3 Top Tips from Seth Gleeson
1. Find the right bank manager
Find a bank manager that you can trust and you see a long term future with as your business grows.
2. Don’t avoid conflict
It’s the saying that “the standard you will pass is the standard you accept” which applies to conflict. Don’t avoid conflict, confront it.
3. Switch off after work
Fulfil other passions outside of work.
Find Seth Gleeson at https://datumprojects.co.nz/
Read full transcript here:
Debra Chantry-Taylor 0:09
Good afternoon. Welcome to another episode of Better Business, Better Life. I’m here with Seth Gleason today who’s from data projects and welcome Seth, thanks for coming along. Thank you and there’s a fella bridge from Kenton and I understand. So we’re just chatting about our respective backgrounds. And you run Datum project, which is actually quite a reasonably sized business. Tell me what it is that they do. You do?
Seth Gleeson 0:30
Yeah, he’s it’s Datum projects, which is a little different, different language. But we are a commercial interiors contractor. Predominantly, we do retail interiors. So shop fitting so we recently we fill out quite a few stores in Silvia Park, the Westfield Newmarket development and commercial bank and in the city as well. Nice. Yeah, we did about 12 retail stores and each each of those developments which one contract is quite a few.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 1:01
Fantastic. Okay. I’m guessing that last year was a tough year then for you with retail, closing down with COVID and whatnot. How did it go last year?
Seth Gleeson 1:08
Yeah, last year was was it was a tough year for so say, like any other business. COVID hit us like a sledgehammer. Yeah. But we were quite fortunate that we came out of lockdown. And we’re straight into the fifth out of commercial bank. So we managed to keep all our staff on board. And actually, we employed a couple more guys straight straight off the bat. So yeah, his his financially. And it wasn’t it wasn’t a great year for us last year. But we we managed to establish ourselves in the marketplace as a leader and what we do. And thanks to that, you know, the world is looking really good for 2021.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 1:43
Thank you. And before we get started, I’d love to hear a bit of a professional and a personal best of our listeners can get to know a little more about sixth behind the business.
Seth Gleeson 1:51
Well, I suppose my personal bests. And I’m particularly proud of his last five or six years, I’ve coached young kids, rugby league, discus Raiders. So I’ve taken them through from sort of full five year olds through to what will be the under elevens this year, and then we’ve got quite a successful team. So yeah, proud of that, and I mentioned to you earlier before I came on that just caught my first yellowfin tuna on my boat and pretty proud of that too.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 2:19
So what size was it?
Seth Gleeson 2:20
It was 35 kilos. Yeah.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 2:29
Brilliant. Okay! Professionally?
Seth Gleeson 2:32
I suppose. We’ve had a lot of highlights on the way, about how we’ve, we’ve been through three factories at the start last year, we went into a 2500 square metre facility, which is fantastic, which says, we fitted it out to suit ourselves. And it we’ve, we’ve, we’ve really arrived at marketplace now. So I think the the culture we have in the in the business is probably one most most proud of, I think it’s taken a few years to build up, but it’s exactly where we want it to be.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 3:06
And when did the company start? How long has it been going for now?
Seth Gleeson 3:08
Starting in 2012? Yeah. So it was our 9th birthday on the 5th of February.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 3:15
Okay, so 2012 has been like a few years. And you just made some more alluded to the fact that it’s taken a while to get the right people. Why, what or the right culture? I should say? Tell me a bit more about that.
Seth Gleeson 3:26
Yeah, I mean, culture is something that, you know, it’s something you just got to keep working on, you know, that flow on effect, they talk about, you know, you’ve got to keep pushing it and pushing it. He’s a, it’s about it’s about having the right people in the in the business. I think, you know, you’ve got to try and train people into your culture. But sometimes, if they’re not the right fit for your culture, then then you have to move them on, which is a bit callous, but but actually works works in your favour.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 3:53
And it’s best for both people. No point both the employer and the employee being unhappy.
Seth Gleeson 3:59
I think you’re right, yeah. And I’ve had it before where people have moved on and actually come back and work for us as a external contractor. you know, there’s there’s certainly no notice thing, and I think they’re enjoying, enjoy what they’re doing now.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 4:15
Sure. Now, we’re talking about reducing stress and overwhelm today. And when I chatted to you before you came on the podcast, we’re talking about the fact that for you, that’s been about having the right people in the right seats, do you want to explain a little more what you mean by that.
Seth Gleeson 4:27
Okay, yeah. It’s gonna sound like I like to sack people. I don’t know, for me, being able to relax as a business owner is about being able to rely on your staff. It’s about having competent people in the right position. You know, we been fortunate enough. We’ve had a GM on board now for the last couple of years. And that’s really given me a chance to focus on the sales side of the business. Which means that I’m not quite as hands on as I used to be.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 4:59
Are the staff greatful for that?
Seth Gleeson 5:01
I don’t know, I think half of them sort of miss my input. But half of them don’t miss my input. It’s not important. So yeah. It’s it’s certainly freed me up to, to look at the things that as a business owner, you don’t always get a chance to, you know, the sales, the culture we’ve talked about, you know. So yeah, going back to your question, I think having people in the right places, competent people who, who, who you trust, again, rely on and I’m proud to say that we’ve got that in spades in our business.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 5:33
And so what does that mean for you personally? that if you’ve got the right team around you, what does that mean as a business owner?
Seth Gleeson 5:40
Well, to put it into perspective, in two weeks time on a fishing trip for a week. And if you asked me three years ago, if I was going to do that, I probably may have done but I probably would have spent more time on the phone looking my email, and I will come fishing,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 5:55
Right? We’re actually going after tuna right?
Seth Gleeson 5:58
Marlin and tuna!
Yes. So it gives me a chance to be able to not have to worry when we’re ours are turned. I know I’ve always had competent people in place. But when you’ve actually got that senior management team in place, they are looking after your job, as well as their own
Debra Chantry-Taylor 6:18
And I think as the business grows, with a lot of clients, where they start the business and where the business started, and where it finished up, is often quite different. So they’re the people you take on that journey with you. They do have to change over time. If they’re not quite the right fit for the new business. That’d be fair to say,
Seth Gleeson 6:32
Yeah, I agree. Yeah. And even some of the people who, who are still in the business have to go through a transition with you. And quite honestly, it’s quite reluctant, you know, you, you add in new layers of management in your team. And it can be, you know, for people who’ve been in touch with the strategy and the decision making tool to suddenly have a another level of management above them is not always the easiest thing as well. So yeah, how
Debra Chantry-Taylor 6:57
do you deal with that? What do you do to sort of facilitate that transition?
Seth Gleeson 7:02
Very good question. I am I think I probably dealt with it organically and didn’t didn’t really plan my way through it. Maybe if I turn the clock on, I may have done it differently. But I think the big thing initially is to really back the team management team of coming. Yeah. Because if you try and show them, vent them, then then you’re really undermining them
Debra Chantry-Taylor 7:24
Right. So you get a mom, mom says no, and you go to dad and say
Seth Gleeson 7:28
Exactly that. So we’re not sure if I was in that instance. So yeah, so that’s something that I was I was quite keen to do. Something I probably didn’t do well enough was to make sure it’s communicating to to those people that they were still very, very important part of the business, which was they, they were still are. So yeah. But you know, the transition doesn’t take that long.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 7:56
Yeah, so I mean, to go from yourself just in the beginning back in 2012, or was it a couple of years in the business? What was it looking like in 2012?
Seth Gleeson 8:05
2012, it was a cell phone in a small room up in Orewa. With a computer and my wife came in and took accounts. With me for for about six months. Yeah, we were quite lucky. There was a shopping centre development, small one that opened up in Silverdale, which is just happens to be where I live. We picked up a what was called Telecom store, the North Beach store, there are a couple of others and for men just got in a row.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 8:38
So has it all been plain sailing?
Seth Gleeson 8:41
No, I don’t think it’s been plain sailing, but it’s been enjoyable. Yep. I’ve loved nearly every minute of it. Some personal challenges. But yeah, it’s it’s not been plain sailing, but it’s been. It’s been fun. And, yeah, I think if you go into it with the right attitude, don’t have too high expectations. And and check yourself, you know, make make sure that you understand or try and take other people’s views on board, then then it’s gonna last.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 9:18
So how do you get to keep people involved in that because obviously, as the owner, we often have quite a strong vision for the business where it’s headed. And you’re obviously a thought leader in your space as well. But how do you make sure your team are kept on board with what you’re doing?
Seth Gleeson 9:32
You probably get it from this podcast that I’m a talker. So I like to like to keep people informed. I like to we have a quarterly newsletter within our business. We post out to everybody very old fashioned postal things still offline. Yeah, I try and Firstly, thank people for what they do we get health and safety message out to them. We have our MVP where they can get a meat pack for being awesome. We introduce new stuff in there and each one a little bit about the strategy and what we’re planning to do. I just try to talk to people on a day to day basis. But, you know, as the company gets bigger, it’s harder to to get around the sights and, you know, alternate factory this morning for the first time in two weeks. It’s the only sort of office Yeah. So yeah, it’s probably you need to practice what I preach, but it’s getting out and talking to people as much as you can.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 10:32
What’s been the biggest challenge in that time? So we’ve been going for 9 years? Yeah. What was the biggest challenge in that time, do you think?
Seth Gleeson 10:45
Yeah, probably I had a really good friend who worked for me. And he went his his own way, and was it was quite hard for me to take on board. Probably because I sort of felt like I was losing a mate more than losing an employee. And, and I sort of learned a little bit of a lesson from that is that, you know, now everybody who comes on board with me comes on board for the merits, not not because of who they are. Yeah, he was actually a very competent person. And his life has taken a different, different road and took me a little while to reconcile that which was more meaningful to him. So that was, that was a challenge, I took it quite personal. And otherwise, challenges. If something ever goes wrong, I still take it personally, you know, I want to, we have some, some values in our company and all around our delivery and our approachability. And I get quite upset if we we fail to achieve, you know, which doesn’t happen very often, I have to say, for those listening. But what when it does I take it personal.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 11:52
And so what do you do? How do you mentioned those values are kind of instilled throughout the organisation? And then what do you do? Because sometimes we’re human, right? We make errors. We don’t meet it. We do. Yeah. How do you recover from that?
Seth Gleeson 12:03
Well you just keep making sure that people understand what our values are? And I live by the values. And so I sort of, I set those expectations, and I pull people up on
Debra Chantry-Taylor 12:16
What I’m just somebody, you know, who, because of the mentally they can appear to be the right person. And then they come on board. And as you start working with you, you see a complete different side of them. How do you try and make sure that is a values match from the beginning?
Seth Gleeson 12:28
Good question. And, to be honest, I wasn’t very good at that. I was very much a, here’s a whole, there’s a there’s a whole shaped person, I’m going to put that person in a hole. Because I just felt like it was the way to fix it needed a bump on the seat. Unless you got to probably by our previous financial controller, she, she would go through a quite a rigorous process of interview. And she wouldn’t accept people unless she felt they were right. So you know, it, it’s a case of making sure that I like the person. Yeah, because I don’t like people who don’t have similar values to me
Debra Chantry-Taylor 13:10
You have to share the same values, yeah.
Seth Gleeson 13:16
I quite often bring my wife into, to interview she does some HR for the business. So yeah, I bring her in and she’ll, she’ll just make sure I guess right.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 13:30
I’m reading, a really great book called Essentralism at Craig McKee. I think it’s called, have you read it?
Seth Gleeson 13:34
I started to read it, I haven’t finished it.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 13:36
I’m going to book club so I’m forced to read it five chapters every week, there was an intense chapter. And it’s really interesting that talks about when people are employing people that’s actually about thinking, not only are they the right person for… the question is, can you see yourself working with them? So if you can’t see yourself working, they’re probably not the right fit. Yeah, and that’s the way that we tend to look at things and go right okay, is this person gonna fit in? Can I work with them when they work with us? Yes. Okay. So we’re talking about reducing stress? Definitely getting the right people. What have been the biggest challenges in the people arena for you? have you ever had, apart from your your friend who obviously had other ideas has been a challenge for people who didn’t fit into the organisation work quite right for it.
Tony Faulkensen was on a couple of weeks ago and exactly the same thing. It’s like as the compensation, are you really happy here? And if I they even hesitate, you know, they’re not the right person, and then it’s time to kind of get them out. And it’s not as it doesn’t work for both the employer and the employee, because they’re gonna find something better as well.
Seth Gleeson 15:22
Debra Chantry-Taylor 15:23
So we always ask for three tips from our guests around what would they tell other but not tell our what messages and people could do within their business that would actually help them. So we’ve got three tips for me.
Seth Gleeson 15:34
One, first one is really around stress, but I believe that it’s, it’s one that people don’t understand or realise as much, and then find the right bank manager, and the right bank for you and your business. A lot of people that you know, that they start off business with, with just a retail business bank, and stick with them for a long time. And as your business grows, you need to be with the right tier of business bank for you, you need to be happy with service. And I know that, you know, there’s that much of a rush at times, but but I think making sure that you accept your business bank manager, and it was my first one.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 16:17
And in some ways that is linked to stress because money is a massive issue in terms of if you haven’t got cash flow, and you haven’t got somebody supportive of the growth of your business, it’s would create quite a bit of stress I should imagine. So just get the right person in the bank, somebody understands what you’re doing somebody who knows what you’re trying to achieve. And will actually back you.
Seth Gleeson 16:33
Very much yeah, and that is, you know, someone who’s on the same page as you. Yeah. And, you know, you know, we’ll we’ll go to their superiors in the bank, with with the right story and fight for your battles.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 16:48
Number two, well, we’re never to be?
Seth Gleeson 16:50
Number two? A really good friend of mine said to me once the saying, which is “the standard you will pass is the standard you accept”. And that really resonates with me, it’s it’s don’t suffer fools. Don’t let, don’t, don’t avoid conflict, you know, if you see something wrong, don’t just think or do whatever next time because I just can’t be bothered with it. You really need to fight for it. And, and, and, and sometimes like, like you say, it’s appreciated. Yeah, people then know exactly where you stand. What you expected of them,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 17:27
I don’t know about boundaries, I always give the example of you know, imagine a little seedling in the middle of a paddock full of cows, what happens that seedling gets trampled, it gets eaten, you put a boundary around it being the fence and allows that seedling to grow and grow and flourish and thrive. And then next year, there’s a big tree doesn’t need it anymore. But if you don’t put the boundaries around, it never never gets there.
Seth Gleeson 17:47
It’s like being a parent if you don’t set those boundaries, to do what you what you would like them to be,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 17:51
And as much like the good parents, give a simple set of rules they will follow those rules. And you need to keep repeating them over and over again. Okay, last one for the listeners.
Seth Gleeson 18:01
Yeah. And, I mean, we alluded to it in the subject here, but it is to be able to switch up after work. Yeah. So, you know, I’m quite lucky. I’ve got a wife and three kids who keep me busy and I love to go fishing with my friend. I like to appeal to every now and then and I think I’ve seen people before who who they they don’t put work out you know, they don’t they see it as their their own entity. For me, you know it even though it’s my business, it is still a job. And I’ve got other jobs
Debra Chantry-Taylor 18:39
You’ve got other passions outside of work. Yeah,
Seth Gleeson 18:40
Exactly that and I think it gives you a chance to refresh. Yeah. And to to get back into it on a Monday morning whenever you want to and really, with a fresh set of eyes.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 18:52
Yeah. So if you’ve got completely engrossed enough all the time, you know, that clarity of thought away from it. Okay, so finally, if people would like to talk to you more about what you do, how can they get in contact with you? Where do they find you?
Seth Gleeson 19:07
Well, Datum projects we’ve got our own website and probably Sokoto exists to say we we manufacture commercial joinery, we fill out office spaces, filled out retail stores and general construction as well. But if you need to get hold of me, personally, datumprojects.co.nz
Debra Chantry-Taylor 19:26
Look, thank you so much for coming in. Really appreciate it. And good luck with the rest of the year.
That’s fantastic, been a pleasure, Thanks.
Professional EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner
#betterbusinessbetterlife #entrepreneur #leadership