]
We call on HQ for we went from 6000 square feet to 20,000 like In retrospect, five years ago, we were in less than around 500 square feet. So, you know, we set out with hp four with a real mission, to make it somewhere that was truly unique to provide something that you’d only see in the downtown space in New York. You know, those things include a full-blown arcade kitchen, you know, activity-based workspaces, breakout rooms, again, even we have a very heavy dependency on our own internal r&d. So we actually replicated our original headquarters, my first office that was on top of a dance studio and across the fire department, we replicated that here within the Office, just to give people that inspirational type of atmosphere that kind of helps them work. So that’s very important. I think that’s been a huge part of our success.

Gene Hammett [13:47]
So let’s dive into the cultural aspects, what are the things outside of money and the benefits of being there that you pay attention to as a leader.

Bryan Jakovcic [14:00]
You know, one of the things with culture is that nobody really sits on a pedestal. All of my managers, myself included, are out in what we call the pit. So allows us to be engaged with all the employees and really connect with them. You know, again, the family’s important to me. And given our demographic as young as it is, I see the importance and understand the value that family has, especially as you get married and have children, you know, having a four-month-old son, a three-year-old daughter and only be married for four or five years at this point, you know, I’ve seen that transition even within myself. And now again, looking at some of like, you know, a called leadership of use that term infrequently, but look at my, the base of our company as a whole, having children getting married, you know, that’s a big thing that I’m, you know, I’m really trying to support. We’re actually just signed up with an agency last month. texts provide nightmare services for people to have their Children. So for one month, I’m paying five days a week to have night nurses to assist the family. Because everybody’s so critical here that I need them coming to work energized. I mean, this morning, I was up from two to 4 am because the baby was awake and my wife was able to get them down. So I understand the importance of coming to work and being energized, and being productive and what that means and also, you know, supporting the employees being happy and awake.

Gene Hammett [15:25]
One of the things you said way back at the beginning of this conversation was the value of entrepreneurship. So what’s How do you define that inside your company?

Bryan Jakovcic [15:37]
Sure. So with entrepreneurship what that means to me, I think that’s where fusion is, you know, being given the idea, the vision, and effectively running with it. You know, one of the things I you know, look for internally and again with the build-out space is when you look at people who want to start a business some biggest barriers to entry are the infrastructure and backbone and support structures. And that’s really something we set up very well here from the beginning. Because as our business has grown, we’ve gotten to numerous different components and aspects of our respective industries.

Bryan Jakovcic [16:15]
So we have a full-blown r&d, lab, 3d printing, things like that, which are really cutting edge. But getting somebody on our team division, you know, hiring a manager to help go and develop these next-level products we’re looking to bring on, you know, giving them the resources they need to actually be able to do that. And in the chain, you know, I don’t believe in micromanagement, again, that largely stems from the fact that we were growing so quickly that I couldn’t be on top of it every step of the way I needed to entrust the people that I hired to have, you know, the best in mind, you know, to be able to take my ideas and run with it with with the best in mind for the company, and they’ve all done a very good job at doing that.

Commercial [16:55]
Hold on for a second. Brian just talked about entrepreneurship. Now what was really By this is a lot of people don’t actually want to start their own businesses, but they want to be a part of something that is more than just a job. They want to create opportunities and value inside the organization. And as leaders, if we allow them to create that value, they feel that sense of intrapreneurship or entrepreneurship inside the business, and they want to solve problems. Entrepreneurs are out there looking at the world, and they’re solving problems and in raising the value to the organizations. And that’s what employees want to do too. So if you want to encourage that, I will welcome you to it but I also know the value long haul. I talked about how important employees are and how important it is for leaders to inspire people to feel that sense of ownership has a lot to do with this whole aspect of encouraging entrepreneurial spirit inside of our culture. Now back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [17:56]
I see this a lot with fast-growth companies and use the word empowerment as a way to think about it, how do you encourage the level of empowerment necessary for first-time leaders to be the leaders that they need to be?

Bryan Jakovcic [18:14]
It’s okay to fail. Oh, hell, I mean, I failed. Everybody fails, it’s okay to screw up. You know, one of the things I think referring back to culture and empowerment, and intrapreneurship is, you know, a culture of openness. You know, I realized early on when we first started bringing in, well, you know, people I really did not know, was, you know, at first, I was it was kind of a closed door, it was closed door and I realized very quickly that that was actually scaring people. You know, even though we were small, scaring people that you know, a company of 567 at a time, there was a group but inner circle four, which was pretty much everybody but two or three, and again, you know, promoting openness and instilling these men you know, a methodology that I kind of mentioned earlier, allows them to go and try and fail, be open about it own up to it and say, Okay, well and collaborate with other people on the team say, Okay, this is how we’re going to make it better. And this is how we’re going to succeed. You know, don’t be afraid to fall we got the parachute, you know, we’ll catch it

Gene Hammett [19:18]
Fusion Health help seems to be a really good case study for what I call encouraging people to feel that sense of ownership. Right goes beyond just responsibility of I’m getting a check and I’m doing i got this work to do to I feel a part of what I’m doing. You mentioned the words, inclusion, so you’re including them into the process. You’re empowering them. You have a transparent you believe in transparency. A lot of leaders are afraid of these concepts because it almost seems like they lose control because they’re giving more control to the employees. But because of what you believe that’s what’s made you grow as fast as you’ve grown. Would you agree to that?

Bryan Jakovcic [19:57]
Definitely I think, you know, By by being closed doors, you’re you’re biting your nose off to spite your face. You know, the objective is that you’re going to grow in such a big business, and you’re going to grow this amazing thing that people don’t know anyway, you know, people would tell me Oh, you let them know about the finances. I might refer back to them as well. Do you ever want your company to go public? You know, they say yes, well, your number is going to be out there anyway. You know, so what are you really what are you what are you preventing here?

Bryan Jakovcic [20:27]
You know, one of the big things I one of the things that was huge in my in my opinion, I’m a huge advocate for it in our growth and ability ability to scale was he was the youth and I bosses, the bastardization of a system called Jeremy by Atlassian. When you go into our office, the pit, we have TVs plastered all over, which actually have all the past issues, everything that’s being done in the organization. And one of the things is literally a part of our onboarding process. Now there’s a PowerPoint deck for JIRA onboarding. And there’s a quote by me pretty much saying You know, if you need something done, it is your job to cheer that person. Because they cannot hold you accountable if you don’t get it done, or you cannot hold them accountable if that task is not completed, because, again, in the startup, and when a company is growing so fast, there’s so much that needs to get done. And I realized when we had our administration meetings, that every week were coming back, and it was like, did you get this done? Oh, no. Did you get that on? Oh, no. And every week, it just kept piling on and piling on. And there was, you know, we needed a better system. So I want to diverge a little bit, but that that’s a huge component thing to our success and to be able to manage and support each other.

Gene Hammett [21:40]
And so that’s an open display of what’s going on inside the company. These TVs Do they have different things on them and they all had the same one, same stuff?

Bryan Jakovcic [21:49]
No, they’re all different depending on teams, things like that. So the business development team has its own unique one which shows all the RFPs and responses are going through the system. development team, they have their own, the support team has their own and the implementation team we call the execution team. They have their own too. So again, everything’s rolling up. I think to visualize printed departments when editing rolls up also on other TVs too. So it’s a great way to see who’s doing what, you know, give a kudos to somebody who might be doing the lecture on the weekends or even today, you know, it’s very transparent people to see that.

Gene Hammett [22:23]
I’ve seen this with a lot of people and this is a level of transparency that most companies are trying to resist. But being able to know what we’re working on as a team how people are performing inside this opening that up really does allow the people who don’t want to work to weed themselves out and the culture to kind of do the policing for you because you use the term vote them off the island. It’s almost like you don’t have to select a fire someone you’re probably team is rising up saying look, we’ve worked with jack and jack just not getting it done. Is that fair?

Bryan Jakovcic [22:59]
That is so true. I let us now because there’s how we’ve grown and actually added, you know, the managers to actually own hiring people for the respective teams. But you know, I always said either in the past used to be during the interview process when I was directly involved, or now it’s pretty much on day one, which is, you know, if I don’t talk to you, it’s because I’m disappointed. I just don’t know another way to visualize it or communicate that to you. So I know you know, you’re in a good spot with me as I’m always talking. But the truth of the matter is that your team is gonna be the most critical of you, because they pour the life and soul into what they’ve done here, that they’re not gonna let anybody come in from the outside and paint that. So yeah, I mean, it can especially the developers, it gets a little vicious, but if you could tell pretty quickly, if that person is not pulling their own weight, and you get we try and nip it in the butt. You know, we have one of the things that things have been good is the way we structure our of reviews internally brought to the for the employee review for up to a year. That’s been a successful way that’s worked for us.

Gene Hammett [24:03]
Well, fantastic, Bryan, I really appreciate you share some of your wisdom about how you think about attracting talent, through your culture, and some of the steps you’ve done and some of the technology you’ve put in place to allow that and how your leadership has evolved from years ago and 500 square feet to now what you call HQ for so thank you for being here.

Bryan Jakovcic [24:25]
Oh, definitely appreciate it. And thank you.

Gene Hammett [24:27]
Powerful interview here. I really love this aspect of using culture as a central point to make sure that the organization is running smoothly, and is actually growing fast. We cut off the recorder, I talked to Brian about the company and he’s just really lit up about how the company is able to self manage itself, how the leaders and the managers of people are organized around the work and around the people. make everything work with ease. So I say all this to you because your organization probably is not running at the optimal level. We all have to go through stages of improvement. These defining moments will determine whether you continue to do this with ease or you do this with stress and pressure. I’d love to reach out to you and talk to you about your business. Make sure you reach out to me through email [email protected] where we can talk about the things that are going on your business. I’m not here to try to sell you something but I am here to to serve you. So if you want to reach out and talk about your business and your leadership and your growth, just email me [email protected], 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.


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