Culture is Never-ending for Fast-Growth Companies with Olin Hyde at LeadCrunch

Your culture is defined by the way people communicate, work, and behave. The problem is many people believe culture is something you do once. However, the truth is culture is never-ending. Fast-growth companies know the importance of culture. Today’s guest is Olin Hyde, CEO of LeadCrunch. His company was ranked #35 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. LeadCrunch is a leader in AI-based lead generation for B2B. Olin shares what leaders must do given culture is never-ending. Discover the keys to hiring and leading in today’s interview.

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Target Audience: Olin Hyde is the CEO and Co-Founder at LeadCrunch[ai]. LeadCrunch is a global AI B2B marketing company. Our technology delivers more intelligent and accurate demand for B2B enterprises. AI makes sense of the complex, incomplete, and often inaccurate data about millions of companies to enable unprecedented capabilities to target and engage the ideal audiences for B2B marketers. LeadCrunch grew revenues by 7,248% between 2017 and 2019 to win the following awards from Inc Magazine in August 2020.

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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.

Olin Hyde
Key to a great culture is you’re not trying to get everybody to fit in, you’re trying to get everybody to contribute, so that they become owners of some big, hairy, audacious goal. And the way you get ownership is that you actually make it real. So I’m really proud that our company has a very generous Equity Plan. We believe that people get wealthy on equity, and we want our team to get wealthy on that.

Intro [0:27]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you would 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 group, are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [0:43]
Culture is something that you probably don’t think about. And I say that because I know a lot of people who are focused on driving their companies hard and they focus on managing the work and not leading the people, people. The people deserve to have a culture that reinforces who they are their identity. It also defines how they operate together. And when you have the right culture, you have something very special. And it’s what really makes a lot of companies grow beyond their capabilities when you look at them on paper, because they have people that are really putting their heart and soul into this. You have loyalty and a lot of other benefits behind having the right culture. But something I know for sure is culture is never-ending. It’s something you have to always keep your eye on. You have to always be shaping have to always be involved. You have to live your culture live the values.

Gene Hammett [1:31]
Today, we have a very special guest. We have number 35 on the Inc list in 2020 LeadCrunch, the co-founder and CEO is Olin Hyde, Olin shares some of his ideas around how do you hire people with the right culture fit? How do you do this on a consistent basis? You give some detailed examples of how you can hire the right people. But also how do you lead them to success, some of the core factors of how they’ve evolved over time to be one of the fastest-growing companies in their space. And I share this story with you today on the podcast. Let me take a break here for a second. And just remind you that if you are a leader of a company, and you’ve been listening in to previous episodes, or maybe this is your first time here, my name is Gene Hammett. I help leaders and their teams aligned to greater growth. I help them create systems to grow beyond where they are today. Through better leadership and better culture. If you feel like you don’t have it all figured out, and you want to talk to someone about it, then my door is open to you just go to Gene Hammett calm. And click the button that says try coaching. When you do that, you’ll be able to find more information about who I am what I do for you. Now, you can keep listening here. But I suggest Go back, go ahead and sign up for a space. You don’t want to have the space with me, then cancel it perfectly fine. I only take two or three every week. But I would love to give you that if you’re listening in here and you feel like it would help you continue to grow and transform yourself as a leader. It’s going to Here’s the interview with Olin Hyde.

Gene Hammett [3:03]
Olin, how are you?

Olin Hyde [3:04]
Thank you so much for having me on today. Gene, I’m doing great.

Gene Hammett [3:08]
Excited to have you on the podcast to talk about your business. But more or less talk about the leadership and the culture that you’ve created there. Tell us about LeadCrunch.

Olin Hyde [3:16]
LeadCrunch is a business to business demand generation platform, we use artificial intelligence to find the ideal targets for a business. And then we provide what we call buyer intelligence to understand why each target fits your ideal customer profile so that you can create the right segments to go after. And then most importantly, rerun campaigns to engage those prospects to get them on the journey to becoming your customer. So you can think of us as a way a smart way to find your next best customer.

Gene Hammett [3:52]
Love that everybody’s thinking about that in this time and age. So you’ve got AI behind that. Tell me just a little bit about about what this AI engine really does.

Olin Hyde [4:02]
So the artificial intelligence, I’ve been in AI for a while now, this is my third startup in AI. And when AI works, we call it software. And when it doesn’t work, we talk a lot about artificial intelligence. So we really like to talk about the problem we solve, which is how do you find that ideal customer. And we don’t spend a lot of time talking about our AI. But the AI has got a really good story. It was originally developed for medical research. And we had great technical success, but market failure. And we actually wound up as a defense contractor, the US Navy uses our technology for target verification, and we sold it through Lockheed Martin. And we didn’t I just don’t have the personality to be a defense contractor. And so we pivoted to try to find a commercial market for this targeting technology. And most people don’t realize this but your microwave is actually a commercialization. Have military radar. And so we were looking for what is a business to business application for targeting? And not surprisingly, it we found demand generation is the answer.

Gene Hammett [5:12]
Well, your company reached number 35 on the Inc list. I’ve been asking a lot of people the same question. So I’ll ask you, how did it feel to realize that you got that high on the ranking.

Olin Hyde [5:22]
we actually missed our growth goals in 2019. We only grew 40% in 2019, had we hit our growth goals, we would have been in the top 10 or five. So 35 kind of felt like a consolation prize.

Gene Hammett [5:37]
Okay. When you think about creating a company that grows fast, I know that you really have a high emphasis on culture, how would you describe a culture of a fast growth company.

Olin Hyde [5:49]
Culture is never-ending. Culture defines who we are, and how we operate. Thus, culture defines the elements of success that we can control, we can control our culture, and we build culture by starting with who we recruit, and how we work every day. And so in a high growth company, that’s going to change a lot. So culture is not this fixed thing. That’s forever set in stone, you don’t come up with a culture document and say, That’s it, we’re gonna live with that forever. That said, it’s really important to document your culture. We started by copying what Benioff did at Salesforce with what’s called the Wii to mom. And that was our very first culture document. It is evolved a lot since then. Right now we think of culture as having two components, the identity, who we are, and we recruit for mastery, purposefulness, and autonomy, and how we operate, and our daily operating procedures are around focus, optimism, and trust.

Commercial [6:58]
Now, hold on for a second, only just said we control our culture. Well, he’s absolutely right. We as leaders get to shape the kind of culture we want to create. But we have to be intentional about it, we have to create the values that really align people together, we have to live them every day through rituals, recognition, and rewards. A lot of the content we put in through the solo episodes here on the podcast. If you haven’t already subscribed to be a regular listener of the Growth Think Tank, what are you waiting for, if you want to be a better leader, if you want to be the leader that your team deserves? Make sure you do that. Now back to the interview with Olin.

Gene Hammett [7:32]
Now, I’ve heard those before from a value standpoint, did you borrow those from other successful companies,

Olin Hyde [7:39]
We shamelessly steal great ideas. So the how we recruit was really stolen, Daniel Pink wrote a wonderful book called motivate. And there’s a lot of research that we’ve done in behavioral economics. And really the idea of high performing teams having mastery over what they do, having a strong sense of purpose that is greater than themselves, and having the autonomy to do high skilled work in the way they see fit. It was a no brainer. Let’s go with the where the research points us. And we do a lot internally to make sure that mastery means you are never going to get to be masterful. It is a forever journey. So you bring the work of beginner’s mentality every day, you have the cure, you replace judgment with curiosity. And each one of these elements we think of that both in how we recruit, and how we reinforce and nudge are behaviors on a day to day basis.

Gene Hammett [8:39]
mastery is one of my own personal values. And in what I’m doing through my coaching, and everything that I focus, it started with my journey in martial arts with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And you said, you recruit for that. So give me an idea of some of the key things that you’re doing to recruit people that fit your culture.

Olin Hyde [9:00]
So we do use IQ score, carding system, kind of the inspiration is a book I recommend everyone read is who was written by two guys Street and smart, so it’s really easy to remember. And the idea of score carding is that we define the attributes we’re looking for on our team, before we even go out and recruit. And we develop questions and what we call cognitive-behavioral tests. Tell me a story about x where you’re testing for x. For instance, one of the things we look for is an internal locus of control. Do you feel that you can control the outcomes of the situations you’re put in? And this is something that’s relatively easy to find if you know what you’re looking for. The key is to do it in a way that’s unbiased, not surprisingly, where you find high degrees of low internal locus of control or people that have overcome remarkably difficult situations in their life. lives. So an easy question is tell me a story that you’ve overcoming a markedly difficult situation. If someone tells you about their chemistry exam, they don’t have a strong locus of control. If someone tells you about something that comes from, you know, not everyone’s going to share a personal story, but you’ll know it when you hear it, when someone’s overcome something really tough. like they’ve overcome cancer or the loss of a child, or I was homeless at age 14. That’s what you’re looking for someone that’s overcome those kinds of challenges?

Gene Hammett [10:35]
Well, I appreciate that. You also went through the other values that you have. And I guess that’s around how you develop and how you lead on a day to day basis. Let’s go through those.

Olin Hyde [10:46]
Yeah, so I think one of the most important things is for everyone to know where they stand, you know, if we’re gonna have a trusting relationship, it starts with some element of we agree upon this is reality. One of the things I think we did right is we started dashboarding, our company very early. So everybody has a key performance indicator that is monitored continuously, it is rolled up into a company-wide report, that’s about 10 pages long, and everybody sees that every week. If you’re a salesperson, you know exactly where you stand on the leaderboard. If you’re in the customer success team, you know exactly how well you’re doing with revenue retention. If you’re a data scientist, you know exactly how well your models are performing.

Olin Hyde [11:33]
And I think this is a really important thing to build teamwork because the key to a great culture is you’re not trying to get everybody to fit in, you’re trying to get everybody to contribute so that they become owners of some big, hairy, audacious goal. And the way you get ownership is that you actually make it real. So I’m really proud that our company has a very generous Equity Plan. We believe that people get wealthy on equity, and we want our team to get wealthy on equity. So we actually have generous equity more generous than most venture-backed startups. And we really put our money where our mouth is, and that starts every day when you go to work. You know, where you are in the dashboard, at the quarterly results than they’re announced, you know that that’s adding to your stock value.

Commercial [12:25]
Did you catch what he just said there? You will know exactly where you are. He’s talking about the employees know where they are every chance I get because they have these dashboards? What are you talking about is a level of transparency that only fast-growth companies admire. And these companies I’ve seen, really do take it to the next level, they have remarkable transparency. When you’re not growing your company fast, and you want to really think about what’s next. Look at the transparency line. Where do you draw the line? Is it financials that you’re allowed to share? Or maybe you don’t want to share those? Or is it you don’t have the real conversations, the candor that is necessary to give people the feedback, so they can grow and be uncomfortable, but yet still grow. All of this is part of the key aspects of fast-growth companies is having transparency, a lot of the details were talked about today, a lot of my research is around fast-growth company. So take my words for advice, you want to make sure your transparency line is on the right side. And it’s probably in a place where it’s uncomfortable if you want to grow fast. Now back to the interview with Olin.

Gene Hammett [13:29]
When you think about this. You know, culture is never-ending, as you said, what are some of the things we would see in your organization? You’re continuously shaping the culture and it’s shifting over time?

Olin Hyde [13:43]
Yeah. So I think that those pillars, the identity, and how we operate, we have three and three, it’s probably coming close for us to reevaluate those and change those. So we have changed our way what we’ve recruited for overtime, the team that takes you from zero to 1 million in revenue is very different than the team that takes you from 1 million to 10 million. And now we’re on the journey to get to 30 million, that’s a different team. Now, it’s a different team. The key is people have the opportunity to change and grow into roles. And so it doesn’t necessarily mean that you change the entire team over. Sometimes that happens, it’s really up to the individual. But I think that the key is that our culture right now is at the point where how do we get everyone to climb a very big mountain together at the same pace, and the mountain we’re climbing now is 30 times higher than the mountain that we climbed three years ago.

Olin Hyde [14:46]
So we grew revenue in 7200 and some odd percent from basically close to zero to about 12 million last year. How do we get from where we are now to going public in five for 10 years, that’s a big jump. And not everybody’s going to make that jump. But we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to make that jump. And our values in our culture have to be aligned with where we’re going, not where we were. And so culture will evolve as companies grow. I think that you know that you see that in big companies, they become very risk adverse for good reason, they don’t have something to lose, a little company has less to lose. So their culture is going to be more aggressive.

Gene Hammett [15:29]
You’ve been described to me Olin before you hit the recorder, the difference between being happy and being having well being, give us some context around that.

Olin Hyde [15:41]
It’s a really big idea that I think that a lot of people don’t get, and that is, high-performing teams are not necessarily happy, and they’re interested in their own well-being. Let’s imagine to give it a little story, let’s imagine that we’re fighting a war and something terrible. And, you know, we’re very fortunate that we have brave women and men in our military that go out and fight these wars. But let’s say we’re gonna go do a historical we’re in the our den forest in during the Battle of the Bulge, it’s freezing cold, there’s nothing more than you want than a hot cup of coffee, and being in a warm sleeping bag, and that would make you happy. But if you know, there’s three brigades of Nazis coming after you ready to kill you well being is being cold in the trench with your rifle pointed toward the enemy, a very different example of happy being warm and comfortable, versus well being and freezing your ass off.

Olin Hyde [16:43]
Knowing that you’re likely to die, but at least you’re going to die with a rifle in your own hands. And high growth companies have to focus on the well being of their team. And that means pushing people beyond their comfort zone, it is not comfortable to grow at 200% a year. I know because we grew 360% a year, it’s uncomfortable systems break, you’re riding the wave of chaos the whole way. And high growth is about tapping into that energy. And people knowing that they’re going to be okay, they just got to get through this little bit of craziness. That’s part of this growth.

Gene Hammett [17:22]
Now, one of the things that come to my mind when you talk about this is I understand this concept of well being when Google did their study. I don’t know if you’ve seen this Aristotle study on psychological safety. How does that relate to what you’re creating for high performing teams?

Olin Hyde [17:38]
Great question, it gets back to who we select, it gets back to that internal locus of control. If someone needs a lot of external stroking, to make them feel good, are they ready for high growth?

Gene Hammett [17:52]
When you think about your own leadership, Olin, I’m sure you’ve had to change styles of leadership, I know that that you described to me before we put the recorder on, again, about the way you approach leadership, what really drives you as a leader, as you create these teams that are willing to grow fast with you?

Olin Hyde [18:12]
When we hire somebody and they become a member of Team, we make a promise that we want LeadCrunch to be the most valuable stepping stone in your career, there’s an implicit promise that the stepping stone is both temporary, and valuable. Now the irony is, the more valuable it is, the longer your foots going to be on it. And I’m old enough to know that all of the relationships are temporary. Our time on this earth is temporary. So we need to make the time that we have as valuable as possible. So when you join our team, you’re joining it in the larger context of your life, and how does this fit into the purpose of your life. And that’s going to be different for every individual. You know, some people are motivated by their family.

Olin Hyde [18:57]
Some people are motivated by their faith and some people are motivated by ideas. And there are more motivations than I can cover here. The key is to make sure that everybody’s motivation lines up against a big goal, where they can have ownership in the outcome, and providing them an opportunity to control what they can control to get to that outcome. So psychological safety is something that people bring to the party. It’s not a gift that you get when you arrive.

Commercial [19:29]
Let’s stop right here for a second. If you haven’t already subscribed on YouTube, make sure you do that. Now you can go to, you can find our channel, we put some content on there that you won’t find anywhere else. But it’s in video format. Some of the interviews that we have here on the podcast are there. But also some of the detailed of examples of tools that we use behind the scenes are shared on that YouTube channel. Just go to It’ll take you right into the channel. Now, back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [20:00]
When you think about culture being never-ending, what else have we not discussed here that you feel like it’s important to really put it out there?

Olin Hyde [20:10]
Mistakes? I think that you know, Winston Churchill, once said that success is nothing more than going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm. I have a phenomenal amount of enthusiasm. And I see more and more people getting afraid of making mistakes. And I think high growth is a lot about embracing mistakes, you don’t fail from the mistake, you fail from not recovering from the mistake. And I think that that gets back to that comfort zone of what is good enough is never perfect. Right. And so I think that that’s the big idea that I would like to leave people with, is that how do you create a culture where mistakes are expected and they’re welcomed. And the key is that they’re taking you on that journey, towards a big goal that you’re gonna own part of that success when you get to the end of it.

Gene Hammett [21:16]
You know, you’ve touched on so many things that are similar to the work I’ve done when I put together the 10 fundamentals of a fast-growth company. And it’s amazing, I think we’ve talked about I feel like we talked about all of them today. And you don’t even know what they are yet.

Olin Hyde [21:31]
I’ve not read your book. So I already

Gene Hammett [21:35]
They’re not in this book. They’re in the next book I’m writing so but I just want to say thank you Olin for being here. your energy and your passion for leadership and developing others is very clear. Thanks for sharing a little piece of that on the podcast.

Olin Hyde [21:49]
Thank you so much for having me, Gene. It’s been a pleasure.

Gene Hammett [21:52]
Olin is a pistol, right, with a lot of passion and energy for what he’s talking about. It’s because he knows what it’s important about creating the culture and space for people to grow. Culture is never-ending is something that he lives by. And today, we showed a little bit of that for you. Now, when you think about your own culture and your leadership, are you where you want to be, be honest with yourself, if you’re not sure where you are right now, just go to my website, you’ll find some free resources. One of them is the five things great leaders get right. All you need to do is download that one-page document, get those two tools, plus there’s a lot more there. You think about your own leadership. You think about growth, make sure you think about Growth Think Tank, 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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