Chris Savage is the co-founder and CEO of Wistia, a web-based video hosting solution built for businesses. He founded the company in 2006 with the goal of helping businesses effectively market their products or services in a smarter way through video. Under Savage’s leadership and vision, Wistia has experienced 100 percent growth over the past three years, expanding the company’s client portfolio to more than 110,000 users in more than 50 countries, including companies such as HubSpot, MailChimp, and Starbucks.

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The Learning Leader Show

“We decided to re-commit building the business our way, and if it didn’t go well, that was okay.  At least we bet on ourselves.”

Show Notes:

  • Commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • Voracious learners – “they celebrate learning more”
    • Crave feedback – a strong desire to improve – “They are wired to want that”
    • Patrick Campbell – “He’s trying hard to learn as fast as possible”
  • Chris’s process for continual improvement:
    • Placing people in his life to push him
      • “I go to them to push my thinking”
    • Block time to think – “Being busy is not a sign of success”
    • Spend time with customers and employees
  • Enjoying the process:
    • “It was stimulating and exciting.  It took us a year to get our first paying customer.”
    • The business was funded by savings.  They kept their expenses very low
  • Key to a successful partnership:
    • Ensure values are aligned – “These are intrinsic”
    • Know that everything takes longer than you think
    • Have a decision making framework – Demystify the process to make big decisions
  • The product strategies/options:
    • Operational efficiency – The cheapest (No, this is not optimal)
    • Product leadership – Be different
    • Customer intimacy – This will solve customer problems
  • Their values:
    • Long term company thinking
    • Creativity
    • Presentation – An elevated experience. Aesthetics matter.
    • Simplicity
  • Hiring – “Hiring is everything.”  Qualities he looks for:
    • “How are people intrinsically motivated?”
    • “Are they excited about the craft, the challenge?”
    • Give them a real-life problem to solve — And see how they handle it/resolve it
  • Inside their process to hire a VP of People:
    • Clearly define what success is in the role
    • Do a project after the first round of interviews – “Do the job, get critiqued.”
    • Build out strategy – Not a perfect plan, but have a process
    • Meet with management team, present the plan.
  • Building your network:
    • “Take the weight of your friends.  You’re the average of them.”
    • Be proactive who you want to be –> Look for people who challenge you.
    • Reflect on that…
    • Tactically: Make connections with people who you admire.  People like honest, sincere compliments.  Tell them WHY they inspire you
  • Financials: Raised angle round of $650K.  Then $800K.  All individual angels.  No venture.  They have $10m in revenue.
  • Crisis:
    • “We were losing this money, we weren’t having fun anymore… People tried to buy us.”
      • They raised debt to do a buy back… “I felt amazing.”
  • Wistia:
    • Creative risk taking
    • Have to scare self – made a feature length documentary
    • Host of the Brandwagon show
    • “Take risks that scare you”
  • Growth and profitability aren’t mutually exclusive – “Focus on building products and experiences that people love… Growth follows.”
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

“We turned down the offer to sell Wista and instead took on $17.3m in debt.”

More Resources:

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Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership