Grant Brooke Twiga Finding Impact

FIP 31: Tips on Building Trust and Hiring People by Founder-CEO, Grant Brooke

We talk about how to think about a CEO-Founder’s transition from day-to-day firefighting of operations to looking more on the horizon. Grant Brooke moved from fire-fighting day-in, day-out as a new start-up and getting involved in every facet of the business, to building a C-Suite who reports to the Board, to moving into a design-sprint format that looks three months on the horizon and decides what the business should be focusing on then. This episode is packed of useful tips about hiring, understanding teams, culture, building trust and expats.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • The founder’s hired key people within their networks, with people they could trust and knew how they work.
  • A key reason for raising their first round of venture finance was to hire good people.
  • In order to attract the best people, who might otherwise be working at multinationals, they tried to offer very competitive salaries, create a very free, autonomous atmosphere, and creating a vision around where they were going.
  • Their hiring strategy early on was to identify someone in their network who they knew were good, then invite them out for a coffee or go out for a drink for a couple of months, then by which time, both parties will know if they want to continue together.
  • Grant tries to create an intellectually safe environment within the company. As a CEO, ways to do this include publicising your mistakes to encourage others to make mistakes and try new things, and be obvious about learning from your colleagues, encourage meetings to be a collective understanding of what needs to be done and volunteers to take responsibility for actions.
  • They don’t give directives. Instead, they encourage staff to step up to take on challenges that are facing the company.
  • Don’t over-promise to employees, such as using gimicky contracts that tie pay increases to individual performance. Instead, have a broad understanding that if the company does well, then everyone will do well.
  • Because trust can get eroded by simple misunderstandings in communication styles, use any interaction with employees or suppliers to be intentional about building trust in that relationship.
  • Instead of waiting to see what is ahead on the horizon, Grant tries to define the things that should be three months on the horizon.
  • Make a kindle library available to encourage employees to self-develop, and ensure everyone knows that’s a key part to progressing up the company.
  • When hiring expats, think about the learning curve for a skilled expat to fully understand the culture and customer versus up-skilling someone from the local job market who has a much better understanding of the customer and context. It’s often much cheaper the second way.
  • Hiring non-expats has important implications for the culture of the business too, in particular, in encouraging staff to speak up about how they think the business should be run.

Resources we talk about:

Connect with Grant:

What was your favourite lesson from this episode? Let me know on Twitter by clicking here!


2 replies
  1. Harper Campbell
    Harper Campbell says:

    It’s interesting to learn that when it comes to a business needing a CEO that there are somethings that they can do to make sure that everything turns out right. I like how you pointed out that they want someone who will encourage the staff to take on challenges. This is something that I believe that companies need to take into consideration.

  2. Andy Narracott
    Andy Narracott says:

    Great point Harper! Thanks for underlining that point – this is a great tactic for CEOs to build the capacity of those around them, which will make their job easier down the line.

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