Ep 41 - Entrepreneur Experience: Paige Goss, Strategic Spark Plug

EPISODE 41

Entrepreneur Experience: Paige Goss, Strategic Spark Plug

In this episode, we sit down with Precursa co-founder and CEO of Point Solutions Group Paige Goss, our favorite business development guru and strategic spark plug. Our conversation ranges from the realities of being an entrepreneur, to what early-stage investors are looking for in a startup, to what really creates change and diversity in a company culture. And Paige shows us it’s possible to move halfway across the country, have twins, and start a business… in just 43 days! Good things come in small packages, and Paige is proof… Listen now!

It’s finally here! In this episode, we sit down with Precursa co-founder and CEO of Point Solutions Group, Paige Goss, our favorite resident biz dev guru and one of the best strategic minds around. Point Solutions Group is a cybersecurity consultancy Paige created to address issues with diversity in the tech world, and in 5 very short years, she’s gone from zero to absolutely killing it.

Paige’s journey in Colorado started when she decided to pick up everything (including her newly pregnant-with-twins wife), move here from North Carolina, and start a business… All in 43 days! And to top it off, she didn’t know anyone before she got here. But in true I’m-an-entrepreneur-I’ll-figure-it-out style, Paige came in and immersed herself in the startup and business communities in Denver and has never looked back.

Our conversation starts out discussing what investors look for when thinking about investing in early stage companies, and what startups Paige is involved with today. We chat a bit about the difference in handling conflict and “politics” in business between men and women, and how authenticity is the key to confidence and shifting conversations and circumstances. Paige shares her thoughts about and experience with the importance of conscious leadership and being who you are first.

We then talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace and discuss whether companies can really change their cultures to be more inclusive and how to do it. Is DE&I just lip-service, or is there a there there? (Hint: Creating an environment where people feel like they belong is the key!) We also chat about whether a startup founder can be a scale-up founder, what failure means to entrepreneurs and their companies, and we ask whether you can be an employee after being a serial entrepreneur.

Paige is fiery, smart, and cuts to the chase, and her insight is second-to-none for entrepreneurs who want to go big or go home.

Check out Paige’s recommended resources:
“The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership” by Jim Dethmer

Follow Paige through Point Solutions Group, on LinkedIn, or by email at paige@pointsolutionsus.com.

Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa: The Startup Journey on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode!

Email us with any questions or comments (startup@precursa.com). Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

(00:04):
Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception, to launch, to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns.

(00:37):
Hello everybody. And welcome back. This is Precursa this startup journey today. I am so excited. We have our very special guest continuing our entrepreneur experience series, the founder and CEO of point solutions group and our Precursa co-founder page go. Paige started the cybersecurity consultants Seapoint solutions group to address the dire need for diversity in information technology, engineering and professional services in government and commercial organizations, her extensive background in information security, healthcare it and department of the, of defense gives her the cred, tore the stru and she’s making waves and causing change on a of fronts. We’re thrilled to get to dive in deeper with her today because she’s a good human, she’s a feisty fighter for justice and transformation, and she just happens to be one of my favorite humans. So without further ado, welcome to the show page.

(01:37):
Thank you so much. I’m smiling cuz you’re one of my favorite humans and you know, I sort of of still pinch myself that you allowed me to, uh, to be on the Precursa journey with you. So you are, uh, I’m excited.

(01:50):
I pinch myself like I get Paige like Paige. Oh my gosh.

(01:58):
Well thank you. This is, uh, it’s what gets me up in the morning, I guess outside of my four year old twins that scream at me at 5 45 that they’re hungry. That also gets me up. But uh, you know, this, I love working with amazing entrepreneurs and building companies. It, it’s not for the, for the weak stomach I guess, but it is for those of us that are a bit crazy. Yeah.

(02:20):
So why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself, how you I’m an entrepreneur and maybe a little bit about what you’re currently working on?

(02:29):
Yeah, so I’ve kind of been an entrepreneur for, for a long time, really kind of from the beginning of my professional career, I graduated from a university out on the east coast and went to work for a software firm. I was selling initially. And then I joined an organization. I called the select group, which was a it staffing firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, joined them very early on in their journey. I was, uh, one of eight, I guess when I started, we were about a million dollars in revenue and over the course of my time with them, uh, we went to 160 million in revenue. We had launched 14 offices across the country and I was the number two. So I got in just an amazing experience over, I guess, kind of seven, eight years in what it was like to build things from scratch. So we built a finance department, an ops department, legal HR, or it, uh, support services, logistics, you name it. Right. And I, I had not a blessed clue what I was actually doing, but I was learning as we went and, uh, had an amazing opportunity to really be an entrepreneur within an organization before I was an entrepreneur myself. So, uh, back in 2015, I, uh, am did to leave that organization and start my own thing. I ultimately didn’t leave until the end of 2016. The CEO, um, had asked me to stay on and help transition all of what I was doing. So left there in, um, gosh, beginning of 2017, a crazy experience. I,

(03:57):
Cynthia knows this, but bought a house out here in Colorado, sold a house in North Carolina, found out my wife was pregnant with our twins, moved across the country, started a business and it was all of 43 days. Wow. So that’s really how my, uh, my entrepreneur journey started and launched PSG, uh, April 3rd, 2017.

(04:17):
Wow. And I think we’ve talked about, about this Rica officially launched in its current inception, like April 17th, 2017. So we

(04:30):
Were like 2017 was just a year magical, magical. It was a year

(04:34):
Magical right there.

(04:35):
It was. Yeah. And I mean, my kids were born later that year in October. And so it’s, it was just an amazing, uh, kinda way to start. I really didn’t have a choice, but to, to work my butt off and to try to make it happen. And so, you know, it gave me some extra motivation to, to try to see what we could do in the market.

(04:54):
Yeah. Talk about like all those things. They say these are big changes, so don’t do them all at once. You were like, screw that. I’m gonna do all of the it,

(05:02):
All of it. And then some right. Uh, yeah, but you know, I thinking back on it, I, I don’t know that I would’ve made a different decision. Um, it was exactly what I needed to do. It gave me the swift kick in the to get it going. And, you know, because I was in a position of putting every ounce of savings into the business and not paying myself a salary as most entrepreneurs know. Um, you know, I, I was in a, I had a short timeline and a pretty small window, uh, that I needed to, to really get the organization off the ground. And I’m wildly grateful to a number of individuals that joined PS she early on and helped me along the way. I got some amazing introductions from people here in Colorado. Um, I should probably also say, I didn’t know, a single human, uh, when I moved to Colorado, uh, outside of my wife who was, uh, pregnant. Um, so it was quite the journey of, you know, picking up the phone and reaching out to people and really just telling my story and kind of telling them what I thought was possible for, uh, the, the technology services, professional services space. Yeah. And it ended up, uh, I somehow convinced a few people to give a shot and, and here we are today,

(06:18):
How did you, how did you land on Colorado? Like what was it that brought you here?

(06:23):
Yeah. You know, I, I had looked at a number of different areas. I was originally actually trying to buy a company, uh, with the, the CEO that I was previously supporting. And we were going to, you know, our, our goal was to make it a women own business and to, to, uh, look at some bigger opportunities for us to potentially partner together. Okay. And so I have looked, uh, in a number of different markets, Austin, Texas was one of them, Minneapolis, um, Denver, obviously Kansas city. I I’m from the Midwest originally. And,

(06:50):
And you looked at Minneapolis and said, uh, no, thanks. Right.

(06:54):
Yeah. I, I,

(06:55):
We love you about Minneapolis, but we don’t understand how you survive up there. I know is the lakes, but you get that for like a month.

(07:02):
I know, but it is, it is cold. Uh, you know, I, I laugh sort of now because we have a number of team members actually in Minneapolis. So it’s kinda come full circle. But yeah, we, we looked here in Colorado, found a, a company that we were going to to try to purchase it. The deal ended all through, but you, I asked my wife kinda what do we have to lose? And her answer was everything. And then rebuild

(07:24):
Sounds good. And

(07:26):
I was like, all right, here, here we go. So that’s kinda what, what got us here to Colorado, but you know, it, it really is a tremendous place for building companies. There’s a ton of entrepreneurial support here. There’s an entre spirit. I think that exists here that I haven’t seen in a lot of other areas. And it, it has turned out, uh, to be a great place for, for us to make home, uh, not just for my family, but also for the business.

(07:49):
Yeah. I love that. So what do you think is the most important lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

(07:56):
Oh, wow. I’ve learned a lot, you know, I think I, I mean by a lot, I, I don’t even know. I could put words to all of the lessons I’ve learned and really probably the punches in the face that I’ve received. You know, I think it, it’s, it’s being flexible and adapting and understanding that, you know, uh, somebody told me a long time ago, nothing ever starts without a, but nothing ever goes to plan. Mm. And so, you know, I, I think adjusting, um, and being flexible and, and, you know, continuously putting yourself out there, even when you don’t want to is, is a pretty big lesson. And, you know, I’ll also say, you know, having the, the confidence and getting your ego out of the way to hire people that are better than you in areas, um, that, you know, your business needs to be successful.

(08:44):
And I think a lot of entrepreneurs, uh, struggle with that. And, and I certainly did, um, you know, it took me way too long to bring on our COO Sarah. Uh, and everybody was yelling at me in this market and the market was clearly gonna hate me. You all, probably now know she’s also a co-founder in Precursa, but you know, it was my ego. What if she actually finds out? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Oh yeah. Uh, you know, and so I think we all go through that, but hiring really amazing people, I is, is the key I think, to success.

(09:15):
Yeah. I love that

(09:18):
Inspiration has STR you’ve stumbled upon a great idea that you just know will change the world. So now what, at Precursa, we provide the best tools to help founders and entrepreneurs, just like you turn their great ideas into companies that solve real problems for real people. We believe you are the change makers, the innovators, and the force that moves technology forward. All you need is an experienced guide to keep you on track and help you navigate the turbulent waters of starting up Precursa is that guide. And with us, your roadmap to successful launch is more direct with far fewer pitfalls, ready to change the world. Precursa has your back.

(10:07):
What, what are you working on now? So obviously we know you’re a co-founder and Precursa, and we can talk about that a little bit if you want to, but you’ve got a couple of other projects, a couple of other companies that you’re investing in and that you’re supporting. And, um, you know, maybe talk a little bit about how do you pick what projects you’re working on, um, and, and sort of what is your mindset, you know, as an investor in those companies, whether it’s your time or money or whatever else, what’s that mindset that, you know, might help some of our entrepreneur listeners understand what is an early stage investor really looking for when they’re looking at a company?

(10:44):
Yeah, I think it’s a great question. So I am working on, so obviously point solutions group, uh, we did an acquisition in late 2020 of a, of another commercial services firm here in Denver. And so we kind of operate in our federal side, uh, and then also our commercial side. So, you know, day to day, that is my primary focus. Yep. Um, the, you know, obviously our work with Precursa is, you know, near and dear to my heart and I just absolutely love, uh, the, the journey that we’re on. And it has been a journey as you all have heard on this podcast, um, uh, and you know, challenges and I’m, I’m learning a lot, which has been amazing. Um, and then I also, you know, with Sarah actually, we’ve, we’ve invested in a number of other women own businesses, um, in our time, um, as, you know, mentors and as advisors.

(11:33):
And, you know, for me, what I really look for is, uh, one on something I’m passionate about. So I’m passionate about technology. I’m passionate about, uh, women, uh, entrepreneurs. I’m probably more passionate about women entrepreneurs than I’m than I am technology, but when the two come together, it tends to be a really good fit for, for me. And, you know, I also look for CEOs, founders, partners, um, to that that really are open to, to working and open to ideas and open to being challenged. But also, you know, that I learned from, I, I I’ve said this many, a times as much as I I’ve mentored and sponsored and advised, I learned way more from the people that I’m working with, uh, than I think they learned from me, which is really cool.

(12:23):
I think you’re wrong, but I love, I love your sentiment there. You have a lot to share and a lot to offer just in case you weren’t aware.

(12:31):
Thank you. I appreci.

(12:34):
What do you think is like, if you could list like a personality trait or a characteristic, what is it that somebody needs to have to be a successful entrepreneur?

(12:46):
I think there’s a few things. I mean, one, I, I think you have to have a, an unwavering drive, uh, you know, there’s a lot of times that things get in your way. It doesn’t look pretty, uh, you know, I’ve said this multiple times until you’ve transferred money out of your own bank account, into the company account to pay payroll. You don’t really know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. Yeah. Sister,

(13:09):
You know, it’s, I think it’s the drive to keep going. Uh, you know, as, as things come up, as, you know, I mentioned earlier, as you get hit in the face, uh, you, you gotta keep going. And I think the other thing, so the drive, right, the passion about what you’re doing, what you’re trying to accomplish, but I also think, you know, the ability to, to learn from your surroundings and learn from what’s happened, then make quick change. I think entrepreneurs have to be wildly nimble, um, and, and think through things on their feet. I tell, you know, most people, my kind of sales philosophy is 60% knowing what I’m talking about and 40% and ability to, to think on my feet. And I think that’s true for entre is that, you know, we don’t know what we don’t know going into starting businesses and getting into the market. And, uh, you know, it’s all kind of theoretical as we’re getting going, and then you hit reality real quick and, and you have to adjust and think on your feed and, and move things forward as quickly as you can. And just keep going.

(14:13):
We, we talk about this quite a bit. We’ve talked about out it a lot, a lot more recently, but what are your thoughts about sort of the investment landscape right now? And is there an inequity in funding for women and minorities? Is this all in our heads? Like, what are your thoughts about that?

(14:34):
No way it’s in our heads. Uh, it’s sort of

(14:37):
Question. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s absolute reality. And, and, you know, so you and I have talked about this at, at length, especially in what we’re going through. Um, you know, I think there’s inequity in how we get, uh, women businesses exposed to financing. Mm. Um, I think there’s inequity in how financing is, is ultimately determined. Uh, I think there’s inequity in kind of what it means to be an investible entrepreneur. Uh, but I also think that, you know, we don’t always put ourselves in the right positions to be able to be invested in. And so I think there’s a combination of, of the two, but regardless. Yeah. I mean, statistics don’t lie and the amount of money that, that women entrepreneurs are or other, um, other minorities, uh, are getting, it’s very frustrating. It’s something that makes my blood boil as you know. Yeah. But I also think that, you know, we’ve gotta continue to push the envelope on how we’re putting ourselves out there as female, uh, entrepreneurs and, and people that are looking for financing to, to really get a sense of what we can change. Yeah. You know, I, I think until we really try to, to continue to push the envelope, we’re gonna continue to, to run endeavor blocks. Mm.

(15:55):
And what does that look like? I, I, I feel like, so we haven’t talked about it on the podcast and I will at some point, but let’s just say, you know, once we’ve sorted this out, but there’s sort of a political situation that has arisen within the Precursa journey where I’ve find myself at this crossroads that, you know, the advice I’m getting from men about this situation is you should Sue that person. You should, you know, claim back your IP, what, you know, like whatever, whatever that the, the stuff is. And I, I look at that and I go, well, yeah, that would be how a may would do it. And the problem is as unfair as it is. I think if I came at any kind of a political situation with the same reaction or the same, you know, uh, action for, I guess, like a better word as a man would, it’s not always received the same.

(16:53):
Right. And so there seems to be this like politics of, if Amanda does something like that, he’s seen as strong and fighting for his company. And if a woman does that, she’s whiny and she’s, you know, like, but hurt or whatever. Right. And I, I wonder, is that politics ever gonna change or do we have to do things do different? And in fact, should we do things different because our strengths are different and clearly the world is sort of railing against business as it’s always been done. I mean, as we can tell by sort of the mass Exodus from all these big companies and people, you know, wanting a gig economy where they have more control over their lives. Like, I, I guess I’m just kind of like, is it different? Do we have to do it different? And is that a good thing?

(17:43):
Yeah, I think it, it is a good thing. I think we’re different. Uh, we’re built different. We are, we have different strengths and different capabilities. And I think it’s when we try to be something that we’re not, it becomes inauthentic and then it’s received in, in inauthentic manner. Yeah. You know, Sarah and I actually talked about this at a, a number of times and we’ve kind of laughed, right. This whole notion of you have to change who you are to be able to fit in, in the boardroom. Yeah. And I, I don’t believe that. I think it’s when we are, who we authentically are that we will walk into the boardroom with the confidence that we deserve to be there from the beginning. Yeah. And you know, for me, I have a bold personality. I have a big voice. I I’m a lot for a lot of people.

(18:28):
Um, and I’m okay with that. You know, and I, I think it was when I was trying to not be that when I was trying to be someone else when I was trying to, you know, kind of cover up portions of me and my life, that it was the hardest. And I, I felt the biggest hurdles. So, you know, it wasn’t until I was really true to who I was, that it, the door started to open. And I think the same way for funding, for, you know, conversations like you’re talking about in the political scape of, of, you know, of running businesses and growing businesses of competition of controversy in some of these situations, I think we need to handle it in the most authentic way to get the best results of, of male or female. Um, but in particular females, I, I think, you know, it’s when we are who we are, and we step into that with the confidence that we ultimately get the best, um, we get the best feedback and we certainly get the, uh, the best acceptance into the areas that we probably haven’t been accepted before.

(19:29):
Yeah. I love of that. I love that. I, I almost, you know, it’s, it’s almost hard to see it because in a lot of cases, you look at women who have been really successful and they’ve almost had to put on that male coat, if you will, right? Like you see them handling things with more anger and more, or, and maybe that’s, maybe that is their true personality, but it almost feels put on because they think that’s what has to happen in order for them to be successful or for, to get the result that they’re looking for. And I struggle with this all the time, you know, especially when I see, you know, a man who’s doing something similar or who you, you know, who, who seems to get so much more leeway than I have. And I have to walk such a fine line of saying the right thing and, you know, not, not doing the wrong thing, because it seems so much harder to come back from. And so, I don’t know if maybe it’s just, this is the time that we’re in and I’m super sensitive to it, or maybe I’m misreading the entirely. I don’t know, but I love what you’re saying about being authentic. I, I, I don’t know that I do a great job at it all the time, but it’s definitely a place I strive for myself.

(20:44):
I mean, I, I think a lot of women, uh, think about it a lot more, right. We’re more conscious about it. Uh, we, I think we put ourselves in a position to worry about what other people are thinking and how our, how we’re being received. And so, because of that, I think we alter, uh, you know, who we are at times. And, and then, you know, I don’t know this for sure, but I can imagine that the second we alter it puts us in a position of less confidence. We don’t speak with the voice we would normally speak with. We don’t say things we would normally say. So I think it’s a combination of those that put, uh, of those items that kind of put us in a position to know if how it’s being received is because we’re not being real or because it’s not being received the right way.

(21:33):
Yeah. So I, you know, I, I’ve worked with a number of, of people that I have stated, you know, over and over be you. Yeah. Whatever that is. Yeah. Uh, speak from your authentic self, uh, put yourself in a market, uh, and out in the world as you, you know, it’s kind of funny something small, but I used to wear a suit and high heels. And for those people that know me now, just what you did laugh, um, because that’s not me, do I rock a suit? Absolutely. But not with heels at this point. Um, I wear loafers and some awesome loafers. Yeah. But it wasn’t until I was like, wait a second. This isn’t me. It completely put me in a different space. I, I present myself in a different manner and, and I think therefore I’m received in a different manner than I was previously.

(22:27):
And do you think that this has to do with our empathy, you know, empathy oftentimes will try and understand and mirror and, and create a space like the space around you. Is that what’s happening? Do you think?

(22:42):
I think that’s a, yeah. I think it’s a portion of it. We do that as women naturally. Yeah. Uh, but when I, I think we push, push a little too far worrying, not as much about, uh, you know, how is everybody feeling and how can we make, uh, people comfortable, you know, the second that we make others comfortable at times we make ourselves uncomfortable. Mm. And that, I don’t think is what we need to do. I think we need to step into things authentically be ourselves and how people ultimate it is on them, not on you. Mm.

(23:13):
Which I think is the hardest part for me, because, you know, especially in this world of, you know, you can say the wrong thing or, or, I mean, I, a very good friend of mine last night at dinner said, Hey, you sort of mentioned this thing, which is like, kind of cultural appropriation was sort of like, Ooh. And I was like, really, like, I didn’t ha I wouldn’t even know that. Right. And so, so part of me is like, well, in the current world that we’re in everything you say, you know, can come back on you, whether you meant it, you know, in a, in a nefarious way or not. But then there is the other side of that, of, but how much of that is pretending to be something you’re not, or trying to mold yourself to be something that you can never really be, you know? And I just, I, I get so twisted in my brain about it all.

(24:06):
I think we, I think we all do. And, you know, we’re conscious, especially as leaders, right. As CEOs and as people that are leading people in business and in life. Yeah. Uh, I think we do, you know, think about it and I think we need to think about it, but, you know, my, my point really is about who you are. Yeah. Uh, not always about what you say and yeah. That makes sense. You know, that being who you are and, and representing what you want to represent, it’s most authentic form, I think, is, is what allows people to step into places that they haven’t been before. Right. Yeah. Much of, much of that as entrepreneurship and as a CEO, but then also, you know, in what you wanna represent in your markets, you know, I, uh, Cynthia, you know, but I work with a number of other entrepreneurs. I speak on panels. I, you know, work with, uh, the young professional board for the Colorado women’s chamber. I work with the Colorado business round table. I mean, so I’m involved outside of just being a CEO to, to point solution and a co-founder of Precursa. And, but I wanna represent myself across all of those platforms, not just in, in certain areas.

(25:15):
Yeah. That totally makes sense. What do you think? So, you know, diversity inclusion, like this is a huge conversation right now. And a lot of, you know, I’ve talked to a bunch people who work at very large organizations. If I said the name of them, everybody would know them probably across the planet. And there’s this sense that there’s still, there’s still this perception that companies are coming at this in a way that is more about lip service than it is about real cultural change. And I wonder, like how, how does that even come about? I mean, how does a huge organization that employs tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, how do they make that kind of a shift? And is that about leadership? Or is it about like, what is that, I mean, is it even possible,

(26:11):
You know, it’s, this is such a great question and a huge topic of conversation right now. I actually, uh, uh, was a part of a, an organization, um, kind of conversation around this. And I think, you know, for any organization of any size, I believe it has to be internal before, or it is external mm. And internal meaning to the organization and to the people within the organization. Yeah. You know, I, somebody mentioned on a, a conversation, uh, the state of the state from the women’s chamber here in Colorado, that, you know, the, this word belonging, I don’t think is, is really leaned into enough. I, I believe that that’s really the core of all of this. If people feel like they belong, you will naturally create a more diverse environment if people do not belong or do not feel like they belong, you naturally create more of what you already have.

(27:07):
Yeah. And I think that’s the, the core of what organizations across the country and, you know, no matter what size really need to think about is, are we creating an environmental culture, a place where people feel like they belong? Yeah. And then the, you know, the tactical ways to continue to do that, I think surface, and then you can really create a true inclus, inclusive environment, but until the people internal to your organization feel like they belong, or you can create a space where people can belong. I don’t know that you actually ever get a diverse work environment. Um, and so you don’t even get diversity of thought, you, you don’t get diversity on any level. Yeah. Um, and it’s a big topic and, and I I’m really encouraged by what a lot of organizations are doing. I’m encouraged by, you know, conversations that are real, that talk about things that most people don’t want to talk about.

(28:01):
Yeah. That aren’t afraid to bring up things like, Hey, we say we care about diversity, but our entire board of directors is all white. Yeah. Uh, you know, we say we care about diversity, but our entire board of directors are all, uh, people from large organizations. Yeah. You know, and we could go on and on. Um, and I think it’s the people that have the courage to stand up and challenge some of, of these things. Yeah. That, that ultimately, I believe start to make the shifts inside of the organizations, but, you know, the lip service is real. The checkbox is real. This is why I think a lot of us get frustrated, um, by, you know, we’re gonna have de and I, as our, as our best practice, and then they don’t do anything that actually that, but they say it. Yeah. You know, I think it’s the organizations that don’t say anything, but just act that in my opinion are the best.

(28:54):
Huh. That’s interesting. And you know, for a lot of these organizations, it feels like it’s so embedded. Like how do you start? And you mentioned belonging, what does that mean? Like how you create an environment where people feel like they belong, what does that look like?

(29:12):
I mean, I think if I could solve that, I might not be employed right now by my own company.

(29:17):
Um, you’d be a trillionaire.

(29:19):
Yeah. I mean, I, I think that’s really the core of it because belonging is different for everyone. Right. And whether it’s, uh, you know, cultural beliefs, it’s religious beliefs, it’s environmental beliefs, you know, everybody has their, their own core beliefs. And I think it’s really challenging to, for any organization of any size to, uh, be all things to all people and all beliefs. So, you know, I, I recognize the challenge of this, uh, in what this, this really means. Yeah. But I, you know, I think for, you know, Sarah and I talk about this often is in order to create an for us, right. For PSG and for the other companies that we’re involved with, we have to be ourselves. Yeah. And if we are ourselves and we talk about things that are important to us, and we allow people to talk about things that are important to them.

(30:13):
Yeah. And be their whole self, we believe we’re creating a foundation. Do we get it right all the time? Absolutely not. Um, but that was one of the real, you know, challenges I had in, in coming to Colorado is making the decision to completely be me knowing that, you know, people weren’t gonna do business with us because of it. Yeah. People weren’t gonna join the organization because of it. People weren’t gonna partner with us because of it. And I had to be okay with that, but I knew that if they did, then they were gonna get the truth of who I am and who we are as an organization. And, and so that’s, I think the base for, for starting to create a space for people to belong is really to allow them to be them. Mm. Um, and then, you know, I think there’s structures and there’s ways to create organizations and employee resource group and, you know, policy and procedure at the end of the day that protects people, but also allows people, their, the opportunity within the organization, um, there’s organizations, I believe that have done this really well. And then I think there’s organizations that have attempted it. So they have these things, but yet in their practice, promotions is hiring all of that. They don’t do it. So, yeah. You know, I think if you have contradicting practices to what you’re saying, it’s worse.

(31:31):
Yeah. Huh. So as a CEO, as someone who’s worked in an organization who started something, you know, you, you have, you are a great example of how leadership is what’s most important to the success of a company and how us, you know, I’m gonna call you a startup founder. Right. Um, how a startup founder can just as easily be a scale up founder. Um, but there’s, there’s this perception out there that, oh, you know, the CEO who started the company, can’t be the one who, you know, scales it or, or at some point they outgrow, you know, the company outgrows them. What do you think about that? Do you think that’s true?

(32:18):
I think in certain situations it is very true. I think in certain situations, um, it is not. And, and I think it comes down to the CEO or the founder’s ability to change, um, and to morph with the organization and to shift. And I also think, you know, it, it’s them really looking themselves in the mirror and, and figuring out what are they best at and what do they like? Um, where do they see that they have the biggest opportunity to impact the organization? So, you know, for, for me, can we scale, have we scaled? Yes. Do I, am I ultimately the, the CEO to take points solutions to a hundred million, if that’s where we wanna go. I don’t know. I’ve never taken a company to a hundred million as a CEO. I’ve taken a company to 160 million as, uh, you know, a VP of operations.

(33:11):
Um, and that’s different. Yeah. So, you know, I think, uh, for each CEO, founder, CEO, scale of CEO, and then, you know, mid-market CEO, everybody has a different skillset and, you know, if you can morph and adjust your skillset and it’s what you want to do and you like to do it, great scale your company, you absolutely have the ability, if not great, let somebody else run it when you’re done and go start another one. And I think, I think it’s, it’s our really looking and thinking about what’s important to us, what we care about, where we make the most impact that will lead us to the, are we a startup CEO, scale CEO, mid-market CEO combination of the two, uh, or three and, and kind of what that looks like as we go forward. But I think for certain people, yeah, just keep businesses for others scale.

(34:02):
Yeah. Do you think it’s possible to become an entrepreneur successful or not, and ever go back to work for someone else and not be a serial entrepreneur?

(34:15):
Not for me.

(34:17):
Uh, you know, I can only speak for me. Uh, you know, I think my team has said that I would make it all of a week. Yeah. Uh, if I, if I tried it, um, yeah. I think, you know, people that, that jump into entrepreneurship, there’s a lot of reasons that people do it. And I think, you know, the faster you learn about yourself and what ultimately makes you successful the better you’ll be. And for some, I believe that is going back into larger corporations, working with other people, uh, working for other people. And I think for others, it’s kind of come hell or high water. I’m gonna be an entrepreneur. Yeah. And I think the faster, you can figure that out, the more successful you’re you will be in success, obviously not meaning monetarily just, are you happy? And do you enjoy what you’re doing? And you are, are you being true to who you are?

(35:09):
Yeah. I love that.

(35:10):
So for me, no, see, I, I, I, I’ve shared this with my wife that I am 100% officially unemployable. And so we gotta figure out a way to keep making these, uh, these startups work.

(35:22):
Oh my gosh. I, I have a company, you know, this happens with, with a lot of my fractional companies. I do fractional CTO, fractional CFO, and fractional COO work for a bunch of a bunch of startups and scale up and all kinds of companies. And inevitably they offer me a job at some point. And, and, you know, in the middle of the conversation, always like, you know, the thing you gotta know about me, I make a terrible employee. Like, it’s great when I’m your consultant, because I can say the thing that you need to hear and you can’t fire me. And it actually doesn’t hurt my feelings. If you don’t take, take the advice, because you’re paying me to give you the advice. If you don’t take it, that’s, that’s about you. Right. But I make a terrible employee because the minute there’s that like hierarchical, maybe I don’t have control over my whole world. I get a little squirrly.

(36:15):
Yeah. I think, you know, what I’ve reckoned for myself is I don’t need to be the, the only one in charge. Mm. Um, I actually love working with people. Yeah. Uh, you know, I, I recognize that about myself early on in the, the PSG journey is can I do it on my own? Sure. Uh, do I want to, no. Um, you know, I love working with other executives that challenge me and, and force me to think in a different way. I love being able to talk to somebody I’m very much a verbal processor. Uh, Cynthia, you know, this, Sarah obviously knows this. She, she gets the end of that often. Uh, and so, you know, I, I think I’ve recognize I, I wanna do it with people. So for me, it may be that I continue to, to, uh, work within companies as a co-founder, uh, you know, or, or as a, um, a founder with other executives and other leadership present immediately. Cause that’s something that’s important to me. Yeah.

(37:13):
This is something I’m just learning. Right. I mean, I’ve been sort of the, you know, founder, CEO of a bunch of different organizations that I’ve created and always kind of been alone at the top. And I thought that’s how it was supposed to work. And when we started Precursa and you guys kind of jumped in, I was like, well, this is new. And you know, so I’ve been listening a lot to Jim Collins, good degree, and just kind of trying to understand what are the traits of a good leader and a good, you know, a good CEO or a good executive. And I love what you’re saying about working together. Um, so it’s just, this is something I’m learning and I’m, uh, frankly I’m learning from you and Sarah and you’re reminding me all the time, Hey, you don’t have to do it alone. And it’s like, oh really? Are you sure?

(38:08):
Yeah, we’re sure. Uh, you know, we, we, we wouldn’t have, we wouldn’t have jumped in if we weren’t. And, and I think that’s what I had to realize too, myself was, you know, people make their own choice if they don’t wanna do the, what, they’re not going to do it. Yeah. Um, but if they do then, then accept that. Right. I, I accepted it as a gift when Sarah joined, uh, point solutions group, I, I was obviously floored, um, because this was somebody that was going to just make our organization better. The second she stepped in. Yeah. But even more so, you know, I became a, a better CEO. I became a better leader. I, I think I honestly became a better mom. She’s taught me a lot about that and, you know, a better spouse. And, uh, so, but I also had to trust that sh that’s what she really wanted to do. And I couldn’t freak out every time thinking she was going to leap. Yeah. Um, and, but I had to have those conversations open with her as well and, and saying, Hey, here’s my fear. Right. Here are things that, uh, that if we go at this together, that these, I think our fears are gonna surface and some of our past is gonna surface. And we have to be willing to address that as, as business partners.

(39:11):
Yeah. It, I feel like there’s times where I look, you know, I’m innocent situation. I go, man, this is super messy. Like, is that okay? Is that, is that how it’s supposed to be? Is the mess part of, part of the whole thing? Because I, I have this vision in my mind of like, I don’t know this like ideal thing where there’s never an argument and there’s never mess and there’s never, you know, I never say the wrong thing or I never do the wrong thing. And maybe it’s just that that’s unrealistic, but is there also some opportunity in the mess?

(39:43):
I believe 1000%, you know, I, I don’t think anything is linear. Uh, and, and certainly relationships aren’t linear businesses are, we all know are not linear. Um, and so you, yeah, I think there’s, there’s opportunity in, in the change, in the conversation, in the fear and the opportunity and the wins, you know, I, I all across the board. Um, and, and if, if you want it to be perfect, it’s not ever going to be real. Mm. In my opinion. Yeah. And so perfection is, is an UNAT unattainable goal. Um, so I, I think your growth and development and becoming better, you know, 1% better every day is where the real opportunity is.

(40:29):
Mm. I love that. Okay. I’m gonna give you a statistic and then I want you to tell me what you think about it. Okay. Okay. Okay. 42% of startups fail because no one wants what they’re building.

(40:44):
I mean, I, you and I have talked about this, the statistic is I, I took a deep breath cuz it hits me in the gut. Um, and, and I, I’ve tried to kind of figure out why, right? Yeah. Why do so many people get into that situation? Yeah. Why is that the truth? Yeah. Why do organizations ultimately not get past kind of the, the baseline startup, uh, and, and what really can we do to, to support changing that? Cause I do think it and be changed. So I, the, the statistic hits me in the gut. I don’t like it. I don’t like it for all of those entrepreneurs because you know, to be this is hard. Yeah. Building businesses is hard. It is. So I, you know, I, I believe you wanna give yourself the best opportunity to succeed. Yeah. So, you know, I, I Precursa I think is really one of the answers to how do we start to make this better? Yeah.

(41:46):
How do we start to impact this? And, and really it’s through some work, right? You gotta do work, gotta reach out to the market. You gotta put yourself out there, you need to get feedback, you need to adjust. Uh, and I think the Precursa platform really allows entrepreneurs, uh, a space to do that, to do that in a safe way to do that in a way that is, you know, overall a huge impact to the success of their business. Yep. But, you know, I, I think it’s, it’s kind of one conversation at a time until we really create a movement of, here’s how we start to look at business and starting business and solving problems in a market. And here’s how we can do it in a way that gives us maybe just one or 2% more likelihood of success. But can you imagine what would be for the individuals right. For the market, for the community. Right. Um, I, it would just be a tremendous impact. And, and so I don’t think we can boil the ocean here. Yeah. I think we have to move it one step at a time.

(42:46):
Do you think that all ideas are good ideas? Like, because I have an idea, is there, is there always necessary something in there that could be good if I dug around enough and actually talk to enough people,

(43:00):
Such a great question. You know, I think everything starts with an idea. So I would never want people to stop having ideas. And I don’t think that’s reality and human brain anyway. Uh, the, but you know, I, I think does every idea need to turn into a business is the question. Mm. And, you know, that’s really where I think we need to start shifting is yes. We can have great ideas. Yes. We can. We can think through things we can solve problems we could do, but is it a viable business? Mm. And that’s where, where I think we’ve, we’ve gotta help, uh, each other myself included think through and process and work on, is this a viable business idea versus just as this, a viable idea.

(43:48):
Yeah. I love that. That’s a really great way to frame that. It’s like, there can be great ideas, but they may not be great businesses

(43:56):
Always. Or they may go inside of existing businesses already. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. They may enhance what other organizations are doing. Yeah. It could enhance research or enhance innovation. Yeah. But it is, is it a new business per se? That’s where I think we need to get to. Okay. I, and ultimately at the end of the day, the question is, can you sell it? Yeah. Because if you can sell it, it can be a business. If so, if it can’t, it can’t be. And you know, that’s a very simple way of looking at it, but in my, you know, in my sales brain, that’s really, the reality is can we sell it?

(44:34):
I love that. All right. So as we wrap up the conversation, are there any other books, resources, podcasts, things to think about advice that you’d recommend for our audience?

(44:46):
Oh, I love this question and I wish I could be real in the fact and say that I read, but I don’t, uh, you know, that’s just not my life right now with my, uh, with my multiple companies and my, my multiples, literally kids. Um, so, you know, I have actually, uh, read a book called the 15 levels of conscious leadership. And it’s a, it’s a pretty tremendous reminder of what, what it takes to stay, uh, in a good position as a, as a leader. Okay. And as a CEO, um, that one has been a really great read. And, you know, as Sarah probably listens to this podcast, she’s laughing cuz she knows that that’s like the only book I’ve read in, in the last year. Um, you know, um, all, you know, I think the other thing from advice that, that I would would share to anyone is seek out other leaders, seek out other people that are doing things that are challenging.

(45:47):
The norm that are breaking the mold that are pushing boundaries, you yourself wanna push and maybe not in the same way and maybe not in the same areas, but seek them out, ask them questions, um, be open to the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know as entrepreneurs and as leaders. And it’s really beneficial to just get people to, to tell you their story and to think through how they did it and what little pieces from all of these people that you meet and that you work with. Can you take into your own leadership style business and then certainly into your entrepreneurial journey?

(46:27):
I love that. Oh my gosh. That’s great advice. Thank you so much, Paige, for joining us for sharing your story for your heart, for all of your contributions, not only, you know, in, in the world of business, but you know who you are in your family and how you’re raising your kiddos, who are just like, they’re just a joy to be around. So thank you so much for who you are and thank you for, for joining us today and, and sharing some wisdom with us.

(46:57):
Thank you for having me. I, I love you and I love what we’re

(47:00):
Doing. Yeah, me too. If li if our listeners had any questions or they wanted to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that.

(47:08):
Yeah. So, uh, point solutions website is, uh, point solutions, us dot come. Uh, my LinkedIn profile, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. Uh, you can find me there also, uh, the organization is active on LinkedIn, so please follow us. We put out a lot of, uh, information around what we do in, in the world of cybersecurity and technology and integration. So any of those, uh, areas happy to, to answer. And then certainly my email is, is out there as well. It’s just page point solutions, us.com.

(47:42):
Awesome. I love it. I’ll make sure to include all of that in the show notes. Thank you again so much for joining us today, Paige. I really appreciate it.

(47:50):
Thank you. Take care, everyone.

(47:52):
All right. Y’all thanks for joining us for this episode as always happy entrepreneur and we will see y’all next time.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

 

Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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  • Denver, Colorado

  • startup@precursa.com

Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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