The Importance of Tenacity when Growing Fast with David Coppins at IntelyCare

Every entrepreneur has faced challenges in their journey. You know the importance of tenacity when growing fast. One hurdle is to get your team members to be tenacious. Today’s guest is David Coppins, CEO of IntelyCare. His company was ranked #41 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. David talks about the importance of tenacity with stories that get you to think about your leadership differently. We look at how to get others to give the extra effort when needed.

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Target Audience: David Coppins is the CEO and Co-Founder at IntelyCare. Venture-backed IntelyCare is an intelligent workforce management solution for post-acute healthcare facilities. Its unparalleled matching technology understands the needs of healthcare facilities and nursing professionals at a hyper-local level to improve care by automatically optimizing and augmenting staff.

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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.

David Coppins
We really want people to feel that ownership and so it’s more walking the walk. So we’ll use the terms of course. But ultimately I want them to truly feel ownership, that with ownership comes accountability. And, and I’m, you know, me and other of our tech team are here to help everybody can try to get through the roadblocks get creative on problem solving. But ultimately, you’ve got to deliver.

Intro [0:31]
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?

Gene Hammett [0:48]
Our interview today is with David Coppins, and co-founder at IntelyCare. You talk about the importance of tenacity, we talked about what really tenacity is across the organization, and how do you bring it out and others? It’s natural for it to be a part of the leadership team. But how do you bring it out across that organization to drive the business forward? Well, that’s the core of today’s conversation. When you think about your own leadership, are you evolving the way you want to be? Are you really taking your own leadership to the next level what my job is to help CEOs and their teams go to that next level continue growing? If you want to have a free coaching session with me Just go to you can say try coaching, see what it’s about. See if it’s a good fit for you. If you are a good fit, that it’s absolutely free for you to get free coaching from me, Gene Hammett. Just go to You can get that right now. Now here’s the interview with David Coppins.

Gene Hammett [1:40]
David, how are you?

David Coppins [1:41]
Well, Gene. Thanks.

Gene Hammett [1:42]
Excited to have you here on the podcast to talk about leadership culture. And what makes companies grow fast. When I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about and IntelyCare.

David Coppins [1:52]
Right, yeah, sure. IntelyCare is in a two-sided marketplace where we put together 1000s of nurses on one side and healthcare facilities on the other that need their shifts filled on a temporary basis. So on a shift by shift basis, you’ve got 15,000 nurses and nurse assistants that are all on their app scouring opportunities for them to pick up gig work side work extra shifts, and then you’ve got all these healthcare facilities that are chronically understaffed, that are using our services to help them feel that and we use a ton of data science for matching purposes and so on. But ultimately, it ends up with a pretty extraordinary opportunity for both sides.

Gene Hammett [2:39]
So through all this COVID stuff, you’ve had to see an uptick in business, I would imagine.

David Coppins [2:43]
Yeah, it was a significant increase in demand. And although supply has been really tough to provide a lot of nurses and CNAs found it very difficult to work during this time. But overall, definitely.

Gene Hammett [3:00]
Well, one of the things that we wanted to talk about today is growth. And just to put that in context, you were number 41 on the Inc list. The first time, over 7,000% growth in a three year period. Most people believe that’s kind of impossible. How did you? How do you think you got to 7,000% growth?

David Coppins [3:21]
Well, you know, the first year was an extraordinary year for us we are our product and the service that we were offering just really struck a nerve and immediately just took off like crazy. And so it was really kind of our first year or rather, the second, the second year, the full year of the calendar year that really mattered. That made a big difference. We went from half a million in revenue in our first year to 11 million in our second year. And it made up just immediately.

Gene Hammett [3:58]
Well, David, I wanted to dive into what caused that growth. And one of the things that we have talked about researching your company is the tenacity to overcome challenges. tenacity is kind of a $10 word. So how would you explain what tenacity is for those listening in?

David Coppins [4:15]
Yeah, it’s great to me, you could talk about determination, you can talk about persistence, but to name to be tenacious, to be to have that tenacity, but really is a true kind of won’t let fail mentality. I gotta say, our co-founders and I, we kind of built it on this, but we couldn’t have articulated it. But that was what was really driving us in the early days of the company. We’re good at working together. But it wasn’t until a couple of years of looking back realizing it was the tenacity.

Gene Hammett [4:50]
So that’s usually found at that founder level. So you had a co-founder and I would imagine this is something that has been important to carry through the entire But organization. So how actually do you do encourage people to be more tenacious?

David Coppins [5:06]
Yeah. So that’s a great point. And as you get bigger, that it’s harder for just that natural culture of the way we approach problem solving, to become, you know, part of the infrastructure or part of the day today. I think, first of all, when we talk about our values, we do talk about engineering success. And I don’t think that that term, we use that term, I think it fully describes what we mean when we say it, I think the essence of it is just causing success, or designing it or rather making or forcing something to be successful actually forcing. And this is, and this is where I think that it made a big difference. So if you were to really kind of break it down, I think there are kind of three things that that we do consistently, and that we make sure that the whole team’s on the entire team, we have 120 employees now, that is, you know, that are trained and, and culturally, this is the way we operate.

David Coppins [6:12]
Now, first, plan for things to go wrong. You know, we always say everybody always says, expect the best plan for the worst, but you really got to do, you know, you got to get anticipate that, that things are gonna go wrong, and you got to get ahead. Second, you start with optimism, when faced with a problem, one of my co-founders, I acknowledge, I got to credit him for his positive outlook, and ineffectively every situation, I swear, that guy has never had a bad day in his life. Every time we’re faced with something, a big problem, or even though something that looks truly insurmountable that guys, like, we can figure it out, we can figure it out. And in with that optimism, it really gives everyone around him that confidence, to find solutions. If he believes that, in the leadership believes that you can do it, then then the fear sort of melts away. And the ability to kind of really let the creativity flow is is what kind of gets us to this. And then third, you know, you got to throw out, you got to throw out all the preconceived ideas, what business can do and can’t do to solve problems, you gotta get creative. And you got to be willing to do some hard work to get something. And there are some funny stories.

Commercial [7:37]
Hold on for a second, David just talked about as culture gets bigger, it gets harder. Here’s the reality, that a lot of people think culture is something that just naturally progressive, and it kind of goes where it goes. But you’ve got to be intentional about the culture, you got to be working on it and shaping it. As you add new team members, the culture kind of changes, as you acquire new companies, it certainly changes. So one of the things that you want to do as a visionary leader, is intentional about the culture that is necessary for you to achieve the goals, what do what’s really necessary for you, and how you engage with each other. Now, your job is to make sure that it continues to stay on the right path. That doesn’t mean you have to be the day in and day out cultures are if you will. And actually, part of the interviews we’ve done here, people actually have culture committees, but you want to make sure that you’ve got your eye on how people are working together and the energy and the vibe that’s going through the culture. Back to the interview with David.

Gene Hammett [8:33]
When you think about tenacity, what would we see in your organization that would demonstrate tenacity across the company.

David Coppins [8:42]
So I think that the, you know, in the, in the early days, for example, customer relationships are very tenuous. They’ll give you a try. But ultimately, you got to deliver or, you know, or they’ll just move on your office. So, I think that the types of things that are really vital, and that you’d see in the organization is just the effect that you can’t be a micromanager. I’m not a micromanager and you need to make sure we do is you really have to help make sure that everybody’s got clarity on what the vision is, what are the objectives, what are we really trying to accomplish, and get into it, get real detail get to some context around that too. And, and I love doing so. My senior execs are awesome. They’re and, and, and they do things better than I would do if when given a lot of creativity and given a lot of freedom to explore. So the first thing is everybody really has to make sure that you’re clear on what the objective is the bigger vision what are we trying to get to right Guys, and then how we get there, that’s really up to, that’s really up to you. And, and I love being able to kind of coach people in that way, and then let them run with it, let them kind of come up with some creative, amazing solutions, then they tap into their people. And the same thing happens.

Gene Hammett [10:19]
What you’re describing there, I usually typically say the word empowerment. And you, I know, a lot of fast-growth companies

David Coppins [10:31]
Are successful tenacity is starting with empowerment.

Gene Hammett [10:35]
Beautiful. You had mentioned some stories, what’s one that comes to mind that that really demonstrates this tenacity?

David Coppins [10:42]
Well, so as I mentioned, in the early days, customer relationships are pretty tenuous. And we were trying to make sure that every client when they presented us with an opportunity to fill a chef that we would, we would absolutely 100% we were there. And we had a, one of our health care facilities had a how-to shift from 11 pm to 7 am. And, and one of our nurses that had accepted that shift had to call, again, was sick or something. So I, our CTO, co-founder get on the phone. It’s, you know, 10 o’clock at night, he’s on the phone with all sorts of nurses trying to get them to kind of backfill pick up that shift. And finally, he gets, he gets a nurse that says, Well, I could do it, but I don’t have a babysitter. I’ve got my kids. And I say, Well, you kids live to theirs, their ages as well.

David Coppins [11:42]
So why I’m like, I’ve got kids the same age, why don’t I babysit your girl, this nurse has never met, I write never, and they’re on the phone. But he’s trying to convince this nurse and say, Look, if you take the chef, I’ll take care of your kids, they can come to my house, sleep overnight, and I’ll take the ship. Sure enough, she says, okay, okay. And so he goes over, picks up the kids takes him to his house, they just never met, you know, the other guys, but they just leftover. And then the next morning, delivered the kids back and she was able to fill the show. But the client was happy. And this is part of that tenacious is you have to do things have to force success engineer the success. And in too often, too often I hear other co-founders or other founders of companies, and I don’t know if this is just across the board are very much a Silicon Valley thing, or I don’t know, but they often talk about the business as if it’s a third-party entity. And, and especially, they kind of get to that point when the business, you know, either they’re about to shut down, or they, they lose all the money, and they need to kind of pivot or something. But it says if the idea failed, they didn’t fail. Um, and I gotta tell you, I, that’s not how I’m wired, I, I don’t know if maybe, maybe I should take a look at it that way. But I really feel like if the customer need is there, you can figure out how to how to serve that need, and make a business around, make a business successful. And, and so that’s part of the tenacity.

Commercial [13:37]
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Gene Hammett [14:00]
David, when you are, you know, encouraging and leading your employees? How do you encourage them to have that tenacity, even when it’s hard?

David Coppins [14:10]
Well, I think I think part of it is as I said, start with the empowerment but then if they come back with I have no solution. Then you jump in you jump in with brainstorming and you start asking all sorts of questions and you can quickly help them expand their thinking I think their fight failing in the third element, which is the preconceived ideas of what businesses can and can’t do. So if you help them, you know, start to just expand their thinking, how can we actually do and, and everybody, everybody operates within guardrails. Sometimes people operate within really narrowed and I want to try to open that up. So so that’s what we kind of continue to coach people to do is expand, expand our thinking and then we can kind of get to a great.

Gene Hammett [14:58]
You said the word coaching And, you know, me being an executive coach, and I know there’s some real overlap between you coaching director or someone in your senior leadership team. When you say that, do you really think about the coaching process? Or do you just call it coaching?

David Coppins [15:16]
Well, Gene, I don’t know what the coaching process really is, to me it’s training, you know, somebody who maybe doesn’t have all the miles on them as I do. But, but I do like to think of it as coaching because again, if it’s, if they’re empowered, to make decisions, and be provided with the resources to accomplish the goal, then I like to see them act a little more autonomously or independently, and therefore, I see myself more as a coach than necessarily directing what needs to get done precisely. Again, my direction kind of stops with this, this is the objective, and here are your resources. So go before from call, but…

Gene Hammett [16:06]
Some of the things that you’ve been dancing around David have led me to think about, you really want your employees to feel a sense of ownership across the company, is that something you guys talk about this feeling of ownership?

David Coppins [16:18]
You know, I’m glad you put it that way. You know, sometimes we do talk about it that way, but that is a and, and sometimes, you know, just saying that is one of those nice key phrases that people like to throw around. We really mean it, we really want people to feel that ownership. And so it’s, it’s more walking the walk. So we’ll use the terms, of course, but ultimately, I want them to truly feel ownership, that with ownership comes accountability. And, and I’m, you know, me and other of our exec team are here to help everybody kind of try to get through the roadblocks get creative on problem-solving. But ultimately, you’ve got to deliver.

Commercial [17:04]
Hold on for a second, David just talked about the feeling of ownership. Now, have you thought about this feeling of ownership across your company? Well, what it’s not is everyone having a financial stake, that is helpful, but you don’t have to have a financial stake to feel ownership. But when you lead people to have this feeling of ownership, you truly are empowering them, you’re including them in decisions, you’re helping them transform themselves, you’re really helping them connect to the work the way that never connected to before. When you feel like an owner, you approach things differently, more creatively, innovation, and of course, tenacity. When you think about this, I want to make sure that you continue that job as a leader is to how do you engineer this feeling of ownership? How are you intentional about it? My job is to create content, because a lot of the focus of fast food companies is about this feeling of ownership. My next book is about how do you create and lead differently about that with this feeling of ownership. Now, I wanted to give you some insight today about why it’s important. If you want to find more details, just go to You can find some details about some of the other interviews I’ve done about this feeling of ownership and how important it is in fast growth. Back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [18:15]
I want to switch gears for a little bit here. One of the other elements that you have going to share with me about what makes your company grow so fast is you have a level of openness. And maybe this is across the company or maybe it’s an executive level. What is an openness to you as it relates to growing your company?

David Coppins [18:33]
Yeah, so I made a mistake early on. We were trying to hire in so we had four co-founders, and we all divided up responsibilities. And we were doing some great things we hired in some Junior folks, and that was all still working well. But then when we started to fill out more of that senior leadership team, we had hired three different people in and I was not working to really test for the cultural fit or, or rather, I just assumed everybody had the same intent. And, and so I was looking more about their experience background. And you know, being that we were so small and not even yet venture funded. That it was I was just excited that people are accepting the job, right.

David Coppins [19:23]
So if we ended up with three people that have a big company, mentalities that, you know, you have to define your own agenda. You put gag orders, and all the people that work for you, so that any presentation about your department all funneled through that one leader, and that they could position, the good and the bad together or whatever, in the way that they wanted to sell it to me, and I’m like, Guys, we’re 45 people, what are you doing, you know, let’s just, let’s just have All top open and in like, what, what is one of the problems we’re trying to solve? What’s really happening? What are the good things that are happening? And from that time forward, that became my number one hiring criteria was making sure that culturally that they were very focused on being low ego, big, big, open organization, I was very fortunate to bring in the president and COO for our company, he’d been a former CEO. But, but right away, we hit it off again, low ego guy. And that was exactly what I was trying to bring in, we reset the stage. And they will now fill out the entire executive staff where we were all just open and honest with each other. If something gets screwed up pretty massively. It’s okay, let’s just work on the solutions. Let’s work on the solutions. If once we get past the solutions, let’s make sure we do a retro and see what could have been done better. And let’s make sure that we engineer that that same mistake can happen again. But don’t hide it. You know, we’re, we’re all on this. Yeah.

Gene Hammett [21:18]
I’m gonna give you one last question here. David, you mentioned ego, ego often is going to get in the way of great leadership. What have you seen as an example of that?

David Coppins [21:31]
I think, well, I’m sure there are countless case studies in, in the typical tech world of big egos, you know, nobody wants to talk about we work these days. But you know, there’s probably plenty of good cases, I think, to me, I don’t know I’ve personally been just very averse to, to these massive ego organizations, I spent two years working in private equity, something that kind of a lot of B school kids kind of really aspire to. And, and, and I was thrilled to kind of have gotten the job. And after two years, I just couldn’t stand the I’m the smartest guy in the room kind of mentality when, when there are these companies that are doing amazing things, and management teams are doing extraordinary to me, I just get excited about the ideas, you know, I just get excited about making change, making something that really, really solves the customer problem. And if you can really do that, then you’ve got, you’ve got this awesome, exciting thing that you can build with other people. So you know, personally, I just have a personal aversion to big ego, people. And, and maybe, you know, it has ego has someplace, right? You know, you want your sales organization to be very self-confident, you want them to kind of continue to grow, but that you can’t, you just can’t build a great, I don’t think you can build a great company. Or at least in my own way, in my mind, you have the opportunity to build a great company with.

Gene Hammett [23:18]
David, thanks for being here on the show, sharing your wisdom on leadership and growth. I appreciate it.

David Coppins [23:23]
Thank you, Gene.

Gene Hammett [23:24]
What a great interview. I love talking about different topics on this. I haven’t talked about tenacity before, but it is necessary if you want to have employees, navigate through the challenges that are in front of them. We all have challenges in our business. You want to make sure your employees are a good fit for the job. When you think about your own leadership, make sure you continue to grow and evolve. My job here is to create content for you, as a leader to grow beyond what you believe is possible. My job as an executive coach is to help you with the fine details, the blind spots that really keep you from growing where you want to be. You want to find out more about me Just go to When you think about growth, and you think about leadership, think of Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. I’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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