Not Knowing Your Next Step with Scott Whitlock
Joe Mills: What are the unique experiences that drive business leaders to keep growing, and how can the lessons learn from those stories? Enable others to do so. I’m Joe Mills.
Reid Morris: And I’m Reid Morris,
Joe Mills: and together we’re investigating who it takes and the tools to use to build companies and culture.
Then we’re sharing those stories with you.
This is 1,000 Stories, an original show from Element three.
Reid Morris: Okay, Joe, so next guest coming on the podcast, Scott Whitlock. really excited for this conversation. Uh, but could you tell me a little bit more about, how you ran into Scott
Joe Mills: Yeah. Well I got connected with Scott in a really fun way. I just put a LinkedIn post up asking for, leaders. Who I should be talking to on this podcast
And one of my friends called me like five minutes afterwards and he was like, Hey, let me talk to you about this guy, Scott, who I think would be a great guest. I had heard Scott’s name before because of FlexWare and the kind of role they play in the community and. Um, they seem to have a very culture conscious organization, which is the type of people that we would like to talk to and identify with.
And so I had wanted to meet Scott for a long time and saw it as a really cool opportunity to get together. so that’s how we got connected and why I would really love to speak to him and explore with him on this podcast is they had a large sale of their organization last. To Hitachi, one of the, you know, world’s largest companies is one of those names that most people know.
and so to go from leading a team, making all independent decisions, really not having a boss per se, and then making the decision yourself to say, all right, I’m gonna choose to move this underneath another umbrella. just to understand the motivation for doing so. understand. What’s that been like?
The experience of it?
Reid Morris: And you know,we’ve talked to people on a few occasions around this idea of building cultures, right? We’ve people who lead organizations and have had to do that.
And how do you manage now a culture when it’s folded into something
Joe Mills: something? Yeah,
Reid Morris: we operate in. In the merger and acquisition environment quite a bit. And one of the things we talked to, to brands about is, you know, you’re bringing different teams together. How did they mesh? You know, values and all those things.
There’s implications there. So what’s his experience with that, like you said, what has that been like and what has been managing the culture been like through that period as well?
Joe Mills: Yeah, and also I think it’d be interesting to chat with him, you know, he’s an engineer by trade. Um, I was over there chatting with him at his office a little bit afterward after we first met over lunch. And the unassuming error of. As a leader, like you can, you can feel it, like you can tell that like, yes, he’s the founder and CEO, but he doesn’t like walk around like he’s the founder and ceo.
There’s very much like a real approachability to him that people obviously feel. And so just unpacking, like was that intentional when you started that you wanted to make sure that happened or was it just a byproduct of who you are and sort of unpacking like can you force that or is it, does it need to reflect how you are internally?
Like some of those mushier things I think would be interesting to discuss with him cuz he really does have an approachability around him. That’s I, I find unique.
Reid Morris: Yeah, it’s really exciting. Should be a good convo.
Joe Mills: So Scott, welcome to a Thousand Stories. We’re excited to have you on.
How many years has this as CEO, president of FlexWare for you?
Scott Whitlock: Founded in 1996.
Joe Mills: Nice, man.
When you founded it, did you foresee like, yeah, I’m doing this. The rest, the rest of the way?
Scott Whitlock: Uh, when you’re 26 years old and you found a company, you don’t see that far ahead.
Joe Mills: Yeah.
Scott Whitlock: You just like, Hey, I need to make some money tomorrow. Who could I call today? I’ll call my friend Brian Andrew. Yeah. He’ll gimme some work.
Joe Mills: Will I call tomorrow?
Scott Whitlock: yeah. Uh, who am I gonna call while I’m doing this work? Yeah, that’s what you’re thinking about. You’re not thinking about am I gonna do this the rest of my life?
Joe Mills: Was there a point at where it switched though, where you were like, oh, I’m probably gonna do this for the rest of my life?
Scott Whitlock: For me, I think it’s all about the adventure. I didn’t really see it as, for the rest of my life. Yeah. I, I have too many plates spinning, too many
squirrels to chase, as we say.
Joe Mills: Yeah. I mean, that was one of the things when, when we were having lunch, first time we met and I was like, you just feel like you have a full life.
Scott Whitlock: So my family, I’ll have to credit my friend Mike Kelly for this idea. The idea was have your family crowdsource your New Year’s resolution.
Joe Mills: Oh my gosh. That, did that just happen
Scott Whitlock: It just happened. Okay. Like, we had a CEO round table on December 22nd, and Mike’s like, Hey, our family’s been doing this for a while. Let me tell you about this. And like, all the CEOs around the table were like, tell us, man. And so he told us how this worked. And so we pitched the idea at our family, and there’s six adults.
I have two kids, they’re both married. And so all six of us sat around and said, that’s a cool idea. So my daughter-in-law wants to run a half. That’s, that was, that’s her goal.
Well, the, the goal they had for me was to practice meditation three times a week. Oh. And rest my mind you said a full life. I have way too many things going and that, that was their life.
That was their crowdsourced resolution with Scotty slow down. That sounds like a very fun conversation.
Joe Mills: Like, was it
Scott Whitlock: It was very fun.
And we, you know, then we decided, well, let’s get together, you know, once a month and talk about our progress. So we had our first Zoom call Sunday night.
And just talking about how everybody’s doing and what do they need to hit their goals and can we help each other in some way?
Joe Mills: That was actually the next place I was gonna ask was this year and others, when, when you go about setting priorities,
um, this is a selfish question cuz I’m working on this myself right now.
Um, h how do you go about setting the systems up to ensure progress?
Like what have you used that’s useful.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah, that’s, uh, anybody who knows me listen to this podcast is gonna laugh because I have a low accountability gene.
I sound like I have a high accountability gene, but I don’t really have a very high accountability gene. Uh, I just have a high motor and, and you know, uh, so for me what I really need is some, some goals and some deadlines.
So like, signing up for the mini means I gotta run so I’m not dying when I do it right. So in business that, that can be just projects and initiatives and things like that. So, , you know, we might set out and say, Hey, we’re gonna do a culture builder award, and this is what this means. We’re gonna award it here, we’re gonna take nominations here, we’re gonna do, so when we set goals for ourselves, usually there’s milestones and guideposts and things like that.
And that, that’s usually what works for me.
Joe Mills: do you document that? Like, are you a journaler? Are you a Google Sheets guy?
Scott Whitlock: Mm, I’m a OneNote guy. Okay. So mainly OneNote. And then my wife got me a remarkable tablet for Oh, nice. Christmas. So I’m learning to, to do that instead of the paper. I, I’m a hand hand journaler, hand note taker most of the time, but that’s usually where the OneNote’s kind of our go-to place for business.
Joe Mills: What about, well, personal? Does the personal go on OneNote?
Scott Whitlock: Um, yes and no. Um, journaling during meetings and stuff, like, that’s usually by hand, either, you know, it wasn’t a paper notebook. Now, now trying to use the, yeah, the remark. but if I’m, uh, on a Zoom call or teams call or something like that, I’m usually got one note open and taking notes cuz I can type fast enough to mm-hmm.
take some notes there.
Joe Mills: Yeah.
I, my own perspective on work and life is that mine. I like mine to flow together quite a bit. ,Um, that’s when I feel at my best.
and the challenge I’ve had is we have really articulate professional goals that are really helpful for the team to hold us accountable and to make sure that we’re making progress
towards what we need to. And then personally, when I’ve tried to do that, it has not worked. It’s
Like only really, I am accountable if this thing happens or not, and nobody else is going to love or hate me more or less if it happens or not. And so the outside accountability lacks and then I forget about it. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, it’s that it’s not in front of my face, like
professional goals are.
And I get to the end of the year and I’m like reflecting on how did the year go? And I’m like, well, this went really well professionally. This we didn’t quite hit. This went great. And I’m like, wait, what about personal things? And it’s like, oh, in the first quarter I really wanted to do this. And then it completely fell off my radar.
And so I’ve been investigating different ways to make that not happen this year.
And I’ve run into some journals and different tools.
Scott Whitlock: Well, you said earlier you were a team sport guy. So we had our small group from church over last night and one with the three couples are, are doing a Peloton challenge.
Okay. And it’s for the most miles, you know, during the month of January. And they have some rules about, you know, how much you can walk and, you know, whether it’s gotta be cycling and all this kind of good stuff. And so, you know, you can, you could do something like that personally where you set up some goals and milestones or challenges.
Yeah. Personally, that may not be similar to the, may not be the professional level stuff where you’re checking in and doing all that, but it’s, it’s still milestones and it’s team oriented where you’re checking in with. Friends or people that are gonna hold you accountable.
I found that help. I’ve done that in the past where, um, I’m a type two diabetic and I wanted some accountability on health related goals.
So I literally had my wife, uh, president of a board I’m on and my COO
at work and every Monday morning I would send out my last week’s metrics and that accountability, you know, so it’s kinda like what we’re talking about, a team sport type stuff and some accountability partners that you have to report out to.
Because if you’re journaling by, if you’re journaling by yourself,
Joe Mills: It’s like, it’s still just me. It
Scott Whitlock: depends on how hard you are on yourself or
Joe Mills: very maybe overly
Scott Whitlock: Okay. See, I’m not, I, I’m, I’m an Enneagram seven, I’m an escape
Joe Mills: Are you? My wife’s a seven.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. And you know, we don’t like sitting in pain, right?
We don’t like, uh, holding ourselves accountable. There’s some other fun, cool squirrel to go chase over here.
Joe Mills: Okay. Let’s talk about the Agram for a second. This is fun, I love this topic.
Uh, when did you first get introduced to it?
Scott Whitlock: introduced to it? So you’ve had my friend Chip Nighty on the podcast and he really introduced us to it probably three or four years ago.
Joe Mills: Yeah.
Did, do you guys work with Kairos?
Scott Whitlock: We have worked with Kairos in the past, yeah.
Joe Mills: Uh, Chip’s. Awesome. How have you seen it just change the way that you go about your day or how you interact with people?
Scott Whitlock: Yeah, so I think professionally we’ve adopted it at FlexWare as almost another tool to understand each other.
Mm-hmm. . and that’s been very powerful, and I guess it all stems from that professional journey is understanding. Kind of the fatal sins or flaws of each one. I mean, there’s obviously strengths as well. Sure. But I think part of what we need to work on is the, the things that we’re poor at.
We, we tend to gravitate to the things we’re good at . And so, uh, for me, you know, I use that term sitting in the pain. And I think that’s, that’s one of the things I learned from Chip and Cairos was it’s really hard for a seven to sit in the pain. And so we find escape patches, I’m a storyteller too, but we have another guy on our team who’s a seven, and he is a master storyteller.
And so, you know, if he starts to get painful, he usually tells a story. Um, and I usually go find something else to do and occupy my mind. And so that’s part of the reason my family said, you need to calm your monkey brain and,
Joe Mills: Burn, live with the pain for a little bit.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. And, or at least, you know, quiet it, even if you’re not living in pain, just quiet yourself.
So that’s been helpful just to learn what the, you know, some of those flaws are of us, of, of each type.
Joe Mills: um, we go back and forth in this, you know, in this show personally, professionally, kind of all over the place.
Don’t touch on a professional one for a second.
with the, the seven habits professionally, and as the person who’s ultimately making decisions for the company,
How did that show up? I’m just curious about how, how the maybe looking for something to ignore or get rid of the pain showed up professionally for you.
Scott Whitlock: frequently. Um, so we, in 2018, we developed these seven
kind of capabilities of the company and, one of them was called Chase the Squirrel. And it was literally put in there for me because that’s, that’s what brings me joy and fulfillment.
It’s what I’m good at. Um, maybe seeing some opportunities or things other people didn’t see. And I think part of the reason we coined that term 2017, we made our first acquisition of another integrator like us. Uh, we took over a piece of software from a buddy of mine in 2017. Um, you know, we started engaging in building a new building, 20 18, 20 19.
and then, uh, this latest chapter starting to think about, uh, transition with the company. So that started in 2020. So that, that’s how it showed up, I guess, in a positive way, on some of the more, you know, sitting in the pain or that, that’s
probably more on a personal relationships and professional relationships where I think I would’ve been quicker.
There was kind of a phraseology with me if, if Scott got down on you, be careful because, you know, you might not last long type of thing. And I
think that was part of my escape artist seven was just cast somebody aside.
Joe Mills: Oh, interesting.
Scott Whitlock: as opposed to sitting in the pain and working through it and dealing with it and, and working on those relationships.
And I, that’s, I’m not great at it. I still, you know, still
that, but that’s something I’ve certainly worked on over the past few years that I think has improved.
Joe Mills: the past.
Yeah. I, I appreciate you like, being open and sharing that. It’s,
I see that with myself a little bit. I’m, I’m not a seven, I’m either a three or a four.
but this idea of, um, sticking with things or people, the, the conundrum that sits in my head, I love your perspective on it.
Joe Mills: at what point should you check out, move on, try something different, give up whatever term you want to use on both people and maybe initiatives
Scott Whitlock: Yeah, it’s a good question. you think about really great coaches and, you know, it’s sort of tough love, right?
My, my primary way of doing that I think is more just lead by example than, than being very coachy or coaching into those things.
I don’t know that I’ve ever made a conscious decision to when I’m gonna cast off and, you know, it’s run its course and be done versus continuing to sit in the, I know over the, you know, during the pandemic there are a number of relationships that I.
Was very intentional, but one of the kairos helped us through some of these that
we’re just very intentional about sitting there and working through the relationship so it can end up in a better
Joe Mills: Mm-hmm.
Scott Whitlock: Um, and that’s not something I was, I’m probably still not great at it, but I was worse at it before going through those
Joe Mills: Yeah.
Scott Whitlock: So I don’t know if there’s, you know, conscious, certainly business-wise, there’s decisions you make that, okay, I’m done with this. You know, it was a, it was a boondoggle, it was a squirrel I chased, but we need to quit chasing this thing and move on.
Joe Mills: Well, that’s where I was gonna go next is, the thing I find very interesting about the Enneagram
as a model is that
it gives you your core fear, I guess the way it is adapted to your core sin. ,Um, and it also equally,
Scott Whitlock: normally
Joe Mills: Your sin is also your strength and vice versa. Right? And .so when you, you know, you think about like a, a three for example. Typically
very driven towards achievement, lots of production, um, but can be fake, inauthentic, and just completely lacking true relationship or depth. And those are really two sides of the same coin.
Um, and so with with yours, it allows you to see things, you know, chasing the squirrel allows you to see opportunities and things that other people might not. But then at some point you have to not chase it anymore when you see it being no longer a worthwhileinitiative.
Scott Whitlock: from a business perspective, the hard part for our team is the
herky jerkiness or the squirrel chasing, or the lack of accountability is
Joe Mills: uhhuh
Scott Whitlock: those aren’t really becoming a CEO.
Sure. And so, uh, surrounding myself with people, you know, we have varying types on our executive team that can, you know, hold me accountable or bring it down. All right, let’s make this actionable. Right. And, um, that, that, that’s super important to recognize that you need other people around you that can help with those things.
Joe Mills: Yeah. It’s, it’s, I brought this up to Reid during our pre-show that my
first impression of you first time ever meeting you have an era of approachability that’s very authentic and real and also unique.
I find for, um,
a lot of presidents and CEOs, I don’t think intentionally, but they walk around like, I am the president, the ceo, you know, hear me roar, but you have an air of like, yeah, just come chat with me. Has that always
been there? Was that, intentional?
Scott Whitlock: I’m laughing because it’s cool to hear you say that. Uh, I think, I’ve always hoped my door was more open than I think it is Uhhuh. Um, I don’t know if sometimes at work, maybe I don’t look that approachable.
Oh, interesting. You know, maybe cuz I’m on the computer or whatever, but part of it is too, we have technical people and engineers that
work for us and they are typically not social animals. Mm-hmm. Right. So,
um, it’s just fun to hear you say that. I would, I would like to be perceived that way and I would certainly like to be, you know, have people stop in more often.
Joe Mills: It’s interesting to hear you talk about, there was a thought of, oh, don’t, don’t get on Scott’s bad side. You might get cast off. I’m just sort of thinking out loud if as you’ve had this intentionality around sitting inside of difficult relationships and trying to grow them into being better places, if that has also given the air of approachability
that maybe you didn’t have before.
Scott Whitlock: I hope so. I mean, we’d have, probably have to talk to some of the folks that I’ve been through that journey with. Yeah. Um, uh, it’s also been said, you know, I’ve stubbed my toe a few times. That’s another term we use occasionally is stubbing your toe. I’ve had a couple people say, you know, Scott’s heart’s right, but sometimes he doesn’t engage the clutch before he opens his mouth.
And so, you know, that’s, it’s been helpful for, first of all, for me to slow down and engage the clutch before I talk. . and then, you know, have some people around me that, remind those that I might have stubbed my toe with that, you know, his heart’s right. ,
Scott Whitlock: there. The thought’s there.
And, and it’s not one of those, you know, kind of funny, bless his heart type things. It it’s legit, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s true.
Joe Mills: Yeah.
I’m, I’m curious, obviously your background degrees in engineering and very technical, and then you led sales for a little bit before that and then started a company.
Those feel like very different avenues, right? When I think engineer, I think technical, I think pro you said not necessarily a social animal. When I think of sales, I think of very personable, able to interact. Um, and when I think of starting a company, I feel like it’s probably a mixture of both. So those are all my assumptions.
Is that how you experienced those different paths in your career?
Scott Whitlock: Yeah, I think I was super fortunate to grow up. My dad was a business major from Ball State. My mom was a music major from iu and so I grew up. From seven years old on, on a 70 acre farm with pigs piano lessons every day, 10 years of four H.
Um, and so using both sides of my brain and, and you know, just to clarify it, it’s, I was, it’s the College of Technology, school of Technology now, the Polytechnic Institute. So very hands on. Yeah. Not, I mean, we were still engineers, but not, you know, so deep in the weeds that you don’t like to see the sun and you don’t like to talk to people.
Joe Mills: What’s the, what’s the difference like for an a layman like me?
Scott Whitlock: layman. So at Purdue, which is my alma mater, you have um, you know, the college of engineering and you have all the mechanical, electrical, civil right. And those are true engineering disciplines. And then you have the Polytechnic Institute, which has got similar disciplines, but they’re much more hands on.
So we used to say in the electrical field, you know, the electrical engineers would know what the. Carbon components of a resistor were made up of, but we know how to use a resistor in a circuit.
Joe Mills: .Okay.
Scott Whitlock: So there’s a very simple example of the difference between the two. Yeah. Civil
might be able to calculate the wind force it takes to, you know, make a bridge fall over or something.
But, you know, the B c T or building construction technology, BCM majors in polytechnic would know how to build a bridge. Mm-hmm. . And, and that’s kind of the difference between the two. So we had a hundred, I, I think it was, I can’t remember. We had tons and tons of class
hours of lab. Okay. Where we would learn how to use all this stuff.
And that, that’s the difference where, you know, much, much less lab time and engineering. I think that’s probably changing now because you gotta, you know, in the electrical oil, we say let some smoke out of some stuff every once in a while and learn how it works. But, um, that’s the difference. Okay.
Joe Mills: what led you that path instead of traditional engineering
Scott Whitlock: Well, that’s funny. I started out in freshman engineering at
Joe Mills: Okay.
Scott Whitlock: and I was super fortunate to do that cause that’s where I met my wife. We both started in freshman engineering and then once we figured out how you know it, it’s basically weed out, you know, it’s basically just beat you to pulp and see who lasts longest.
Um, she went to math education and I went to, uh, double e t Electrical engineering technology. What led me there was just all the hands on stuff I did on the farm and taking, uh, electrical as a project and four H for 10 years.
Joe Mills: Were were
you bored in the theoretical?
Scott Whitlock: Oh no. I got my butt handed to me. Okay. I mean, it, it’s FY e now, it’s called fresh First year Engineering.
I wasn’t bored. Oh, no, no, no. I was busy trying to stay
Joe Mills: afloat.
Scott Whitlock: School, yeah. . Yeah, I wasn’t
Joe Mills: Well, I’m interested if, if the reason you were trying so hard to stay afloat was at your.
Scott Whitlock: board. Oh, no. Okay. No, it just, it, well, I mean, I think you’re good at whatever you’re passionate about and I was not passionate about derivatives and calculus.
Joe Mills: that, that’s maybe where I was trying to get or curious about was like
at, 18, 19 years old, nobody had, well, people have taken calc, right? Yeah. But people in the room have fairly similar backgrounds.
A across the board.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah.
Joe Mills: I I doubt you were not as smart as somebody who was smashing that class.
Scott Whitlock: I think there’s book smart.
And there’s, you know, just work hard smart. And so, like, I graduated seventh in my class in high school, but I got a 900 on my s a t twice.
Joe Mills: Interesting.
Scott Whitlock: mean, I, you know, I’m not a great test taker. and you know, you get to Purdue in freshman engineering and it’s all about, you get four grades in the calc class.
It’s, you know, or maybe 10, three or four quizzes and a couple tests in the final, and you’re done.
You know, and no amount of, no amount of hard work in and, uh, homework, you know, versus go to w e t, you know, and I, I’ve got, some
homework and a class and an assignment and a lab that I can see how this actually applies itself. And to me, that was just way better learning style than. Smashing your head against the wall on 10 assignments that make up your grade and calc, whatever it
Joe Mills: know, yeah. It, It, sounds like a, a passion for seeing it have an impact or having like a place, a real place in the world, um, that might be a little bit like overstated in terms
of, you know, you’re 18, 19, 20 years old at college, but like, being able to see it come to life
Scott Whitlock: Well, I mean, again, on the farm, you know, I, I rebuilding dirt bikes and building stuff with my dad and build a 66 Mustang in high school and, you know,
constantly building stuff, trying stuff, breaking stuff, fixing it, taking things apart. Yeah. That was all in Poli. Maybe you would’ve, I’m sure you would’ve gotten a, some of those things in the engineering discipline.
But in Polytech, my very first class was with a breadboard and circuits and wires and a tackle box full of electronic gad. and I’m like, oh, I’m back. You know, I’m, yeah. I’m in a, I’m in a different lab. This is my, but this is,
Joe Mills: is, where I’m at home. this is my spot. Yeah.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. Interesting. And they’re, you know, I don’t know what my GPA was freshman year, but I
escaped. And then, you know, basically a’s after that, cause I was passionate about it. Yeah. Ex excited about it.
Joe Mills: about, there’s a quote from a guy named, are you familiar with a guy named Naval Ravikant? Um,
he’s like a first gen immigrant, grew up in Queens now.He’s like a billionaire.
Grew from tech company and sold it. And he has a quote that is, I’m happy to compete in the places I do because you think it’s working. I think it’s play or something around there. Where’re.
Just like, I’ll play for 16 hours a day. Yeah. And it’s not work.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. I don’t know who said it, but you know, if you find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Joe Mills: How do you think you find the things you love?
Scott Whitlock: love in general?
Joe Mills: Yeah,
let’s go in general.
Scott Whitlock: Hmm.
Joe Mills: Um,
Scott Whitlock: So I just had a breakfast with, uh, one of my son’s best friends. You know, we were talking about what he wants to do when he grows up. And the first thing that comes to my, my mind, Joe, is, use your mouth and your ears and the proportion God gave ’em to you, right? Ask more questions and so, you know, I was encouraging this young man that, you know, go take some people to lunch and ask them and talk to them about what they do.
I think, some of it is, is experimentation and play, and that’s how we find the things we love. We’ve got a really good friend of Romania whose son just turned 10, and he’s probably gonna be an engineer because he loves Legos and he can sit and play in his own mind for hours on end. and so some of you find by experimentation and play like that, and some of it, I think as we get older, we find.
asking questions and observing other people. Mm-hmm. like, that looks like fun, but what do I not know about that,
Joe Mills: Mm.
Scott Whitlock: that career And so, you know, lately I’ve got a few young guys in my life that are looking for job changes and I’m literally networking with 10 or 12 people say, go buy these people lunch and talk to them about what they’re doing.
What’s a day in the life look like? How’d you get to where you are? What would I need to be successful? And just ask tons of questions. I think that’s one way to find what you’re passionate about.
Joe Mills: that’s
the, uh, there’s sort of this pressure, I don’t know if you witnessed this on like maybe new hires at FlexWare or just people your kids know or, or your kids themselves. .I know I felt this pressure when I was at school to like
both walk into the university knowing what path I wanted to go down and then graduate knowing what path I wanted to go down, which feels diametrically opposed to the thing you just said.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah.
Joe Mills: is it realistic to expect that? 18, 19 year old kids.
Scott Whitlock: That’s really tough cuz I’ve seen it go both ways. is it realistic to expect that of all of us? No. And that
Joe Mills: but you’ve seen
it happen. I, I don’t know
that I have where
somebody just like knew it.
Scott Whitlock: you know, we changed our degrees, um, but we kind of knew, well we stayed in sort of the same lane.
Mm-hmm. , you know, we were in technical fields. My wife was a math teacher for a few years before our daughter was born. You know, I stayed in a technical field. Yeah. Um, but then this young man I was having breakfast with,
he didn’t figure it out. And he’s a semester away from a degree at Purdue, but he doesn’t really wanna finish it because it’s not a degree he really wants, it’s not a thing he wants to go.
Joe Mills: Mm-hmm.
Scott Whitlock: one of the things I, I’ve still go back to, you know, how do you find that passion give in your kids or, or as young twenties as you guys are, you know, experimenting and finding out what really drives you and, and trying different things.
that old age, old thing of not having too many job hops, you know, I’m an employer, right? So I don’t like tons of job hops, but, you know, in the world we live in doing a job for a year and figuring out it’s not something you like. I think you’re doing both yourself and the employer a favor.
Joe Mills: Mm-hmm.
Scott Whitlock: if it’s not something you’re really passionate
Joe Mills: passionate, which goes back a little bit to the conversation we had at the start around like, when do you give up on something? When do you check into, like, you’re like, I’ve given that a full run.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. So
Joe Mills: hard thing to judge.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. And, and in the case of, you know, some of these situations, I do think it’s kind of incumbent on the parents and.
The mentors around an 18, 19 year old to speak into it a little bit more. I do think if you just allow the 18 or 19 year old, or, you know, call it 17 on up, trying to figure out what they’re doing without a lot of mentoring I think that is a recipe for a long way to your career. Yeah.
we’ve had tons of people at Flex work come through that and just, this is what it looks like to be an engineer. And they, you know, and you got people like, I do not wanna sit behind a desk this long. No. Ever. No way. Yeah.
You know, so. Giving opportunities. And not only giving, but encouraging those opportunities I think is a great way.
It’s harder when you graduate or don’t graduate and you’re out in your career. You gotta make a buck and yeah. That, that is harder. So doing it earlier and uh, and then having some of your mentors and parents speak into that, I think is one way to get those younger folks on a good track.
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Joe Mills: I feel like you take mentoring
very, seriously. You’ve mentioned a few, you have like a round table, you bring it into your family. You have your, your kids’ friends.
is that something you’re intentional about or is that just so natural that
it just happens?
Scott Whitlock: this happens? You know, we don’t know each other really well. I’d be curious to. Hear from other people that have been around me.
I think I’m the word that comes to my mind when you, when you say that, Joe, it’s a cool observation, is I’m probably a more of a punchy mentor. get in, get out. Yeah. Maybe it’s that seven this, that doesn’t wanna sit in the pain with you while I mentor, but I’m gonna show you something or explain something.
there’s a funny, really funny story at, uh, we were at the industrial round table up at Purdue, was big recruiting fairs
outdoors. so I, I’d often go up to those before we had an awesome recruiting team. I still like to go because I like to interact with the students
Joe Mills: Yeah. So strike me as an environment you might enjoy.
Scott Whitlock: I really enjoy it. so this, this kid walks up and he’s got like white tennis shoes and kind of a sport coat on. He’s pretty dressed and he’s kind of mulling around outside the, uh, tent and.
this kid, uh, he was, I am not a gamer, I’m not an pop culture guy, but I think he was on a Game of Thrones, you know, staying up 24 hours a day, watching, is it, watching this stuff, playing these games?
I don’t know. Okay. so I, I just lovingly got up in his grill like, Hey dude, what’s going on? What are you looking for? What’s going on with your life? And he’s failing his classes kind of told to go to this thing, you know. And so for a period of time there, I checked in with him, how you doing?
Going to cl you know, I kind of, I wouldn’t call it mentoring, but it was kind of a punchy, um, here’s the president of the company coming out and taking an
interest in me. Mm-hmm. . And, you know, whether it made a long-term difference in his life, I don’t know. But, um,
that’s just one example of what I said. Punchy.
Joe Mills: You see, it’s interesting because I wouldn’t use punchy if I, if I can pushback on it a little bit like I think you, you probably have, punchy moments where you give like a one-liner, like an example or a story that leaves an impression, then you move on.
But like in that environment, it’s actually very consistent.It‘s like an accountability partner. And that takes like time.
Scott Whitlock: yeah. I, I, when I say punchy, you know, maybe little moments in time I don’t see myself as a, a super consistent mentor, like, Hey, I want to be your mentor, I’m gonna take you on for a while. Sure. Um, I would say, if you talk to those closest to me at work, I think some of that consistency, not necessarily in a
formal mentoring setting, but, I do think there are moments there that are more consistent or maybe just, you know, the everyday the way, you know, just I live my life is fairly co.
Joe Mills: consistent
Scott Whitlock: maybe that is some of the mentoring that that rubs off.
Joe Mills: You know, what’s interesting is, um,
I’ve asked a couple
definitive answer style things, like when do you stop pursuing
Well, at what point does the squirrel too shiny how do you mentor? And what I’m getting back from you is like, it’s. in your brain,
which I think there’s a lot of value to it, is it’s not necessarily important to have those
like be present in the thing that you’re doing and at some point when it runs its course, let it run its course.
Scott Whitlock: Mm-hmm.
Joe Mills: And it might, that course might be two meetings, might be three months, it might be four years. And that’s okay.
Scott Whitlock: okay. But I, I do know
there’s a flow to all of that, but there are other times where, you know, it’s done at, at like, my son graduated from Purdue in May.
He. Interviewed with this small private construction company. He kind of talked him into hiring him. But he, he had a horrible onboarding experience,
And he, you know, should he tough it out for a while and, and like 11 days in we’re just like, pull the rip cord, dude. Just get out and I know it’s gonna suck. I know you’re not gonna have any income. I know you’re gonna spend the rest of the summer looking for a job, but this is not the environment you need to be in.
And then he, you know, we helped him network. He had some awesome, you know, some really cool things happen and he found like the most wonderful position. Awesome. Two months later. And so there’s times when, you know, it’s just time to pull the rip cord. Yeah. It’s time to sell, it’s time to get out.
and that’s back to that sometimes as Scott, you know, might be done with you, be careful cuz he, you know, you might be out. There are times where I can see that pretty definitively and the older I get more experiences I have, I think I can see that even more clearly.
There’s times where I let it flow too long and I wish I would’ve flexed my eight wing
a little bit and jumped in and led well or led better, uh, because it did go on too long or, you know, we didn’t make the quick decision.
Joe Mills: didn’t Is that a feeling that guides you in those moments?
Scott Whitlock: Um, yeah. It, it, it is funny. I’m thinking of some specific
situations around FlexWare where, you know, I have a strong naivete and kind of a strong, maybe grace component.
So sometimes I do let stuff go too long and, and like there’s one employee that.
duped me for a couple of years and, and, but my mother-in-law and a couple people at FlexWare, like three or four people in my life all saw it. Mm-hmm. and it was their gut feeling, but my naivete and sort of love and, and just wanting to have fun.
Didn’t see any of that. Mm-hmm. . And so I think one of the things I’ve tried to pay attention to is when it’s other people’s gut feeling
Joe Mills: Yeah.
Scott Whitlock: and they’re like, uh, alarm bells. Alarm bells, . Like, tell me more about those alarm. I think I’m being a little bit more curious with that because I can, uh, as a, i, it’s probably my seven ness and my fun and
I can just see right past that stuff.
Joe Mills: You know, it’s interesting. One thing that’s been on my mind is to be more discerning in general. Um, I am naturally, I just trust people until they prove to me that I should not
Scott Whitlock: me. Mm-hmm.
Joe Mills: mm-hmm. , um, which
I like to think is a fine thing. Yeah. But not everybody’s out there for good
Scott Whitlock: so how are you going about being more discerning?
Joe Mills: trying to figure that out? Because part of it is like even giving feedback around the Element three office. Right.
Scott Whitlock: Mm-hmm. , um,
Joe Mills: my, my role is unique in the sense that I,
I, do now do some client work, but it’s very specific. It’s siloed. There’s a specific thing that I’m. Considered an expert in that I can know how to do.
Um, and so when I’m working with the team on something, I feel maybe it’s imposter syndrome, maybe it’s just lack of confidence, I don’t know.
But my ability to give feedback in a, critical way, that’s also not like coming off harsh. Cause I haven’t had to, I haven’t had to do that before. But I, I saw myself doing that as an owner too. Like when I ran my gym, had employees, frankly, I needed the employees probably more than they needed me.
Right. Which put made me feel insecure about telling them when something wasn’t good enough. Which is like my, one of my challenges in as a person is, uh, very high need for approval bar very high eye on the disc. And, uh, I don’t, I, I feel the same thing around like just seeing the good and like being blind to the bad.
Scott Whitlock: so one of my favorite business authors is Patrick Lencioni. Yeah. And he tells a story about early in his career, he was the guy that was good at going into his boss’s office and telling him the truth and love,
um, and saying things in a nice way that other people wouldn’t have the courage to go say, uh, maybe there’s some, I I’m not coming up with a book of his that would be helpful to you in that, um, coaching or, or telling the truth and love, but he’s, the way he approaches it is awesome.
So if you wanna pick up some Lindsey ONI books,
Joe Mills: I’ve read Five Dysfunctions, but I think that’s the only one by him that I’ve read. So I’ll
Scott Whitlock: yeah, the, the Advantage, um, he’s got, there are a lot, you know, mostly Fable books. Um,
Joe Mills: he writes in like story but talks about
business practice. It’s very cool. Yeah.
Scott Whitlock: you talk about discernment. Um, I’m experiencing this right now with another super high level, high character leader guy where we’re just not quite on the same page yet. And I think one of the language things that we’ve talked about at FlexWare is that, that we all write a story in our head.
Joe Mills: Mm-hmm.
Scott Whitlock: Um, and sometimes understanding what that story is in somebody else’s head can help you with discernment
Joe Mills: somebody else.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah because, if they have a different story or an outcome or a vision for what something might be, whether it’s a relationship or a business idea or a
customer outcome or whatever, in this particular case, I think this, this gentleman has probably been burned with some other business relationships and so I think he’s a little less trusting of me.
Joe Mills: than
Scott Whitlock: than I would want him to be. I’ve not given him any reason to distrust me yet. And so, you know, I’m going an important conversation with him tomorrow. And I’m thinking about trying to understand maybe some of the other business or personal relationships where he’s maybe been burned, uh, or trusted too much as you said.
Yeah. You know, and, and then that turned out poorly.
Joe Mills: It’s like understanding the context of the.
Scott Whitlock: the whole
Joe Mills: situation,
cause nobody lives inside of a silo.
Scott Whitlock: are, you know, a way to get that context right. So what story are we telling ourselves in our heads that conflicts with reality? Um, and can maybe help you with that discernment.
Yeah. Um, that just an idea.
Joe Mills: yeah, no, I like it. It’s, been a thing that I’ve just realized in the last one of my initiatives for the years to develop a craftsmanship around my profession. Um, it’s part of what came out of this so good they can’t ignore you, is just like,
Scott Whitlock: can’t ignore,
Joe Mills: worry so much about what’s next.
Just be really good and it’ll be fine. And so it’s like this sort of idea of becoming a craftsman in sales. And one of the spots that I have a blind spot to is an overselling prospect.
Like, oh, we’re great, our business is great, we’re great at all these things. We have an excellent product, like our product’s, top of the line, you should feel good marketing it.
Scott Whitlock: They’re overselling you, they’re
Joe Mills: overselling me on
Scott Whitlock: on the, their, their capabilities or how good, whatever.
Joe Mills: And so it’s like, as the, as the front line
Scott Whitlock: Mm-hmm. to
Joe Mills: the talented element three. It’s like making sure that I don’t take
these people’s limited brain resources, thoughts, ideas, and put them on an account that they should not be working with. Yeah. So it’s part of that is, is one, this is where I think where like all of this thought is sort of coming from.
Um, so I appreciate your
Scott Whitlock: feedback on it. Yeah. So one of my stories over the years, Joe is like, you never know until you really know.
And I, over the overselling prospect, I guess where I would go with that is like, well, show me the numbers.
Scott Whitlock: I mean, if, if, if you’re that good, then A, why are we even sitting here talking to each other and B, you know, show me the numbers that get you that excited mm-hmm.
And if, if those are where you want ’em to be, then I’m gonna move on down the road. Mm-hmm. . Um, and if they’re not where you want them to be and you’re just blowing some smoke right now, then then we have something real to talk about. Yeah.
Joe Mills: Like, let’s figure out what the problem is. Is the problem that the product is great and no one knows about it.
or does the product have some development needs to
Scott Whitlock: development? Yeah. And, and that those are back to those stories that, that prospect’s telling themselves. Right. You know, we, as we’ve done this so many times, if we build a product, we, you know, our first times we did this build some stuff, we’re like, if we build it, they will come Uhhuh, , you know, it’s gonna be awesome.
And you forget that, you know, marketing and a channel and sales and all that stuff. probably about half the cost, if not more. Yeah. Of developing a technical product and bringing it to the market. You know, we’ve learned that the hard way over the years and so, you know, we gotta be very, very careful the stuff we sell ourselves and tell ourselves.
Yeah. Especially your overselling
Joe Mills: overstepping. Yeah.
Scott Whitlock: are you cool to talk about the Hitachi
Joe Mills: purchase? Yeah.
that was last year, right?
Scott Whitlock: Day one was September 1st, 2022. Okay. Yep.
Joe Mills: Okay. Yes, that’s fresh. The
Scott Whitlock: phone call was December of 2020.
Joe Mills: Wow.
Scott Whitlock: Wow. So a year and a half.
Joe Mills: What’s been different
about being owned by Hitachi major global corporation versus prior?
Scott Whitlock: I think for most of our flex dogs we call our employees.
It, it has not been, a difference at all.
Joe Mills: Was that one of your goals when you were
Scott Whitlock: Oh, 100%. 100? Yeah. It’s, we, you know, we, and even when talk about. Bonus structure’s gonna change and things like that. But we, we’ve just said emphatically, it’s gotta be as good or better. Mm-hmm. , you know, if you go backwards, that’s a recipe for disaster.
So, you know, we’re committed to taking care of everybody. Well, so is Hitachi.
they have an awesome culture, an awesome leadership around us. it’s just different because it’s big and, you know, and the Japanese culture is way different than our culture. But they want to learn from us. They want to learn how to do business in North America.
And I think that was part of their attraction to us and, our way, our culture is that we are more entrepreneurial. We, um, we have a little bit different way of going about it, concentrating on culture first and those types of things. And the business will come.
Joe Mills: come. Ooh, let’s
touch on that for a second. I think it mirrors how Element three likes to show up to the world. Tiffany’s comment is, brand is just the external word for your culture.
Scott Whitlock: culture. Mm-hmm.
Joe Mills: And so if we’ve got a messed up culture in here, the brand will suffer out there and the work will be bad and that
will permeate.So I, feel like that is a truism for us as well.
Um, but that feels more rare in a technical field, like what you guys do. Um,
Scott Whitlock: where does it feel more normal in
Joe Mills: in like
serv, like very like service oriented
Scott Whitlock: the Ritz Carlton or
Joe Mills: Yeah.
You know, like
Scott Whitlock: hotels and things like that. Yeah. Or Zappos,
Joe Mills: So I’m
just curious, like, is it common or is it something that you feel like Flexport is leading the charge on for your industry space in general?
Scott Whitlock: Going back to, you know, I’m a different type of engineer. I, I do think it’s probably a little bit different for engineering companies to focus on culture. Um, and I don’t even know if we’d say we, it’s, you know, it’s that we focus on culture. It’s just the things that we do and the way we live and the.
Joe Mills: live, we
Scott Whitlock: give
and things like that, that make up the culture. Mm-hmm. . Um, and, and our, our core values, the way we live those out, is very real. And so, even though we stub our toes from time to time and we learn each other about the engram, things like that, we, we generally care for each other. we do things for each other.
Um, and people feel it when they come interview with us.
Um, and, and that’s probably the most fun for me is, bringing people from more caustic environments.
It’s a war on town out there. Right. I mean, there’s, we’re always so many great people to go to Element three or FlexWare and, and you gotta go find ’em somewhere.
Yeah. And so to harvest somebody from a poor environment and bring ’em ‘into a better environment and try to continue to care for them, that’s what makes my job really fun.
And it’s what one of the things that really made Hitachi interested in us.
Joe Mills: was there a moment where you started to grasp how important that was going to be for you long term? Or when you started it? Did you know like, culture’s gonna be a thing?
Scott Whitlock: Oh, no, I didn’t. I don’t think I grasped it then. we coined the core values that we have today. in 2014.
Joe Mills: Did you have them before that or was that a real, okay, so what about 2014 made that happen then? Like why, why then
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. I couldn’t tell you exactly Joe, what the moment was. I think maybe, uh, Patrick lnc is the advantage came out and he talked about developing your core values.
Really? Sure. Yeah. Like, Hey, this seems like something I should do. Um, you know, over the years we’d done different, business strategies and planning things over the years, but that one seemed to really stick and it was really around developing your core values.
Joe Mills: developing. What, what, what do you think made that one stickier than the others?
Scott Whitlock: your.
it wasn’t overly complex. You know, you had, you know, some of ’em were like the one page strategic plan and scaling up and Verne hard’s stuff, we had the flavor of the month there for a while, a flavor of every couple years. Mm-hmm.
Joe Mills: And
Scott Whitlock: think the advantage that book in particular, just talking about solidifying your core values was maybe as a foundational element we hadn’t done mm-hmm.
need to go back and do that. Um, I also think, you know, we, I think that was the year we hired Jeff Etchison, who has been a really successful VP of sales for us. And, if you just go back to the big picture of FlexWare, we started in 96, kind
of grew to maybe 20 ish people in the early two thousands.
Lilly became a client in the early two thousands. And, you
know, we grew to the mid twenties, mid maybe thirties, in the middle two thousands, um, decided we were really smarty pants and we were gonna create our own software product about 2005 or six.
We used the services Venture fund to fund that for a while, which was kind of fun and playtime, we were making decent money, investing it back in this product.
And then 2009 happened
and we put all those product development folks back to work on professional services, billable work. 2010 happened to be a, we called it our Super Bowl year cuz we were only about 11 people
and we killed a couple of huge projects with good margins and then we were able to grow again.
And so we hired some key people in 20 11, 20 12, and then Jeff came along 2014 and so now you’re starting to grow back thirties and forties. Um, I think. And then, uh, Matt, our recruiter came on maybe 2016. So, you know, that 2014 timeframe was like, oh, we, you know, we’re gonna grow again here. We better get our act together.
Mm-hmm. . And, and by that time, I’m, I am in my thirties, you know, I’m not just a 20 year old kid anymore. . Yeah. And so we’ve had a little more life experience, a little more business experience, had had an advisory board in there for a while with some heavy hitters around Indie. And so I think that was just the right time to kind of get our crap together and run a real business.
why 2014 was a year to do that.
Joe Mills: you
know, there’s a lot of like ups, you know, and those people look at the flexor story and like, oh, look, at that.
Scott Whitlock: you know,
Joe Mills: Sold to a massive corporation, tons of success. But there’s bumps and like two, I I like, there’s a phrase that keeps getting put in front of my face of like the the world, the universe, God, whatever, will give you what you need when you need it. . Were there lessons that you learned 2009 other moments of hardship
that also taught you things that got you ready for the transition you’re going through currently?There are parallels there in terms of like things you learned or lessons that you took away.
Scott Whitlock: took.
Hmm. Uh, I mean, we talked about flow earlier and I, I think just the ebbs and flows of business. and also tying that in with, you know, chasing a squirrel or, you know, a seven loves adventure.
So for me, the adventure of learning how to do business with a Japanese company is really interesting. Took my first trip to Japan in December.
Very interesting. just all these observations and so I don’t, I don’t know if the ups and downs of running a business necessarily prepared me for this next chapter.
Um, but they certainly prepare you to smooth out those bumps and, you know, the potholes of life and of business. Yeah.
Joe Mills: what are you excited about with Hitachi?
Like, you know, and when you look out and you’re like, we’re gonna sell our company and we’re gonna go through all this, and we’re gonna work for two years to do it.
Scott Whitlock: Yep.
Joe Mills: I imagine you’re motivated by something that’s exciting you for the future.
Scott Whitlock: for the future. Well, I recorded a little fireside chat and sent it out to all the Flex dogs after the day one event, because, you know, there weren’t very many people who knew that this was going on.
So it was quite a shock to the system. I think the general
within FlexWare was, you know, Scott’s gonna run this till he retires, and he’s not quite retirement age yet, so it’s, we got a while,
Joe Mills: he is still running it.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. and you know, the theme of the fireside chat, my dad was a neat entrepreneur, a great business guy, but he sold his business.
He, he got around to doing succession planning nine months before he passed away. And, you know, I did not want that to be me.
Joe Mills: to be mm-hmm.
Scott Whitlock: my, my wife and I, when this idea came up, my wife and I spent a lot of time talking about it in a prayer and, she’s like, man, the last thing I would want to be doing if you were gone was dealing with my grief and wondering what to do with the business.
And so, even taking that burden or risk away from her. and really frankly, for the other five shareholders and just, um, and we had a couple of guys that were nearing retirement or, or are at retirement. And so, uh, having a nice send off for them. So those are all things that were helpful in the decision making.
But then what am I excited about? Um,
Joe Mills: you’re still doing it, so
Scott Whitlock: still doing
Joe Mills: that’s keeping you there, making you
Scott Whitlock: I mean, it’s the folks, it’s the flex dogs and, and it’s the work and it’s the, I believe in what we’re doing. I have fun going into manufacturing environments and envisioning new,
ways of doing things.
the other reason we decided to do it too is because we think there’s tremendous upside and opportunity we’re gonna be around 30 million in sales, they want to take us to a hundred million in sales. Yeah. So if, if that happens, there’s gonna be a lot of places for flex Dogs to go and grow.
Yeah. And that’s exciting to me, back to mentoring and seeing people flourish. envisioning some of these young guys that came outta school with us or joined us from a worse environment, getting new opportunities and getting new titles. And we’ve got, I don’t know, 15 team leads now or something like that, that have probably two to five, six people working for them Yeah.
That are flexing those muscles now and figuring out if they like it or if they don’t like it and you know, their team’s telling ’em whether they’re good at it or not good at it, you know, but we’re, I mean, that is awesome growth and doing it in a, in an environment where, uh, you know, it’s comfortable.
So that’s, that’s what I’m excited about. There’s, I’m a little anxious about all the opportunities
that we have. ,
Joe Mills: and how to discern them. Oh
Scott Whitlock: my gosh, there’s so many opportunities and, I’m working harder now than I probably ever have in my career because I’m serving multiple bas
Yeah. but it’s, uh, but it’s exciting and it, it certainly keeps us seven energized. There’s no downtime.
Joe Mills: Yeah.
Well, that was, you just answered one of my other questions was like, what is it like to now have, you know, an an actual person you are responsible to.
versus I’m the owner, I’m the operator, I, it’s me and my board, and I’m one of those board. yeah.
Scott Whitlock: I would call it a little bit of an ameba right now. It’s, it’s
it’s, you know, it’s jello. Yeah. And we’re figuring that out. I mean, certainly I have people I’m accountable to.
I have a board report we do every month. and my chairman is a guy named Hero, Higa. Koi. and I think he’s trying to, you know, let us go and grow on our own mm-hmm. while presenting opportunities and,
from us and, prodding
us along with some new ideas and new opportunities that may be able to help us grow the way they want us to, you know, could even be inorganic
Joe Mills: mm-hmm.
Scott Whitlock: other acquisitions.
Sure. And so that’s exciting. Um, it
is not, it’s not super prescriptive outside of the budget. The budget budget’s a little prescriptive. It feels a little prescriptive . Um,
Joe Mills: and that there are them
Scott Whitlock: yeah. That there are budgets and there, you know, multiple analysts working on our little budget right now. Like, wow. Yeah. This is one spreadsheet,
Yeah. But, um, but that, that’s all good. it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Cool. Yeah.
Joe Mills: Well, awesome man. Um,
thank you for coming by and
thanks being honest.
One more question for you as we walk. Personally, professionally, both, whatever. Um, what are you excited to grow into
in, in 2023?
Scott Whitlock: I, I mentioned my crowdsourced idea for my family.
um, being more present, um, you know, I mentioned being busy. Um, I went out and saw a couple of our folks at a
plant site, factory site last week. And, I’m interested in growing into
more quality time with people in 2023, the best I can of serving all these bastards we have right here.
Um, we’ve got some celebrations to do this year. We’re, we’re taking our teams to build a couple of homes of Hope Homes down in Tijuana. so celebrations, spending quality time with people, trying to quiet the monkey mind, and then coming alongside the family with some, some of their crowdsourced ideas, running a half with our daughter-in-law.
Um, our, our son-in-law and my daughter, they wanna do an MS ride for a good friend of theirs, in Colorado. So,
That fits in the quality time category. Yeah. Um, so yeah, those are the things I’m wanting to grow into in 23.
Joe Mills: Sounds like a great year, man.
Scott Whitlock: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Joe Mills: Thank you.
Reid Morris: All right, Joe. So had a really awesome conversation with Scott. And so there’s a lot that we dove into, but what were a couple of the things that really stuck out to you in that conversation?
Joe Mills: Yeah. I think the first one that comes to mind is he has an ethos in an, like a habit of testing without knowing the future. Mm-hmm. , I think a lot of times we get pressure to like, know the long-term vision and.
Like live into it. And until people say things like, well, until you have goals, you can’t go anywhere. And it’s like, well, there’s some truth and there’s some not truth in there. And Scott talked about, I asked him like, did you, did you foresee doing this for the rest of your life when you started FlexWare?
And he was like, I was 26. No. Um, he was like, I was just getting some business and I got some more business and then I got some more. And it’s like being open to just doing the next best thing was a feeling in there. And also, um, just the idea.
opportunity out and seeing where it takes you.
And he brought that up with some of his own mentoring that he is doing and so I think this idea of testing and iterating and feeling things out was one.
Reid Morris: Mm-hmm. , I’d say it’s, it’s interesting because I feel like we’ve been in a period of time where there has been messaging and just people out saying, you need to have this grand vision.
Or even if people aren’t saying that, you need to, people create the impression that they had this grand vision for this thing that they’re doing Yeah. And I feel like on some level that. Dying down a bit. Now as people come to the realization that that’s just not accurate. And you’ve talked about a book that you read recently that’s saying, you know, you don’t need to have this whole thing figured out for yourself at a 24, 26, whatever year age.
So I think it’s a really positive message from him can hopefully give some people who maybe aren’t even in their twenties, but even in their thirties and forties, like people start businesses much later on. Yeah. don’t need to have that grand vision at whatever point you’re at today.
Joe Mills: Totally. To that point, I remember seeing the stats somewhere that most people start businesses after 50. Um, so while the world sort of pumps the 25 year old founder, and certainly that was Scott.
It. Doesn’t show you that that could happen at any point. And regardless if you’re 26 or 50 and trying to start something like just being okay with not, like, I don’t know what it’s gonna turn into exactly, but I have some opportunity in front of me and things that I’m are worth exploring. The other thing I felt like with him was a sense of the importance of community and mentorship.
Even like peer-to-peer mentorship, he brought up, we started the conversation with the, um, crowdsourced New Year’s resolution, which I just loved from his, CEO round. And it’s like, oh, that’s really cool. And he is still searching for his own learning and mentoring and growing, even as a very successful entrepreneur.
And then he also is giving that back in ways that are really, they, I feel like they fill him up as much as they felt the people that he was doing it for. And so I felt like, uh, the other big theme was just this idea of like, surrounding Trump of the community. , which goes back to what Chip talked about earlier about how do you create these feedback loops and how do you learn things like you gotta have people around you helping you do that.
So that was the other big one.
Reid Morris: you know, when we’re talking about Element three’s purpose and just a lot of the conversations we’ve had on 1000 stories around, creating impact in. , the people in your immediate sphere, your business, your community, and on some level that often turns into business.
Creating the financial resources do have impact to help build things. But I feel like we haven’t touched as much on this mentorship side of things of you can give back just because of the things that you’ve learned, not the things that you have earned over time. And that those are two very different, but like parallel paths and how you’re gonna have impact around you.
Joe Mills: really like the earned versus learned and how they both are ways to give back.
That’s cool. I like that.
Reid Morris: Cool. Well, I’m looking forward to the next one. Mm-hmm.
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