Every leader wants to create an amazing team. For many, they believe it is something that they need to do to make it work. The reality is you have to also look at what is getting in the of having a great team environment. Today’s guest is Paul Goldman, CEO & Founder at Muserk. Inc Magazine ranked his company #779 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Muserk is a leader in modern global rights management for music and video, driven by cutting-edge AI technology and royalty accounting solutions that protect and monetize content for rights holders worldwide, across all media formats. Paul and I talk about what it takes to create an amazing team. Discover steps that you can take to have better team alignment and higher performance across your organization.
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Paul Goldman: The Transcript
About: Paul Goldman is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for music, technology, and entrepreneurship. Muserk is a digital rights management platform that protects and monetizes content for millions of creators from around the world. Paul Goldman is the CEO of Muserk, the pioneering digital rights management company which he founded in 2017 to identify digital content for rights holders with capabilities of scaling with speed and accuracy. In four years, Muserk has become a leader in modern global rights management for music, comedy, spoken word, and video, driven by cutting-edge AI technology solutions that protect and monetize content for rights holders around the world, across all media formats.
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.
Paul Goldman: [00:00:00] Really the only thing I look for, and maybe it’s been said before because it’s not that complicated is a good work ethic and an open mind to learning. No, we work in a user course in a very complicated business. Nobody comes out of school and has an understanding of how the music rights program works. So we know in we’re hiring people that we’re going to have a very hard time if we look for only experts in our field, we be a very limited pool and that’d be a detriment to us. So we look for people of course their personalities and really their willingness like we always say that people who work in our business and like in our team are really people who like to solve those puzzles.
Intro: 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: Everybody wants an amazing team, right? They want people that are engaged and empowered. They want people to [00:01:00] have a sense of meaning inside the work and fulfillment. Well, today we look at how to create an amazing team. We go through some of the things that we’re hiring. And we also look at some of the other aspects after the hiring process. Our special guest today is Paul Goldman. He is the founder of Muserk and Muserk has grew really fast. Number four on the Inc list of media companies. And that’s in 2001 but really is a real powerful company and a conversation that we have about how to create an amazing team. We look at the hiring process. We look at what kind of, what he sees is the most important aspect of hiring. It’s probably not what you think.
We also look at what culture means inside of these kinds of companies that are, you know, an amazing team. We look at transparency where he draws the line. That’s why transparency is such an important piece. We look at the one thing you can do, that’s absolutely free. That creates a better culture than you have today. And all that unpacked in today’s episode. My job is to help you become a more powerful, effective leader. To help you create a sense of ownership across your team. I do this as an [00:02:00] executive coach, and if you’re thinking yourself, you know, what’s missing, what do I need to really focus on?
Or there’s something really troubling you in, in your way. I want to offer you a free coaching session, where we chat and jam about what’s going on inside your company. What’s really going on to help you be the leader that you want to be. The one that your team deserves. All you have to do is go to GeneHammett.com and schedule. Now, let me share with you. I’m not going to pitch you anything or selling anything, but I want to give to you some insight and some wisdom around this help you identify. What’s getting in your way. Maybe it’s a blind spot. Maybe it’s something else, but we want to make sure that you have that conversation may just go to GeneHammett.Com and schedule your call.
Now here’s the interview with Paul.
Paul, how are you?
Paul Goldman: Good Gene, thanks.
Gene Hammett: Excited to have you on the podcast.
Paul Goldman: Yeah. Excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Gene Hammett: Well, I’ve already let our audience know about you and your leadership principles and the things that really drive you in the success of the company. But tell us about the company Muserk.
Paul Goldman: So Muserk is a technology-driven global rights administration platform for music and video. So we’re really focused on having a technology-driven [00:03:00] solution to solve the problem of finding royalties for music and video content on these new, well, not some of them aren’t so new anymore, but platforms like YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, and the new platforms like TikTok. So essentially we collect royalties on behalf of our creators who own the content, whether it’s music or video, and then deal with all that money compliance, whether it’s the technology of finding fractional pennies and things like that. So you can imagine what a tech play it is. We manage over 7 million works. So one of the largest. , management catalogs, as far as the amount of works we manage and we were on the Inc 5,000 list is a fourth fastest-growing media company to share with a nice growth rate of 636%.
Gene Hammett: Well, I’m kind of curious, we’ve all seen, or whoever’s not living under a rock TikTok, come on board and, and really kind of make an impact to Facebook’s growth. A big part of TikTok is the usage of music. Are you guys involved with that and making money for, you know, for artists and making sure everyone’s getting paid.
Paul Goldman: Yeah, a hundred, a hundred percent actually TikTok is really is a [00:04:00] huge platform and I’m not a hundred percent on the step, but it’s, I think it’s the number one music-driven consumer platform. So what we would do on TikTok is for the people we represent their copyrights from all over the world. We go to TikTok, collect their royalties get their money, and make sure it’s correct, by the way, that’s a big part of our job you know. These platforms are not our enemies, they’re our partners, but we’re also there to do compliance. So they give us a dollar, make sure they really, oh, it a dollar. On behalf of our customers and then get that money to them. And there’s a lot of compliances that happen that you can imagine on a global scale. So this is kind of where we sit in the ecosystem. We’re kind of in that pipeline of how the money flows to the artists in the world, you side of things.
Gene Hammett: Now we’ve done some research on the company and talking to you, you’ve got about 13 employees to give or take you feel like you’re, you’re, you’re growing really fast for a low number of employees. Why do you think that’s possible.
Paul Goldman: It’s a good question. I get that a lot, especially from investors and people are talking about the future. Again, like we manage over seven and a half million works. So I always lead with that and people know our industry know that regardless of how [00:05:00] much money those works make, we have to manage those with 13 people. They say, how do you do that? And we do that one through an amazing core team and how we hire a team, but really through technology as well. We have a proprietary platform called Blue Matter. That is true, truly scalable because we use it to scale our own business, right? We’re doing the work of maybe 50 people. Some of our competitors have over a hundred people and we use technology with incredibly smart humans, managing that technology.
That’s the key technology that doesn’t run on their own. So we call it kind of a human-in-the-loop approach, where of course our platform is an AI machine learning, maybe it’s for a tech podcast, but that’s the core of what we do. But the human in the loop is how we kind of say it where it does take humans to kind of not just hit the on a button, but make an adjustment. Fix errors and prove it, you know come up with insights to build better ways to use it. So we really think of our company, of course, it’s tech-driven, but without the people, and it’s not just generic saying, I mean, really it’s really true without the right team. , it would not be able to do that. We really have this magic kind of [00:06:00] causal we’ll put together that we’re kind of all users just riding right now its what we feel great about.
Gene Hammett: So Paul, let’s unpack that a little bit. You talked about creating an amazing team. What do you think the core principles are for an amazing team?
Paul Goldman: That’s funny. So I get asked that a lot. Like how do you hire things like that? Okay, you know, of course, take all the basics out. Like they need whatever background they need in the industry. But really the only thing I look for, and maybe it’s been said before because it’s not that complicated is a good work ethic and an open mind to learning. No, we work in a user course in a very complicated business. Nobody comes out of school and has an understanding of how the music rights program works. So we know when we’re hiring people that we’re going to have a very hard time. If we look for only experts in our field would be a very limited pool and that’d be a detriment to us. So we look for people of course their personalities and really their willingness like we always say that people who work in our business and my team and in our team are really people who like to solve those puzzles.
You know, when you go to like a rental apartment or a ski resort or something, and there’s always that thing on the table, that’s that rope with the [00:07:00] rings and the ball. And people try to figure out how to get the ring out of the rope. You know, there’s always one or two people who stay up a little late thinking they can figure it out. Like that’s the type of mindset because our business is like on solving these puzzles. So it is a certain type of person who likes puzzles. Some people like crosswords, some people don’t, it’s fine either way. So I look for those types of like almost human characteristics and people knowing that anyone could learn really. Anyone could learn anything. If they’re willing to have a good teacher and they’re willing to put in the work, it’s not always the same straight road, but anyone could get there. So, you know, it is a part of it, but it’s a smaller part than people think.
Gene Hammett: What do you felt like it’s different inside your hiring process that allows you to find those people that, that have that mindset of solving puzzles.
Paul Goldman: Well, to be honest, it’s not a perfect, it’s not always perfect, right? There are people that, you know, decide to move on or they come into the company. It’s not a good fit for them, which means it’s not a good fit for us, but we haven’t really had that. Yeah, it’s really just having the conversation there. Isn’t that intuition. I mean, there is a little bit of a gut feeling in that process. What’s cool about this is [00:08:00] right. Humans are better than computers at this, right? This is one part where AI I’m like when I say human and dilute, meaning putting humans in the AI machine learning process. This would be a human-in-the-loop scenario and just the hiring process where it’s not just about, Hey, send me a bunch of resumes of someone with four years experience in rights management and a head hunter they’d send us some resumes.
There are some outliers. In fact, our head of technology, Bill not come from the music industry. And now that has become a major bonus for us. I mean, people, people to see the value he came from Genomix he was working on things way more complicated than the music industry. He just had a passion for music and was looking for something interesting. So that’s an example where we looked outside of our industry. And again, it is, it, there is a bit of a human and a talent issue with, you know, I’ve been hiring people for 20 something years. So I, I do, I hope the thing that I get better at it as I go on, I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes for storing.
Commentary: Paul has been talking about hiring for culture fit. One of the things that I want you to really recognize here is a really important piece to you creating the kind of company that has an [00:09:00] amazing team. And then you want to make sure that you have your values really understood and aligned with who you’re hiring. We’ll make sure there are questions that align to that hiring process. And you want to make sure that you understand why you’re bringing on certain people and saying no to others. You actually want to repel people that you think are just not quite the right fit. You want to make sure you have all of these processes in place so that you and the team together are hiring the right people. You want to make sure hiring on culture fit is primary to the skill fit. Now, back to Paul.
Gene Hammett: Well, let’s dive into that. What are some of the mistakes that we could learn from?
Paul Goldman: In general, I mean, look, some of the mistakes, like can I talk about like company culture? That’s one of the big things I talk about because before Muserk. I had another company, a 20-year-old company that I started from my apartment in my early twenties, which grew to be one of the largest music production companies. Doing music for all the big TV stations. That’s what got me into music rights. I was missing all my royalties on television and one of the conscious decisions I made when I was going into this startup as, as an, I guess a, not an older [00:10:00] founder, but a more experienced founder was I came from a company that old traditional company culture. At the time I started Muserk you know, the words of like millennial was being thrown around and it was used actually as a very negative connotation, like, oh, you know, these millennials, they can’t do that. You know, they all want to like take the day off to feed their cat. You all these generic things. But I knew that working in the future and in the type of business I would have to open up my mind and not make the same mistakes I made in my older business of being more, a traditional business.
For example, where employees don’t really know what’s going on, your management meetings are all about performance. Sometimes you don’t let them into even the struggles you’re having as a company, you know, or what you’re trying to achieve, it’s in you. And you end up having a lot of turnover in companies always had that. You were, it was par for the course. So one of the mistakes we, you know, I personally made and was very open in the future is creating this kind of good company culture, which is a generic thing, and very hard to put your finger on what is the right company culture, but good company culture is when employees, no matter where they are on the ecosystem of your company on the letter, feel like they’re part of something bigger than just their [00:11:00] paycheck. Now, however, you can answer that question in your company. That’s, that’s the key. , and we’re all. You know, sometimes we make mistakes with this. Sometimes we always try to learn from it and try, try to improve on that. And that’s the core part of the business.
Gene Hammett: We talk to a lot of Inc level founder CEOs here on the podcast, hundreds even, and we asked them a possible question, I’m kind of curious where you would come in on this. I don’t ask it as much, but it is impossible. But as a fast-growth leader, what’s more, important your customers or your employees.
Paul Goldman: Oh, it’s definitely my employees. I don’t like it, it’s not even the employer employees lead to everything with good employees. You build a great, a great, great company with great cusp and with great product customers are the result of a great company. I mean, which includes people and a great product, a company with a bad toxic company, culture does not, is not come up with great products. They don’t deal with their customers. Well. So for me, it’s, it’s the, you know, that’s the spark that leads to the flame that leads to the fire so to speak.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. I’m glad that you said that. Cause it would prove my thesis, right? [00:12:00]
Paul Goldman: Not that I don’t think highly of my customers.
Gene Hammett: Absolutely. That’s one reason why it’s impossible. Right. But there is, a logical flow to it. When, when you, as a leader take care of employees, typically they’re going to take care of customers, they’re going to take care of profits. They’re going to take care of whatever else is inside there. But I appreciate you, you sharing that, you have talked about this one concept. I think a lot of people just don’t understand. I think they, they get it in a, in a concept way, but they don’t know how to do it. How do you make people feel like they’re a part of something bigger than just a paycheck?
Paul Goldman: So this is interesting because, you know, as I mentioned the earlier question when I moved when I started Muserk I made a conscious effort. I need to change myself as a leader and I wanted to, but you know, knee-jerk reaction. So some of the things that we I’m sorry, can you just repeat the question?
Gene Hammett: You mentioned about the, you know, creating a place where people feel connected to something bigger than just a paycheck. So how do you do that?
Paul Goldman: Right. So again, creating a general place they like to work is the basic is the basic thing, right? How they feel more, a part of the company. One of the things you could [00:13:00] do as a leader is you have to let them into some things, but there’s a fine line there. Okay. You have to let them know like they have to be invested in the company, not just from like how much time I spend there from nine to five, but they really have to be invested emotionally in the company. Hopefully, they pick working for you as a startup because they like the startup lifestyle, but they wanted a corporate job. They would go to Google or something easier. So they enjoy this type of environment. But I think as a leader, you have to let them in. Now the fine line to that is like, how much do you let them in?
Because quite frankly, just like with kids, you know, you don’t want to expose them to everything. Cause they mentally, it’s not that they can’t handle it, but it’s not fair to make them handle certain things. Right. So I think employees are the same way. We definitely have a company where I think the team knows a lot about even when I’m dealing with, as a CEO, even the ups and downs of the company, even some of the struggles, but I also don’t want to overload them because they have their own responsibilities. Right. So it is my job as a leader to take that pressure off that they, they don’t need to be on the rollercoaster ride that a CEO knows about whether it’s fundraising or dealing with internal customer things or [00:14:00] things like that. But I think they need to, and I hope I make them feel that all our successes are their successes.
They each had a hand in and of course giving credit where credit is due is a huge part of it where I think is so simple and a lot of leaders slow that off and it, and it’s they think, well, just mentioning someone in meetings, not a big deal. It is a big deal just saying like, Hey, great job on that. People think it is it’s so effective. It’s unbelievable. Right? It’s so easy and so, so affected. It’s unbelievable. , so those are, you know, those are some things we try to do and just to be fair, you know, sometimes I feel like open up too much to them going back into other points. So it’s not just about, you know, there is a, there is a gauge to it. There’s plenty of blogs written about it. And how much pressure do you put on your employees? Should you let them feel the rollercoaster? Do they have the stomach to handle it? They’re not, they’re not the CEO. They didn’t, they didn’t choose that job or do they have the stomach of native iron to deal with the ups and downs, but in general, I think that’s, that’s the way you do it.
If they feel they’re part of something, but genuinely feel it. And by the way, that’s not like giving them gifts or even throwing events for them. That that [00:15:00] is really just an earnest. They did feel like you’re being honest with them. And when they go home at the end of the day and talk about. Their families and Hey, do I still want to work at Muserk? What I want to do after this? And I really love this job, even though I can get a better job that makes me more money. And that’s, I think those are the things they pull from when they make those poor decisions.
Commentary: Paul has been talking about the ups and downs of companies and how important it is to share across the organization. Well, I call this the transparency line. The transparency line really is about how transparent are you willing to be. There are some things that you believe that you should say, or shouldn’t say transparency line though, to me, is very important to help people feel a sense of ownership. You want to make sure most people feel like you’re being transparent with them. You’re sharing with them, the good and the bad, not just the things that are going well, but some of the things that you’re struggling with now, you may not share absolutely everything, but I will tell you that when you share the bad stuff going on the down stuff, that people are willing to rally to together. And I’ve had this conversation many, many times before, on this podcast, I share this one insight. That transparency line is really important in my [00:16:00] speeches that I share out with the world as a paid speaker, I talk about really creating a transparent culture. That’s remarkable. Are people willing to remark about how transparent you are and how open you are? And that really is beyond financial transparency. It involves the conversations you have in the feedback to be able to give each other up the ladder and down the ladder. As far as leadership and authority is concerned. Now back to the interview with Paul.
Gene Hammett: You mentioned this part about recognition and I just want to put a spotlight on it because I feel, I always tell my clients, this is the one thing you can do. That’s absolutely free and it takes very little effort. It really is just looking for things to appreciate out of people doing it either privately. Cause I do like private recognition publicly for me when I was an employee loved to be able recognized with my peers has so many factors that go into it. Did you learn this through somewhere or did you just kind of pick it up as you went.
Paul Goldman: Well, look, I’m still learning. Let’s be, I mean, to be honest, I even even having this conversation in my mind, I’m thinking maybe I need to give some recognition to speak to some people, you know, and even this conversation is because [00:17:00] it’s one of those things like going to the gym or something you concept there much. And if you stop, you’ll just slide back. So this is an ongoing thing, but but, but yeah, I think you’re right, like that, that core recognition is a big part of it. It’s easy to do. I think it’s easy to do for some people it’s not easy for others, but it is people like to be heard. You know, we do one-on-ones at the company and sometimes it’s just where I do a one-on-one 30 minutes.
It’s not a big review. We do company calls. We do, you know, we do management meetings and group calls, but the one-on-one is not always like, Hey, let’s get on the line and let’s talk about your duties and what I think you’ve done. Great. And I got a good report. Sometimes we just chit chat for that week. Cause we don’t have that much to catch up on. And sometimes it’s just personal stuff. But that’s kind of part of the connection they know about things I’m dealing with. They may say, oh, I took my kids to school and I had this promise, like, dude, I just took my kids to school this morning. And like, we were so late, she at one point on our winter jacket, I go, oh my God, I know the same, but you’re laughing too.
I mean, it’s okay. You know, these are the types of things that create these bonds and then it also creates a trust. Right? I mean, I hope they think they trust me and I’m doing my best. I hope they, I think they know that [00:18:00] that whatever happens. I’m trying just as hard as they are.
Gene Hammett: I am going to be curious, you said you’re always evolving as a leader. What is the one thing that you’re looking to improve or evolve as the company continues to grow?
Paul Goldman: In myself or the team or?
Gene Hammett: You.
Paul Goldman: Well look, I’m always trying to improve this topic because for 20 years I was ingrained in this kind of other types of the company where, where the, where the management team never told the group, the employees, what was going on. It’s almost like we wanted to keep things secret because we didn’t want him to know if things were kind of tight or we didn’t, you know if we were making too much money, we didn’t want him to think that we’re making too much money. There’s all these things. So I think I’m always trying to learn this. I’m not saying it’s easy. Sometimes in my generation, someone gives me a reason why they can’t beat a meeting. And my initial reaction is like, I don’t, I’m not sure that’s a good reason to blow up the meeting, but you know what I sit and I think about it for a second. I say, wait a second, don’t give that knee-jerk reaction. Don’t be that typical CEO, like it’s my meeting. That’s not as important. You’re getting paid for this timeframe. You know, I just let it go. And what I’ve found out over time is by letting those things go, they really don’t matter. [00:19:00] There are 10 times more happier and I didn’t really care. I just didn’t notice that I let it go.
That it really had no effect. I feel better about it. I’m nicer. I’m a nicer CEO, which I would always strive to be as a person giving people leeway that just being, you know, so I think those are things I don’t think they’re that easy. I think it’s very ingrained in most humans to kind of control, you know, to say like, this is my time, things like that. But, but again, there is a fine line to this, right? I mean, everybody, I think there’s some gray area here. Not every CEO is going to show up in like flip-flops and sandals. I’m not that type of CEO, but some are, you know, you read all these different variations, so you have to see what works. And some of my, I think team members aren’t like that either. So you also have to look at what they’re like as people, in fact, even with the pandemic here, you know, the office is closed again. Cause we were in that, that company the main companies in Nashville, I’m in New York City, but when the second pandemic hit, they’re pretty harvest. It just don’t even come in the office. It’s not like. But some of them kind of do want to come in. They just want to get out of the house. They want to sit in front of their [00:20:00] computer and I get it. So, you know, there’s, there is a different personality team. It’s not a one size fits all, but the respect thing is one size fits all.
Gene Hammett: Paul, we’ve had a great conversation here talking about what does it take to create an amazing team. Appreciate you sharing your perspective and your wisdom as a leader.
Paul Goldman: Yeah, thanks. So appreciate the time. And yeah, it was a nice conversation. I love the topic. I think it should be talked about more.
Gene Hammett: I’m going to reflect here a little bit for the audience, just to let them know what I’m taking away from this. You know, I’ve heard many times before that you’ve got to create an amazing team by hiring right? You can’t have. , bad employees from the beginning, and tried to coach them all up to that next level. You want to make sure that you have the right procedures and you understand what you’re really looking for. Paul shared with us some of the things that were important to him in the company. You also want to make sure that you have that culture fit. And what is a culture fit for you? Because toxic people can really kill any kind of vibe inside of a company, whether it be the momentum that you’re building or just morale, it can kill all of that. You want to make sure you’re putting employees first. You’re recognizing them. It’s absolutely [00:21:00] free. It’s something that a lot of people just don’t take time enough to do. And I had to urge you, it’s like buying one person a day and that next meeting that you could recognize and didn’t do that. Just, just do it today without even thinking too much about it.
And then finally, you know, what level of transparency are you willing to bring? And we believe here through all these podcasts interviews, that transparency is a really important piece. Everyone of us has a different place where we draw the transparency line, what we think we should share, and what we shouldn’t share. , you want to make sure that yours it’s fairly remarkable because that’s what makes people feel bought in. And they feel a sense of empowerment when you are sharing the good and the bad. So all of this wraps up into some of the key principles of leadership from Paul’s perspective, but also, you know, probably gives you, an idea of where you might be lacking.
My job as an executive coach, coaches, to help you understand what are those blind spots, what are the things you don’t even realize that are sitting in the way of the growth of your company, the growth of you as a leader in the team, pulling together and taking this as an ownership, you want to have that conversation. Just reach out to me at GeneHammett.com and schedule your call.
As always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.[00:22:00]
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