Veronica Kirin: Are you scaling your business, or burning out?

Veronica Kirin scaled and sold her own tech company, and she went through the 70 hour work weeks and a lot of burnout in the process. Now, she coaches startup CEOs and small business owners, who she calls “empire builders,” and helps them scale their own businesses without pushing them past their 24-hour human limit.
In this episode, hear Veronica and Donald talk about how small enterprise owners can build more efficiency in their businesses and lives.


Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson podcast. I am really excited about today’s guest. Veronica Kirin, is in Berlin and is joining us today.

She is an entrepreneur. She’s an author. She is a consultant and a coach. And one of the things that we’re going to talk about is how startups can scale their business. And this is Veronica’s area of expertise. So Veronica, thanks for being on the show and welcome. 

Veronica Kirin: Hi yeah thanks for having me. I’m so happy to be here and just have another conversation with you.

I think I could have many conversations with you.

Donald Thompson:  I like to start out with is for our audience, just to get to know you as an individual, we’ll get to the business, we’ll get to our thought process. But tell us about background family, where you grew up and kind of what led you to some of the things you’re doing right now. 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah. So I think I’m one of those people that I don’t think I know I’m one of those people that grew up in  a situation that was not for me. And so, you know, sometimes people grow up in this like nice environment and it helps shape them.  For me, the environment that I grew up in just wasn’t like quite the fit that was for me. And so I knew what I didn’t want.  So just a very conservative family. They’re nice but just wasn’t for me. And so I think that what just, you know, sling shot at me eventually out of the Detroit area. And then again, out of Michigan and then again, out of the United States. 

Donald Thompson: Got it. And when you were thinking about places to locate, right? Why Berlin? Why Europe? 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah. So as you know, Donald, this is very new for me.

I’ve only been in Berlin for almost three months. I left the United States on inauguration day 2021, which just like, didn’t time it, we bought the plane tickets and then realized what we had done. And it’s just, you know, a good story.  Berlin actually, wasn’t my plan.  I thought actually that when I moved to Europe, I would either move to Paris or to Croatia where a lot of my family is. But Germany is fairly easy to immigrate to especially if you get a job and Berlin in particular is, is very, very, Transience very much like New York city or Los Angeles. So many, many, many, like hundreds of spoken languages, many different viewpoints. And so my degree is in anthropology. So I’m loving that I can walk down the street and I never know what language I’m going to hear.

Luckily, English is almost more of a prerequisite than German in Berlin, so I’m getting along fine as I learn German. And sometimes the look a little bit like just cuckoo bananas. Cause I have no idea what I’m saying. But you know, on top of that, Berlin is becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe.  We actually have silicone, LA LA is like the word for Avenue in , in German.

And so there’s tons of startups. The business community is growing fast.  I think I mentioned that to you before Donald. And so it was exciting as an entrepreneur. Exciting as an entrepreneurial coach, it’s exciting as an author. So it just has all of the things, it checks all of the boxes. 

Donald Thompson: No, that is really powerful.

And I love the construct right. Of the Silicon Valley in Europe. And that talks about innovation, right. That talks about melting pot. And then it talks about fast growth. And so I want to dive into kind of your niche in the entrepreneurial space, right. And working with companies and learning how to scale their businesses.

Right. And so tell us what a startup coach does. Right. I know what a business coach does or a,  you know, a leadership coach or executive coach or things like that. When you think about what you’ve created and the lane that, that you’re excelling in. Talk to us a little bit about the value you deliver and how you work with startups.

Veronica Kirin: Yeah. So actually I tend to not particularly work with a lot of startups. I used startups, scaling tactics for small businesses because small businesses are the ones that don’t get the attention. And I was one of them. So I had a tech company a couple of years ago.  I eventually scaled it and sold it, but I had to go through a deep level of burnout and really, really considering am I going to give up everything that I’ve built?

Because I can’t seem to hack it. I was working 70 hours a week. I mean, it was just an awful experience. And I done what so many other small business owners do because we don’t have the resources or, you know, the team of investors and VCs around us telling us how to do it. I built myself another job. I knew I didn’t want to work in the corporate space, but I had no other model. And so I built myself a job and it was working 70 hours a week. And I didn’t know how to get past my human 24 hour limit. Once I learned to scale Donald, I was working 10 hours a week at that company. When I sold that company.

Donald Thompson: Tell more. Cause I own two jobs. 

Veronica Kirin: I think you’re actually being really modest by saying only two. I think you have more than that with the books and the podcasts and the two companies and yeah. Yeah. So, and that’s, that’s the type of entrepreneur I work with you and me. I call us empire builders. We have more than one thing we’re offering to the world and it’s on a 70 year plan.

I’m not here just to build a business and exit in five years, which is what I did, but it was a part of something bigger and created a platform for me to stand on. So I talk a lot about small business owners and managing a lot of little buildings. Because we think really big and we want a lot out of our lives.

And so we figure out how to make one building and then we make another and another. And so we have all of these moving pieces and it’s overwhelming. So what I do with scaling is I help small business owners usually, but also startups. So small to medium-sized enterprises. Generally I help them take all those buildings and turn it into a skyscraper.

So all of those pieces are working together. And that’s what I did at my former company. Green Cup is that I pull all the pieces together. So my efforts in one area helped another area with just less overall effort 

Donald Thompson: That is powerful. And I really appreciate the visual representation that you provided right in the singular buildings and then building the skyscape.

And when I think about my partnership in a podcast company, I own a marketing in a marketing firm and then the Diversity Movement. There’s a lot of synergies between the businesses. Yeah, it does look like everything is independent, but actually there’s so much overlap in the form and the function. But if you don’t slow down to see the overlap, you treat everything in its own silo and you never get any efficiency.

Veronica Kirin: Right. You have created all these things, thus they’re all connected and you can grasp that and capitalize on it. But if you don’t. Think about it, just like you said, like for example, I’ll have a client come to me and say, okay, I think I want to start doing X for my business. And just like you said, like, it ends up being this silo, this like random arm.

And so I say, okay, that’s awesome. Have you put it into your business plan? And they go. No. And so we say, okay, like you can do it, you can do it all, but we need to have that strategy there and then a long-term vision because you can do it all, but you may not want to do it all right now. And usually you can’t do it all right now. You have to build that foundational floor and then the next floor and the next floor and get out of those floors so that you can focus just as you know, Donald, like, when you’re in the middle of the building process, you can’t focus on anything else. It needs so much attention, but once the momentum is going, you can let it go and build another floor.

Donald Thompson:  So I want to, I want to seize on the word momentum. How do you define, how do you share with entrepreneurs when they have momentum versus them being incredibly busy? 

Veronica Kirin: Hmm. I have a great example. One of my clients is going through this right now. So, we’ve worked together over the pandemic to pivot her to a consulting company.

We built a fantastic 30 page business plan, which. I don’t always do with my clients, but she wanted the full 30 page business plan instead of the lean canvas. So that’s the simple bullet pointed business plan. We dove deep. We pulled all of her history, all of the pieces out. We built something that should have been rock solid.

We turned on the pipeline. So we got her into lead gen. She was having meeting after meeting, after meeting, she had a fantastic virtual launch party. She had tons of attention. She was busy. But the yeses weren’t coming, they were the, those like, like really like happy, pretty yeses. Like, I love what you’re doing. Let’s talk again in a few months and just over and over and over and over again. So she was expending all this energy out, but the energy wasn’t coming back in, she just. Because it’s a pandemic and why not? She’s decided to take yoga training. She’s done yoga for years. And so this opportunity came about within her favorite studio.

She decided to go into yoga training. And during those courses, all of a sudden her fellow students were starting to ask her for support for leadership, for ideation. So she was doing none of the pushing. Right. If you think about a stationary car and how hard you have to push it in order to get to go, she didn’t have to push it at all.

The things started going downhill and all of a sudden it’s picking up speed and they’re asking her for paid support and will you help lead this retreat with me? And will you help me plan my business and will you, and will you, and will you, that’s the difference. 

Donald Thompson: Got it. And I think, you know, I’m seizing on some of the specific words you’re, you’re saying that are really compelling.

You also talked about, we turned on the pipeline. Yeah, right? Like that, there’s, there’s some strategy behind that. There’s some thinking behind that. Right? Cause usually people say I need to grow my pipeline. 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah. I want people to feel like they’re in control. So like, I know that you have felt this, especially, probably early on in your career as an entrepreneur, that sense of being out of control.

Like you didn’t, you didn’t know when the next lead was coming in. You didn’t know what the next project would be, how much income you would make and I’ve. That was a deep part of my burnout was just that fear so  in the structure of the company, we can mitigate that  by creating recurring income, either through maintenance packages, subscriptions. All kinds of different methodologies, but that’s internal. It’s still a little bit out of control.  And so I work with my clients to develop a lead generation plan, which is going to be a course of my academy. It’s just like, I only have so many hours in a day.  But a lead generation plan that they can be in control of.

So , she’s in control for outreach. She can do more outreach and thus generate more leads or turn the faucet down and have less if she’s too busy and now she’s the one in the driver’s seat. And so that anxiety doesn’t take over and seep into her business.

Donald Thompson:  One other is I was researching and just preparing for this interview. And you mentioned, your academy and one of the things that was really interesting to me, that I appreciate that I respected is you created bite size kind of micro courses that allow people to be able to get specific things from you, where they may not be ready for your full consulting services, different things, but they can get things off the shelf.

Talk to us a little bit about why you did that and then where people can find that right, to be able to access the knowledge that you have on tap, so to speak. 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah, I love that you say on tap.  But I really feel well, just like you said that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs who need support, but they might be at a stage that is too early to do private one-on-one coaching or at least on an ongoing basis.

 So this gets them, that injection of, momentum, gets the expertise into their heads and it may not be totally customized. I do offer in each course a small session with me as well.  But it, it gets that download so that they can move forward. Right now, as it looks is like over 50 guides that I’ve created over the five years of my coaching work.

So if you need help identifying your target market all the way up to how do you launch a podcast?  And I’ve been transitioning those into deeper courses. So that’s kind of like my 2021 plan is to get more courses, which helps. It’s just deeper support. So a lot of those guides are built into the course.

So you would actually get multiple guides within the course, plus way more knowledge. Way more support.  And I try really hard. I’m an  community oriented coach. So I try very hard to create an ecosystem within that. So in the podcasting course, if you launch a podcast out of this course, come back and let us know so that we can put the link in so that fellow students can follow you. Same with the author course. If you have books out, let us know, let us support you.  And so, yeah, I, you’re not just coming into a course and just, I don’t like the courses where you just sit there and you’re like, okay, here’s some knowledge now what? 

Donald Thompson: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And that question of now, what I think is where a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck because we are competitive, but we do need journey, mapping support.

Veronica Kirin: Yeah.

Donald Thompson:  Yeah. Learning has a plan to it. And I think that’s one of the things as I was looking at your site and talking with you that I think is very different about what you’re doing is you’re helping people create a learning progression. Right. That’s really, really cool.

Veronica Kirin:  Yeah. I want to see how this all goes together.

So almost always in the courses, they’re doing some sort of business plan and I will ask them, you know, like, have, do you know who your target market is? If not, okay. Like, go do this guide and then come back because you need, you need certain baselines in order to build these things. I don’t want you just floating around building another thing when you don’t know how it integrates into the whole.

Donald Thompson: So one of the things that was, and is really interesting, is, you’re also an author. And one of your books that we talked about, was the transformation of business or I think like the last 100 years, I think, is that correct? 

Veronica Kirin:  It’s actually not business oriented. It’s about the high tech revolution.

 So the title is Stories of Elders, What the Greatest Generation Knows About Technology That you Don’t. And I am an anthropologist as we’ve mentioned. So,  I study paradigm shifts and this first book studies the paradigm shift of the high tech revolution.

I went to the people that lived its entirety. I wanted to talk to the people who grew up with crank cars and the first radios in the community. And now have iPhones. What is that like to live through?  And in this particular book, I, then I interviewed 100 elders across the United States. I did a Kickstarter. I drove 12,000 miles alone across the country.  And I organized my findings the pieces of the interviews into the 20 topic areas that felt like they were really impacted by the high tech revolution, it’s, I’m so proud of this book. It’s my first book ever published. It’s absolutely my first pancake.

There’s always like something you want to change. I know, you know, this as well as an author, like you learn something new a year later and you’re like, Oh, I should have included that in the book, but it’s, it changed my life. I feel a little bit like The Giver, having talked to so many people who are so far ahead in life than I am, and they gave me their memories. So I know that personally, I’m forever changed. 

Donald Thompson: That is awesome. One of the things I wanted to ask you about, and I appreciate that clarification about paradigm shifts. Now you’ve done that work historically and then kind of brought it to present day. Has that given you any strong perspectives that you’re willing to share about what you see, in the future, past doesn’t always equal the future, but it does give us glimpses of how to spot and how to in advance. So interested in your thoughts with this learning, with what you’re doing with small businesses, what kind of trends, what kind of impact paradigm shifts do you see coming? 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah.  Well, so the one thing that I heard a couple different times, I heard our elders say I never ever want to live with automated cars.

Like I can’t do it. I don’t like, you know, just this real reticence.  At the same time, I interviewed a couple people who were the first, they lived in the first houses to be electrified in the community first houses to ever get electricity within their towns. And people wouldn’t come over because they were scared of the electricity and you’re laughing. People laugh whenever I tell them. The story, because it seems so bizarre to be afraid of electricity. They really thought that it would jump out of the sockets at them. They had no idea how it worked. We still don’t know how it works. I mean, if we’re honest, if you ask an electrician, how does electricity work, the electrician’s going to tell you, I have no idea how electricity works.

We still have no clue, but it’s an important distinction that we’re always on the bleeding edge. We live on the razor’s edge of time. We live in this fine, fine, fine moment between present and past and future. And it is, it is impossible to grasp. And with that means we are constantly evolving. We are constantly inventing.

We are constantly changing and you and I might have our limits, like, I don’t know, nanotechnology my blood. I don’t know. Do like they’re developing that stuff. They just had a huge breakthrough with it.  I think for HIV, it was either HIV or Alzheimer’s huge breakthroughs. Know what I do that I don’t know, but for them it was electricity.

Donald Thompson: Got it. 

Veronica Kirin: So there’s always going to be an edge and it’s important for you as an entrepreneur to understand that you have an edge. And you may want to consider moving it or having compassion that the younger generations, their edge is going to be different than yours. And if you don’t want to move your edge, that’s okay.

But they’re not crazy for taking advantage of these things to them. It’s normal. 

Donald Thompson:  I appreciate what you said in the way you said it, because we have a perspective that is from our vision out. And we tend to negate, right. The vision and perspective of others. Like that’s a natural consequence of, of being a little bit close-minded in some of our cultures.

But when you think about it generationally, you can think about it with music, right. That music’s too loud, right? What is this rap?  

Veronica Kirin:  It’s like people used to think jazz was crazy or like what was the, the symphony that people were throwing chairs and like saying it was the most awful thing.

And today it’s revered. 

Donald Thompson: That’s exactly right. And I think, you know, to the point that you made with expanding your edge, right. Because that’s what entrepreneurs have to continue to do. And as we grow in scale, sometimes the larger the business gets, the more you settle in, right? And that’s not where innovation lives, that’s not where fast growth lives. That’s not where scaled lives. And that, that still, we may manage risk differently because we do research. We talk to people that’s fine, but we still need to be seeking the next set of truths. And that that is really, really powerful. No, I love that very much. Let me pivot the conversation a little bit. So we’ve talked about some business things. One of the things that’s impacting our society, right. And thus business, but our society is how we’re looking at things like diversity, equity inclusion, how we’re looking at creating more belonging at work, but really just treating. Each other better. Right. And really making human decency kind of in the DNA of everything we do, as you’re working with small businesses, how do you think about diversity equity inclusion as a part of building great culture for emerging organizations? 

Veronica Kirin: Definitely. So, I mean, I love what you just said about vision, like the CEO, the founder being the visionary. We can’t, we can’t seek sink in. Otherwise that innovation doesn’t happen.  And that’s really important for entrepreneurs to be able to step out, get back to the a hundred foot level, a hundred thousand foot level. At some point on occasion in order to see where the company is going. And as the company grows, you start to live up there more and more and more as the company grows as well. You’re starting to hire, that’s the third pillar of business scaling for me and for my clients. That’s the methodology that I use. And so when I have a client who’s starting to go through the hiring process. The first thing I want for them is to really think about culture. Just like you said, like, how do you want. Your company to grow. How, how do you want people to not just think of your company, but how do you want your employees to think about your company from the inside?

How do you want to treat them? I really encourage my clients to have a weekly team meeting or weekly stand up, no matter what level employee is. So, you know, if they’re just a contractor and a part-time, but they’re taking care of one of your clients, they should be in the team meeting because something might change week to week and hearing the ecosystem move helps them do their job better.

It also gives them the chance to ask questions.  You know, a big part of diversity and inclusion is a fear of asking questions because someone might know that their ignorance, they might know that they just, they didn’t get the exposure. Right. But they feel like, okay, I know I’m supposed to, right. So we get, they showed on themselves.

I should know. And. Thus, they don’t ask because then they feel like they’re behind or they’re messing up and they’re not, you know, woke or whatever like they should be. and so by having team meetings regularly, you’re also giving them the chance to just talk and to ask questions. And it’s not a pressured thing.

You didn’t have to pull your boss aside and say like, um, Can you explain, can you explain that a little better? Cause I didn’t, you know, take it, you feel like you’re taking time. Another part of DEI with my clients is I always encourage them to build an employee handbook. Every single one. I would push them into it if they don’t want to do it, I’ve got examples from my own business that they get to use.

 And especially as an LGBTQ entrepreneur, I really make sure that not. Only do they have a diversity and inclusion section, but they also strive to use pronouns that are neutral throughout. And so it feels like no matter who you are, you’re welcome here. And we’re demonstrating that from square one.

Donald Thompson:  That is powerful.  Culture is hard to retrofit, right? When you, when, when something’s baked in and that’s what a lot of organizations are going through now.  And it’s a good thing, right? The challenges are good. The opportunities are real. But organizations are finding. Now look through a diversity lens that links with your business strategy is difficult because you have some cultural, two masters that are already built in that don’t necessarily align with generational equity.

Right? I have to go back and review existing systems, right. And structures versus building it from the ground up right. There is this opportunity as we work with small businesses and we work with startups. To kind of dial in right excellence from the beginning. Right. All the way around. 

Veronica Kirin: And just like, you know, like  as culture grows, a lot of the reinforcing systems become invisible it’s so it’s so hard to find them weed them out afterwards. I mean, we’re going through that worldwide right now, but especially in the United States with black lives matter movement, like it’s so. So difficult to weed these things out once they’ve been there, especially for hundreds of years, let alone just like, you know, 50 years or 10 years at a company, they become invisible and accepted.

And yeah, if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to set a tone for your growing company, do it as soon as you can, because it is just so difficult in the long run. If you don’t. 

 Donald Thompson: When we think about growing companies and we think about brands. How do you talk to your entrepreneurs about building their personal brands to generate the halo effect back to the company?

Right? That’s something you and I work on. Right because we understand the value of people seeing us as thought leaders in different things, but typically small business owners are, are they’re building a business and you got a little bit, why should I be active on social?? Why should I have my own personal site?

What are some of the things that, that you encourage entrepreneurs to think about leveraging that halo effect of having a strong, personal brand? 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah. So there’s a couple different ways that it works into the company. Just like you said. So, you know, doing the podcast, you’re here as the thought leader as the interviewer and it, and it reinforces our understanding of your authority into the company.

Right? So being out there as a speaker,  interviewing for articles, either using,  Herro, which is help a reporter out, which I just like everybody should be doing it’s like easy publicity, appearing on social media, doing lives.  What I really want for entrepreneurs is that they are careful of their comfort edge as well as,  their time edge.

And you don’t want to be pushing your time, edge too much, but you do want to be pushing your comfort edge.  And with that, I have one client who, who just said to me, like, I just, I have all of these social media accounts. And like, therefore different products that tie into the whole company, but you know, I’m just like, no, you don’t need to do that. Have one, because ultimately you’re the thought leader. And it’s hard to see when you’re first starting out that like you’re the creator and there’s going to be more stuff, but you are. And so just have one you only need one Instagram account. You only need one Twitter. It’s fine.  And then we’ll work on just like you said, brand and voice in order to create that cohesion so that when people arrive there, they’re not confused as to like what. What are we talking about? 

Donald Thompson: So one of the things that, you know, in diversity equity inclusion, I have a perspective as a black man in America, a black man in the, in technology have that experience and that narrative. In order for me to be effective, I had to get and go to training and certification. So I could understand at least from an empathy standpoint, conversationally the LBGTQ perspective, gender pay equity perspective, that understanding of neuro diversity, generational socioeconomic. And so I had to do my homework, right. And I, and that’s what I wanted to do. I’m still learning. One of the things that took me a bit of time, and I would love for you to give a little more detail is on the pronouns.  Because it is something that creates that openness, but I would like you to take some space. And give a quick overview because it is something that people don’t naturally understand.

It’s not something they’re against, they just don’t really get it. So just want to give you some space to maybe give a couple minute tutorial. 

Veronica Kirin:  And I do want to point out something important that you said, you said I’m still learning. And that is the reality of humanity.  But a lot of times people aren’t sure they get exhausted. They don’t know. And so they, they huddle in and they, they don’t want to keep learning, even though they are like every single day. If you, if you wake up, you’re learning, there’s input. Thus your learning.  And so if you want to know more, if you have curiosity understand you’re still learning, you will always be still learning.

I’m still learning. It’s always changing. It’s okay. That’s how culture and humanity works.  And so as you said, you know, people aren’t totally comfortable as a culture at large. So if we take all of American culture, I’m not quite comfortable yet with pronouns, we know. It’s important, but as you said, a lot of the, especially older generations didn’t grow up with this as a method of acknowledgement and so feels awkward or like, why, why do I need to do it?

So, you know, I am a CIS woman. So just as an example, for those who are thinking like, well, I’m not trans or I’m not, non-binary like, I’m just me. And I’ve never wondered about my gender. So why do I need to use my pronouns? So by putting your pronouns in your email signature,  on your name for this podcast on your zoom, wherever you feel like, you know, you’re representing yourself.

What it’s doing is helping to normalize pronoun usage, bring attention to it, and also make others who are using different pronouns. Feel safe to do so. So we’re, we’re here as advocates and allies, you know, like I’m not trans, I am in the LGBTQ community, but I’m still an ally to my trans brothers and sisters.

Right. So for them, if they’re using pronouns, they don’t feel like they’re standing out like a sore thumb. They can use their pronouns. And I mean, a lot of people who have transitioned pass as the gender, they want to pass as. So if I’m using pronouns and they’re using pronouns and they’re using he, or she pronouns, there’s again less of a question of like, well, they’re using pronouns.

Thus, they must be trans. So, again, it’s just creating this, this environment where we just all use our pronouns. And now I do want to, just make one little mark on this, because most of the time people are using they them, if they are either, non-binary or they don’t really adhere to single gender. So they might be poly gendered, or a gendered. So, and if you don’t know these terms, it’s okay. Because that’s what our job is like there’s tons of people out here who will help you.  But so if somebody doesn’t necessarily want to use he or she usually we’re seeing they, them. But there are others available as well.

So some people prefer Ne/Nim. Some people prefer Ze/Zem.  And those are kind of with the big three. There are a couple others as well. And while that may feel confusing, what I really want you to take away from that is that we’re going through a cultural shift  we’re updating and making it safe for people to finally be who they are.

This is not new. It is simply, we’re finally at a place where people feel safe. And so there’s a couple of different pronouns. Culturally, we may end up settling on what the gender neutral pronoun set is.  But I can’t predict the future. So who knows? 

Donald Thompson: No, I appreciate that very much. And I think that, you know, in my journey to become better and to be a better leader and to be more inclusive is to make sure that when there are opportunities, right, sometimes you can create a drain if you’re asking a lot of questions of a specific individual.

Right. And I try very much not to do that because there is Google, right. There are things to read.

 And so, but when I do talk with other practitioners, I do take that opportunity. Those of us that live in the space, what are we learning on that edge?

And you said a couple of pronouns that I wasn’t familiar with and I’ll go, and I’ll research that we’ll have our team take a look at. Right. And so I think that’s great. I really appreciate that that, that thinking and that sharing as we wind our time, together. And again, this won’t be the last, because I’m really a couple of things I wanted to share with you.

As we get to know each other better. I love the examples that you use that create visual representation with your words, right? The buildings and then the skyscraper and the way, the way that, that allows me to learn from you quickly. And I’m a, I’m a kind of a speed learner. So I don’t know, we have the slow buildup, like I need things that I can grasp.Right. And so I really appreciate that. And then I also like the fact that you’re creating those opportunities to learn from you, even when we can’t spend one-on-one time. Right. In different things. And so I’m really, really pleased with that as we wind down. And we think about talking with small business leaders, What are some of the things that you help these leaders with in learning how to manage and grow teams as they’re starting, when you’re one person to even 10, you have that family atmosphere and it’s so relational, right?

But then when you move past 10 people and you start to get more organizational. Right. Big leadership shift. What are some of the advice points that you give for leaders that are learning, how to grow and manage bigger teams? Even if that team is 10 to 20. 

Veronica Kirin: Yeah. Yeah, love it. So definitely if you were the type of community oriented or impact oriented entrepreneur who wants to kind of keep that family feel, even as your touch points are reduced?

 I really recommend it, doing your best to create creates opportunities for contact with you. So either if you can’t appear at the, like the entire company, a team meeting, because there’s 250 employees at this point. So like you can’t go every week, or, you know, Whatever the reason still making it maybe to the monthly one or a quarterly run, still trying to create opportunity for conversation,  making yourself available via email or on your Slack channel or whatever you’re using in order to be in contact with the company.

 And you can start that really early. So if you’re at the stage where you only have, you know, five or 10 employees, one thing that I’ve found really effective for my tech company was when I hired, I hired people who I knew were going to be leaders. So I hired people who, yes, they had to just take work from me at that stage, but I specifically trained and told them that they were being hired as a department head. Was there any one below them at that point in time? No, but they knew that when we were tired, when it was time to bring in other people within that category of work, that they were going to be the ones who were involved in the interview process. And so as you start to expand your empire, you can build this family feel, but also empower your managers and your directors to then continue that onward within their teams.

And again, doing your best to really give  that ability to come back to you. One of my clients has a team of 25 and does yearly,  basically feedback for how he did. He just here’s the feedback form. Give me a scale one to 10 for all these different areas. And tell me, like, what can I be doing better? That’s sometimes scary for people, but it makes your team feel empowered.  I love the example. I know that this is like a movie, you know, silly cliche example, but, I love the example in the intern with Robert de Niro, where she has that bell in the warehouse. And so when there’s a, win anyone gets to ring it, no matter what level they’re at, but everyone hears it.

It’s so there’s, there’s taking time with celebration, taking time with gratitude, and also the ability to retain approach ability. 

Donald Thompson: That is really, really powerful. Like hiring people with leadership upside is one of the things you said initially and giving them that charter, right. People rise to your level of expectation.

And so, you know, one of the things that in that story, the way you described what you’re doing, as you describe leaders, keeping connected, right? We all get busy, but making opportunities for connection and conversation. And then giving people their leadership charter, right. That they know that growth is expected.

This is where we are. Now. These are things you have to do. These are tasks, but the training, your education, your future, I’m hiring you to be right this into the future. And it’s such a great way to create loyalty and get people to really engage, right. It’s the kind of leadership that, that I’ve been fortunate to have as I grew as an entrepreneur, people that need to do big things.

Veronica Kirin: That’s awesome. So good. 

Donald Thompson: Yeah. And I’m really, really thankful of that. I want to say, as we wind down, congratulations to you on being named Forbes next 1000. 

Veronica Kirin: You too. 

Donald Thompson: And that’s one of the ways that what a great honor, and it just speaks to your innovative mindset and you continuing to push out your edge and congratulations for that. As we wind, is there anything you’d like to share with our audience that I haven’t given you the space to do, right. Any comment, the book that you’d like to share, any advice, what would be just your closing thought that maybe I just didn’t think to ask. 

Veronica Kirin: Well, I am studying paradigm shifts, in one now, and I’m currently interviewing people around the world about their experience with the pandemic.

And I always need more people to interview because there’s only so many people I know. So if you want to contribute to history, the purpose of these books are to get into the hands of people we’ll never meet because just as Donald and I were talking about there’s this generational divide. We’re living leading edge, but eventually the next generation is going to think this was normal.

We’re going to feel like, yeah, it’s in history. So these books are the narrative of the now preserved. And if you want to be part of that, I would love to have you..  You can go to stories of COVID dot C O and under that, you’ll also have the link to that. 

Donald Thompson: Oh, that’s phenomenal stories of and people will be able to participate. And I will put those in the show notes, Veronica, thank you. Like this has been super encouraging and engaging.  

I’ve learned and I just want to continue to be excellent for the teams that I work with and part of the way that I’m doing it. I didn’t think about this in the beginning, but I’m getting a new level of education from doing these podcasts because the folks that I’m talking with are amazing and you’re in that group.

So thank you so much. 

Thank you so much. 

Full Episode Transcript

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, The Diversity Movement CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit

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