Andrew Swiler, CEO of Lanteria, shares his entrepreneurial journey and experience in acquiring software companies. He discusses the challenges and opportunities of remote work, the importance of hiring dedicated and committed individuals, and the need for HR to evolve into a strategic role. Andrew also highlights the potential of HR software in improving employee retention and engagement.

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📌 TALKING POINTS

06:38 - Raising Money to Buy Companies

10:41 - Managing Talent in a Remote Workforce

15:11 - Benefits of Remote Work for Employees

19:48 - Challenges of Remote Work and Leadership

23:11 - Qualities and Skills in Hiring

30:55 - The Future of HR and HR Software

🔗 CONNECT WITH ANDREW

🔗 CONNECT WITH TOM

Tom Finn (00:01.269)

Welcome, welcome to the show, my friends. Today we are learning from Andrew Swiler. Andrew, welcome to the show.

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Andrew Swiler (00:07.746)

Thanks, Tom. It's great to be here. Thanks for having me on.

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Tom Finn (00:10.189)

Well, we are thrilled to have you on the show. And if you haven't had the chance to meet Andrew just yet, let me take a moment to introduce you to this entrepreneur with 12 years of experience starting and acquiring, not just starting, but acquiring software companies. Andrew has built up a portfolio of HR SaaS companies. He's also the CEO of Lanteria, a leading developer of HR talent, performance and learning management software for SharePoint and a little company called Office 365. All of those users are using Lanteria. Welcome to the show, my man. I've got to ask you, how did you get your entrepreneurial journey started?

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Andrew Swiler (00:51.426)

So my journey is a little bit strange. It did start like my, I come from a family of entrepreneurs. So like my great grandfather was an entrepreneur. He had like a drug store in Wisconsin. Our family is just weird. They came from Lithuania and they stopped in a small town in Wisconsin and opened like a hardware store basically. And then it turned into a drug store and then it turned into a clothing store and like through the generations, they stayed there. My grandfather was the last one. And then my dad, I grew up with my dad, just he ran his own company, had his own stores, was always sort of like a solopreneur retail guy. And then when he sent me off to college and he told me like, get a finance degree, get a job that you can make good money in. You know, don't become an entrepreneur. Like it's a huge pain in the ass. So I went into private equity. I worked in what's like turnaround private equity. So we would acquire like distressed companies, help them sort of get out of bankruptcy, acquire their assets and then kind of build them up. So like our most famous deals was like Starbucks when they're closing a lot of companies. Wilson's Leather was a company that we bought out of bankruptcy. So I did that and I got super burned out.

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I quit my job after five years and told my boss, I'm going to go travel to Europe. And he was like, why would you do that? Like, that's crazy. We're making really good money. Why would you go there? So I went to Europe and I was on a kayaking trip in Croatia and I met my wife who's now the woman that's now my wife and we traveled together for about a month and after a month, I convinced her. I said, I want to move to San Francisco. I want to get into tech. Not I want to get into tech.

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Convinced her to move to San Francisco, lived there for a couple of years as a CFO of, of some SaaS companies. And then my wife one day said, uh, I hate it here. I want to leave. I'm tired of San Francisco. And she said, you can come with me or you can stay here. And now I live in Barcelona. So obviously I decided to come with her. And when we got here, I didn't speak the language, didn't know what to do. And my wife, uh, had just decided to start an eyewear company herself.

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Andrew Swiler (02:53.902)

And she didn't know how to raise money, didn't know how to market. She just started making these glasses and she came to me and was like, how, I need help finding money, like we need more money. And so I helped her put together like the financials and the presentation. And six years later, uh, my six month project of helping her raise money ended when we sold the company. And when we sold the company.

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I didn't know what to do and I knew I didn't want to go back to private equity. I couldn't move back to the U S I didn't want to start another company from zero. But I knew about this thing called like search funds and search funds are basically people that raise like small amounts of money to acquire smallish types of companies. So it's not like big private equity types of deals. It's more of like an in-between. Uh, and I decided to kind of go in that direction. I read thousands of things that are called SIMS, uh, confidential info, information memorandums are basically like summaries about a business that's for sale.

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about the market, learned how to negotiate the terms, learned about how to raise the financing. And finally, after reading thousands of these things, one of them came across my desk, which was Lanteria. And I said, wow, this is an interesting, this is way outside the norm. This was way outside any of the pricing or the situations or even the upside. Like Lanteria is focused on a pretty big market. I mean, we compete with Workday. And so I knew like this was, this was the deal. The two founders were from Ukraine because of the war.

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needed to sell the company. They were in a very difficult situation with clients worried about the war. Employees worried about the war. They employees all over the world. And they basically were, they weren't forced sellers, but they were in a situation where they had to make a deal. There wasn't like a way to back out of this. And so we acquired the company about a year ago and we've grown at about 35% uh, revenue over the past year. Um, and it's been pretty wild ride. We still have a lot of people in Ukraine that, that live there.

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It's not the easiest situation. I mean, it really is kind of like a turnaround. It's a company that's been flat in sales for about five, six years. And in SaaS, if you're flat, you're dying in some way. So when we stepped in, you know, we had to really, really make a big change to the culture, to the way people thought about things.

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Andrew Swiler (05:06.202)

And you kind of had to fight back. A lot of people were like, well, this is what we've been doing for five years. And it works fine. Like nobody's complained about this. And you're like, yeah, but you're not growing and like, well, why does that matter? You say, because if we're not growing, we're going to end up dying in a few years. We're just going to slowly churn out customers and we're gonna end up with no money. So it's asked you're either adding customers.

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Or eventually they're going to turn out for whatever reason. I mean, an HR, a new HR director comes in and for whatever reason, they just say, Hey, I got to show that I'm doing something. I'm going to go get a new HRMS. I'm going to go sign up for work day. And all of a sudden you've churned a $50,000 customer because somebody just wanted to show that they were doing work. And that happens.

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Tom Finn (05:48.069)

Yeah. And the reality is nobody gets fired for hiring McKinsey as consultants and nobody gets fired for hiring work day. Right. When you hire the 800 pound gorilla in the marketplace, it doesn't show any intuition or ingenuity. It just shows a safe bet. Right. Because you can't get fired for taking a middle market organization or a smaller entrepreneurial organization, getting rid of them and then going to the big dog. Unfortunately.

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Andrew Swiler (06:15.85)

Yep. Yeah. If you've got the budget workday is always a, uh, a great option to keep your, keep you employed.

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Tom Finn (06:23.973)

That's right. That's right. So, so let's go to this sort of financing round. Cause it's a really interesting story, but I think for those that are listening, I'd be interested in, how do you actually raise money to buy companies?

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Andrew Swiler (06:38.21)

So my situation is strange because I live in Spain. I live in Barcelona. Before the pandemic, what I do or what I did was not possible. If I called up the investors that invested in us, if I called them in 2019 and said, hey, I'm Andrew. I live in Barcelona. I'm a remote CEO of companies, and I want to acquire a company, they would be like, no. Why would we have so many opportunities here in San Francisco or wherever? We're not interested.

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And because of the pandemic, all of a sudden I was just another guy on a screen.

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Didn't matter in 2021 and 2022, you're talking to investors, trying to pitch them on this. And they're like, okay, cool. I don't care where you are. You're talking to me now. So that's fine. So what I basically did was, like I said, I'd read a lot of these SIMs, these information memorandums, and I knew that what I had to do was twofold. I had to find a business that we could put debt on, which would give me enough skin in the game. So like if we had debt on the business, then I could keep more equity inside of, inside of the company.

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The other thing we needed was just a slam dunk deal that I could go to investors and it wouldn't be like, well, what's your background? Who are you? How you know? It was like, no, you can't screw this up. So we'll give you the money. So when we found Lanteria, it was all the people that invested in us. I talked to them each for a total of 15 to 20 minutes each. Like the people that ended up investing, it was got on the phone, explain the deal, explain what you want to do. And they were like, I get it. Totally get it. We're in.

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a due diligence package, send us the financial so we can just sort of suss it out and review it, but count us in. And that was the type of deal we needed. Obviously there's other people that are in situations that are raising search funds or raising funds for their business that, you know,

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Andrew Swiler (08:27.03)

They go out to the market, they pitch it in a certain way, they're going after a certain market, and because of the upside or the growth, they can sell that, or because of the amount of EBITDA or the earnings that are inside these businesses, which is usually the typical search fund model, is a landscaping business in Silicon Valley that makes a lot of money and you can put a lot of debt on, and you just need to raise half a million bucks and you can buy this company that's doing five million in revenue.

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But our situation was a little bit different because it is a software company and software companies are competitive to buy. They're very expensive usually. And it's not easy to find the capital.

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Tom Finn (09:08.737)

Interesting. So I think what I heard was before the pandemic, it would have been impossible, but really the landscape changed after the pandemic because people's eyes were a little bit more open to a global population and being able to have confidence in somebody through a screen versus shaking a hand in person.

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Andrew Swiler (09:27.242)

Also just the confidence in running a global company, a company that's fully remote. If you went to a company in 2019, you said to someone, we're fully remote. That was a very niche thing. That was like there's companies that are fully remote, but a lot of times they were bootstrapped. Like I have friends that run bootstrapped, uh, fully remote companies, but that was not the norm. There was the, you know, the purveying thought process was you need to be in San Francisco or you need to be together in a specific hub where, you know, all this information is coming together. But people have seen there's,

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so much information, there's so many clubs and groups out there now and ways to share information between CEOs and between people that you can do it. And I really, I'm not a maximalist of any sort of remote work. I think remote work works for certain companies. It doesn't work for other companies and it works for certain people and it doesn't work for others. Like for me, a remote work person is somebody that needs to feel ownership in the company and in the work they're doing and they need to have a lot of agency and they need to prioritize a work-life balance. They want to be with their family more than they want to be with people at work. I know people that make they build their relationships in the office and that's totally fine and remote work is not for them. They need an in-person experience.

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Tom Finn (10:41.721)

So how do you manage talent with a workforce that's across the globe and, quite frankly, some folks that are in a war zone?

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Andrew Swiler (10:49.81)

Yeah, the war zone part is the hardest part. I mean the. The prevailing thought of remote work is every quarter or every six months, we're all going to get together for an offsite, you know, work out any of the issues we have or work on the creative stuff. I mean, we have half a dozen people that are that can't leave the country. And therefore, we really aren't doing any offsites because it's not really fair to them. So we are we've kind of put ourselves in a position where it's like, okay, we're going to go fully remote, we're not going to meet in person, we're all going to kind of work this way. Some of us have met in person, like some and get to know them, but we've, um, for me, the hardest part is you onboard someone into a remote company and the first 30, 60, 90 days, you can put together that 30, 60, 90 day plan and you can have a clear, you know, structure and learning management system. And you explain to them what they're going to do once it gets to that 90th day, um, you run a risk of churning, uh, a person that's, that's coming to a kind of worn off. Um, that initial like feeling of like, okay, you know, what am I, I'm learning all this new stuff about this company. And now it's like, I'm just sitting here like in my house by myself. Like what, what am I doing here? What, what is the experience of this company is going to give me? So what I've found, at least in small companies is over communication, over connecting with people, finding times to say, Hey, do you want to sit down for, you know, a quick one-on-one discuss with me? Our, our CTO does this fantastic, this, uh, Chris, who we, we hired a few months ago. He's awesome.

at sitting down anytime somebody wants to talk to him whenever he wants to. And he's, he basically runs everything within our development team through just knowing what people are working on through having conversations with them. So it's not about like, and it's a little counter for it's counter to what other people say. And it's not about what are the JIRA tickets? What is the timing of this? It's like, Hey, let's talk about this. Let's see where you're at. Let's see how you're feeling. And it's not like a scalable process, but it's something that for a small team.

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Andrew Swiler (12:49.13)

Definitely works that sort of one-on-one relationship that, Hey, I'm available anytime connect with me on Slack, hit me up on Slack huddles. I think that's a good way to keep that momentum going and keep that relationship building. It's like I said, it's a lot more work. Um, it's way easier to just, you know, send everything via text or make everything in a JIRA board or in a Sana board. But I think that one-on-one connection makes people feel good. But the, I mean, I think the negatives are far outweighed by the positives.

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of having access to global human capital. Like there's people that you can find, like diamonds in the rough that will cost much less, but even though they cost less, it's something that you end up, I mean, we have people that live in India that we're paying the same, that we would pay for the same position in the US, but you get people that are very motivated and like they want to show what they can do where-

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You know, you'll see in the U S or in certain, certain Western countries that, you know, there are people that are like, Hey, I should get paid this much. This is what the market says. I should get paid. And if you don't want to don't pay me. And when you see that motivation, it's kind of your, it's hard to turn your back on it.

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Tom Finn (14:02.733)

Yeah, that's a great way of putting it. That motivation really breeds success and innovation in organizations. And I love to see a global workplace. I was, I was born in Greece. I lived in London until I was eight. You know, I live in the U S now I've traveled all over the world. And, and I gotta tell you, there are some really cool people, not in the United States, right. And, and I think as, as us populace and us companies, we tend to sort of be myopic about us organizations and people in the United States, which is great. And there is a ton of talent in the US too. I'm not saying there isn't. But once you get outside the borders, it can be really fun. And just learning different cultures, different food, different ways of living and looking at life, different backgrounds, it just creates much more complexity in terms of your culture, where if everybody comes in with an open mind, which is the idea, you come in with an open mind and you can really create.

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Andrew Swiler (14:36.395)

Yeah. That's the tough part.

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Tom Finn (14:58.697)

Yeah, yeah, it can be tough, but you really create a cultural phenomenon where you can boost innovation, boost productivity, wellbeing, and then learn from each other along the way. That's the type of company I want to work for.

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Andrew Swiler (15:11.542)

Absolutely. And I think just as a recruiter, like if you're looking at, at people, for me, I find it really hard to say, I only want to recruit people in Denver. I'm only going to look for software developers in Denver. For me, it is so hard to even fathom it. Like what, how are you going to recruit someone in such a small talent pool and re restrict yourself to only that instead of saying like, Hey, how can I build systems, how can I build up my company? So we might be able to recruit someone from outside just these four walls.

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And I, like I said, it, it's not something you can just turn on and say, like, okay, we have, you know, half the team's really good at remote work. The other half is not. It's you got to keep testing people. You're going to churn people. You're going to lose people, but it's, I think it's worth the investment, especially nowadays.

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Tom Finn (15:58.477)

Yeah, I agree. And so we're looking at things from the employer perspective. How do you look at it from the talent perspective? What's in it for people out there that are looking at an organization like yours to come work for you and work with your team? What's in it for them as a remote worker?

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Andrew Swiler (16:04.053)

Yeah. I mean, the same thing that's in it for me, for me, as a remote worker, as a remote, uh, you know, CEO, I get to spend time with my kids. I get to, you know, make my time. And obviously there's remote companies that work in different ways, but I don't care what your schedule is, as long as you are actively responding to people and you're respective of other people's time too, uh, I'm, I'm totally happy with how do you want to build your life? Do you want to spend, you know, like me, I go from four in the afternoon night usually and I spend it with my kids and with my wife and then I get back online it you know from 9 to 11 or something like that and usually in the morning I go swimming I'll go for a run you can build your life the way you want to and it's not structured in this like 9 to 6 o'clock arbitrary structure that we created in like 1910 that we don't really need to continue to perpetuate and we do so I don't know I think for an employee it's just that freedom

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Tom Finn (17:17.037)

Yeah, I agree. And I think the other, the other side of that coin, if you will, is that people have to be held accountable. So that's the hard part from a leadership perspective, right? How do you hold people accountable to say, look, I want you to have your freedom. I want you to really enjoy your life and enjoy your family, but hold on a second. We are running a business. How do you, where do you draw that line, Andrew?

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Andrew Swiler (17:24.468)

Yeah. Um, I'll be honest, I'm not the best person at this. Like I, this isn't for me, a constant, uh, learning. This is something that I've spent probably the last year. I focused on really two areas of my personal being and my, my like work being. And that's around confrontation, which I'm from Minnesota. So I don't know if you know anyone from Minnesota. Minnesota is a non-confrontational place. Uh, I grew up in a non-confrontational family and for me, confrontation is like.

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It's a, it's a, it's very difficult to take in. It's very difficult to actually engage in confrontation. So I've been working a lot on, you know, what is confrontation? When is it healthy? How do you kind of manage that? But at the same time, how do you set goals? And, and the way I see, you know, I've read traction, I've read scaling up. I've been to a bunch of different seminars. I've tried to learn from different CEOs and you know, what you learn is basically your job is set high level goals.

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Andrew Swiler (18:37.064)

work with your team to sort of build that roadmap together so they feel like they have ownership in the roadmap. You're not just dictating like, Hey, we need a hundred MQLs and you're going to do it this way, this way, and this way and go minions and go take care of it. It's like, Hey, you know, we need to hit this much revenue. I think, you know, for me, I think we need to hit this many MQLs. How do you think we should get there? What would be your plan? And.

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This is where the hardest part for me in this part is when the people don't know and they are used to, like, for example, in our company, when we stepped in, they were used to this sort of like top-down pyramid where it's like the CEO knows the CEO tells us what to do. And we go this way. And all of a sudden you flip that pyramid where it's like the CEO is at the bottom, the customers are at the top and the information is going to flow down to me and you have to be the ones that kind of dictate what is the, what is it the customer wants and how do we make that happen?

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It, people struggle with that the same way with like remote work is for certain people and for other people know that sort of, Hey, let's build the roadmap together, let's set goals and let's work on like how we get there. Some people just like to be dictated to in certain ways and, and you have to hire accordingly.

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Tom Finn (19:48.929)

Yeah, building the roadmap together is a really fun way to work because you get to invert the triangle, as you said, and some people call it servant leadership, where you are actually as a CEO sort of inverting the triangle of the org chart and you're on the bottom and your customers are on the top and the teams that technically report to you are above you and you are serving them in a very collaborative way. And it does give a different perspective to everybody in the organization.

It's hard to teach sometimes to certain cultures. It's really hard to teach. So you have to be careful how you utilize it. But my favorite form of leadership is servant leadership. I just think it works a lot better in today's marketplace. And certainly with the generations in the workplace today.

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Andrew Swiler (20:31.57)

Yeah, I'm still struggling with it. Like this is my ideal sort of culture, my ideal structure of it. And I've tried to impart it and I've given sort of seminars to our team about how we want to do this. And I don't think they get it yet. And I think as you layer it, what I've noticed is as you layer in new people, those people are sort of the champions of this new way of thinking. Because if you just tell them, they still look at you as like the top down sort of leader. And you're like, no, I'm at the bottom. And until you layer those people in the middle, it's hard for the other people in the middle to like, be like, Oh, okay. So we have to do it this way. And I'm still struggling with this lot, but I think it's worth it. Like it's an investment of time and energy and you screw things up in the medium term, because people are like, why doesn't this guy just tell us what to do? And it's like, I don't know. You guys go figure it out. Like don't, don't come to me with a problem. Come to me with how do you want to solve this? Like today people were complaining on Slack about some integration that we have. And I said, I don't care.

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How do you want to solve it? Do you have a proposal? If you have a proposal, let's take a look at it. But until you have a proposal, don't just sit here and complain in slack.

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Tom Finn (21:39.285)

Yeah. So shout out to all of the young people out there that are growing their careers. If you bring a problem to a CEO or to a Slack channel, also bring a solution. It will make your life a lot easier and your solution, just to be clear, doesn't have to be fully baked. It doesn't have to be perfect. It could be a framework of could we do this or could we solve it that way? Or does anybody have some input on these three things that I'm thinking about? That is a first step in a solution, which is totally cool by most leaders. Just don't show up with the, here's the problem sandwich, can you fix it for me?

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Andrew Swiler (22:13.618)

Yeah, well, and often far too often, at least, I mean, in the cases I've seen when you're acquiring companies, people want to revert to what was the status quo and they're like, this isn't working. So let's just go back to what, what we were doing before. And then typically my response is here's why that was not working. Do you have another solution? And, you know, Usually no. And I say, if you don't, that's fine. But a lot of time went into this new solution. And if you have a better one, that's great. Then we can build on this and find a way to get to a better place together. But it does take a certain level of agency and sort of a new way of thinking to go beyond just completely.

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Tom Finn (22:53.549)

Yeah, fair enough. So when you think about remote work, you think about your business in HR, SaaS, all the experience that you've gained over the years, what types of people do you look for? Is there a, is a category of individual that you're looking for education, experience, style, personality?

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Andrew Swiler (23:11.938)

It's funny, education is like the one thing I don't look at and a lot of times when I do look at it, I view it as like, oh, that's gonna be expensive. I don't know if we can pay for that. So education for me, it's strange because we spend all this time working on our education and teaching our kids to get educated and then. In the end, I look a lot of what have people done? One of the key things for me is people that have been in certain roles for a long period of time at some point in their career. I know sometimes people, you get into a bad situation, you get into a few bad situations. One of the key things I always look for is have you held a certain role for a number of years to at least show dedication to something? And if it's not...

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Tom Finn (23:52.217)

What's that number? What's that number, Andrew?

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Andrew Swiler (23:56.142)

depends on the role, but I like to see if somebody stayed for over five years in a company, that for me is a sign that like, this person is committed to something in their life and, and they're willing to make a commitment to something else. Like if they've shown commitment to one thing I've heard.

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This is a weird segue to this, but I've heard women that are like divorced or single, that when they're looking for someone else, they want another man that's been divorced, but has been with someone for over, you know, 10 years because they feel that person has shown that they could commit it didn't work out. But they show a sign that there was some level of commitment at some point. So I see that in the job too. I mean, I see I get tons of resumes I see especially in sales. It's insane to me how many people have had zero zero jobs for over 18 months, like that they just jumped every 18 months to a different company in sales. It's crazy. It's constant. Like people that just go from base pay to base pay. Once they, you know, their quota comes up, they just skip town and head to the next company. And I'm always like, who's hiring these people? Like, why, why do you want to hire this person? Unless you just have a bunch of venture money and you just need to hit numbers to say, Hey, we've hired X amount of account executives this quarter. But I look for that. I look for people that come with a plan from day one. Like, I mean, anyone that sends me, I have an interview with a guy in marketing later tonight, he sent me a, uh, a plan before we even, like, he just sent me an application on LinkedIn. I said, Hey, you have a great background. He'd worked at Klaviyo. And I said, let's have a conversation. We.

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There's five days from that email to today and in between over the weekend, he put together a plan, said, I did some review of your business. So here's the plan that I see of, you know, what we might be able to do. It's very high level. Like this is not a details. I don't know much about your business, but this is what I think we can do for me. That's a level of commitment to show what you're doing and show that you know what you're doing that goes way beyond what most people do that. Just like, Hey, I'm going to show up and talk to you for an hour. And hopefully you hire me.

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Tom Finn (25:58.977)

So let's jump all over that one, because this is a great playbook for anybody looking for a job. If you get the CEO's attention, it doesn't have to be the CEO, the hiring manager's attention, and you've got an interview coming up, absolutely put together a one-page, two-page plan. Whatever the playbook is that you can find. Research the company, research the market, research competitors, research the actual individual you're gonna be meeting with, and try to put that down and some thoughts on even if it's questions to ask, bullet points, suggestions, whatever it may be, by the way, know that 25% of it's gonna be completely absurd, right? Completely absurd. Yeah, but the idea here is you're showing the hiring manager that you have the ability to think, you have the ability to work on your own, you have the ability and initiative to start something before you're being asked, huge. That's huge in a servant leadership remote environment.

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Andrew Swiler (26:34.886)

Yeah, yeah, it does matter. You just did something. It's like, wow.

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Andrew Swiler (26:55.351)

For sure.

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Tom Finn (26:55.553)

You have to start things without being asked. And so if you can look at the world that way and then have an interview with Andrew, I guarantee you, I don't know how this interview is going to go, but I would tell you Andrew's going into this thing with the hope that he likes this person, right?

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Andrew Swiler (27:10.046)

Yeah. Cause this sounds like somebody that's going to solve problems for me. Cause it's all you want. You want people that are going to solve problems for you. At least at our level. I mean, I I've seen some cool things. I talked to, this goes both ways, even for hiring managers. So like I had lunch with, you know, Lars Schmidt, the guy that he's on LinkedIn's learning platform, he's a, he's a big HR person. He was in Barcelona. He's a friend of a friend. So I was talking to him at lunch and he was like the bar for.

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Tom Finn (27:14.446)

Right? Yeah, that's the beauty of it.

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Andrew Swiler (27:38.686)

job for job descriptions and job posting is so low. He's like, if you look at everything on LinkedIn, just go with scroll through LinkedIn, all the job descriptions and all the job posts are the exact same. He goes, just throw a loom video of the CEO explaining the job. And he goes, you've already jumped into the top 1% of job descriptions on LinkedIn because we were like, Oh wow, this guy really took time to actually explain the job, explain the background of the company. And I've seen the video and I've seen like what the CEO or the hiring manager wants.

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It goes both ways, like...

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We also as hiring people are just lazy. It's like, here, job description, chat GPT, tell me a job description for a marketing director. And I'm just gonna throw it on LinkedIn. When you really should go above and beyond, images, video, really describing, asking for specific things in the job description, say, hey, when you apply, I wanna know this, and this about you. Those are things that make hiring people also just more interesting. And things that I've seen people do are Notion websites. People will have their resume in a Notion website,

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then they'll also like make videos specifically inside that they'll send you like a specific link just for your application showing you know what they've done, what they could do, a project proposal and like a loom video explaining sort of why they want this job and that immediately vaults you like your number one or two in that thing and I know people are busy and there's a lot of people applying and it's a numbers game a lot of times but I still think it's worth trying.

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Tom Finn (29:09.537)

Yeah, I agree with you. Look, video tells all right. We all love video now. That's the thing. That's the medium that we all have to be on. And I would tell you, if you take your five top jobs that you're interested in, you're looking for a gig and you send, like you said, just make a loom video. It doesn't have to be loom if you, if you don't know that software, but it's pretty straightforward. You can use anything really. And take a quick, use your phone, take quick video, just be professional, be, be empathetic, be kind, be to the point.

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Andrew Swiler (29:14.475)

Yeah. Just use your phone.

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Tom Finn (29:36.189)

and gets a point and tells somebody, you know, why you want the job, why you think you'd be a great fit and send that video off. We're all going to watch it because out of the, out of the hundred, 200 resumes that you're flicking through to try and just get a sense, it's something different. It makes you stop.

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Andrew Swiler (29:51.082)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's amazing how quickly you do it. Or even just using Twitter, using LinkedIn, people don't get that content really can create a resume for you where you could just send me five links of videos you've done say hey I think this is relevant to your challenges right now and I'd be like wow this guy's already talking about this on LinkedIn or on Twitter like this guy must it makes you look like an expert just having posted it and maybe like I said maybe you're just reading a chat GPT printout onto a screen but it looks professional compared to other people.

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Tom Finn (30:22.037)

Yeah, you hope that people aren't just doing that. I mean, there's certainly some content creators that are probably doing some of that. But I would think that if you're looking for a gig and you're invested in your career, you've got some kind of ideas that are your own with any luck. So I know we're, we got a few minutes here and I do wanna talk about Lantaria and what's going on next. You had talked a little bit about how you purchased the company. But what's going on next for you in terms of fundraising and growth over the next sort of 12 or 18 months?

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Andrew Swiler (30:55.746)

So we basically bootstrapped funded, like we brought in enough capital to buy the company, but we started with almost no capital in the company. So we've grown at about 35%. We're now, we're trying to raise about a million dollars to help take it to the next level. So we wanna go, we wanna get to about 10 million in sales. And we think with just a little bit more capital, we'll be able to hire, like I said, hire some pros, hire some good people, especially sales marketing people, a few more developers. But for me, beyond that, I'm looking to continue to grow this portfolio.

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HR is an amazing market. I think that it's going to continue to grow. People think that AI and robots are going to take over the world. And I personally think that humans are still going to be the biggest bottleneck. And finding great humans is going to be the biggest bottleneck in growth for any company over the next 50 years at least. And by then I'll be dead. So I don't really care what happens after that. But I think that is what HR is. And I think that HR software is a way to unlock that talent, help companies get better.

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And I've seen like the dogma in Silicon Valley now is if you get past 30 employees, you should have a VP of people. People are the most important thing. People are the engine that run things. And it's not just about throwing humans at it. It's like you need good people and you need to make them happy and you need to keep them motivated. And part of that is, you know, the software and the tools that they're using every day. And the cool thing about HR tools is one of the few things that everyone in the company uses. Like it's one of the few tools. It's not like accounting where it's just only the accounting department.

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HR software. So that's kind of what I love about it. And you just meet kind of interesting people. I got the people I've met in HR have the weirdest route into HR. I met a woman last week on our podcast that she was a 911 operator and she just helped all these people and she loved helping people. She was on the phone with people like trying to jump off bridges and all this stuff. And when she got fired, she was like, what's the next step? And she got hired to be the HR director at a, at a factory and she just loved it. She just loved people. And so.

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So a lot of the HR people I met are kind of like that. They just like people and they want to help them, but they want to make people better.

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Tom Finn (33:01.589)

Yeah, look, I'm with you. I love that type of persona, empathetic, kind people that want to help. I would like to see a little more strategy out of HR people. They tend to be a little more apathetic and just sort of holding onto their job for dear life versus actually developing and building strategy. I want to see HR evolve, just like a chief marketing officer has a budget and a strategy and a chief revenue officer has a budget and a strategy, I wanna see that chief HR or VP of people have a budget, an accountable budget, and something that they have to strategize around, which makes the company better. And there are metrics and KPIs that measure it. That's what I would like to see in the world.

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Andrew Swiler (33:44.807)

I agree. I think, um… I think for so long, this was just like a compliance role or a compliance department, and it was like part of the accounting and finance department. And I think people are just finding this. I mean, I still talk, we have clients that have 500 employees and they have one person in HR that basically just runs payroll and we, we just did a podcast in those a few weeks ago, the HR of one role, but it's, it's definitely something I think the KPIs need to be updated. I think, like you said, like marketing evolves because people share these KPIs and these, you know, the, the ROAS and the CAC and all this stuff that years ago. And I think HR definitely needs to move into this, you know, KPI driven world. It's not just, uh, retention and what's our hiring funnel. And that's really what I see in KPIs oftentimes.

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Tom Finn (34:29.197)

Well, look, I'll play challenger on this one. Most HR people, and if you ask them what their turnover is, their turnover rate, they can't tell you. Unless they've been told ahead of time that you're gonna ask that question. They don't know, right? And it baffles me, because a lot of times, it's like if you asked a sales guy, hey, what were your sales numbers last year? And he's like, I don't know. I can't remember what I sold. You'd go, what are you doing?

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Andrew Swiler (34:39.949)

Pretty bad.

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Andrew Swiler (34:43.658)

Okay.

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Andrew Swiler (34:53.026)

Who cares?

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Tom Finn (34:56.417)

Or a marketing person, hey, how are your marketing budgets going? Is that Facebook thing working? Oh, I have no idea. It just blows my mind. But I think it's an area of opportunity, like you said, for HR people to be given the tools to support the budgets, the strategy, all of those things over the next few years.

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Andrew Swiler (35:05.29)

Yeah, you're right. I- Yeah. It is too fluffy. Oftentimes I agree there. It's oftentimes we yeah, you're right. I mean, I do talk to a lot of HR people and the, the thing that gets repeated, like if you were to make like a meme about just HR podcast and things like, you got to talk to your people. You got to get out from behind the screen and go talk to the people that you got to talk to the people and you got to talk to the people and that yeah, oftentimes you're like, okay, and then what happens once you talk to them.

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Tom Finn (35:42.005)

Yeah, well, I love that idea, right? You do want to talk to your people and you want to know what's going on the ground, but, but the key point is you're collecting data. The idea there is you're collecting data and then you need to do something with that data. It's not just a lovely chai tea latte. It's having a conversation that drives data function and strategy.

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Andrew Swiler (36:01.406)

Yeah, it's not always just about happiness of the employees. It's about taking that data and then figuring out what is, what are the signals here, but then how do we kind of change that and actually turn it into like growing the companies and you do meet people that do it, that do a fantastic job and they do amazing things by taking very disorganized companies, taking their HR function, building up coaching, building up all this infrastructure for the people in the company and they're able to retain. I've met companies that are doing almost 99% retention in their companies and that's unheard of in some of the industries that we work with.

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Tom Finn (36:36.321)

I love it, man. I love what you're doing. I love how you're looking at the business. I love that you're in HR software and tech and growing. I also love that you bought a company with folks that are in Ukraine and are fighting the good fight there. And you had the intuitiveness and kindness in your heart to say, let's just figure this thing out and help these folks as well. And kudos to you for looking at the world that way and trying to make a difference for all of us. So appreciate the work you're doing, my friend.

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Andrew Swiler (37:06.358)

Thank you, Tom. Thanks for having me on. It was great to be here.

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Tom Finn (37:08.621)

Yeah, great to have you on. If people want to check you out and follow you and get in touch, how would they go about doing that, Andrew?

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Andrew Swiler (37:14.462)

So I am on LinkedIn, Andrew Swiler, S-W-I-L-E-R, or on Twitter, my handle is Swiler, S-W-I-L-E-R-A. Those are really the only two social networks that I use. I don't really exist on any other ones, but you can find me there.

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Tom Finn (37:33.249)

Yeah, that's OK. We'll get you in the show notes and all of that data so everybody can just click and follow and check you out on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Thanks for coming on the show, my friends. It's been a pleasure.

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Andrew Swiler (37:44.044)

Thanks, Tom.

Tom Finn
Podcaster & Co-Founder

Tom Finn (he/him) is an InsurTech strategist, host of the Talent Empowerment podcast, and co-founder and CEO of an inclusive people development platform.

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