Bridging Gaps in Manufacturing

Tracy sits down with Taylor Young, Chief Strategy Officer at CoLab Software. They discuss Taylor's experience at CoLab, a company that develops collaboration software for the manufacturing industry, helping teams work on 3D designs and other complex mechanical projects.Taylor shares insights into the origins and impact of CoLab, highlighting how it fills a critical gap in collaboration tools for the manufacturing sector. The discussion also covers Taylor's childhood in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, where she grew up in an entrepreneurial family, which influenced her career path and values.Significant parts of the conversation delve into how CoLab is adapting to advancements in AI and the importance of review processes in AI-assisted environments. Taylor emphasizes the evolution of CoLab’s team culture, the strategic hiring practices, and the company's hybrid remote work model, which combines the benefits of remote work with occasional in-person interactions.Overall, the episode paints a detailed picture of Taylor's journey with CoLab, the company's innovative approach to collaboration in manufacturing, and the broader implications of their work on the industry and workplace culture.

Hosted by
Tracy Young, TigerEye CEO

Podcast Transcript

Tracy Young: Welcome to Path to Growth. I'm Tracy Young, co founder and CEO of TigerEye. Today we are joined by Taylor Young, Chief Strategy Officer at CoLab Software to discuss all things growth. Taylor, welcome.

Taylor Young: Hi, thank you, Tracy.

Tracy Young: Uh, so you've spent over six years at CoLab and you've had just this amazing trajectory at the company.

Will you tell us a little bit more about CoLab?

Taylor Young: Sure. Yeah. Uh, CoLab is a software company. We make, uh, collaboration software for the manufacturing industry. So we work with companies that make cars, vacuum cleaners, uh, kind of, we run the gamut on like complex mechanical goods, um, and help folks basically collaborate on 3d design, drawings, all that sort of thing.

It's kind

Tracy Young: of amazing that this product didn't exist until you guys started building this some years ago. I remember hearing for the first time, I was like, well, that makes sense.

Taylor Young: Yeah, we were talking about that today. I think like one of our, um, like lead investors on our a originally said that one of the reasons they didn't wanna invest in CoLab, uh, you know, one of the like, kind of risks or whatever was like, this problem has existed for so long, it can't be solved.

And then after kind of like an early conversation with us that became like the number one reason that they wanted, they wanted to come on board was because, um, it's been a problem for a really long time. And, uh. Yeah, it just, I think was, you know, it's a tough industry and it's a complicated product and nobody kind of jumped in and solved it

Tracy Young: yet.

So we're going to talk more about your experience there in a moment, but I want to go backwards a little bit. Tell me about being a child. Tell me about growing up. Where were you raised? Tell me about what you learned from your

Taylor Young: mom and dad. Yeah, um, born and raised the same place I live now, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

So east coast of Canada. Um, I grew up in a fairly entrepreneurial family. Um, so my dad started a business with his brother when he was in like his early twenties, um, and that company, that business was really kind of like the heartbeat of our family, uh, growing up. Um, I'm an only child, but I had like a million cousins, so I've never felt like an only child.

Um, but I think some of the things that were probably like transformational for me, it's funny. I never like thought my childhood was overly eventful or interesting, but I think, you now tracing it back, I kind of can see and kind of like tie the red thread together. Um, my parents gave me, they were like very supportive, but hands off.

They gave me a lot of room to succeed or fail or whatever else. Um, whatever I needed to do, I guess. And I think that did a couple things for me. Um, it established such a like mutual trust. That I was never going to break or compromise. Um, I think that totally shows up in how I like in how my relationships look today, whether they're work, personal, whatever else.

Um, I think it gave me an intense, like ownership mentality. They were not like sitting at the kitchen table and doing my homework with me. Like it was up to me if my homework was getting done or not. And I think, um, they just trusted that things would work out and they did. Um, but that gave me a real kind of intense ownership.

Um, And I think it also gave me this like deep desire for like personal agency. Like I knew that I was never going to go into a career, um, where I, I didn't have that kind of like ownership and agency. And I think a lot of that is kind of what led me to where I am.

Tracy Young: Thanks for sharing that. I just wrote myself a note.

I've got three young kids. I wrote the word down, trust, trust them. I mean, I would be so proud if any of them turned out like you. So you've been at CoLab for six years now. I mean, there's just been so many like changes in technology and I can hardly open up the news without reading AI something. And our perspective is that, I mean, you know, we're, as we're an AI company at Tiger, I also, there is for sure a lot of hype.

I think there's a lot of. Venture capital being thrown at AI companies right now. But this is really a rapid advancement that's happening. That's really going to change the way we work and the way we live our lives. So what's your perspective on that? And how is CoLab adapting to the rapid advancements in AI since its inception in 2017?

Taylor Young: Yeah, I think we think about it in two ways. Um, the first way is like, what ways, in what ways can we leverage this technology to. You know, achieve greater value for our customers. And then the second way is in what, in what ways is this going to change the world? Uh, and change work. And how do we exist in that kind of radically different environment?

Um, our perspective, I think, is that what we do becomes ever more important, uh, because what we do is review, right? And there's, you know, If, if things are going to be more AI assisted in terms of generative AI review kind of is never more important. Um, that's our perspective right now, but I think it's going to change rapidly.

Um, so it's one of these things that we just have to be like, Extremely tight too, um, because we don't know what we don't know. Um, I think the thing that's probably. The most like interesting about it is, is just the, the pace with which this is going to happen. Um, Is yet to be determined, but it certainly seems like, uh, it's probably going to take a little bit and then happen faster than anyone really expects.

Um, so that's something that we're trying to stay informed on.

Tracy Young: Yeah. The pace is something we, we feel as well over here. I mean, I think anyone working in AI, um, we had an all team offsite and, you know, AI was one of the topics that we talked about and I had our very geeky. Engineers make predictions on AI and no one in the entire company made a prediction more than one year out.

And anything more, when I push them on it, they're just like, Tracy, we can't, it's just like, it's changing too fast.

Taylor Young: Yeah. Like, like how do you imagine a technology that's how to, it's going to have a greater impact on the world than the introduction of the internet? Like how do you conceptualize that? You know, it's, it's just, it's yeah, it's hard to comprehend.

Tracy Young: From a business perspective, what challenges do engineers typically face regarding collaboration and how does your company address these?

Taylor Young: Yeah, I think a lot of people would be surprised to hear that engineering, thinking about like mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, product development, software is like 20 or 30 years ahead in how teams work together.

Mechanical engineers work with subject matter experts on the other side of the planet, uh, by staying up until One o'clock in the morning to spin a CAD model for them. Um, they do tear downs of products by putting sticky notes on physical parts. Um, like they just have had so few tools built for collaboration, um, to solve those problems.

But the need for collaboration, the need for specialization has just skyrocketed in the past 20 years. Um, but they really have to put that same pro, they have the same process. With much greater complexity. So naturally things, things break. Um, and ultimately those are the problems we solve. A lot of it is human to human interaction.

So there's a lot of good tools out there for humans interacting with data, right? So like taking a drawing or taking a 3D model or whatever out of a repository. Um, there are very few good tools for one person communicating with data. Another person or many other people to make a decision. Um, and the decisions they make are complex, right?

It's like, think about like, like software. They're, they're not always. Shorten this from four millimeters to two millimeters, like there's a million other factors, trade offs, all these things need to be discussed. Um, and right now they're doing it in email and PowerPoint decks. Which obviously has serious problems, doesn't work.

It's extremely slow. Um, a lot of people think of it as, uh, inefficient. And what we've seen, uh, At CoLab is that yeah, it's inefficient, but it's also extremely ineffective. It leads to big mistakes slipping through the cracks. Um, and I think there's been a certain like status quo acceptance of a certain amount of rework is going to happen.

We're going to make a certain amount of mistakes. We're going to have to retool the manufacturing every so often or whatever. Uh, recalls, warranty claims are going to happen, this kind of stuff. Um, but what we've seen is that. There is some serious low hanging fruit in terms of the, the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the collaboration that even those like industry benchmarks for what good looks like could be way higher with just some, some smart, better tools for working together.

Tracy Young: I spent some time in construction estimating and it just reminds me as you're talking that we would come up with the construction at, um, budget, and then we would tack on 10%, just an extra 10 percent on top of it called contingency. It would basically be something's gonna go wrong. We don't know what it is, but here's another 10 percent buffer.

And then another 10 percent on top of that was called allowances. And again, it's basically something's going to be messed up probably because of paper. And there's going to be a certain amount of rework that we're going to tolerate, and this is how we're going to pay for it. I'm sure there's the same version of that in manufacturing.

Taylor Young: Yeah. Um, maybe even Worse in some cases and that it's not tracked. Um, right. So, um, but yeah, absolutely. Like we had a customer recently that normally without a good solution to do it, they wouldn't engage their suppliers until the very end of the product development process. And so therefore the feedback they'd get is pretty like mediocre, right?

You're asking them at the end, there's very little that can be changed. You're basically getting yes, no, how much is this going to cost kind of responses, um, because they had CoLab, this easy tool for collaboration and sharing and whatever they pulled that review process earlier. They pulled it forward.

Uh, and with it, they pulled all the risk forward, all the issues forward, all the mistakes forward, super simple stuff, right? Like ask earlier, not at the end. Um, Because they did that earlier, they had thousands of pieces of feedback from suppliers at a time when they typically have zero. Uh, and then as that project progressed, they completely skipped a planned rework cycle, basically a planned mistake cycle because there were none.

They'd had all those conversations, you know, two months earlier. Um, and so obviously, like, CoLab enables that communication in a lot of ways, but it's also just simple process changes. Ask them earlier and you will get feedback earlier, right? Just like pull that risk forward. Um. So that's been like transformational,

Tracy Young: right?

The bar for enterprise software is unfortunately very, very low that there's just basic stuff we are not doing to make our jobs better. And that's, we see that across the board. It's one of the reasons why we decided to build tiger. I, so is your team

Taylor Young: remote? Yeah, we're remote first. Um, but I am in our office right now.

We do have a headquarters.

Tracy Young: You guys do have a headquarters and the rest of the team is remote. So tell me about how that's working out for you. I feel like everyone is still debating remote versus in person. Big companies are saying, come back to the office. Startups like us are saying, you know, we, if we manage our team well, if we trust our team, then they can be sitting anywhere and still be productive and still be contributing to the company.

And, you know, being great taxpayers, et

Taylor Young: cetera. I would say. Having this like hybrid environment of having an office that people can come to if they'd like, but having also having a remote team, um, what really worked for us was when we embraced that we are remote first, like we made that transition and then everything started working better.

Um, because before we did that, we had a couple remote people and, you know, someone would have to remember to like, Make sure there was like a Google meet on the invite, right? Like silly stuff like that. Um, but as soon as we kind of embraced remote first, all of that became a lot easier. Um, it works really well for us.

Like I would say we have very few issues related to being a remote company. It also allows us to keep our headquarters in Newfoundland. Um, right. Like if we had to have people show up in person in our office, the scale we could achieve, um, Would be a lot harder because we're, we're, we live in a small place.

Um, but also I think just the ability, it gives us this ability to bring in talent and experience from other parts of the world and kind of inject that into a team that's primarily located in Newfoundland. And that's very exciting. Um, I think we still. Find great value in, in person. So like next week, for example, on Monday, the whole company is flying to Newfoundland to do our team week.

We do that twice a year. Um, that's really valuable. Um, but yeah, we, it works

Tracy Young: for us. And then do people stay for the whole week? Yep. Yeah, that's, there's no substitution for just even having lunch and dinner together and seeing each other eye to eye. That's what we found at TigerEye as well. We also do two all team off sites a year.

One for kick off at the beginning of the year, this is what we're going to do together. And then we have a check in midpoint in August. And that's really important. In between, we also do like dev ops sites every month. But, um, remote is great. It gives us flexibility to hire really talented people that just aren't going to go into an office anymore.

And they're also sometimes caretakers for their moms and dads or children. And this allows them to like pick their kid up from school, um, and also do their jobs, you know, when they need to, because we're not sitting in traffic for two hours a day. And so it's worked out really well for us. And I'm curious at how long we can make that last.

So it's, um, reassuring to hear how well it's working for you guys. Um, Newfoundland, one of the very few startups. Based out of your hometown. Give us a sell here. I mean, it's obviously a beautiful place. The people are awesome, but why is it a great place? Why can't it be a great place for startups? Because it's not the place you think of when you think of startups, right?

It's not Silicon Valley, but it obviously works for you guys.

Taylor Young: So let's hear it. Uh, I won't make a pitch based on the weather. Uh, I'm currently looking at a completely gray. Uh, opaque fog. Um, so you don't come for the weather. Um, I would say starting and growing CoLab in Newfoundland, I don't think was a overly intentional decision.

Um, I think the company started here because it's where the founders are from and grew up and wanted to stay at least for a while. Um, it has worked out. Certainly. I think there's A real kind of like level of grit and motivation and drive that we have been able to kind of extract, I guess. Um, like there's really good people here.

Um, there is a, an intense loyalty. I think like what you see in hubs where there's a lot of high growth technology companies, you see a lot of people bouncing from company to company. Um, We don't really see much of that. I think there's really a, like, strong sense of loyalty and commitment here. Um, and in a lot of ways, that trust of, like, uh, we want to have an outsized impact on this province and on the folks that work here.

Um, and I think there's, like, a, a long term commitment in the folks that have joined this team. Um, And, you know, that, that's been a huge asset for us. Like a lot of the folks that started, uh, it was the very beginning of their careers. I mean, it was mine, like, you know, almost seven years ago now. Uh, and those people are now like some of our most senior developers or leadership or whatever.

Um, so it's worked really well for us. Uh, it makes it hard to get to our customers. We spend a lot of time in airports and on long layovers and that sort of thing. That's not easy. Um, but we make it work, you know? I think it like has defined the culture of our company. Um, and I don't, I don't think, you know, you'd have to ask our co founders, but I don't think they would do it anywhere else.

Tracy Young: There's a, there's a maps functionality. You guys are, are, um, some of your teammates are using our software right now. There's a map functionality that should be able to help you guys out here to see the density of your business so you can be economical about your time. Um, if you guys are going to spend time in airports, you might as well go to the area where there's like a lot of potential business or a lot of existing customers to visit.

So culture, it seems like, it sounds like it's really strong at CoLab. Do you want to share how that has happened? I mean, any other tips for building a strong team culture as a remote team?

Taylor Young: Yeah, I think one of the things that was uncomfortable, but we kind of embraced is that our culture had to evolve a little bit, um, as we evolved, I think.

So like, uh, our CEO started the company, I guess, in his early twenties. I think what he thought was important at that time, uh, and what he thinks is important now has shifted a little bit. Um, you know, and we've really kind of refined our company values and our culture has kind of changed with it. Um, there's certain things that have never changed and never will change.

Um, but we were really intentional about it and still are. Um, and I think I see now as we start to scale more, just how important it really is. Um, like one of the key kind of refinements, I guess we made was this idea of grit, um, that we kind of missed from our early kind of like values that we didn't realize how critical that was as a success factor for people joining the team and whatever.

Then we kind of saw it come, come true and come to life. And we thought we, we ought to write that down and like really solidify that. Um, so that's probably the biggest thing is that we've let it evolve as we have grown and evolved. Um, the things you care about when you're. 22 are different from seven years later and they'll probably be different again in another 10.

Um, And yeah, that's been it just makes it really It makes it feel real. I think that's the other thing the culture Is 100 a reflection of the people who run the company every day Um, like there's just no question like obviously it's the people who who Make up the total kind of population of the company that, that lived the values and need to represent the values and that sort of thing.

That's how we hire. Um, but it absolutely has to be a reflection. It has to be in strong alignment with the leadership team, uh, and with the co founders of the company. Otherwise it's written on the wall, but it's not real.

Tracy Young: So grit was something you guys realize were an important success factor. Anything else that comes to mind as you guys have, you know, brought on people and off board people over the seven years?

Taylor Young: We heard our, one of our investors, just like say in passing in a meeting one day to stay paranoid, hungry, and disciplined PhD. And we have like, kind of adopted it ever since. Um, I think this idea of being like long term optimistic and short term paranoid has really kind of found its way into the company and is like critical.

I love that. Um,

Tracy Young: we don't use exact same words, but. There's always room for improvement. We can always write an email better. We can always write processes better. Our code can always be written better. Um, like literally everything can be improved. And how do we, how do we do that every single day so that it compounds over time?

You know, and I think part of that is paranoia, right? If you feel happy about everything, you're not going to fix anything. I mean, you're not going to have that lens of like, wait, maybe we can do this better. Maybe there's an easier way to do this. Maybe there's a simpler way to do this. So I love that PhD.

Um, what marketing strategies have been most effective for Cola?

Taylor Young: I mean, there's, there's a million things in our, our CMO sort of like transformed how we were doing demand gen and that sort of thing in a really meaningful way. That's, um, MJ. But, um, A couple of the things that come to mind, uh, our, so our SDR function, our sales development function is a part of marketing.

It's kind of marketing is all pipeline, um, extremely effective, uh, in our market, um, just literally building a list of target companies. And calling them all, um, emailing them all, messaging them on LinkedIn with like, you know, really kind of thoughtful messaging, tailored messaging, um, has worked like it's been a critical driver of our growth.

I still find it amazing when I see like a, a company come in and I'm like, Oh my God, we wrote that on the whiteboard. Like. A year ago and here they are worked. Um, like that's been really effective. Um, I think another thing that's been helpful for us collab is like a, a category creating product, right?

Like there's, it's, it takes a lot of education, um, for folks to really understand what we're doing. They don't hear design engagement system and go, Oh, got it. You're like this tool because that just doesn't exist yet. Um, and so one thing that's been really, Okay. Effective for us is developing a strategic narrative.

Um, it's like an Andy Raskin, uh, kind of idea but really it's like Us telling the story of what's changed in the world that this is necessary. Um, what's making it ever more important? What is it? What are the key use cases? Um, what are the outcomes? Like, what is the promise land? What what what does good look like?

Um, kind of on the other side of implementing something like this. That's been really important for. Generating demand for CoLab, but also for getting a 1st meeting for closing a customer for expanding a customer that strategic narrative has been really critical. Um, because I think our. Our audiences, you know, they're all engineers.

They're like, they're logical thinkers in a lot of ways, but also for humans, it's, it's emotional. Um, and I think telling them that story in a way that is a logical story, but connects emotionally,

Tracy Young: um,

Taylor Young: has been really important. Andy Raskin. I'm not familiar with this. Can you

Tracy Young: share a little bit more

Taylor Young: for us?

Yeah. Um, I think he actually like consults with a lot of, um, like scaling companies, but, uh, he has this concept. You can definitely find it online. Um, Like the greatest sales deck ever is what it's called. Um, and it basically goes through the story of how you build a strategic narrative, which is a, a story of, um, Like a, a big shift happening in the world.

So for us, it's an increased need for specialization and engineering among other things. Um, kind of the fact that there are going to be winners and losers in that shift. Right? So some folks are going to, uh. Take advantage of this kind of change and, and be able to adapt to it. They are going to make great product development decisions, informed product development decisions, and that will have a compounding effect on their success.

And some people will not, and they will be left behind. Um, and then really kind of teasing the promise land, which is this idea that, uh, there is a better future. Um, If you embrace kind of this problem, if you solve this problem, things can be a lot easier, a lot faster, a lot more effective, and then help them see how the features of your solution, uh, are kind of like tickets to that promised land, right?

So instead of just like, Hey, here's the features in our product, um, really trying to demonstrate how we've put those features there for a reason, they help you get to that kind of desired outcome. Um, so yeah, that's something that we. You know, had a million different kind of narratives over time. And the more conversations we had, the more clear it became exactly what those shifts are and why this problem is so painful and getting worse and that sort of thing.

Tracy Young: Right. And I love hearing that philosophy, philosophy and framework to storytelling and just like, why does this product matter for you and your job? Why should you pay attention to us out of all the people trying to get your attention right now? So obviously touched a little bit on marketing and sales, um, because.

You're the chief strategy officer of the company. Um, and I know that those are areas you are constantly thinking about along with product, of course. Um, can you share with us, what are your most important responsibilities you have to your team and the company? Just because your role touches everything from like product to, you know, the whole go to market function.

Taylor Young: My role is an interesting one in that nobody knows what it means and it's It sounds very ambiguous. I don't sit and look at like a strategic plan all day. Um, I would say the, my, the way that my role works, the way that, how I put my focus is I often have kind of one key function or project that I'm trying to like zero to one basically.

Um, so there was a time when that was sales development. Right now it's customer success. Um, really taking that to a certain level of functional. That it is great. It is effective. It's probably not scaled. Uh, and then we'll bring in a leader to take that to the next level. Um, but my expertise is very much CoLab, not any one function.

Um, and that's worked to our advantage. Like, it, it allows me to kind of come in, stand something up, and then move on to the next thing. Um, but I would also say my priorities are, I always think of my priorities as, Top line priorities is the same as our CEO, which is how do we make this thing work? How do we grow this to the next level?

What are the risks? What are we scared of? and then the nature of my role kind of allows me to Swarm to whatever that area is that needs to be stood up or taken to the next level or fixed or whatever it is So that's kind of how I structure my time. It's like every probably six months I've got a new like main focus.

Tracy Young: Every startup needs a tailor. Usually it's another co founder, so there's obviously a lot of trust between you and the founders, um, because there's always an area that's like weak. You know, all these departments are pulling ahead and it's like, wow, this is like either completely broken, you know, for various reasons, or it's just non existent when you do a way better job and, um, and the companies I've, I've been a part of just because there's always been more co founders, we usually airdropped one of them in and they'll joke, like, of course, I'm janitorial services, right?

But like I said, every, every company needs and has someone like you, because. There's just something constantly broken and it would take way too long to recruit the right person. So you get air dropped in, go fix it, go diagnose the problem, and then go write the playbook for the next person we're going to hire.

Um, so congratulations on all your hard work there.

Taylor Young: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. That's exactly it. And you know, Adam and I, like our CEO, we'll talk sometimes around like, What's next? What's gonna be the next area? And I think we both just always have this confidence of something else will break or something else will become mission critical that we have no idea what to do.

And that's what will be the next focus. So what are your long term goals for collab? And how do you plan to achieve them? Our goals have always been ambitious, obviously, kind of getting anywhere in the space is ambitious, but they're getting more ambitious in that we want to do it. We want to hit our goals faster than we originally planned for, I think.

Um, ultimately like highest level, we want to radically change the way, uh, New products are developed in like the biggest companies in the world. Um, that that's the goal is, is to just really make this concept of a design engagement system. They like de facto in the tech stack of major manufacturing companies.

Um, and we're getting there. Like we're putting a dent in that, like really. Um, I think also high level, we really want to have a significant impact. Uh, on the place we're from and the people that work here. Um, that's really important to us. Um, and it's exciting. It's motivating. Um, we've kind of seen that with other, other companies here in Newfoundland and, you know, having a really significant impact on the province.

And that's a, that's a key priority. Um, our mission is like still feels very true, which is to deliver life changing products to the world years sooner. Um, I remember our CTO Jeremy, uh, saying at one point, like what technology, you want, like Life changing life improving technology. Do we not have, because things are being built this way, like what life changing medical devices don't exist because the first iteration of it is taking 10 years to build.

Cause they're doing it in PowerPoint decks. Um, and so that, that mission, like delivering that mission is, is really important to us.

Tracy Young: This is the power of startups being able to positively affect change in the world, the change that you guys want to see. And then also, the other part we don't talk about is, if we are successful like you guys are, you get to create jobs in your hometown.

And you get to create, you know, more economic growth. And it's, it's very powerful.

Taylor Young: Yeah, it's exciting. Like we're, we're, Seeing folks who, you know, move to the U. S. to work for big tech companies or whatever, uh, automotive companies who want to move home and now have an opportunity to do that and a place to go while still kind of like rapidly advancing their careers, that is like such a fulfilling thing to be part of.

Tracy Young: Based off of your experience of selling to, building and selling to a traditional industry, what advice would you give companies and startups who are just trying to bring common sense and existing technology or maybe even, you know, new technology like AI into a very traditional old school industry?

Taylor Young: Before you have any conversation around technology and features and benefits, you have to have a conversation around pain. Uh, we have found that to be true in sales development and sales and success. It doesn't matter. Uh, do not demo until you've talked about pain, and once you've gotten on the same page, the same side of the table with the person you're trying to demonstrate what you're doing to, um, everything goes easier.

Uh, I think, um, For me, it's like such a, it's a very like gut feel assessment. You see somebody you're, you're telling the story around, you know, how painful it is to communicate with somebody overseas, uh, early morning or late night or in the margins of the PowerPoint deck or whatever, and you get the head shaking and the laughing.

And like, you've really kind of like harness and identified that pain. Now, any technology you're going to show is very clearly a solution to a problem that they've confirmed they have. Um, In nontraditional industries, I think people probably get it faster because they've seen lots of technology come and go in their org.

Um, but the technology that in more traditional industries, the technology that folks are used to has been the same for 15 years. It's barely changed. They don't like introduce new tools and then rip them out. Like they, they don't. You know, they, they're 10 or 15 years behind a lot of other industries in terms of like cloud adoption.

Um, so we found that really important. It, it really works to start with pain, then show tech.

Tracy Young: You mentioned this earlier too, that as a category creating company, it's, there's a certain amount of education that needs to happen and that education. Can start with their pain point and what sucks in their life and what sucks in their work, um, because it'll just loop them into the conversation and like grab their attention easier than starting to talk about, you know, this amazing platform that you've built when it's going to take three mental jumps for them to even understand what the hell you're talking about.

You know, we've thought really

Taylor Young: hard around what is the, ROI on changing something like this? And. Um, I think, like, you know, the, like, whole idea of, like, crossing the chasm and this idea of, like, early adopters versus laggards and that sort of thing is so true, uh, in our world that I think in the really early stages of CoLab, we would find these people that just got it, they didn't need to see a business case, they didn't want to crunch the numbers, they got that it was a transformational difference and they wanted in.

And those were our early customers, but you can't scale with just those early adopters alone. They don't care if the technology really works. They just want to be a part of kind of this transformational change. Um, those there's not enough of those people to scale a company. You need to figure out how to cross the chasm, so to speak.

Um, And so much of that comes from education around business outcomes, having to like really show them the evidence that this is not just a, uh, like moderate improvement, this is a like step change in effectiveness and here's how it shows up in terms of dollars and cents.

Tracy Young: As you know, trust in leaders can be made or broken when things get tough.

Taylor Young: How do you deal with a crisis? The nature of my role, like we talked about, this idea of like dropping into something means I really need to have that trust of the team, um, because otherwise people will like get scared when they see you coming because they think you're going to tell them that they, everything's broken.

I think like a, a superpower of mine in this role is that I really Don't dwell on previous decisions or mistakes. Um, it's just never been my personality. And I think that really helps because if you stay too long and what's broken, what didn't work, the mistakes you made, you will surrender really early in a company like this one in this space, right?

Like in any kind of technology company, you're trying to scale, like things are gonna break all the time. Um, so I think that like not dwelling really helps. Um, I also think in a crisis, like teams need someone who's, you know, Less close to the day to day or whatever to bring some like sanity, clarity, sense of calm.

Because I think when you're, when you've made a big mistake, there's so much, so much emotion associated with that for a lot of people who deeply care. Um, it's filled with guilt, it's filled with shame, it's filled with all those feelings. Sometimes you really need someone who's that, um, like outside perspective to show, to break it, to break, break the problem down.

Um, so sometimes I am that person to other folks and sometimes I need that, uh, Externally right of like, okay, here's here's actually kind of break it down in first principles. Here's the problem Here's the factors that are leading to the problem um, let's like question, uh, Our assumptions and whatever else and then try and build a solution from the ground up Um, but I think you really need that like I mean this sounds obvious, but I think a lot of people do not live it Uh blame does absolutely nothing in a crisis um, and And yeah, maybe you need to restructure a team or manage somebody out or like all those sorts of things that can happen.

Um, but those probably don't matter in the like minutes and hours in the middle of a crisis. Um, so I think that like not dwelling on the mistake. Making sure you have somebody in the room that was not so close to this that they're feeling all of the stress, guilt, shame around the crisis, um, and then breaking it down into first principles.

Tracy Young: I agree with that. And the, the emotions, I mean, they're important because we're human and we have to allow ourselves to be human at work, but they're, the negative emotions are completely useless when times are tough. And, um, It's also really nice to get someone who's adjacent, obviously in the company, but outside of the problem space to just come in and see it for what it is.

And usually the answer is some form of, I mean, this is bad, but it's not so bad. And it's not that we can't understand why it happened. It's not so bad that it's going to sink the company. It's, it's bad, but it's, it's something that we can totally overcome. Um, because in the middle of turbulence, it just feels like a black cloud and it's just never, you're never going to get out of it.

Taylor Young: Yeah. I think there's also so much like outcome uncertainty that you're always wondering, is this going to be the thing that stops us from growing? Is this going to be the thing that kills us? Um, that I think in the middle of these, of a crisis, you're just like hoping this isn't it. And that is so much to feel when you're just trying to solve like one customer problem or one product issue, you know?

But you feel like the weight of, you feel like the company's ending just because like there's

Tracy Young: a bug, you know? You talked about superpowers earlier, like what is, what is, what is another one of your superpowers as a leader? That you'd like either, you know, Just your personal, your personality or that you've learned over the years.

Taylor Young: I think one thing I learned from, uh, we had, um, someone kind of helping us introduce like sales as a function, not just as a completely like side project of our like core team. Um, Jack Holden, she, she like helped scale a company called Verifin, which is another like Newfoundland based, like huge success story.

Um, And one of the things that, that she taught me was this idea that, um, in sales, you, The idea basically, kind of, uh, putting yourself in the customer's shoes, basically, is the really simple way to put it, like, obviously she had a more kind of detailed framework for it, of the decision making process that somebody is going through, when you are, uh, in a sales conversation with them, of starting from, do I have a problem I need to solve, to talking themselves out of buying, and all those sorts of things.

That concept I think can be applied to so many different things. And that really becomes a superpower as a leader. I mean, ultimately it's just empathy, right? In a lot of ways. Um, but I think it's so critical to understand, like, what are the fears, ambitions, goals, whatever that someone's bringing to the table, whether that's in a sale, that's in.

Uh, an internal conversation that's in a career path in conversation, a performance improvement plan, whatever it might be right. Like, just really putting yourself in the other person's shoes. Um, it sounds so simple, but I think like a lot of people don't do it. Um, and then the other one that that kind of came with that was just asking the direct questions to get the answers if you didn't know.

Right. So, instead of running with these huge assumptions of where someone. Right. Might be coming from, what they might be afraid of, whatever, um, to just ask.

Tracy Young: You know, I'm

Taylor Young: getting the sense that, uh, I'm, I'm getting the sense that you're not totally bought in here. What's on your mind? Like just asking those direct questions.

Um, MJ or CMO has this, uh, kind of strategy, I guess, when there's, when you come to a head in a difficult conversation and it seems like you're just butting up against each other, where she just starts the conversation with, I'm worried that, um, and it has been like a breakthrough for me. And I think for a lot of us in that.

Okay, we're arguing about this thing. We, we have the shared goal one would think. So why do we see this differently? Um, and as soon as you start your point of view with, I'm worried that if we do this, this is going to happen. It like breaks the whole conversation wide open. So I think, you know, in summary, probably like a lot of empathy, asking direct questions, and then sharing your own concerns or your own fears really directly and openly.

Kind of, like, can help what was an impasse start to, like, fade.

Tracy Young: Yeah, I can see why that's so powerful because, um, she's basically bringing the other party to her perspective, right? I'm only arguing with you because I'm worried about this very bad thing that might happen. Like, am I crazy here? Do you see it from my perspective?

And that really, um, makes a conversation much more productive when we know where the other side is coming from. All right, this, I mean, I can talk to you for another two hours, but I have one last question for you. Um, what advice would you give Taylor yourself seven years ago going into a startup journey?

I think there's oftentimes there's, you know, especially for our listeners who might be working at big companies who. Are thinking about startups, but you know, there is risk that comes with it. Maybe less security than public RSUs that they can sell in the market for stock options that might not be worth anything.

But like, what is, what is your advice to yourself here?

Taylor Young: One thing that I, I guess probably had like a hypothesis about, but I feel like I've validated now that I would like remind myself of is latch yourself onto great people, it will work out. You know, um, I think like. I think I always had that, had that gut feeling of like, just trust the process.

These, you know, these are great people. You will get something beneficial out of this no matter what. Um, I think I would remind myself of that. I see a lot of folks earlier in their careers, focusing hard on roles, titles, career progression, clearly defined roles and responsibilities. And for some people, I'm sure that works depending on what you want.

Um, but for what I wanted, um, None of that really mattered. It was really just about like get on the bus and we will find the seat along the way The seat will change it will grow it will whatever but just get on the bus That's one. I think another one is probably

Like what's the word like it is okay to throw yourself into something entirely If you are growing and you love it. And I think earlier in your career, you have a lot of room to do that, right? Like you can throw yourself completely into one thing when you were fresh out of university. Or for me, when I joined CoLab, I was still a student.

Um, and I had an opportunity to throw myself into something fully. And then as time went on, I remember kind of thinking and feeling, am I supposed to have like, balance in my life. Uh, and I think balance is a bit of a myth, right? Like, um, instead I, I think I've allowed myself over time to just do what feels right.

Sometimes that is, uh, like my life being a hundred percent collab. And those are some of the times when I am most fulfilled and satisfied. That might seem crazy to people who haven't experienced that, but that's my, that's my truth. That's my reality. Um, and then sometimes it's like stepping off the gas a little bit to allow room for other things.

So I think I would like probably remind myself that that's okay.

Tracy Young: Taylor, that was a really fun conversation with you. I, I took some notes for myself here too, and um, I'm sure our listeners have lots of takeaways as well. So thank you so much for your thoughts. Thank you so much for the conversation. I had fun.

Thank you. This is exciting.

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