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Success Story Podcast

Why Business Edu & Training is Broken + Software to Fix it with Matthew Confer, VP Strategy at Abilitie

By June 2, 2021June 10th, 2021No Comments

About The Guest

Matthew Confer is Vice President of Strategy at Abilitie, a provider of simulation-based manager and executive development training for more than 50 members of the Fortune 500 in 30-plus countries around the world. Confer has spoken on the topic of Leadership Development at TEDx in Dallas, Texas; at the CLO Exchange in San Diego, California; and at the L&D Executive Summit in Orlando, Florida.

He has facilitated more than 20 simulation-based training events with leaders in Dubai, Bangkok, Mexico City, Paris, Mumbai, and across the United States.

Talking Points

  • 07:07 — How do organizations train employees, today?
  • 09:09 — The future of leadership training.
  • 19:14 — Why traditional business education is failing people.
  • 24:47 — When sh*t hits the fan, can you keep your cool?
  • 34:10 — The truth about working with smaller companies.
  • 36:15 — Don’t pigeonhole yourself.

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Success Story Podcast

Stories worth telling.

Welcome to the Success Story Podcast, hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

Read The Transcript (Machine Generated)

Scott: [00:00:00] What’s going on, everyone. Scott here from the success story podcast. Another great episode today, I have Matt confer, who is the vice president of business development at abilitie. Abilitie is reshaping the way that we train and teach individuals. They’ve created a simulation based learning technology.

This is going to revolutionize. The way that founders, CEOs, executives can teach what they know to their peers, their coworkers, their new hires. They focus on leadership and leadership development training, but the options are truly endless with their proprietary tech. And just to name a few names that they’re working with right now, they’re working with.

Coca-Cola Marriott target, Dell, CBS general electric. These are enormous companies that are adopting this super disruptive training technology. Matt is an incredible individual. He is a TEDx speaker. He hosts his own podcast that has hundreds of thousands of downloads. He has delivered leadership training globally, truly globally.

And he’s going to break down what their tech is, what good training looks like, what bad training looks like and how we can better teach people so they can contribute more quicker to businesses to start up to new companies. We also have an incredible sponsor today. Again, Gusto, thank you so much for sponsoring today’s episode.

If you are an executive or entrepreneur and you need help. Managing day to day tasks, payroll, HR Gusto is a perfect one-stop shop solution. They have a special offer for everybody listening today. So stick around and you’ll hear the special offer for all success story podcast, listeners. I hope you enjoy today’s show let’s jump right into it.

Thanks again for joining me today, I’m sitting down with Matthew confer, who is the vice president of strategy at abilitie. They are a provider of simulation-based. Manager and executive development training courses for more than 50 members of the fortune 530 plus countries around the world. They have worked with some huge marketing names.

Coca-Cola target Marriott, Dell, CBS, general electric. They’ve partnered with UCLA and university of Texas. Incredible work. I’m curious to understand and unpack what that exactly means and, and what they do for companies. And also, you know, Matt. I’m not going to go into your story. I know you come from Deloitte and you’ve had a few like executive roles, but introduce yourself, tell us all about yourself.

Tell us how you got to, you know, from point a to point B and let’s let’s get into it.

Matthew: [00:02:29] Oh, I’m really excited to be here. So, yeah. As you mentioned, I worked for a firm called abilitie. We’re a leadership development provider of experiential learning. So learning by doing the best way that I sometimes describe it is.

You wouldn’t want to get on an airplane with a pilot who hadn’t been in a simulator. First, our perspective is you wouldn’t. I want to work for a company or you wouldn’t want to be led by somebody who hadn’t done some simulation training on how they are as a manager, how they manage a balance sheet and how they make decisions.

So we have built technologically driven, competitive team-based simulations, focused on what it means to be a great leader and a great manager.

Scott: [00:03:11] So that’s, that’s very interesting. Cause I I’m now just thinking like, even through my own career, I don’t think I’ve ever had I’ve had role-playing, but I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like this, but like a true simulation.

So let’s get into that more, but first let’s do your backstory, like let’s speak about where you came from and what led you to, you know, where you’re at right now.

Matthew: [00:03:32] Yeah. So I went to university on the east coast originally thinking that I wanted to be a lawyer very quickly decided that that was not the path that was the best spot for me to go.

So, as you mentioned in the intro made my way to Deloitte consulting, which anybody who’s worked at a large professional service or a large consulting firm would probably agree that it’s, it’s one of the best places to start your career. Because you learn an incredible amount from unbelievably talented individuals.

And I definitely had that experience. I think in the back of my head, I knew that I wanted to work at a smaller company. And as you also mentioned in the intro, I moved my way. To another consulting firm then do a financial technology company. Deloitte actually had moved me out to Austin, Texas, which is where I’m based now.

And about three years ago, I found my way to abilitie and I actually found my way here through LinkedIn. So I’ve been a huge proponent of the LinkedIn platform for a very long time. I would say it probably led to three of the four jobs that I’ve had. In my career. And I actually connected with an employee at abilitie, which a week later led to a conversation with the CEO at abilitie, which two to three weeks after that led to me joining the team.

So I’m definitely a, a shining example of the power of cultivating a LinkedIn network and then using it to to find your next career and,

Scott: [00:04:56] and walk me through what a vice president of strategy actually is. What does that mean?

Matthew: [00:05:04] I would say about half of my role is focused on business development. So talking to our new clients or perspective clients about their leadership development priorities and how experiential learning can fit.

A lot of the times, I talk about the fact that what we do is a little bit of a leap to your point. You’ve never really done anything like it. And many of the clients that we work with have, have never done anything like this. It’s a new way. Of training. It’s a different way of thinking about developing the leaders of tomorrow.

And so a lot of my role is, is explanation and necessary. It, it’s talking about what did you do in the past? What worked, what didn’t work have you considered utilizing simulation based learning? Do you think your employees would enjoy a team-based approach to training and are you believers and how can I convince you that an active approach to learning is better than a passive approach to learning.

Then I think the other half of my role is focused strategically about where our company is going. Even though we have the opportunity to work with. Some incredibly large and powerful organizations. We’re actually a relatively small company and depend a lot on contractors around the world to deliver our simulations.

We do a lot of train the trainer programs to make our plans, clients capable of delivering our programs. And so a good portion of my time, the role is actually figuring out how our company can deliver and maybe to use a metaphor punch a little bit above our weight. So that’s how I would describe my role.

Scott: [00:06:34] So that, that makes a lot of sense. And I want to, I want to sort of double down on understanding more about what abilitie does and how they sort of how you work with companies. But first let’s set the stage to, to highlight the, the contrast. So what is, what is the type of training that I I’m going to pick a random number 995% plus of companies do right now that I’ve been.

Probably exposed to my career and probably many people listening. So what’s the benchmark that you’re differentiating yourself from.

Matthew: [00:07:07] Yeah, I think a lot of organizations use PowerPoint or other materials to convey structure around maybe theory about what it means to be a good manager or perspective based on what it means to be a good leader.

At organizations, they might use behavioral frameworks. They might have you read a book on leadership or listen to an executive at the company. Talk about what it means to be a good people manager. What we’re firm believers is that there needs to be an active role in learning if anything, we face so many distractions as professionals and just in general as people.

And if you’re learning. Or your training isn’t interactive in nature. People are just going to check out. And so, unfortunately I think a lot of people scratch the surface with what you refer to meaning role-plays, and that’s kind of the extent of experiential learning that they do. We’ve tried to create an almost gamify, the training approach, where you’re logged into a simulation.

Your teammates are talking to you. You’re seeing emails come on the screen, just like you do in your real world. You’re making decisions about pricing or strategy or. Making an acquisition in one of the games to go against your competitors. And then you’re actually getting out of the simulation and talking and reflecting back on your decision.

So a huge part of experiential learning is actually the reflection on what you did. So it’s one thing to just let you loose in a game. It’s a whole nother thing in a much more powerful to actually put you in real world situations, watch you perform and then ask you to reflect on that performance. And I think that’s the key piece.

Scott: [00:08:54] And is this like, so this is very interesting. So is this like an AR environment or is this a, you say game? What does that mean?

Matthew: [00:09:02] Yeah, so it’s basically a browser based simulation. So no virtual reality. No, AR I’ll take a, one of our simulations is called management challenge on surprisingly it’s about the challenge of people management.

And so when you log into the game, you and your teammate are actually presented with six virtual characters and these virtual characters send you emails. They send you a little slack messages, you watch videos of these characters, and then you’re actually presented with different challenges. You know, what characters should work together on what projects you have limited time as a manager in the simulation.

How do you want to. Spend your time. You can coach characters, you can provide them feedback. You can roll up your sleeves as a manager and actually do the project. And I think one of the reasons we’ve been very successful is these are all team-based competitive simulations. So if you and I were partners, there’s other teams.

Partners in the game and they have those same six characters and they’re presented with the same challenges, but we all go about it in different ways. So we’re learning from our peers, watching what they’re doing, and then as a group or as a class, basically reflecting on that event. And I think that’s allowed us to scale with a lot of our organizations that we work.

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That’s very, very, very interesting. I guess I was probably like shooting, like to the next iteration of where leadership gamification is with AR I was too far. I keep thinking like, oh, that’d be so that’d be so much fun to like participate in. But I think that already, like this is a huge step, like compared to again, what everybody experiences in their career and.

Like you have these, you have these logos, like those are not small names. What, what is the feedback? What are the results of this type of gamified leadership training?

Matthew: [00:12:31] I think the hardest thing in our industry to be totally Frank and honest is ROI. Sometimes it’s really hard to get a return on investment reading on training.

What we do find is that survey scores for experiential learning are off the chart compared to a passive approach to learning. I think that makes a lot of sense to people. If you’re asking people to just sit in a room or in a zoom classroom and listen to somebody. You know, PowerPoint, slide them over and over again.

They’re not going to feel like that was the best use of their time. If instead they’re involved in the experience, they’re making decisions, they’re interacting with teammates. They’re probably going to find that to be a much more enjoyable experience. The hardest leap that we have to make is what is the ROI on putting somebody in leadership training?

We’ve worked with some of our clients on surveys of the people that they manage and has their managerial effectiveness gone up after going through leadership development training that involves simulations. We’re very positive on the ROI if you measure it that way. But I would say to your point, that is probably the hardest part in our industry.

It’s a lot different than if you bring in a new financial analyst and you’re able to potentially more easily quantify the approach that they’re having or the impact that they’re having.

Scott: [00:13:48] Yeah. So I agree with you there. I think it is, it is hard to quantify, but it’s still, it’s still is like when you’re, when you’re teaching leadership.

I would say that like, I guess it depends on the business unit that you’d be teaching it into because there there’s still some, like, like you said, surveys, employee surveys, satisfaction. Just, I think like anecdotal feedback from people feeling more comfortable and actioning the things that they’ve learned and just feeling more like confidence.

And you’re probably not going to get an ROI reading on that, but I would say that if a leader who like participates in these types of programs, Is a repeat customer or return customer, like it’s silly to say, but like that’s, that’s, you know, there’s, there’s your feedback right there that they felt good about it.

They learned something, they felt like it actually, like, it like changed in a positive way. Something that they were struggling with in their day to day job or their career. And then they’re going back to you because that’s really like for all types of training. I’ve, you know, I’ve, I’ve hired on sales trainers.

I’ve hired on leadership trainers. I’ve gone to sales, training, leadership training, sort of like my area. And when do you go back or when do you have a repeat, you know, you want, when you feel like you’re actually taking something from that, implementing it, and then it’s working out with the positive result.

And if you have people that are coming back to you like that, that’s your, that’s your metric right there. Because tons of people see training, they used, like you said it, you nailed it. They sit in this training. They never want to go back. They never actually anything. They don’t learn anything they zone out.

And then it’s like, they’re back to what they were doing the next week. Right. So I think the people going back to you and, and doing it again and again, and again is probably just a that’s one sign. But it’s, it is, it’s a tough business to be in, right. To be, to be selling something like this, because it’s also very blue, blue ocean.

It’s something that I, yeah.

Matthew: [00:15:39] It is. And we find that clients that do come back to us, what I think they say, and it hints at what you’re saying. Our environment is somewhat of a sandbox for you to bring out what you want and what we find that most clients want is. They want to throw their leaders into something that’s a little bit different.

They want to test them. They want to get them out of their comfortable limits, but then they want to make the tie back to what’s going on in their world. So for Coca-Cola or for a client that we’re working with, our simulations don’t necessarily look like the world that these Coca-Cola managers or executives operate in day to day.

But during the reflective pieces, what starts to come out is, Hey, we struggled with a, B and C in this simulation. That’s pretty indicative of what our team in Latin America is struggling with. Right now. Let’s use this as an opportunity to talk collectively as a leadership team and figure out. The real problem in our real world.

So the simulation becomes this really nice sandbox to practice and stretch yourself. And then in the reflection piece, you’re actually tying it back to your real world.

Scott: [00:16:47] And then. My followup to this would be for people that aren’t at that enterprise level, but see value. And this type of learning resonates with them.

How do they get access to something like this, an entrepreneur first time, CEO, founder, one

Matthew: [00:17:06] of the most interesting things you asked about what my role is. And one of the fascinating things about our organization is about two or three years ago. Almost the entirety of our, our business was taking one of our simulations and slotting it in at a very large organization.

Usually it will say fortune 500. What changed was we started to have more and more companies, small to midsize, ask us to design leadership programs for them taking what we’ve learned from working with some of the largest corporations in the world. What then the iteration of our business was, was actually rolling out a mini MBA program.

That’s fully open enrollment. So. Our CEO it’s called the invited MBA. So it’s the invited MBA. Buyabilitie our company. Our CEO’s belief is that in a 12 week mini MBA program, you can give leaders a small taste, but a very impactful taste about what you learn in a full-time MBA program. So instead of asking people to either leave their full-time jobs or get their companies to support them doing that, we actually offer a night and weekend program.

This will be our fourth cohort going through it this year. Originally it was based just in Austin. And then actually as a result of COVID almost 30% of our work pre COVID was fully virtual. So we just decided to go fully virtual with everything. So our mini MBA, open enrollment, all of our corporate programs, we just transitioned to our virtual classroom and it’s been very successful for our organization.

Scott: [00:18:36] Yeah, I would say that that’s it. That was a smart move. Because that means that you have all these data points from. From from live leadership, simulations and training that you, you are truly just bringing into education and you can, you, you know, I think that MBA, the traditional MBA, that’s actually the one thing that it’s missing.

It’s missing the insights for people that are actually doing the things. And it’s mostly theoretical, unfortunately, and not tangible or practical. So I think you’re actually filling a huge gap. I think it’s actually probably a very strong business case or a business idea in and of itself. Because I find that sort of education lacks a hundred percent.

Matthew: [00:19:14] The thing that surprised us the most which we were not really prepared for is a lot of. Corporations small, mid and large wanted to then send people through the invited MBA. So almost sponsor them to go through the program in lieu of sending them back to a full-time program. So that’s been one of the fastest growing parts of our business, which I’d have to say caught us a little bit flat, to be honest.

Scott: [00:19:37] Well, congratulations. And I think that actually, it just shows you the need for, for. Education that is useful versus again, just theoretical. I’m curious because you’re in this space and I know you have a podcast and, you know, we can plug that at the end where people go check it out. But some of the things you talk about on your podcast are the disbeliefs or, or, or, or common beliefs that are held in leadership.

That aren’t true. And, and I actually really would appreciate if you could. Tell me some of the lessons that you see, or you learned from both your interviews on your podcast, as well as some of the lessons, leadership lessons pick a few or one or two main ones that you see after individuals go through this program.

What are the things that leaders think they have down that they have a total misconception or or to come belief in leadership? That just isn’t true.

Matthew: [00:20:35] The one that sticks out to me is I think there’s a perception and I fell into it too. That there’s a golden rule approach where you as a manager or you as a leader, want to do unto others as you would want done onto you.

And that kind of sounds great. I mean, it sounds like, oh my God, that’s a wonderful way to approach leadership. The problem is it misses the fact that other people aren’t like you and other people potentially want to be like led in a very different way or have different things that motivate them. And what I struggled with as a manager earlier in my career, what a lot of people struggle with in our simulations and what a lot of the guests on the learn to lead podcast that I host have told me is that.

You need to do your best to get in the head of the people that you’re managing and adjust your managerial or leadership style based on them, not based on how you would want to be led or how you would want to be managed. And people who are really successful people, managers are the people who go into every conversation.

Rejiggering their approach based on the person that they’re talking to, not being a static leader to everybody, just trying to be the leader that they would want to be led by. And I think that’s a huge shift that it’s very tough to make early in your career, but once you make it, it reframes everything that you do as a leader.

Scott: [00:21:52] And do you have, so now I’m just thinking that’s, it’s, it’s almost a V it’s a huge paradigm shift from what? From what I think a lot of us do, unfortunately How do you do that effectively? Because that is incredibly difficult to have a strong enough read on an individual who everybody has different personality, types, not everybody is so open with, with how they would like to be led.

Not everyone’s going to tell you that. Right. So how do you actually go into a conversation and understand how somebody would want to be led?

Matthew: [00:22:28] One thing that one of our simulations does is you log in and you see your team and the team has all of your characters, all of your resources. It says, you know what their skill sets are, it lays it out for you.

Then it tells you what their engagement is. It’s kind of a green, a yellow, red, green bar, how engaged they are. And then it says how much capacity they have. And if you overwork your employees in the game, actually their capacity tokens start to go away. I like, I like to tell leaders that, and I’ve actually noticed some leaders at the end of the simulation.

Do this. Have you ever thought that thought at the end of the week, I manage these six individuals. What is their engagement level. If I had to mark it on a, on a red, yellow, green bar, like how far to a hundred percent green would they be and how much capacity do they have left and what motivates them in the game that, that gives you like a little profile.

It says, you know, so-and-so is this, they came to your organization. Now they’re hoping to get this out of their career. Have you ever structurally thought. I have six people on my team and I’m going to write down what motivates these six individuals. And I’m going to actually try to chart out how engaged they are and the people who showed up on your lowest levels of engagement.

Why aren’t you setting up a meeting with them on Tuesday when you get back into the office? Like, why aren’t they your first call Monday morning or your last call on Friday afternoon? And I think that’s a really powerful shift. Sometimes it is as simple as like writing out. If you, if you’re, if your people were game characters, How would they show up right now?

Scott: [00:23:59] Yeah. So it’s, you know, it’s, it’s common sense. Isn’t common and it’s just being like that, that little extra effort. Again, you’re assuming you’re working with your team for awhile. That’s going to, that’s going to give you a pretty damn good read, so you don’t have to actually, you know, that’s a good, that’s a great suggestion because to my point, you don’t have to go into every conversation guessing or assuming, and you shouldn’t.

So that is very, very smart. And I’m curious, is there one particular common item or task that leaders can or seem to continuously fail at in the game? Is there a trait that people generally just very bad at or is it cause now you have, it’s not a presentation anymore. You have data points. To, to back up where people suck.

Right? So

Matthew: [00:24:47] w without a doubt, my favorite simulation that we offer is something called enterprise or executive challenge, and it’s focused entirely on cross-functional collaboration and decision-making, so you build a business from the ground up, and you’re competing with other teams to build the most successful business.

And what leaders. Struggle with more than anything else is cross-functional collaboration. We throw so many challenges at you and you get stuck in your silo. One of the roles in the game is you’re, you’re running the R and D department. And another role is you’re running the sales and marketing department.

It’s inevitable that when the clock is ticking down in the game, when emails are flooding your virtual inbox, R and D and sales and marketing, aren’t talking as much as they should. They’re not communicating, they’re not challenging themselves to work collectively. As a team, they get very stuck in their silo.

We hear from our clients time and time again, that that’s the one thing that they want, their rising leaders that their organization to do better. They want to promote people who are cross-functionally well connected. Who collaborate well among other departments and who view the organization as like a cohesive whole, not as separate parts, that if the parts just do a good job, the company will be successful.

So that’s a huge suggestion that I make to people early in their career network and meet people in other departments, because those are the types of connections and skills that are going to help you really accelerate your career. When you move up the ladder.

Scott: [00:26:15] And I think that very, very well said. I think the reason, unfortunately, that that tends to be the default is because when your inbox is flooding, you’re focusing on the things that are going to unfortunately preserve your own job.

Right. You’re focusing on your own KPIs, your own. Okay. Ours and all the other things seem to be. Things that you can take care of later on when you’re not hitting your revenue targets or you’re not hitting your conversion rates. And I guess, I don’t know if you have suggestions, is it an organizational challenge or is it a leadership challenge to find a way to make it so that the environment it is better for leaders or, or more conducive for leaders to work together when KPIs are not aligned and knocking grunt right across departments.

Matthew: [00:27:03] We do a big exercise at the beginning. So we play multiple quarters of this simulation. And one of the questions that we ask after the first or second quarter is we give teams a strategy session before every quarter. So before the clock starts, we give you a strategy session. After the first or second quarter is over.

We usually ask. Think back to the first two strategy sessions, how much time did your team spend on the, what you’re going to do? Like what products you’re going to produce, what you’re going to charge? What, what, what, how much time did you spend talking about the, how, how we’re going to operate as a team, how we’re going to make decisions, how we’re going to deal when we disagree?

And inevitably almost all of the teams spend 95 to a hundred percent of their time talking about the, what you get so sucked into the game and the competition that you focus on, what you’re going to do, not how you’re going to do it. My biggest suggestion is teams. And when you’re on a new team or when you need to reset your team, focus on how you make decisions, have a conversation about how your, your processes are in place.

Because to your point, when you get overwhelmed, when the email inbox is flooding, when you’re, when your phone is blowing up, You’re not going to have time to focus on the, how you’re going to be sucked into the what. And that’s what teams who do really well. They do really well in the game. They get really focused on the house.

Scott: [00:28:21] Very good advice. And now this is, I, I hope this is not too much of a vanilla question, but I am curious because again, you are in leadership and over the past year and a half, there’s been a, for most of us, a huge. Change in how we function as teams with virtual and remote. So what are the leadership lessons that you’ve seen have allowed people to maintain their effectiveness?

When everybody goes, remote goes virtual because I’m sure there’s some breakdowns in a traditional office environment that had to be adjusted for.

Matthew: [00:28:54] I think two things. The first was an observation which was, we were blown away by how people embraced virtual a lot faster than we expected them to. We were planning on more virtual training.

Obviously a global pandemic was not in our plan. But we were blown away by how people said our leaders now need to operate in this environment. We need to train them in this environment. The real answer to your question though, is I think in order to be an effective virtual leader, I think you need to meet more frequently.

For less time. So what we did as an organization is we were a culture that didn’t have a real meeting culture. Maybe we got together as a team once a week to catch up on things. We moved that to a much shorter meeting every day, and that’s a big suggestion that I would make to managers. You should catch up.

For 10 to 15 minutes every day or every other day with people on your team, if you previously met for 60 minutes once a week. And I think the reason it’s important is we all default to this 30 minute or 60 minute meeting, because that’s what our technological programs tell us as a default meeting.

Actually, I think that’s really horrible in, in, in essence, if you can do in 10 minutes, you should have multiple 10 minute meetings and you should take the other 20 minutes of that block and be really, really, really productive. Unfortunately, we work and we just make things, expand to the meeting block that we give it, force yourself to make 10, 15 minute meetings and see what happens.

And I can almost guarantee you’re going to be way more effective.

Scott: [00:30:24] Good, good tests. You’re you know, every question I asked you, you’re like nailing like very, very. Tactical tips. People can take away right away. So I appreciate that. That makes my show better. I, we went through a lot of just like leadership lessons that you’ve learned out through, like through some of your clients and some of the, some of the things, even like, I can tell, like you sort of dealt with these and obviously figured them out as an organization.

Is there any other, cause I want to ask some rapid fire things that are just from your career. Are there any other things that you’re working on with abilitie, things, leadership lessons that you wanted to dive into or any other points that you wanted to bring up on the podcast that we didn’t yet?

Matthew: [00:31:03] The most enjoyable thing that I ever got the opportunity to do was speak on the TEDx stage about decision-making. And I think what I’ve found is more and more people are coming to us asking about decision-making. And one of the tips that I give is. I learned a little bit about how Amazon does their decision-making.

And one thing that they do is they call it almost their press release method, where you, if you want something to get accomplished, you need to come to them with the finished press release of how it would be received by the market. And then you need to be thinking about the final product before, or you get started on the path to make a decision or get something approved.

And that’s a suggestion that I make to a lot of teams. And a lot of times people come to me on our team or we as a leadership team struggle because we’re so focused on like what could be, but we don’t actually scope out what the final product. Would be, or what we’re aiming for. And so sometimes it’s really powerful to start at the end and almost work backwards.

And so the decision making is probably the one thing that we hear time and time again, is what more leaders are looking for skills and advice

Scott: [00:32:11] on very good advice. That’s, that’s why you’re nailing all these answers. I didn’t realize that you were a TEDx speaker. I couldn’t find that when I was doing the research, but your answers are very succinct and well, well thought out, so there you have some training and and, and it shows so good.

Okay. A couple, a couple of quick life, lesson insight questions that I like to go through. Your, your vice-president in a high growth startup, right? What advice would you be giving somebody who wants to pursue a career similar to yours?

Matthew: [00:32:42] I, it would probably go back to what I said earlier. I have had, I don’t know, I’ll estimate it 137 coffee or virtual meetings with people that I’ve connected with on LinkedIn, who I reached out and I’ve had those hundred and 37 meetings because I probably sent 468.

Requests and get denied most of the time or don’t hear back. So I think my biggest piece of advice is continue to reach out, but make sure that you’re not just copy and pasting the same message to everybody. There’s a wealth of information about fascinating and interesting people that you might want to talk about.

A lot of those people get a ton of messages, but you can stand out by saying, I saw that you did X, Y, Z. Have you ever thought about doing ABC or I did this in university and I think you might find it interesting. I hate to be a bother, but could I grab 15 minutes of your time? Or could you write me back with an answer to this question that I’m struggling with and by being a little bit different, I think you’ll be shocked how many people get back to you?

And it’s definitely changed the course of my career. Good.

Scott: [00:33:47] Good advice. What is, what is one common myth about what we’ve kind of gone into this that’s actually, I was going to say about leadership, but you’ve already gone into the midst of it leadership. So let’s change it up. What’s a, what’s a common myth about.

Moving from a large organization into a startup environment that you would want to debunk in terms of professional career.

Matthew: [00:34:10] Hmm. I think that I have unbelievably enjoyed that. You get to be somewhat, you forced to be a Jack of all trades, where a ton of hats you can affect change with much more intensity at a small company.

The myth is maybe that there’s. That small companies run really well because they don’t have the levels of bureaucracy that have red tape. Sometimes that red tape is really good. And sometimes there’s, it is just a struggle to be at a small company because you want something done and you have to do it yourself.

When, when I was at Deloitte, if you wanted to send a client or a contact of yours, you know, a research paper, you went onto a beautifully designed website that had. 17 different research papers that you could click and automatically share it to LinkedIn and link to a podcast that Deloitte has done in, in the UK.

That’s translated to another language. That’s just ready to go. That stuff just doesn’t exist at a small company. And so, yes, it’s amazing that you can affect change, but it’s also really struggle. It’s a struggle sometimes and you have to really enjoy that struggle. And

Scott: [00:35:18] good, good. What would be one lesson that you would tell your younger self.

Matthew: [00:35:23] I think talk less, listen more when you believe that your have the right answer and you want to prove that that you’re an, an added asset to the team. You want to start talking right away. The meetings that I was the most successful on early in my career. Were those that I listened to a little bit more and I did more talking after I read the room and got a feel for where the consensus was.

And I tried to be more of a consensus builder or show that I was somebody that was a part of a team and not just somebody who wanted to get my 2 cents in right away.

Scott: [00:35:57] Good. And the, I would say. The the most important resources. So it could be a person, a podcast, a book, an audible that you have used in your life that you’d recommend to somebody else.

Go check it out.

Matthew: [00:36:15] So I think that my biggest business be a cop-out answer. And I apologize for that. I think I’m the most impressed with people who have a general sense of what’s going on in the world. If you’re somebody who knows a little bit about a lot of things, you’re a huge asset. And I’ll talk specifically for us as a small company, we need people who can do a lot of different things.

And so my biggest suggestion is. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. It’s kind of that advice that sometimes they give to athletes where they say, if since you were three years old, all you wanted to do was be a golfer. That’s amazing. You’re probably an incredible golfer, but there are many athletes who played four different sports growing up, and it completely changed the person that they were and it made them better at the sport.

They finally chose. Don’t feel like you have to know exactly what you want to do right away and do that. And only that with a singular focus. When I’m interviewing people, I find it interesting. If they did this in their career, they studied this in university and it’s very different and they volunteer doing this and it’s completely different.

I think well-roundedness is, is actually an asset and you don’t need to be a total specialized person to be successful.

Scott: [00:37:27] I don’t, I don’t particularly think that’s a cop out answer. I think that’s very good advice actually. So no, I’m very good. And then last question before we get some socials and web websites, people to go check out.

What does success mean for you?

Matthew: [00:37:41] I hope that we can have an impact on the world of education. My gut tells me that healthcare, energy and education are going to be three fields that are already massively disrupted, but need to be disrupted a little bit more. My belief is that we can make an impact from an educational perspective.

I think we’re already doing that. With the invited MBA and with some of our corporate programs, my hope is that in a few years, we’ll have made an even bigger impact there.

Scott: [00:38:08] And, and I’ll take it one step further for you personally, because again, you have a very successful career. What does success mean for you personally?

Matthew: [00:38:16] I, I hope that we become a little bit more of a household name and that I play a part in that. I think that the industry that we operate in is very competitive. And additionally, if you never have gone through one of our simulations or you don’t go to a university or work at a company, you potentially have never heard that our company’s name.

And I would like to personally play a part in, in changing

Scott: [00:38:37] that. Good. Very good. And then most important. Where can people reach out, find you on social? What’s the website. Yeah,

Matthew: [00:38:43] I really appreciate it. So Matthew confer on all of the socials, I’m probably the most active. Yeah. On Twitter, LinkedIn, and trying to become more active from a professional perspective on Instagram and definitely clubhouse.

So that’s a fun one. Exactly. And the Ted talk is under, before you decide, which was one of the most enjoyable things that I ever did. And then you referenced earlier, but I have the opportunity to host a podcast called learn to lead, and that has been an incredible part of my professional journey. And you can find our company at


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