Ep 4: What Motivates People? Understanding Motivation in the Workplace (with Cassy Aite, Co-Founder and CEO of Hoppier)

In this episode, our guest Cassy explains the different ways employees can be motivated and how important it is to recognize their unique motivation styles.
"I may have someone that’s motivated by compensation, I may have someone that’s motivated by some kind of achievement, and I think understanding those people and understanding person to person is the most important thing to understand what motivates someone." - Cassy Aite

In this episode

We often have the preconceived notion that leaders have to treat everyone the same in order to be fair. However in truth, managers need to respect everyone’s individual needs and motivators.

On episode #4, Cassy Aite, the co-founder and CEO of Hoppier, shares how different values, environments and involvement can influence your employees’ motivation in the workplace. 

Cassy also discusses the importance of being genuine with your employees and how recognizing an achievement can backfire if you’re not careful.

Lastly, we dive into why he chooses to be transparent with his team and rallies everyone together to be on the same page.

Tune in to hear all about how Cassy’s leadership experiences and advice can help you improve your leadership style!

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2:22 Lottery ticket analogy for motivation
7:00 Being genuine
9:12 What motivates people
13:29 What motivates Cassy
19:58 Pandemic opportunities
25:40 Remote and asynchronous work
31:25 Get your team involved and engaged
33:38 How to recognize people for their contributions
38:19 Obstacles faced as a young company founder
42:47 Cassy's key leadership insight

Guest Bio

Cassy Aite is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hoppier. He's on a mission to make it easier for companies to manage and send rewards or incentives without annoying reimbursements. Today, hundreds of thousands of people use Hoppier around the world to manage employee lunch programs, stipends, gifts, and more! 

Transcript

Cassy (00:00):
Some managers manage in a transactional way where they tell you what to do, or they really focus on like what you're doing. And I think that's like it, it can be okay, but at a certain point you're gonna cap out and you, it's gonna be hard to grow beyond a certain point or like grow as fast as you might want to.

Fahd (00:30):
Hello and welcome to the unicorn leaders podcast. My name is Fahd, CEO and founder of Unicorn Labs. And this is the podcast where we interview leaders, founders, VPs of talent, but how to create a high performing team, a high performing culture and how to be effective leaders. Our goal is to bring you the insights, the tools, so that you don't have to make all the mistakes that we made and that they made. And so we could learn from them. Today's guest is actually Cassy I, the co-founder and CEO of Hoppier, and he is gonna share some of his thoughts on employee motivation and recognition in the workplace. This podcast is brought to you by Unicorn Labs. You can check us out at ww.unicornlabs.ca, where we work with startups and organizations to develop their leaders and their teams to become high performing. I'm really excited about today's episode because it's about the elusive notion of motivation and, and the reason I find it so interesting is if you know me well, you know, that I actually trotted across the country for a number of years, being a motivational speaker for high schools and universities, you know, in the high school and they fill the gym up with all the kids and they get everyone seated and they bring in a speaker and it's a big pep rally and it's a hoorah and you can do it. I wasn't exactly like that, but I did pull off a few. I can't hear you. <Laugh>. And motivation speaking was, was, was, was my job. And it was about motivating young people to find the leader within themselves. And I realized a few really interesting pieces along the way that I wanted to share with you. And, and one of them is best illustrated in, in a, in a little study called the lottery ticket experiment. This, this lottery ticket experiment was an experiment, done, a group of group of researchers. They brought participants together and they split the group in half and they gave one group, they assigned them a lottery ticket.

Fahd (02:22):
Here's your lottery ticket. The other group, they gave them piece of paper pen and said, you get to write down any number you want as your lottery ticket. So one group got to write it. The other group just got tickets, and then researchers were trying to understand really how much money they'd have to offer to buy back the tickets. So how much money do you have to pay someone who wrote their own number versus someone who was handed a number randomly? And they thought there'd be no difference. I mean, theoretically speaking, pure chance, it's pretty equivalent. Like the number that's gonna be chosen in the lottery should have the same value. Actually, if you wanna get to it mathematically, you might have written a duplicate number. So actually the fact that you wrote your own number might be your worst chance, just slightly, but at the end of the day, pretty equal chances to like, you know, the decimal place.

Fahd (03:10):
And when they went to buy back the tickets, they found something really interesting. Those who wrote their own lottery ticket cost five times more to purchase back than those who were given a lottery ticket five times more simply because they wrote their own number. See, when I was trotting across the country, doing motivational speeches and, and, and pep rallies for these students, when we got into the workshops and we got the students to actually write on their own pieces of paper, the problems and challenges that they saw in their own community, that is when the motivation started to click in, when it became about what emotionally drove them, what really got them to get going. I still find motivation really interesting because I'll still get asked by corporate corporations to come in and do a motivational speak speech for their staff. And I'm like, you know, we don't really motivate people that way.

Fahd (04:06):
You don't motivate people through, through just a har you can get people hype, you can get people excited, but really our notion of motivation is a little broken. Most of us have a model of motivation that goes like this. There's intrinsic motivation, and there's extrinsic motivation. And intrinsic is something that pushes us on the inside. And extrinsic is something that pushes us from the outside. And so we have this model kind of dichotomy of the two polars, and we say, we need more intrinsic motivation and less extrinsic motivation in order to succeed. And this is true. We want more internally motivated reasons to work, but let's take an entrepreneur. For example, is an entrepreneur intrinsically motivated or extrinsic motivated. If you stopped paying the entrepreneur, would they continue to do their work? Maybe up to a certain point, like an artist, they would continue to produce some of their work, but unless they were getting some sort of pay or recognition or community and reputation that they're building that's coming externally would continue to fuel their intrinsic motivation, but they wouldn't have gotten started if they didn't have some level of intrinsic motivation, if they didn't actually have a reason, a desire, a why they're doing it, that gets them to push above and beyond.

Fahd (05:16):
See the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic is way more complicated than people think. And you know, a lot of organizations will always want to try and increase motivation and, and want more intrinsic motivation and say, well, if you took everyone's pay away, they would stop working. So everyone's actually extrinsically motivated. That's why they're at your company. So pay is a perfect example of that, but we can turn the dial up on both extrinsic and intrinsic at the same time, because there's a relationship between the two. See, the thing we have to keep in mind is why people work determines how well they work, why people work determines how well, how hard and how much care goes into what they do. There needs to be a real sense of purpose. There are six reasons researchers have found determine why people work. And the six reasons people work are number one, play.

Fahd (06:14):
It is something that is enjoyable. It's something that's fun. Something they want to do something that gets them going two there's purpose. They find that it aligns with their values and their view of the world and how the world should be. So they're walking towards a vision. There's a purpose. It aligns with them three potential. It's aligned with their future goals. It's a stepping stone to the next job or the next opportunity. It's getting them to where they want to be. It's got potential. Those are the three real positive pushers of why people work. Then there are three more negative ones that, that, that also push us. One is emotional pressure. We might feel a reason to work such as family. We need to take care of family. So we have to be working. There's emotional pressure. From the boss, there's emotional pressure from work.

Fahd (07:00):
There's, there's, there's, you're being pushed. Peer pressure, right, is a form of emotional pressure. Then economic pressure. Well, there's a cost of living. You've gotta be able to afford it. And lastly, inertia, you, they keep doing what they're doing, because it's always been that way. And that is actually a motivator. It's just always been this way. So this is how I do it. So those are the six reasons people work, and they all tie back to why we work and they are the blend of the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. And so today we're gonna unpack some of that with Cassy. I'm gonna shoot over another quote in our interview to get a little more about what he had to say about motivation.

Cassy (07:36):
Being genuine is really important, right? Like it, the worst thing you can do is to shout someone out and not totally understand what they did and for it to come off is in like non genuine. And it's happened like, it's, it can, it happens, especially if you're like one or two degrees away from that, that person. Right. I think especially as like a, you know, a manager of managers, it's really difficult if you wanna like shout someone out and, and you weren't like directly involved in, in that thing that they worked on, right?

Fahd (08:10):
Cassy takes us through the importance of being extremely candid and direct and specific when giving recognition and praise, he's gonna share how different values environments and involvement can influence your employees, motivation how we actually have to treat everyone differently in order to get the best out of everyone. And that treating everyone the same, isn't the fair way to do it. That managers need a personalized leadership approach. Cassy's gonna discuss the importance of being genuine with your employees and how to recognize achievement. And we're gonna dive into why he chooses to be transparent with his team, but finally, his deepest lesson around motivation that it all stems from creating an environment of engagement that we can't motivate people. Motivation is not an an, an input. It is an outcome that happens when we create environments of high performing teams.

Fahd (09:12):
Wow. Cassy, I'm excited to have you on our, our unicorn leaders podcast. And I'm excited for you to share your journey, your experience, and this episode's all about motivation. And, and so this is, this is super exciting for me, Cassy, thank you for being here with us. Thank you for being part of our day today. Casie, I'm gonna, I'm gonna tee us up for a, a big question, just gonna get right outta the gate with it. What motivates people? And the reason I ask you, this is that I know during our, our discussions, you talked about your own, your superpower, your personal superpower is about understanding people's motivation. And I wanna kind of dig into where you got those insights and, and how it came to be. So what do you think motivates people?

Cassy (09:54):
I think it's so this is something that I, I learned at a, I think a very young age, I've always been entrepreneurial and started my first business when I was, you know, 10, 10 or years old, I was fixing bikes in the neighborhood. And I think I realized really what motivated people and, and what drove them to make decisions. And for that reason, I think it helped me to learn. And then, you know, as I grew up, I played soccer and I played competitive soccer and, and other sports. And I think naturally I was drawn to being in elite kind of leadership role. I was a captain of a few different teams. And I learned very early on like what, what, like how to motivate people. And I think like the, the, maybe cash 22 that I learned is that like, people are already intrinsically motivated and it's about creating the environment that motivates them and it's them. And I think there's no simple answer for one individual person because people are just different and it takes getting to know and understand people and what drives them to understand how to create that environment for them. But yeah, I think it's, it's a really important skill as a leader to have.

Fahd (11:05):
So, so if we're to, if we're to just pick on this question for a second and take out an insight, you know, the key insight here you said is about, of creating the environment that creates motivation, right? People are inherently motivated, but the creating environment, what, what is, what is that environment look like? Gimme, gimme kind of a little glimpse of that.

Cassy (11:23):
Yeah. So I'll, I'll give an example. There, there are there are, I'll give the sports example because I think it's an easy one. I remember seeing this study that showed coaches that led with fear and coaches that led with praise. And there was a, a study of a number of basketball coaches and they, they looked at the way that they communicate and certain basketball coaches that were perceived as, you know, creating a, an environment where, you know, you'd be reprimanded if you made a mistake and, you know, versus basketball coaches that were very positive and wouldn't really reprimand you if you had made a mistake, but would really focus on creating an environment where you're rewarded for an action or an outcome. And what was interesting is that, like there was not necessarily a right kind of approach and what they discovered was that it really depends on the it really depends on, on like the type of person that you're you're working with.

Cassy (12:21):
Right. And so I think it, again, like, you know, that is just one simple example, but you can, you can be even more specific and say, well, you know, let's say as a, you know, as a manager, like what, I may have someone that might be motivated by compensation, I might have someone who's more motivated by additional responsibility. I might have someone who's motivated by some kind of achievement. And I think like understanding those people and understanding them as you know, person to person is the most important thing to understand what motivates someone.

Fahd (12:54):
I love that. I love that. I think that rings so true that that motivation is individualized, just like leadership leadership at a manager level. It's individualized, how you lead each individual should be different based on what they need. And so what're what we're tapping into here is that motivation is based on understanding the people. So you can create understanding each individual so you can create the right environment. I love that Cassy. So then let me throw that question out to you. What motivates you? What, what, what what gets you going, what has, what motivates you right now? And, and maybe we're gonna get into a little bit of your story of what motivated you when you started, but what, what motivates you right now?

Cassy (13:29):
So I think what motivates me is I guess like two things, two big things, two big themes for me personally, like number one is creating is having an environment that challenges me to learn more every day. Huge for me being able to be in an environment like that. And I think in my, the role that I'm in you know, high growth company where you're on a roller coaster as the CEO and it's just like, you know, there's so much to learn and so much to be challenged by. And then I think the other thing that really motivates me is helping, like guide our team and create that environment that motivates our team. And even for our customers too, like, right, I think we have to live it, especially because like we live and breathe, breathe what we effectively sell to our customers, which is, you know, creating an environment where you share and you celebrate rewards incentives. And I don't think it's necessarily about the reward or incentive, but I think what's more important is creating that environment. And that's something that we're really focused on helping our customers and then also you know, within the team people to achieve individually.

Fahd (14:40):
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. So you like a challenge, you like to be able to lead and guide the team and then finally help your customers achieve the, kind of the same desired goals that you would create for your own team. Phenomenal. I like that as motivation. Okay. So then let's, let's, let's kind of take it back. So we're, I wanted to start with a few insights and a little bit of understanding motivation, but I wanna take it back. And, and I want our, our, our listeners to understand who Cassy is, what is Hoppier? What is the story there? So tell me about the inception, the starting days of hop beer, where, where, where it comes to be and where, where the initial inception is.

Cassy (15:18):
Yeah. So when we first started this business, I started this business with my brother about six years ago, very different business than it is today. At the time he was working as a developer at Shopify, I was working at a high growth company in Germany, and we saw our offices just exploding and other companies you know, around us exploding and growing. And, and we thought, Hey, there's a real opportunity here to help them manage their procurement, whether it's like inventory management, helping employees to purchase the things that they need pandemic hits. We built that business to several million dollars and it, in a matter of weeks, it went effectively to zero. And so we realized that our customers weren't going to come back to the office in a meaningful way. And we had rebuilt,

Fahd (16:00):
Let, let me hold you there. Let me hold you there, Cassy. This is I, I, I, I, I love this. I, I, I, I appreciate how succinct you are. So you spent several years building this initial business, this kind of remote this, this kind of remote kitchen offering, like, you know, and then, and then, and then it completely collapses just goes to zero during the pandemic. So we're talking about motivation. Tell me how, about how you felt in those moments, but tell me about how the team felt, what, what was team morale in a moment where the business that you just spent years building completely flips on its head?

Cassy (16:33):
Yeah, so I think like initially it was definitely scary. Like, I think, you know, when the first pandemic first started, nobody really knew what, you know, like what was going to happen. Right. you see movies and especially in the west Western world where we haven't really dealt with you know, with, with many situations like this before. Right. And, and so it's kind of scary. I think it was definitely scary to see the revenue and customers just kind of shut off, but we knew that, like the only thing we could do is take action. And I think we're really lucky that we have such an amazing team that is is, is just like, so aligned works together so well and is, is motivated by like kind of the environment that we created, which is like, you know, challenging yourself, achieving goals and and being motivated by that kind of environment. So I actually think we saw some of the, like some of the best work ever by people on the team, in that, in those moments, because like it was, it was really motivating to say, Hey, look, there's an opportunity here to build something even bigger. We also saw the opportunity and, you know, as horrible as the pandemic was, you know, there was a, a shift in consumer behavior. And so there's an opportunity there. And and you know, like we, we recognize an opportunity to build something too.

Fahd (17:53):
Yeah, yeah. I think that's I think Cassy that's, that's extremely fascinating because I think you, you hit the nail in the head when I really like you, your, your, your team fully pivoted fully changed, you know, what you were doing yet, the team was more motivated than ever. And I think there's an interesting concept there, because a lot of us obsess over vision, we obsess over what the business is doing. So we absolutely have to have a clear vision to, for the team to succeed. And much of what we've had discussions around is that, and I think you're hitting the nail on the head is, well, if you have an environment, visions can change and teams can still succeed because you've built an environment, that's motivating an environment that's engaging, and that really kept the core group of people. What do you think what do you think, what do you think motivated the team during the early days of the company, when you were, you were kind of version one of the kitchen offices or remote office, all that versus what kind of motivates them now?

Cassy (18:52):
I would say it's still kind of the same thing. Like although the vision has changed for like what the, the business and, and product is and will be like the values that we still have still very much remain the same. We do like kind of a, a value kind of reset or I wouldn't call it a reset. It's more of just like, we, we realign our values to just make sure that they haven't to see how they've changed really, because they do change over time. And, and I think a lot of our values stayed the same, and I think our values drive kind of what motivates people on the team. Like, I'll give you one example. Like, I, I kind of alluded to one example and one of those examples is, is challenge, right. Challenge and, and curiosity. And those are, those are two, like really strong values we have in our team. And they always have been, so, you know, the, the company continues to grow there, continue to be challenges. There continue to be the continues to be learning opportunities and opportunities for responsibility. And I think that really motivates people.

Fahd (19:58):
Yeah. Yeah. I like that. So, so, so while company strategy can pivot core values have remained consistent, and those values have, have been what kept the team together. Yeah. During those kind of challenging moments. Okay. So you start this company, things start going, well, you go to several million, then it comes crashing down during the pandemic, and then you find this new opportunity. Tell me a little bit about the new opportunity and, and kind of the, the, the shift that has happened so far.

Cassy (20:25):
Yeah. So the opportunity we saw was really interesting. So through 2020, we were kind of like soul searching, trying to find product market fit again. And it's a really difficult thing to do. And I think it's, it's like a really it's, it can be a daunting feeling because you feel lost in a way. But you get small pieces here and there of like hints towards what the, what one of the potential paths can be for you know, the product or service that you have. And I think we, we started to understand like some of the challenges that our customers were having and that you know, one of those challenges with that, our customers were starting to no longer manage employees by the way that they spend their time, but they were starting to, to focus on actually managing by outcomes and rate of output. And that was really interesting because it just became really clear that like, you know, managers in a remote environment really lack the tools to be able to, or just like kind of the, I would say the tools and the, the ability to, to kind of understand how to how to do that. Right. I think it's really hard. It's like so hard to be a people leader or team manager especially now. And so what we thought was, Hey sorry,

Fahd (21:50):
I don't, I wanna interrupt for a second. There. Can, can we, can we unpack that a little more? Cause I think for our audience, that'd be really powerful. You hit the nail in the head, like it's become so much harder as a manager than it was pre pandemic. Like the remote world has made it a real shift. I think one big shift you talk about, I really like this. They're no longer managing by, by time, but they're managing by, by results by output, but what's being created. What other kind of shifts have you seen cuz you yourself are managing a big team? Like how have you shifted your management in this kind of future of leadership and what else are you seeing in those shifts? If I can just kind of pull that out for a second.

Cassy (22:23):
Yeah. So I'll say like a lot of people, like I think a lot of managers and I, I think a lot of man, some, some, I wouldn't say a lot, I'd say some managers manage in a transactional way where they tell you what to do, or they really focus on like what you're doing. And I think that's like, it, it can be okay, but at a certain point you're gonna cap out and you, it's gonna be hard to grow beyond a certain point or like grow as fast as you might want to. I think what's better is typically like setting like alignment on values and goals and the objective, and then allowing those people and, and like trusting them to go out and to achieve them. And and like, I, I, I still think it's okay to check in every now and then with those people, but of course it, when you're, when you're working, when you have a remote team and you have dozens of people, it's like, it's really difficult to, to like, know what they're doing. And so you're almost forced to manage by objectives and outcomes.

Fahd (23:23):
Yeah.

Cassy (23:24):
Right. I can't just see you in the corner of the office, Fahd working on something entirely different that I don't think is a priority or, you know, we might not talk every day. We might, might be on a different time zone. Right. And so it's really important for us to be on the same page in terms of outcomes and and objectives.

Fahd (23:43):
Yeah. And, and, and, and the shifter remote has kind of almost forced that, right. It's kind of either adapt to that or, or kind of fall to a little more of a mediocre team, right. That you, you aren't able to actually stay in touch. What, what other, what other shifts have you seen in, in the, in the regard of, of managing? I really like, you have to give a lot more trust. Now, you, you mentioned that you're giving more alignment for goals so that people can be empowered. That's, that's really effective. What other shifts have you seen in this space or maybe even little practices for you in this, in this new world?

Cassy (24:16):
Yeah. it's a good question.

Cassy (24:24):
I think I think a lot of the themes that I see are around communication as well. Like communication is another big one, right. Really, really difficult to have strong communication with the team. And we're hearing a lot about, like, I know, I think remote, so remote in 2019 is like asynchronous work in 2022 where the asynchronous work feels like it's not possible. And we probably think to ourselves, Hey, if I had someone, you know, I'm working in New York and I've got an employee who is in somewhere in, in, let's say Korea, or in Asia Pacific, and they're on a 14 hour time difference, how do I work with that person? Right. And so it feels so like difficult to do, but I think it's something that is inevitably gonna happen just with, you know, teams becoming better at communicating, setting objectives, outcomes. But yeah, I think it's I think it's only a matter of time, but that's another big theme I'm seeing.

Fahd (25:40):
I think that that perspective is really powerful. Cassy. I think, I think we're gonna definitely clip that one. I think that remote in 2019 is asynchronous in 2022. I think that's a powerful shift for many of our leaders to start considering and thinking about, and perhaps the teams that learn to do asynchronous more effectively in 2022 are the ones that are gonna get ahead there. I really I really like that. That's that's powerful. Okay. Let's take us back to our story before I, I took us off route here. So you started to see some of these changes in the remote remote world. You started, you're trying to figure out product market fit, and you're doing a lot of the customer discovery. Where does that take us?

Cassy (26:14):
Yeah. So the one interesting thing was that we saw that a lot of our customers now were, were saying, Hey, well, I manage by objectives and outcomes. And you know, I want to create additional engagement with my teams. And so they started to, we thought, Hey, it's gonna be really inter like, what if we allowed people to send a prepaid visa card, credit card that can be beautifully branded, you can send in. And any unused funds you get back unlike a gift card where you'd lose them to breakage. What if I could send that to an employee to reward them or incentivize them towards an outcome? Now I don't necessarily, like, I think what we've built today is really like a small part of our vision. And that's why I, like, I like to tell all of our customers, and I like to tell people, like, it's not necessarily about the reward or incentive.

Cassy (27:06):
It's about the environment you create. Right. So what we're doing today is really like a small part of that. Our vision is like much bigger, and I think we can help organizations with you know, to, to automate a lot of those, those different challenges that they have. But I mean, people are using ER today to send you know, a prepaid card for an employee to purchase lunch at a local restaurant or Uber eats or some kind like a, a food delivery company somewhere around the world. We've got people that are using it to send onboarding allowances to employees. Oh, we've got people using the cards to host a, a virtual event and send someone a coffee all kinds of really interesting different use cases or celebrate a birthday and give you a card to buy yourself a cake you know, or shop at your favorite local store. Like kind of the use cases are endless. And I think again, like it's a really small part of our vision, but it's, it's like version 1.0 and today, I mean, we've got hundreds of thousands of people using hop beer cards around the world. It works in 60 plus countries and it's been really interesting to see how people are using it, but I'm really excited about the future of what we're building, because it's just so clear that it it's needed.

Fahd (28:28):
That's really Cassy congratulations. That's, I mean, really exciting and kudos to you and the entire team to go to go from having built a multimillion dollar business to it absolutely crashing during the beginning of the pandemic to having the tenacity to kind of, and having the motivation, speaking of motivation and, and being able to, to, to tap into companies motivations. Right. I think, I think you tapped into a, a, a problem that was more acute in this next version of Hoppier, right? This, you, we were able to really help companies with this piece because you started to understand the motivation of teams and managers and what they're trying to do in, in regards to rewarding and compensating and motivating their employees. Now, you're telling me this is only the, the start and you've got a bigger vision. Help me, help me paint that bigger vision here. What, what is ER's goals? What's the vision? Where, where are we headed?

Cassy (29:20):
Yeah. So I think if you think about like motivating like creating that environment for motivation, there are like many parts to it. So I, I won't go too into detail. I don't wanna like, like spoil too much, but I'll say, you know, you can think about the steps to create that environment, right. And so one of those steps might be setting the objective. The other step might be measuring that objective. Another step might be making sure the team is actually focused on that objective and not forgetting about it until the end of the month or the end of the quarter or the end of the year. And then finally it's like incentivizing that person for achieving that objective and recognizing them for that, achieving that objective.

Fahd (30:02):
Okay. So having a little bit more of a holistic way of actually creating that environment that you keep, you know, kind of talking about, right. How do we create an environment where people are aligned on those goals, have the space for it that's, that's really exciting. So, so tell me what, what do you do today with your team to create that environment, to create to create that motivation? What, what are some practices that happen at happier that maybe some of our listeners can kind of pick up on or, or I can pick up on, on, on what we could be doing?

Cassy (30:33):
Yeah. So it starts from, you know, every team has is involved in goal planning and we, we goal plan on a quarterly basis. We set our objectives, we understand what are the kind of the key activities to achieve those objectives. And I, I would say then from there, we, like, we start to understand what is really like realistic as an objective. And, and I mean, it really, like we get kind of everyone involved, right? So like each, each team leader gets involved in setting those objectives from and then when they're setting their own objectives, that bubble up to the top, to the, you know, the main, the, the highest level objective they're working with their individual teams to understand what are their sub kind of actions and, and goals that they're trying to achieve. Right.

Fahd (31:25):
Yeah. Yeah. So really full team goal planning and objective setting collectively, so that there's buy in there's engagement. I think Cassy, you, you hit the nail in the head there. I really like hearing that, that kind of collective goal planning piece and that, that, so, so what should other companies that are listening to here? You know, if, if they're kicking off their they're, they're, they're growing, they're interested in, in creating reward and recognition systems, they're interested in creating a better motivation. They have this kind of acute problem around motivation. What are some of your kind of pieces of advice for them?

Cassy (32:00):
Yeah, so I think my piece, my biggest piece of advice is like, try to get your, your team involved. Like you said, mm-hmm, <affirmative> like the lottery ticket study. It's the same thing, right? Like you wanna get people to commit to those goals and to you know, to help in the process of creating them. I think like another, another big part of it is like just being realistic with them. Right. because if you just go and you set the goals from the top down, people are, are gonna be you know, they, they, they might think, well, you know, how am I supposed to achieve this? Or maybe this actu this goal is to, I is not ambitious enough. Maybe it's actually too low. So getting them involved is really important. Right. And it's for them to own it. I would say that's really important.

Cassy (32:47):
I would say like the other things that are important are, are to, to have a cadence where you can, you can track it. And you're not just forgetting about it until the end of the month or quarter or year really, really important and easy to do. And I I'll say like, even for us, like we've got we have kind of a scorecard that we use and we, we measure that on a monthly basis, but it's really easy sometimes to just kind of forget about it and come back to some of the, some of that data because people have, you know, a lot of day to day tasks to do. And and that's really easy too. So that's kind of the second thing. And then the third thing I think I is like recognizing people when they achieve those objectives you know, sharing a kind of incentive or moment to just like recognize them is, is really important.

Fahd (33:38):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> tell me more about that. Tell me more about rec what we can do for recognition of people, right. What are, what are some tactical ways, you know, that, that like, Hey, I could, I could start this tomorrow with my team. I could start this in the next month. Some, you know, low cost ways that that teams can engage in better recognition.

Cassy (33:54):
Yeah. So I actually don't think you need like a lot of money to recognize someone, right. And like the most powerful recognition comes from not like a non monetary kind of act. I think the monetary aspect reinforces it though. And, and maybe makes it even even stronger. It just has to be done in the right way. Right. yeah. You know so I'll, I'll say like showing, I, I think one really powerful thing I'll give the example for us is that we share wins and losses every week on, we do a weekly team town hall meeting and on that wins and losses call, we very specifically call people out for you know, key actions that they took and, and things that they achieved that align with our values and that we recognize. So that's like really important and, and key to us.

Cassy (34:50):
And then maybe kind of like the another example that's kind of tangible that we do is you know, our sales team has a, they meet up throughout, you know, throughout the week and they have a, a team meeting, they have team meetings and and we set kind of challenges for them. And, and if certain challenges are achieved, then they, they get an incentive, which is a monetary incentive. And then additionally, they also get a shout out. And I think the shout out is like really powerful and showing that they're like a high achiever and that's like super, super powerful. So,

Fahd (35:27):
Yeah. Yeah. It's so true. The, the shout outs, the public recognition in front of their team that is powerful to, to, to show your, thanks to give praise. I think that that, that is, that is love it. So you, you mentioned a few, a few challenges that some teams do. So a few problems that a lot of startups kind of get into and get some motivation. One of them is perhaps perhaps the fact that they don't engage their team well enough in the goal setting process. What are some of the other problems or challenges that you see kind of mistakes that people are making in regards to motivation and, and, and some things that we should kind of maybe avoid, or maybe kind of watch out for.

Cassy (36:08):
It's a really good question. I think being genuine is really important, right? Like it, the worst thing you can do is to shout someone out and not totally understand what they did and for it to come off as in like non genuine and it's happened like, it's, it can, it happens, especially if you're like one or two degrees away from that, that person. Right. I think, especially as like a, you know, a manager of managers, it's really difficult if you wanna like shout someone out and, and you weren't like directly involved in, in that thing that they worked on. Right. Yeah. So I think that's like really important. I think again, like the biggest thing I think is understanding people and understanding like their, their personal motivation and, and, and what like how to unleash that. And that's something that people just don't do. They don't spend time on. I, I would recommend for every manager to have like, like almost like a CRM to say, Hey, these are the five people that report to me here are here are their personality traits. And then here is what motivates them. And here's what here's how I can communicate them with more effectively like that. Having something like that for yourself is something that I don't think managers do and enough of and is incredibly helpful.

Fahd (37:31):
Yeah. I love that. Take notes, take notes on what people actually want. We do it for clients and customers do it for our team, right? Like that's, that's, I think that's powerful. I, I, I love that. And I think in, if I can add to your genuine piece, I think it's also be specific. So you're gonna get praised, not just Cassy good job. That was great. But like what, what was it, what was the specifics of it? I think that and I like what, you know, when, when you said be genuine, it, it hit a nail on the head of an example, a poor example of a, of a gentleman who, and for 25 years of service in a company got a $25 gift card as a thank you. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, it, it, it feels so disjointed the reward of a $25 gift card to Timmy's or something, you know, Starbucks for 25 years of service, the disjointedness made it feel ingenuine, and someone's more offended by your trying to recognize them than anything.

Fahd (38:19):
Right. Like that's you know, interesting kind of, I think blunder that that happens. And I, yeah, I appreciate kind of the pieces here that, that, that you're, you're recognizing in that, so let's, let's, let's take this you know, into another another piece here. What were some mistakes you made in this space of motivation? You're a young founder, you're building the company, you're building the team. What were some of Cassy's you know troubles and obstacles in, in how you came to some of these insights?

Cassy (38:55):
I think maybe the, the like earliest example of a, of like a big mistake I made was the transactional leadership. Like, I think early on, I, I tried to tell people, Hey, like, this is what you should focus on. This is what you should do. And I don't think you should, like the only time you should ever really step in, like that is if it's just really clear that, that, that you're misaligned with that, that person. And even then, like, I would try to like, maybe it's, it's like just a, an issue between, you know, not, not being on the same page and having to go back to, like, what are the objectives? What should we actually be prioritizing at the high level so that you can get to that place where you're not managing in like a, a transactional way. But yeah, like I definitely, I think early on, and then I realized, I actually remember that we were we were doing like a quarter, a million dollars in revenue annually, and we kind of hit a plateau and I realized that it was because, and for us to be able to like grow and to, to make changes, it was up to my co-founder and I, to tell, we were telling people, here's what you need to do.

Cassy (40:06):
Here's what you should do. Here's what you should be doing. Please do this today. But the business could not grow like that. It's not gonna grow. You need people to be self-sufficient to be making decisions on their own, to be making you know, to be on the same page as the vision. And, and I think the other part to that is like just having a vision. And I think it's so hard to do. It's like underrated, like one of the hardest things is, is having a really solid vision and believing in it yourself of what the future looks like for you know, the, the business that you're creating.

Fahd (40:39):
Yeah. And, and Cassy, the vision to your company has been quite iterative

Cassy (40:43):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.

Fahd (40:44):
So tell me about that, that journey. So you're saying it's quite hard to find the vision. So what, what were some of the kind of tell me that journey? How was the blenders of trying to come up with a vision, find it, iterate it, and you're, you're in a place where you feel comfortable with it, but still it's still kind of shaping, right?

Cassy (41:01):
Yeah. So I think there are like two ways for the vision to happen. There's one, you just get pulled in a direction by your fans, your customers, and they, they just like pull you in that direction. And then I think the other way is, is like, you can be really, like, you can consciously just say what it, it should be based on your, you know, your understanding of what the market looks like, meaning customers, competitors, and how you fit. And then, you know, you have to make some kind of guess of like the long term future and what that looks like. But I think, you know, you kind of have to use both and and that will allow you to, and, and it's gonna change. It might change a little bit, but I think especially early on, it's really difficult. Like for us, it's something that we really struggled with is like, well, what is like the long term vision?

Cassy (41:48):
What does it look like? And I think frankly, like, we're still trying to understand it a little bit. Like we, we know the space that we're in is really big. But it's like, it's hard to imagine, right. What, you know, what you're gonna be in, in 10 years. Right. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> when there's so many directions. But we have a general idea. I it's really tough though. I'll say this it's really tough. There's like a bunch of mapping exercises you can do. But but yeah, I think the most important thing is probably like talking to customers and it, it becomes clear over time. Like for us, it definitely has, I would say a, maybe three months into the pivot. It was very like, we were in the dark and then it's like, it became a little bit brighter outside. And then, you know, it's like a, a very long sunrise, I would say <laugh> maybe the sun never rises fully. Yeah. But, but it, it happens solely over time.

Fahd (42:47):
That's, that's awesome. Cassy, that's exciting as the, as the, as the sun continues to rise on, on Hoppier. I know we, we're, I'm really excited watching, watching you and your team and all the amazing work that you guys have been doing to, to really grow it. So this is finally at leadership podcast. So, so Cassy, we we'll end with our last question, which is perhaps tell me a little bit about, you know, a key insight as to your own leadership style and, and, and what has in, you know, you've led a company through turmoil, through huge pivot, through huge changes. You've had layoffs, you've had to grow, you've raised several, you've gone through the ups and downs of this crazy entrepreneurship to startup world. What keeps your leadership, sanity? What's that key insight that's come up for you as our last question for our show here today?

Cassy (43:37):
I would say it's like, it's like communication and transparency. I think for me to be able to transparently share with like, what's happening with our team and to like rally everyone together on the same page. It's like, you, like, the losses are, you know, we're 20 people today. And so the losses are like 20 times less bad, but the wins are 20 times greater. Right. and so I just really believe in that. And so I, I believe in like creating, you know, and also a transparent environment where like you, you share that with the team. And I think people really appreciate that too, so that that's helped me tremendously.

Fahd (44:20):
Yeah. Yeah. I love that really good communication, effective transparency. Well, we, we've learned a lot here together today, Cassy, and I think the key insight I took away that the, kind of the, the truth that, that Cassy knows that not everybody else seems to always understand is that, is that motivation is contextual to the individual, that, that it must be personalized to that person and then created into an environment versus just a reward that rewards are one part of a larger environment. So I, I, I, I really like that message. I really appreciate you sharing that here with us today, Cassy, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing your, your wisdom and where can people find more about Hoppier if they wanna find out more

Cassy (44:59):
Just www.Hoppier.com. That's Hoppier like happier with an O

Fahd (45:06):
<Laugh>. There you go. That's awesome. Fantastic, Cassy. Thank you so much. And we'll call it a show.

Cassy (45:12):
Cool. Thanks.

Fahd (45:14):
Thank you.

Fahd (45:15):
I was waiting for my turn. <Laugh> is there no music is my, for my outro look, my, my thing says brief number one, brief outro music. My little list here, that, that

Fahd (45:36):
Thank you, Cassy so much for being here with us today, that was such a wonderful episode. I actually wanted to dive into something and share a few more key nuggets for you about connecting, meaning to work, kind of retying that initial concept we started with or in the intro of the episode why we work determines how well we work, if we can connect meaning to the work and the jobs that we do as Cassy has mentioned, we can create an environment that's far more engaging. And I wanted to give you five little tips on how we can create meaning at work. We talked about writing your own lottery ticket and giving people the chance to write their own parts, their own strategies, their own, make their own decisions, their own ideas, participate in the decision making in the direction and in the ownership of the company, the more we participate and write our own lottery tickets, the more we are committed to it, we saw that they were, that people were five times had it cost five more times to buy back their tickets.

Fahd (46:35):
And so instead of telling people a strategic plan and telling people the goals, getting them to come up with them and help it guide them will make the biggest difference. The second part goes right along with writing your own lottery ticket is getting people to write their own job titles, but also define their own job descriptions. What do you actually work on? Most people are hired on a job description that was crafted by HR. Copy, pasted, a few things that put out in the wild and then a bunch of people applied for it. And you tried to fit someone in. We need to actually consistently revisit job roles and kind of do a, a job crafting exercise, crafting people's roles. What do you work on? What do you enjoy? What values, what strengths do you have and then being creative with that title, allowing them to actually describe what it is.

Fahd (47:20):
You know, I mean, you know, there's the famous examples of Disney calling their engineers Imagineers and calling all their frontline workers, cast members, right? We can use different language to describe what the work they're doing means to us beyond just a junior software engineer, intermediate software engineer. But, but what you're building, what you're creating third, get people show the impact of your work, get people to see the impact of their work, take them to, you know, they might not be customer facing facing jobs, but take them to the customer. Let them see how the software they're building is actually helping the customer, helping the team, let them see how the product that they're building actually changes the, the, you know, the, the, the, the users changes the, the beyond just the users, the impact on community have people go and see what the place looks like, that they're trying to create an impact for when they're more closely connected to the final result, and they can see it and they can feel it they're that much more likely to actually engage and allow them to align their personal values with their goals and their team values.

Fahd (48:26):
You know, there's a lot of debate right now over whether personal values should have a place in the workplace. It's become actually interesting that it's even a debate, but I believe that there is space for personal values in the workplace. And it's the space where we can connect and look for the shared values that we have and allowing people to express it, allowing people to bring it, to work and allowing people to bring their full selves, and finally let your team write their own culture book. How do we behave here? How do we act? How do we show up? What does it mean to be a high performing team, discuss it for your own team. It doesn't have to be organizational wide kind of culture and values that are set. You can do this for just your team. You can do it for your entire organization, but the closer someone is to writing out the values and the behaviors that are expected of a high performing team, the more likely they are to try and uphold themselves to that.

Fahd (49:14):
And to have that motivation. Those are our five tips that builds on what Cassy shared for, with us today. Thank you listeners so much for coming all the way and listening all the way through as always. If you have any questions, you have any topics you're interested in feel free to message me on any of our social media handles. You can find me if Fahd Alhattab, or you can email me directly fahd@unicornlabs.ca And that's it for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to an episode of our Unicorn Leaders podcast. You can find the show notes and transcriptions on our website, unicornlabs.ca/podcast, and be sure if you like the content rate us, review us, subscribe, get notified for the next episode and tell all your friends. It has always goes a long way. When you tell your fellow managers, your friends fellow coworkers, spread the word, share the word, thank you so much. And we will see you next time.

Fahd Alhattab

Fahd is a consultant, coach, leadership speaker, and millennial workplace expert who teaches new managers how to lead multi-generational teams. He specializes in transformative leadership and team dynamics training for high-growth startups.

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