How To Grow Your People To Scale Your Business With Nick Thompson

Nick Thompson 11:33

Yeah, it absolutely did. It did. Now, in the marketing business, we took that as an opportunity to say, hey, you need to market more now than ever. Because you need to show people how you are different from the competition, etc. Now, our marketing was promotional material, so logoed merchandise, but we showed people how to use that to create better relationships and build their their network. And so we took that as an opportunity. We as a company did like actually kept growing. 

John Corcoran 12:08

really, even after 911. And that slowed down as well.

Nick Thompson 12:13

Yeah, well, no 911. And we all remember where we were on 911. I was driving to a large oil and gas services company in Calgary, and I was going to pitch them on a massive program for their whole company, a large company, a Fortune 1000 company. And so I get there and this, obviously, it’s mayhem. And it we’re all looking at TVs and monitors, and I give them the pitch. And everyone goes forward with the pitch anyway.

John Corcoran 12:46

Yeah. So everyone’s completely distracted.

Nick Thompson 12:49

We’re all just we’re all got we’ve got the monitors while on pitch, 

John Corcoran 12:54

And you’re still pitching. 

Nick Thompson 12:56

They’re saying please go ahead. And instead of you know, again, that’s awful. The energy of our youth, instead of instead of saying like, let’s schedule another time, but it’s not a good time. They’re like, go ahead and pitch us. And so I do, you know, I want to please. And of course, nothing comes with that. Like we did get the program. We didn’t I don’t even think we got a call back. Nothing. Yeah, like, What a dumb time to do a pitch. Right. So I should have, I should have had the foresight to say, Listen, I think it was maturity, right? To say, Listen, this is not a good time, we need to be honoring, you know, our brothers and sisters and all the stuff that’s going on. But yeah,

John Corcoran 13:42

I mean, you know, a little bit older live in New Hampshire, one of us who would say like, you know, even if they want, even if you want me to pitch, it’s now it’s just not the right time. Right, right. So you imagine you’re freaking out because you’re responsible for the business, you go back? Do you end up having to do layoffs after that? What’s the next year plus after 911? Like for you?

Nick Thompson 14:04

So 911 After that, the a lot of our clients were downsizing. And the very first thing that a lot of companies look to cut is their marketing budget, because there’s like, if it’s if it’s between cutting these people, and cutting some of our marketing materials, logoed stuff. Wow. You know, that’s amazing. Yeah, right. And so we did, what we actually did was I did some calculations on our payroll and whatnot. And I went to had a big company meeting, we had one every month. And I said, we’ve got two choices. We can we can cut we can let go. The more junior people in in our company so people haven’t been there as long as and it’s going to be probably a 20% cut. Or we could band together and all work together to keep everyone’s job. But we would all go down to a four day work week. Well, I wouldn’t a cut my pay, but I’ll have a full time to upskill. So what everyone did was they chose, so I let them vote somewhat on it. And they really Yeah, and they chose to keep everyone. Wow. And so everyone went to a four day workweek, which meant they got paid at, you know, 80%. Right. So, down one day, I of course, still had my whatever, 100 hour shirt. But I took, I took the same cut, I took a 20% cut, so that I could walk the talk. And in the end that lasted probably a year. And the end, we started to settle out and and you know, we just like COVID We did all the, you know, cost analysis and whatever. And we started to settle out, we did end up bringing everybody back full time. And I did end up letting two or three people go more as, you know, a bit of a weed out at the time. But it was kind of interesting. Having them vote and wanting Yeah, everybody. Yeah. Really helped everyone rally together. Yeah. Because it depends on how much you’d like the junior guy or not like Junior guy. There’s going on guys 20%? In the corner sweating. Yeah. But they bonded over that one. What is your pitch?

John Corcoran 16:36

So take me back to like after 911 and you’re talking to these potential clients. And they’re like, You know what, we can’t buy any more of these branded logos, sweatshirts, hats, you know, scarves, whatever. And what is your pitch to them for why it’s important?

Nick Thompson 16:50

Yeah, so So my pitch was some something along the lines of because now I’ve been out of business for seven years.

John Corcoran 16:56

Oh, yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure you’re rusty at this point. But I love thanks for putting me on the spot. I guess that’s exactly. Let’s see, it’s still got it.

Nick Thompson 17:07

Exactly. Right. Get get your checkbook out, I’m gonna tell you. So it was somewhat along the lines that, yes, business is down. And we understand that you the best time to market is when everyone else’s business is down. Because what all your competitors are doing is cutting all their marketing down to if anything a sliver. If you then say, Hey, I’m going to up that marketing, you can beat out your competition, because your name is out there still. So just your people will out of sight out of mind. So when people start to see your name more than the competitors, they’re like, Oh, they’re not doing so well, because their marketing has gone down. They must be doing well. What are they doing? Right? Because we see, we see them maintaining their marketing. Yeah. And a lot of companies were like, I get that. Like now that and we did the same thing. We kept our marketing because we had to walk our talk, kept our marketing even. And it worked really well. Some companies were like, Yeah, fine, nice pitch. Not gonna do it. Of course, it’s fine. Did

John Corcoran 18:21

you did you diversify into other areas? Or were you just branded merchandise the entire time?

Nick Thompson 18:26

It was it was mainly branded merchandise. But we did warehousing we did. awards programs, incentive programs. Yeah, we did. We purchased large amounts. In fact, at our, at our largest, we had warehouses on five continents, for our really global clients. So they could, they could get different items out of there. And they actually ended up asking us to store their own goods in those warehouses. So we became a little bit of a third party logistics company. Interesting. Before that was a thing. Good job

John Corcoran 19:00

of fine spawning opportunity there.

Nick Thompson 19:03

Right? Yeah, it just fell. It fell in our laps. Right? She

John Corcoran 19:06

probably had a lot of money in this inventory spread around the globe. So you end up so this is we’re talking 911. So 2001 by 2010 Correct me if I’m wrong by 2010. You’re at $100,000,000.20 locations you does,

Nick Thompson 19:21

it was 2015. When we hit 120 15, you hit 100 million. Okay, so

John Corcoran 19:26

So 14 years later hit on a million dollars from laying people off and gathering in a conference room and saying, Guys, should we cut our pay or should we cut it? Should we let Jimmy in the warehouse who just started a month ago? Should we let him go? That’s an insane right. So let’s and also in 2014, you’ve got an economic crisis that affects Calgary in 2017 2018. We have the whole economic crash. It’s not like we had it up into the right. The ride right? Yeah. So so what what happened after 911 That led had that growth.

Nick Thompson 20:05

So, okay. So I said that I can attribute pretty much every success to e o in some fashion. And so I had a gentleman in a previous forum group, he’ll forum group was in pharmaceutical owned pharmacy chain. And he was explaining to us in one of the meetings just sort of on the side, that in pharmacy, I might be telling a secret about pharmacies, I don’t know, but I’m not in the business. So if you’re in pharmacy, and you don’t do this, you should start looking at it. Pharmacy, the smaller pharmacies in order to combat the large conglomerates, the Big Pharma, they get together, Competitors will get together, and they create a purchasing company. And these are all competitors. And the purchasing company buys all of the pharmaceuticals and supplies and confectionery

John Corcoran 21:02

to purchase to lower their costs. Yeah, exactly. Okay,

Nick Thompson 21:06

you know, right. So you’re all you, you get rebates. And all the owners of the different pharmacies have a little share in this purchasing company. And they actually draw dividends out as well. Okay. Okay. Because the this company, not only is it getting better pricing, it’s also a profit Bates. And that sort of thing. So it is making some money. And I was like, What are you? Wow, I can’t believe that you do that with competitors. And so essentially, you’re buying the same stuff, you’re selling it roughly for the same price, then? What would that look like in my industry. And so I actually approached for other business businesses across Canada. So they weren’t in our market, and said, Hey, I’m looking at maybe starting this idea of a joint purchasing company. And I sought them out, they all have kind of a similar philosophy to mine. And we started talking about how we set it up. And we called it a variation of brand Alliance. And what it became was one of the partners said, you know, where we can really make money is if we sell together, so you service my clients, I service them in Toronto, you service them in Calgary, and you service them in Edmonton, and you service them in Vancouver, so all over the country, we can service the same clients, and we’re there, we’re in their backyard. So we quite liked that idea. And we ended up merging the whole thing together and 20. Ken,

John Corcoran 22:39

what were you what was your superpower or your company’s superpower that you brought to the table in that arrangement? What like, what? What did they see in you that you could do better than they what they were doing? And vice versa? What were they doing better that you felt like it? Would it be advantageous to you? One

Nick Thompson 22:57

of the very first conversations we had was we need, we need to make sure that we set ego aside, because you got five business leaders? Yeah, and egos gonna get in the way. And so we all agreed and sincerely agreed that egos got to be aside. And we realized that all five partners had a specialty. So we had one partner is really good in the marketing and ideas and that so he became fifth owner. And also, you know, the marketing director. Yeah, we had one that was highly competent, and financials. One that was highly competent in negotiating with vendors. So vendor director, vendor supplier director, and I said, I don’t really have a specialty. And just so you said, That’s what I said, is that

John Corcoran 23:51

that imposter syndrome coming back again? Totally,

Nick Thompson 23:53

here it comes again. Right. And, and the partner said, no, no, you do because number one, this is your brainchild. So you have vision, lots of vision, and and don’t have an ego, so you’re willing to continue to brush off, you know, I don’t have a superpower, if you will. And they said you need to be our president and chair. Because because the they liked the way that the integrity are brought to the business in the industry. And so they wanted me to delete it. And so that’s what I did. And the partnership worked really well. And I said, I remember when I was partners with my parents, we defined these lines. And I took that concept and we need to do the same thing so that we don’t, you know, we aren’t crossing when it comes to making decisions. And we did it. We put it in writing. We made agreements. We put it we spent a long time, probably two years putting our shareholders agreement together. What else could go wrong? What else could go wrong? And we really well defined all the lines, and it was a great partnership.

John Corcoran 25:05

But at some point, it didn’t go so well. At some point, it starts to go downhill. First of all, what was your peak in terms of revenue or headcount or clients? Or? You mentioned you in warehouses all over the globe? Yeah.

Nick Thompson 25:22

So 2020 offices across North America, five, warehousing on five continents, just under 350 employees, just over 100 million gross revenue. Amazing.

John Corcoran 25:33

Amazing. And so it’s going well, for a little while until it doesn’t. And we were talking before and you said the problem was, is that they didn’t agree with growing your people focusing on their people. So how did that show up? So we had

Nick Thompson 25:51

this partnership group of five. And we were very successful in our formula, in our roles in the way that we approached business. And between 2010 and 2015, we actually developed a formula. There’s a company called HUB International, it’s a fourth was at the time anyway, the fourth largest independent insurance company in the world, their head offices in Chicago, the gentleman that founded that lived in Toronto, and happened to know one of my partners in Toronto. So he said, let’s have a conversation, because he has scaled this insurance business, to beyond. And so we actually went down to Chicago, we met with him. And this is just to get ideas just to get ideas on how we can scale this business. And he talked about how his formula for consolidating the industry that he’s in the insurance industry. So we took that formula, and with his permission, and we came back and said, We’re going to now consolidate the industry by working on mergers and acquisitions. Okay, so between 2010 2015 We acquired roughly 20 companies,

John Corcoran 27:12

it’s a lot, like, for a year, well,

Nick Thompson 27:15

there’s a lot, yeah, a lot. And I’ve turned down hundreds, because we had a formula. And so we grew that way to get to our peak in 2015. Now, really well until 2015.

John Corcoran 27:28

Okay, but I’m gonna focus on why those the first acquisitions worked. This is really relevant to me, because, okay, I’ve had 50 conversations this year with companies about doing an acquisition, for a variety of different reasons, haven’t been able to consummate anything yet. But it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy to find a company that you can acquire. So why do you think you were able to do 20? Over five years?

Nick Thompson 27:53

Yeah, so the first thing that the first thing we did is we put interest out in our, in our industry, nobody was acquired, there’s a few little transactions here and there there have stance, we put out on purpose. We are it we are in acquisition mode, you know, we’re the we were the largest company of our kind in our industry in Canada, and we weren’t going to continue to grow. And we wanted to expand worldwide, right? So that’s our vision. And we actually advertised to our industry specific that it lots of people were aging out and not knowing what to do with their company. And we said we want we can be your home, right, we can be the home for your company, your people, your clients. And so we advertise that. In the meantime, we use this formula that we acquired through through our meeting with the president pub. And the formula was actually incredibly simple, but it very profound, and he had five elements that were non negotiable. So you know, you have to the company has to be in a cash positive position and show a history of that. Okay, so I don’t want to play a lot of times people put their company up for sale when when they’re struggling out. Yeah. So like, you know, thrown out a life raft has to be cash positive, there’s a debt to equity ratio, that must be that must show there because a bank for funding requires a certain debt to equity ratio. Typically in North America, it’s 1.25 equity, per $1 of of liability, but it varies, you know, especially since the banking crisis. So that had to be there. There was a cultural element. So we designed a sort of a cultural assessment, if you will, where it had to meet this cultural. So there’s five elements fairly simple, but if it didn’t check all oh five, if a check four out of five, it was a no. And he was getting, what do you say dozens a week? So his job was literally just saying no, no, yes, no, no, yes. And the yeses went to a team, the integration team. And so we develop the same system, where we said, you know, these are the five criteria. And if they, if they meet those, that’s when we start the process of getting to know them doing the due diligence, etc.

John Corcoran 30:36

And I imagine there was a certain size you’re looking for, because by the time you get big, then you don’t want to do a smaller acquisition. And are you looking for, you know, founders that are just looking to exit? Or did some of these founders and their teams come and join stick around for a while? What was the what was the integration model? I guess that was, it was a mixed

Nick Thompson 30:57

bag. So we had a couple of formulas based on the, the previous owners desire, right? So many times, it’s, you know, I want to I want to help integrate, and then off move into the sunset. But there were a few that said, Listen, I just, you know, I don’t have the energy, or the risk tolerance to do this myself anymore. So I’d like someone to take that on. And I will happily contribute, you know, my value through sales and that sort of thing. To, to the equation, though, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Okay.

John Corcoran 31:33

So what happens after the 20, acquisition, 20 acquisitions, what happens in 2015 2016, that changes everything.

Nick Thompson 31:40

So along that line, we meet another company that is doing the same thing, as we are another North America wide company, they’re doing the same thing. And we end up meeting at one of the conferences in the industry. And we’re like, oh, you’re, you’re growing rapidly. You are, they’re talking about building their people who build their people that’ll build the company, if you take care of people that they’ll take care of the clients, that was our philosophy. So they were saying the same thing. And, and, you know, eating up companies, and so we had a number of initial chats and decided, you know, what, if we, we could save a lot of time going global, if we just put these two, these two bigger conglomerates together? And and that’s what we did. So we so that was between 2010 2015. And then in mid 2015, we officially merged the two companies together.

John Corcoran 32:47

Okay, in the previous acquisition, you have five companies, and you’re all good at something, respectively. Now, you’ve got a much larger company. And then you’ve got two big companies merging together, how did you figure out that distribution of responsibility? And who would be in what role?

Nick Thompson 33:01

Yeah, so we had the same discussion about ego. We had the, we said, look, we can’t have, you know, 15 people on our board. So we need to have representatives, an equal amount of representatives from both companies beyond the board, as well as we’d like to get some outside influence. You know, and so, they actually had a couple of people on their board that were, they were just board members, they were from other industries, big, big companies. And so we said, hey, that’s a great start, you know, bring, bring them keep them on the board. And we knew somebody from a large company, one of my partners did, who we could bring from outside. So it was kind of a I think it was like 443. So four from our company, four from their company and three outside to make. I think it was, I don’t think it was 11 I think it was 10. However it worked out,

John Corcoran 33:57

and what role did you step into in the new company?

Nick Thompson 33:59

So something I have a large chapter of in my book is I was chair and I said, Look, at the time, I’m a young family, I cannot be traveling all over the world family is first for me. And I don’t want to spend a lot of that time away. I had a partner that in our brand lines company, they didn’t have kids didn’t want kids from He comes from a larger company industry loves to travel. I said, I think you should be the chair. And, and not me. And so that was that was one of the big mistakes because not that he was was a bad chair. He was excellent. But the other group ended up bullying him in that’s

John Corcoran 34:58

kind of interesting. That’s, you know, So, this there’s kind of two different things. One is like having to travel around for those duties and the other is being chair of a company. Yeah. Which, you know, it seems like there’s kind of a disconnect between those two or maybe two people could have done two different roles. Am I misinterpreting that? Could have been?

Nick Thompson 35:15

Yeah, I mean, obviously had identified over again, I would have maybe done a joint chairmanships where you have different, different responsibilities. But the responsibility of the chair was actually going to all of the regions. Okay. So they were sort of we were using the chair as the sort of glue that can combine, okay, okay. Good, good point. And so he ended up getting quite bullied by the other group, and started making some some gain and forced his hand into some poor decisions. And that’s when I started arguing with the board,

John Corcoran 35:54

and how did they not value their people? What were some specific examples of ways in which that happened? So

Nick Thompson 36:02

there’s talk, and there’s action, right. And so when people say, Oh, we really value our people, and we believe in growing our people. And they were winning a ton of awards, too. When When, when we started integrating all the departments, we saw some unhappy people in their departments. And when we dig into that, we find out that, you know, the way that the way that their culture was under the surface was not the same as what they were showing the shiny, the shiny facade in the front. And, and it was, you know, quite late at that point in the game, too.

John Corcoran 36:41

And but and you didn’t, you’re no longer chair, so what was your role at this point?

Nick Thompson 36:47

So what we did is I became president, I stayed as president of Canada. Okay, we had a president of the US, okay, and we had the chair of the board and all the other global position, okay. Okay, that were there. And by

John Corcoran 37:01

the way, I’ve interviewed so many people that you’ll find themselves, they get to this point where they’ve achieved great success, they built this big company through acquisitions, or growth, or whatever. And then they just find like, they’re so unhappy, and they just miss being at the growth stage. Now you join this company, when your dad acquires it, and there’s your employee. Number five, are you unhappy at this point? Are you or were you happy initially, before it started to go downhill? downhill? You know, what’s your mindset? Like, at this point?

Nick Thompson 37:34

I was the CIO, okay, kind of brings me to one of the biggest points where I ended up why I ended up on the outside of the company was a very, extremely happy with all, you know, there’s ups and downs, of course, but over time, very happy with how everything was going up until that point to the point where I’m like, Oh, I’m fighting the board now. And we’re not seeing eye to eye and I think our not I think our culture was suffering. Because of the, the, the they started to. So day two, after the merge, we have a board meeting and a couple of the outside board members, like not they weren’t involved in the company, right? They said, Okay, time to trim the fat. And I said, What do you mean? And they said, Well, we you know, we’re going to have all these synergies, so we need to cut roughly 15 to 20% of the staff or 60 people, 6080 people. And I said, No, no, no, no, that’s, that’s not what we talked about, like we we built the company by building people. Yes, there’ll be synergies, but we’re going to make sure everyone’s well taken care of. And if we do cut anyone, we’re going to help them get another bloody job, because that’s what we do. And they’re like, No, that’s not how it goes. We just need to cut them because we need to do this fast. And that’s when I the first big flag came up for me going, Oh, what have I done? Like, what have I gotten into us into here? Because I on the kidney on my side of the like my my shareholder group. We were, they said, Okay, so what do you think about this market? And I said, Hey, we got to do it. Like, this is how we go global. We, you know, we this will be a very large company, and we’ll be able to go more global and have places in other countries. And so I can they said, Okay, well, we trust you. And so when I heard this at the board meeting, the day after the merge, I was like, Oh, I may have I may have overlooked some things.

John Corcoran 39:45

And so in retrospect, how would you have done things differently? Knowing what you know now? So

Nick Thompson 39:53

again, I spent a lot of time I spent I spent years looking in the mirror on how I ended up on the side of the company. But what I came to realize was all this growth, all this success, although awards, you mentioned some of the accolades. You can’t help let that get to your head somewhat. Like it felt good. And when I saw red flags, I said, Yeah, but look how good we’re doing over here. You know, we’ll we’ll get we’ll overcome that. But look how good we’re doing here. Let’s just keep driving forward. So what happened is I developed a large amount of hubris. And I didn’t realize it at the time, it’s only through, you know, years of therapy looking in. But then I realized, you know what, I did that because I let it get to my head, and I’m not the type of person that normally let stuff get to their head. But over time, it can happen.

John Corcoran 40:55

What was the breaking point for you? Because at some point, you finally said, guys, either, it’s, it’s either we change our ways, or else I’m stepping down.

Nick Thompson 41:04

That’s right. So we weren’t we’re not fully two years into it had cut, you know, 60 to 80 people in the company, the culture was taken to die, we just had people clamoring to come work for our company. Nobody was at the door anymore, you know, within two years. And so I finally said, Look, we either changed the way we’re approaching people in our company, or I’m not, you’re not going to have to be here to help build this thing. And I thought that was enough weight being the, you know, one of the founders, and they essentially said, Okay, see you later.

John Corcoran 41:44

And what was like for you? 

Nick Thompson 41:49

That was devastating. My wife did say to me, so this was this was mid 2017. She said, Nick, because I obviously lots of sleepless nights. I mean, I’m, you know, I’m seeing families get decimated, and that kills me. And she said, neck, if you stick with this, do you think you you have an opportunity to to turn it around? If you really stick with it, and persevere? And I said, honestly, no, they won’t listen to me. I don’t think I can do anything. And she said, Well, you’ve made your decision. And so with a heavy heart, I didn’t renew my own employment contract and shareholder agreement and, and didn’t go back. And it was a difficult time,

John Corcoran 42:39

was it had you had an opportunity to take chips off the table through some of the previous acquisitions, or we just still kind of all in and so it’s also financially devastating,

Nick Thompson 42:49

especially devastating, because I was still all in I mean, we put everything into it. And and then when I negotiate it, you know, not being employed there trigger to buy out, okay, shares in our agreement. And at that time, we’re making a lot of money because, you know, merge sauce, a lot of resources, right.

John Corcoran 43:13

So that affected the buyout amount, then yeah, well,

Nick Thompson 43:16

they can’t add, they actually came to me, I did my calculation with my lawyer and said, you know, here’s how much, you know, we are saying the shares are worth and roughly how much you’d go. And they came back and said, here’s our calculation. And it’s minus two cents a share. So guess how much you get from that? Yeah. Yeah. And so we fought that out. I got back my shareholders loans. And I had a severance, fairly decent severance package. But that’s it. I didn’t get anything from insurance at all.

John Corcoran 43:50

So devastating. So and the company ends up basically going down to nothing.

Nick Thompson 43:56

Yeah, so it was mid 2017. And two and a half years later, I get a text from from an ex partner that was still in the business, saying, Hey, we just claimed bankruptcy, and we will no longer be our business anywhere in the world. They don’t exist anymore.

John Corcoran 44:15

How does a business of that size collapse? That looking back on it? Now? How does that how does that happen? Just what are its right in the name of your book?

Nick Thompson 44:28

So what is the name of my book?

John Corcoran 44:30

What were the ways that the business was effed?

Nick Thompson 44:35

Yeah. So if, if you treat your people poorly, they won’t want to do the work for you. They it will show through with clients. I mean, if you’ve ever been on a customer service call with a miserable customer service agent we all have. You’re like you don’t even like this job. Right? Yeah. And and it’s likely because they’re in a stuck position they haven’t been given any authority to make any decisions, and they’re not treated that well, and maybe even treated like a number, you know, that old saying, and you’re not going to get the best out of your people, if you treat them really well, and you can get the best out of your people. So it comes down to opening up your people’s ability to perform their best. Right? And that’s, that’s engaging them with the vision of the company that’s showing them how what they do, what impact it has to clients, which impacts the economy, which impacts, you know, some world cause, right? It’s Simon Sinek talks about cause, right, and having a greater cause, like, if you can show them how they impact it, you can engage and like this, we all want purpose, we all want to do something for a reason. Right? Even even if it’s, you know, factory line work, what are we doing? What are we building who we helping in the world by doing what we do? And so they did not believe in that. And when, when, whenever I’ve let people go in the past, I’ve always been more than fair, because I thought, you know, a little bit of extra money is at least going to show that I care, because the people that are left in your company, watch how you let people go. Right? And so I would always be a little bit more generous. Right? There may be a few people out there that say, that’s not what he did with me. But you know,

John Corcoran 46:37

the ones you like to do anyway. Yeah, exactly.

Nick Thompson 46:39

Yeah. And so when, when we were, you know, trimming the fat as it were in this company, they’d say, Okay, well, we’re letting you go. We’re not doing anything for you. As a starting point, you get zero and then it’s up for negotiation. Yeah. And I said, Oh, that’s not going to sit well with people. And the employment laws in Canada, John are very, very waited for the employee. So there’s large severance packages, we have employment lawyers galore. And so when in Canada in particular, you can’t just let somebody go without a without a reasonable severance package. So they said, no, no, no, we’re just gonna say we’ll let you go. And you need to negotiate from there. So that didn’t sit well. And of course, they have friends inside the company. And they’re telling the stories, and everyone’s like, I don’t know if I want to work here anymore.

John Corcoran 47:33

Yeah. So you end up closing one chapter, unfortunately, the company goes down to nothing. Let’s talk about your new company, what inspires that I’m fascinated by how people’s choices when they start a new company are influenced by the challenges and the constraints of the previous company. And I’m going to just read into this a little bit but VEA or Vedas, how you pronounce it? You do executive assistant, bookkeeping, Business Manager, fracture controller, you got a bunch of different services like that. And it’s right in the name virtual. Before you had all these physical locations, you had physical goods, you were shipping around, you had warehouses you people all over the globe. And I’m guessing that perhaps, in this new world that we live in you, you were seeking to build a business that didn’t have those previous constraints. Am I reading into that correctly?

Nick Thompson 48:24

Ah, awesome. Very, very insightful. Yes, and no. We again, born out of Yo, we have a friend in EO still a very good friend. And he’s telling us way back in 2015 2016, about this virtual executive system he works with. And I said, Oh, that’s interesting. How does that work? And so he kind of explains how it works. And I came home to my wife and said, so this is prior to me leaving the the original company. There’s something here, you know, the way of the world is going a bit more virtual fractional staff. There’s something here that I thought my wife would be really interested in and she’s incredibly well organized and, and and has always been in a in a sort of corporate supportive role. And so she liked the idea and started little incorporation and got a couple of clients. And, and the company was born doing virtual, EAA work. Okay, and so she, as all companies start, she was the only virtual EAA and the owner. And then she’s like, Wow, we got enough clients, we need to hire some more. And so we hired some more and it started to grow. And while I was trying to figure out my life after I left my car Vinnie, you know, I got into I was telling you I do, you know, the global global training for the accelerator program in the EO now. So I got into that I do business, executive team coaching for larger businesses as well, through an organization called results. Back connection was from deal. And so I do that as well. And the company via then a client said, Well, do you do fractional bookkeeping? And so my wife and I talk? Let’s say yes, you know, and so we said yes, and we got fractional bookkeeping, bookkeeper. And then it started to grow, where she said, I need you here, like this company is growing or growing across the country. And we need to, you know, put some more room into it’s going concern. And I said, sounds great. So I joined her in the venture. And now we have the for basically virtual EAS virtual bookkeepers, fractional controllers, and we just launched this year, virtual management, so they can help companies with project management, process execution mapping processes, something as they as companies grow. And so we launched that this year, and it’s been growing fantastic. We work with companies right across North America, we’re going to stay in North America, because we understand that, you know, employment laws within North America, and go outside of North America to get a little bit a little hazy. 

John Corcoran 51:45

So many companies need help with that, with putting their processes and SOPs together and all that kind of stuff. I’m curious, having previously been employee number five in another family member, your parent’s business, right? And then moving into that business? Did that make it easier going to work in this business that your wife had started? And what has that relationship been like working with your wife? John?

Nick Thompson 52:08

Yeah, very, very insightful. questions. Thank you. Yes, and no, I’m gonna tell you, because working with your wife is different than working with different family members, I will tell you same concept, though, working with a family member there, there are some rules you put into place, I find that you know, defining line between responsibility and decision making. And I said, Look, you’ve asked me to come work in this company, you’re the boss, right? Like I am, I am a minority shareholder. And she is the majority shareholder. So there’s a dividing line. And so, you know, I may argue my points from my own experience, but at the end of the day, you are the one who makes the decision. And so we agreed to that. That takes some humility to and, and also, you know, work, we work when we work, and where we do home and family when we do home and family, we don’t let the to mix. 

John Corcoran 53:07

Good advice for any couples out there considering doing this together. We’re way over in time. So I’m going around with our last question. Hopefully, you’re okay for one last question. Absolutely. My last question is my gratitude question. I’m a big fan of expressing gratitude, especially to those who’ve helped you along the way. A lot of times people will mention family or team, which is fine. But I also love to hear stories about peers and contemporaries, and mentors who’ve helped you in your journey. Who would you want to shout out? Thank

Nick Thompson 53:36

you. And I agree it you know, obviously, family and team, help help you get to where you are. But along the way, several relationships have really stood out for me. Obviously, my parents, you know, for giving me the work ethic and showing me some of the tools that have been ingrained to me in growing businesses. But so I mentioned in 2000, I took over the family business, and it was when I was the only shareholder. Then, in 2001, I joined EO, and it was actually a friend of my dad’s. That was in YPO. And I didn’t know what any of it was. And so my dad saying, hey, you know, my son took over last year, and he seems to be doing fairly well. He doesn’t really have much of a network of peers and he said all if he wants to go somewhere in business, he has to join eel. And his name is Dale Hodgson. He’s still a YPO member. And I thanked him on a number of these podcasts, and I’ve sent him letters and I sent him a copy of my book. And so he’s become quite a mentor over the years including, you know, buying some commercial real estate to house you know, a past business. So Jeff Lately, I would like to shout out to him and of course, my EO forum group, I dedicated my book to my EO forum members present and past. And I sent them all copies with personalized notes. Going back all those years, some of them I haven’t seen some of the people haven’t seen it almost 20 years. Because what an impact, you know, all the different ideas that you get out of it, and support you get out of it is incredible to have this network and of people and, and, you know, we feel this automatic bond, as soon as we know, we’re in the same association. We’re like,

John Corcoran 55:38

hey, yeah, yeah. And that book again, is LOOK OUT! You’re About to Get F**ked!: The 13 Biggest Pitfalls of Business and How to Avoid Them, and they are virtual executive assistant services is the company where can people go to learn more about you, Nick, and, connect with you?

Nick Thompson 55:54

Yeah, go to VEA Pros, to learn about that company, you can go to, one word to learn about the book and you can connect on me with me, and on LinkedIn. That’s probably the best one. Facebook is kind of just with friends and family and I don’t do a lot of business on there. But you’re happy to happy to join anywhere. And of course, any video channel. I’m on all of them. So yeah. 

John Corcoran 56:27

Nick, thank you so much for your time.

Nick Thompson 56:28

Thank you.

Outro 56:33

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