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Mastering Organisational Design

Omid Ashtari

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Mastering Organisational Design

Omid Ashtari


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Omid Ashtari
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About Omid Ashtari

In LAB #12, The BAE HQ Welcomes Omid Ashtari, Investor and Advisor at Startup Pragmatism.

Today we're going to talk all about organisational design how to build an organisation the correct way, looking at what different teams need to do at different points, making sure you don't do a generic approach.

We're really honoured today to have with us Omid Ashtari who's got an incredible wealth of experience. He was the CEO and a board director as Streetbees. He was a president and head of business at CityMapper and invested in over 40 companies as an angel investor.

So this is somebody who's been through all those different stages, helped so many companies to do what they need to do and let's get to where they want to be

Omid Ashtari

Show Notes

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Omid Ashtari Full Transcript

Omid Ashtari: [00:00:00] I think organizational design, primarily, if you're running an org is about lines of communication and lines of command.

Amardeep Parmar: Today, we're going to talk all about organizational design, how to build your organization in the correct way, looking at what different teams need to do at different points, making sure you don't do a generic approach and look at how to get the right people into the right roles, especially your different phases between scaling.

Amardeep Parmar: Growing, figuring things out and so much more. And we're really honored today to have with us Omid Ashtari, who's got an incredible wealth of experience. He was the CFO and a board director as Street Beast. He was a president and head of business at CityMapper, and he's done so much more than that and invested in

Amardeep Parmar: over 40 companies as an angel investor. So this is somebody who's been through all those different stages help so many companies to do what they need to do to get to where they want to be. So let's get into the show. So Omid for people listening [00:01:00] who aren't familiar with organizational design what it's all about. Maybe they've started their company, but they're not really sure about how they're going to scale it. What do you mean by organizational design and why is it important?

Omid Ashtari: Yeah,  no, I think the main thing to consider by the way is that I'm going to look at this as a lens from, from a startup perspective, right? I'm not talking about a 10, 000 person organization or anything, and I think organizational design primarily, if you're running a, an org is about lines of communication and lines of command.

Omid Ashtari: Right? The lines of command are relevant to be designed well for decision making that is, um, important for any given thing that you need to do within that business unit or that, uh, organizational function. And then the lines of communication is important to get right because of reporting and alignment and strategy and vision.

Omid Ashtari: So organizational design is about how do you design these different parts of the functions of an organization well? To fit the purpose of what the organization is actually trying to achieve rather [00:02:00] than, you know, just coming up with some sort of random mishmash, uh, that is divorced from the reality of what needs to be done.

Amardeep Parmar: I think it's interesting  about how soon that can become a problem. So we've got me and my co founder, we've got a few other people working for us as well, but it's a handful of people, but it's so easy for us to to give the directions. But then maybe the other way, things aren't quite right.

Amardeep Parmar: And it's, it's, it's a really teething issue very quickly. And I think a lot of people are early in business. They overestimate how easy it is to run a business and to manage people in that way. And you kind of always hit that stop quite early. And in your own experience, what made you fascinated with this?

Amardeep Parmar: Like, why did you start to really think about the way these teams run? 

Omid Ashtari: Yeah, you see, I find most business problems, I'm kind of not a business scholar, academic or something like that, because my belief fundamentally is that businesses are a creative endeavor [00:03:00] where people come together, right? And it's unique people.

Omid Ashtari: In their unique stage in life with unique incentives that they have outside of work with unique wants and needs, then you're operating within an industry. Right? And that is a very particular industry. Again, at that point in time, the industry has certain dynamics that are going on. And then you may be building on a platform that has certain dynamics at that point in time.

Omid Ashtari: Say, Early Facebook, uh, social gaming distribution era, you know, it's very different than building something on it now. So I think there's so many different things at play at any given point in time that you need to be really thoughtful about how you're actually building anything at any given point. And general advice is probably not useful.

Omid Ashtari: So the way I think about this stuff is more frameworks that you should figure out whether it can be applied to your business in particular or not. And that's why, you know, even if you're, as you say, at your stage, it was like six people sitting together at the, at a table is like, [00:04:00] what are the questions I should be asking here to consider whether I can adapt some of the things that I'm doing to work better.

Omid Ashtari: Right. And I think one thing is, for instance, if you think about it, it's like, is the, is the work that you're doing very repeatable, or are you trying to figure out new things? To improve or to develop what you're trying to do. And those two things are various, very different in the nature of how you need to think about stuff, how you need to operate, how you need to, what processes you need, what people should be on those problems, et cetera.

Omid Ashtari: So that's kind of at the core of, of figuring out a good organizational design that is specific to the actual problems that you're solving, rather than generic across the organization. That makes sense. 

Amardeep Parmar: So we mentioned that as well, but not doing things direct across organizations. Is there any kind of buckets you'd put people in within an organization, that should act in different ways?

Omid Ashtari: Yeah, totally. You know, um, I guess often what you don't want is your lawyer to be super, uh, audacious [00:05:00] and creative, for instance, right? So there's certain functions that come with a specific bias in terms of conservatism. Um, I would say maybe Travis Kalanick actually said, no, I want my lawyers to be audacious and totally crazy and creative, right?

Omid Ashtari: Because he wanted to hack his way through city regulations. It depends obviously again on your organization, but I think by, by and large, uh, legal finance are more conservative areas of business. So there you're essentially one want to hire people that have, um, that are comfortable or that are good at

Omid Ashtari: reporting vast amounts of data in a condensed way, um, and do so, uh, in a timely fashion, be also able to communicate well, but what you don't want is them to be super excited by creative, uh, you know, remit and reach and being able to like experiment and other things. Right? So it has something to do with hiring.

Omid Ashtari: It has something to do with your setup. But again, All [00:06:00] these rules are there to be broken. Maybe you're an organization that wants to exactly do that. If you work at Binance, I think you really want to have creative finance people because you have so many different special purpose vehicles across the world in Cayman and other jurisdictions, because you're trying to obfuscate where it's going on.

Omid Ashtari: 

Amardeep Parmar: I don't  know if you saw the news recently where maybe they're a bit too creative. I think they got done with the fraud, didn't they?

Omid Ashtari: Yes, I know. Or, uh, CZ's out. CZ's out. 

Amardeep Parmar: So looking at that then, let's say. With other functions. So you're building out, you've got teams that are scaling. And one of the things I think is really different.

Amardeep Parmar: You're trying to build the company and trying to grow. But at the same time, the bottom not falling out, right? And not things going crazy. How do you adjust that? Because I think at the top, it's so easy to try and make things as simple as you can for yourself, which can then cause chaos underneath you.

Amardeep Parmar: How do you adjust that? How do you have different models or what different models can people use beyond, say, conservative and more audacious? What are some of the Frameworks people can use? [00:07:00] 

Omid Ashtari: Yeah, it's a good question. And I think, again, I'm sorry if this is not super comprehensive. It's a model that I've come up with, with my own experience.

Omid Ashtari: And I'm sure there are people who are academic scholars of business that have better frameworks here. Mine is simple. I would say there's three different kinds of, um, parts to an organization or where, where I would say you want to adapt the operating system to. It's fulfilled the need of that kind of part of the organization.

Omid Ashtari: One that I would say is, is the figure outer, right? That's kind of when you're faced with a new problem that the organization needs to figure out that is business critical and that part of the organization needs to operate slightly differently. I'll go back to it. I'll go through the three areas first.

Omid Ashtari: Then I think there's something that we call business as usual, right? What you, for instance, don't want is your customer support team to completely be all over the place, because what you want to have as a customer is like a, um, a consistent experience, a reliable experience, an experience that, you [00:08:00] know, doesn't change from tomorrow to today, uh, today to tomorrow.

Omid Ashtari: So that is a business as usual problem. I would say consistency. Of course, there's still optimization that occurs in this space. And you're trying to figure out some things here too, you know, how to be leaner, how to be more efficient, how to do things, but it's very different from the figure out or where you have no clue how you're solving any given problem.

Omid Ashtari: Right. And then there's the third bucket that I would call that I've experienced this called the scaling bucket. And there it's very clear what the problem is. Um, and that is, we want to achieve a certain thing as fast as possible. But we know exactly what we want to achieve. So it's actually the opposite than the figure out.

Omid Ashtari: You're not trying to figure out what's going on. We know exactly what we want to achieve, but we want to do it super fast. So that's a different mindset as well. These are the three rough buckets and we can go through each of them if you want. And then kind of maybe, uh, think about what kind of people and processes are required for them to run.

Omid Ashtari: Well, is, does that, is that [00:09:00] a good structure?

Amardeep Parmar:  Yeah. One  thing I might pick on first is the business as usual side, because Weirdly, I find that maybe the toughest because the figure outers is the exciting bit, right? Scaling is exciting, but the business as usual as a founder can sometimes be the bit which you always leave last because it's less sexy, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And what I found my own, own mistakes I've made. Is that I try to get the business as usual going without really building systems to support that. And then you have constant problems all the time. So look at that business as usual part. How do you design area effectively?

Omid Ashtari: Yes. Um, I think business as usual, you're right.

Omid Ashtari: Like, you know, it's not the sexiest part of the organization and I personally have a bias for the new shiny thing. Right. Uh, and you know, I don't want to deal with the stuff that's really boring and all that. But actually that's sometimes quite mission critical to run the business. Well, you need to know your runway.

Omid Ashtari: You need to know your burn rate. You need to, you know, make [00:10:00] sure that you do the trademarks in the right places. You need to make sure that your custom support team is working well. You want to make sure that your operations team is trying to become more efficient, et cetera. Right. These are things that.

Omid Ashtari: Uh, on the surface seem boring, but at the same time, you know, if you can cut costs, if you can, uh, become more efficient are super important because it enables the creative stuff to, to, you know, do more cycles and learn more and try to do other stuff. So on the business as usual side, it's good that you know, and I know that we have a bias.

Omid Ashtari: Right? Our biases. We want the shiny thing. And so the first question always is like, we're all monkeys. We all have a motivational system. We all have our biases, right? Be aware of your own bias and know what's going on. And based on like, if you know you have a bias, then you have to be doubly vigilant to work against that bias, right?

Omid Ashtari: So for me, it's very important for me to set the lines of communication and the lines of command up in a way that is prompting me rather than me [00:11:00] prompting it. So what does that mean? It means that for instance, there has to be like a Monday morning report that comes in from the finance team about how have the costs and revenue changed over the last

Omid Ashtari: uh, week or month or whatever the right period is in that specific case. What were the reasons why this happened, right? Uh, you know, or we landed a new customer or, you know, our AWS bill was a little bit higher this time because we launched a new city. I'm using a city map, for example, here. Um, so these are kind of things that you need to get into your inbox.

Omid Ashtari: And what you need then is you need to have a meeting that's scheduled. That you can't get out of, that you force yourself to go in and have this conversation. So the, this is kind of the process that comes with the, um, uh, line of communication. And then the line of command is having that meeting and having any decisions that need to be made in that meeting.

Omid Ashtari: Right? So you're forcing yourself to do that. What you also want is, again, we talked about that briefly, hire people that are comfortable with that type of pace and with [00:12:00] that type of process and with that type of communication. That they're okay with the template that they send out every Monday and that they do the work on the Friday to make sure that that template is right and they have like the right way of communicating around it.

Omid Ashtari: And that they're, um, capable enough in a meeting when I'm asking 15 questions, because I want to get to the bottom of it, being able to actually on the spot, dig into the data and give me the answers and all that. So it's about the hiring. It's about the, I guess, attitude and kind of, um, predispositions of the people and their biases in some way that you want to get them into.

Omid Ashtari: And then it's, uh, it's about design. 

Amardeep Parmar: Hey everyone. I hope you're enjoying this episode so far. The BAE HQ has a podcast. But we're so much more than that. So if you want to find out about all the events we've got going on, all the different ways you can meet each other, as well as resources to help you build the business of your dreams, then check out the link in the show notes, sign up to our newsletter, where you get a weekly roundup, which we like to call the BAE Letter, that will keep you in the loop.

Amardeep Parmar: If you want to help us out, the best thing [00:13:00] you can possibly do is sign up to our newsletter and share it with your friends. So that's enough for me. Now, let's get back to the show.

Amardeep Parmar: I think that's really interesting what you said there as well. It's hiring the right people for those kinds of roles, because what I think, let me say, well, some people say this.

Amardeep Parmar: So you always want to hire people who want to be entrepreneurs themselves, right? That's one of their philosophies for themselves. But the challenge is, is that if you hire somebody to do a type of role, which is against what they're excited by or what gets them out of bed, then there's going to be friction sooner or later.

Omid Ashtari: Absolutely.

Amardeep Parmar: And somebody who wants to be an entrepreneur, for example, they might take that role, but I get to work with somebody who's amazing. But then if you're just going to get frustrated, you end up being in this awkward situation where you're not happy. The person who's hired you isn't happy and it's actually best to say no.

Amardeep Parmar: And I think sometimes people don't understand themselves well enough to know when they should say no. And I've said no recently to a role where somebody wants to hire me. I said it's too much of a role, which isn't gonna align with the kind of autonomy and everything I have [00:14:00] now. And I'm not really like, it is a great opportunity, but it's not right for me.

Amardeep Parmar: And I think it's both sides, right? You said, right. It's the employee knowing this is a role that suits them and the employer is sometimes not trying to pick somebody who they can think they can mold into that role. Because often. It's not going to work, right?

Omid Ashtari: I think that the, you're absolutely right. And it totally resonates with me and what you're saying.

Omid Ashtari: And I think you can't expect that the person that you're hiring at some, as a business, uh, or as an employer that they, that they know what they want to do with their life. It's about, it's about you figuring out what they want to do with their life. I think the most important questions that I ask in any given interview, and I've probably interviewed more than 700 people in my life, or even probably more, and what their motivation is in life is kind of what you need to get to first and foremost, right?

Omid Ashtari: And what they've been driven by. I know that sounds super soft and [00:15:00] cliche, but I really asked them, like, if, if, uh, if they allow me and if they're okay, I just asked them, Hey, look, what was your relations with your parents like, you know, why did you choose that thing that you chose? Why did you leave this job?

Omid Ashtari: And why did you join this job? How did you get that job? What was the reason that you left that company? All these things kind of give you a sense of the value system and the way people think. And then, you know, you may, may mix, may, may mistakes. And I've done many mistakes in my life, made a lot of mistakes in my life and hiring.

Omid Ashtari: And the, the thing to remember there then is that the interview ends with a probation period. That means that don't think that because you've hired someone they're now in the organization because somebody that is especially in a senior role in an organization for a prolonged period of time that is misaligned or has bad has a motivation issue or is poisoning the well will create so much damage for your organization that, you know, taking the first 3 months.

Omid Ashtari: And the probation period, whatever long that may be, [00:16:00] and really assessing them and actually being thoughtful about what are the things that they need to achieve in these 3 months before they actually start set goals, make sure they communicated to them and ensure that you know, you're you're somebody is responsible for reporting upwards.

Omid Ashtari: It's about that progress of that person and also staying on top of it and coaching them to make sure that you give them a good shot to get to that level. And if you don't manage to do that right, then that's your own fault. So I, I don't blame anyone for not knowing what they want to do in life or what their value system is all that.

Omid Ashtari: It's my job to find out, you know, it's the organization's job to find out because the organization is going to bear the cost of it if they doesn't. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you mentioned to the other two sides there as well, right? So the figure outers and the scalers. Do you have a, which one is the most exciting for you, or you're not allowed to say for when you're hiring people in the future, you don't want them to realize who your  favorites are.

Omid Ashtari: Hey, my, the people are, are all my favorites. It's not about the people. It's probably more. Yeah. I think it gravitates more [00:17:00] to, to the figure hours. I'm more like an early stage type person. And I like the zero to one or one to 10 journey rather than the 100 to 1000 journey and but I really appreciate the 100 to 1000 people and and their skill set.

Omid Ashtari: They have a very, very good skill set and and I think it's very valuable skill set, right? If you've scaled something like that. Um, so I would gravitate towards the figure outers. Um, you know, and they, they are very different in compared to the Business as usual. Business as usual, which said, Hey, look, you have a set meeting.

Omid Ashtari: You have a set way of communicating. There's like a template for like how it's how the reporting is done. You know exactly what kind of people you want. You want people who are good with existing information and processes. The figure outers on the other hand, the most important thing when you're hiring people for that is.

Omid Ashtari: People who are okay with ambiguity, people who thrive in environments that are wide open, where you have to somehow be very proactive about [00:18:00] creating what is going on. People who are, have an action bias, people who are actually really good at communicating, people who drive on chaos, because with the figure outer or say, we were going to figure out the go to market strategy for our B2B SaaS company, right?

Omid Ashtari: And we're trying to kind of figure out, hey, which marketing channel works. Is this kind of inside sales strategy working and all that? We need to have conversations as soon as there's any question that is open. We can't wait for the next week where that meeting is scheduled for us to have a conversation.

Omid Ashtari: No, I want people to interrupt me. I want them to ask me. Uh, what we need to do at any given point in time, while I do think that, like, business as usual and probably scalers are more run by, um, committee, I think figure outers are actually very much top down because it sounds a bit weird, but you need to have somebody that, um, just tells other [00:19:00] people what to do.

Omid Ashtari: You want all the information, you want alignment, and you want a team of people who are okay to disagree and commit. And the goal is to look, to make as many failures as possible. Or as many mistakes as possible to learn as fast as possible about the stuff that you're doing. Let's run LinkedIn campaigns and see how people are reporting.

Omid Ashtari: Okay. This is not going to work out well. Okay. You know what? Let's do a seminar. That is a web webinar that people can log into. Thereby we qualify the leads and you know, that's going to cost us eggs. And then we do a little bit of content that gets them into, and then they're primed and then we can actually convert them to like actual, you know, qualified leads, et cetera, let's try things out very quickly, learn from very little data and then try to kind of

Omid Ashtari: find the next part of the experiment and the next part of the experiment. And let's do this as fast as possible because we can't be faffing around and costing the organization a lot of money by doing that. And if it's like mission critical, you really, the only benefit that you have over corporates is exactly this being able to be flexible and learn and squeeze as many cycles of learning [00:20:00] through as little time as possible.

Omid Ashtari: Because they're, they have a lot more resources, they have a lot more people. That's what you're good at. So that's what you, you really need to then focus. And it does require people who are also a little bit unemotional about their strategy being shot down or like, you know, then a decision or failure being made and then moving on.

Omid Ashtari: And, you know, I was invested in this strategy. We went all this way and like now we're shutting it down. No problem. Let's move on. It's about making the organization better, not my specific emotions or my idea or me claiming a win here. So there are a few things that you need to take into consideration, I guess, um, with the figure outers.

Amardeep Parmar: What I say as well, I don't know if this resonates, it's about, you need that delusional optimism to keep trying things. And then if you fail, you just ignore it, not you learn the lesson from it, but then get really optimistic about something else. So it's that ability to fail and get optimistic again, fail, be optimistic again.

Amardeep Parmar: And it's resilience to that, right? You've got to have the resilience of, [00:21:00] you can still get excited and still be like, Oh, this could be the thing that's going to work. And put your energy behind it. And when it fails, be like, Oh, okay, let's, let's do something else now. And I think it's really hard to, to explain that to people sometimes as well.

Amardeep Parmar: But I have that attitude and how do you, how do you find those people?

Omid Ashtari: It's a good question. You know, I think for most of the part, um, when, when you're interviewing people, what you want is you want to ask behavioral questions, right? You don't want to ask open ended questions. And actually, I think the most interesting questions are human questions.

Omid Ashtari: They're not like, okay, tell me how you optimize X, Y, Z, or by the way. I have to put this into perspective for the most part. I'm not the first interviewer. I'm like some like maybe third or fourth interviewer. And actually, the first interviewer should do a role related knowledge check. Right? Or, you know, sometimes it's not about role related knowledge, but general cognitive ability.

Omid Ashtari: Right? And those are the checks that happen before somebody ends up. Uh, on my, uh, in front of me in an interview, and I think it's okay. [00:22:00] I will definitely do some general cognitive ability check and role related, um, knowledge check because I want to make sure that, you know, the bar is right and we've calibrated, uh, calibrated well, especially if it's a new role.

Omid Ashtari: And, you know, my teammates, um, haven't, we haven't really figured out what the bar should be for a person to kind of be good enough. Um, then I do ask a lot more role related knowledge and go, uh, general cognitive ability, but I think the, the, for the most part, it's about these types of things that you're pointing out.

Omid Ashtari: It's like, tell me about a moment where you were failing and how did you recover from that? How did you, what were some of the tools that you use to get yourself out of that funk? And how did you communicate that to your parents, to your friends? You know, uh, how, how did you, how, how many times, uh, again, did you try?

Omid Ashtari: You know, to actually get that thing going, did you give up or, you know, did you move on? What, you know, all these type of things. So, so for instance, if you see somebody that is like moving from one organization to the next every year, maybe they were just actually failing at every point in their job. And one year was exactly the amount of time it took for the [00:23:00] organization to figure out that this person is not good enough.

Omid Ashtari: Right. And like, you need to figure this stuff out. Right. And if maybe they also just, you know, didn't do a good job and understanding and maybe they didn't learn from their failures in the organization, clearly, otherwise they would have excelled over time. So these are just things that you figure out by asking very direct human questions.

Omid Ashtari: I find very often that we try to be too academic. Ultimately, everything on this planet is human to human, and humans have, you know, the same desires. We want love, we want appreciation, we want acceptance, we, you know, there are these things. So you need to figure those things out about the people that you're going to work very closest with in a very high stress, high stakes environment, which is startup world.

Omid Ashtari: Because the clock is ticking, the burn is running out, the burn is burning, like, uh, uh, the runway away. So you really need to have people resilient and fast and can do all this with a lot of stress. Um, you want to figure that out. So, I don't know if that was the right answer to your question..

Amardeep Parmar:  But no, definitely.

Amardeep Parmar: And [00:24:00] last but not least, the scalers, right? So tell us about the scalers. What do they bring to the table? What kind of people are they? How do you design an organization effectively for the scalers? 

Omid Ashtari: If you think about it, right, um, the figure outers, which you actually want, and I know it's maybe a bit counterintuitive, is you don't want people that necessarily have that much role related knowledge.

Omid Ashtari: You don't want people who have a preconceived notion about how to do specific things. Because if you have that, then you're coming with baggage, and if you want to figure something out and reinvent something or invent something to begin with, the beginners might send his best. So sometimes actually more junior people are good in the figure outer bucket, you know, just people who are good, who are, we just accept what's going on.

Omid Ashtari: They trust that they have the energy. They just, they're resilient. They love all this because they're thriving and learning somebody with a big ego that has a lot of [00:25:00] experience may not be okay with that type of work. And like, but I've done this many times before. Why didn't you listen to my? On the other hand, when you want to do the scaler stuff, actually what you want is people with a lot of world related knowledge.

Omid Ashtari: So, you know, I, I always say in the beginning of a startup journey, what you want to hire for is mission fit and you want to hire for like energy and like, you know, um, probably not so many senior people at the beginning. I know there's like a Cognitive dissonance. A lot of people want to hire like the CFO and the CMO and the CRO and all that beginning.

Omid Ashtari: No, no, no, hire a bunch of junior people, coach them and try to kind of figure out, do all the C level jobs yourself, try to figure out what you actually need to hire for and what these problems are. And, and, and by the way, that's the only way you learn, but later on, if you're scaling something, actually, you want to have somebody that has a lot of role related knowledge, for instance, internationalizing a sales organization is a very, uh, tried and tested skill set.

Omid Ashtari: That some people have done already [00:26:00] and they know what bonus systems work. They know exactly how they need to set up like motivational kind of structures. They know how to run these. They know how to build a sales pipeline. They know how to do the lead gen on these things, right? And so you want somebody that has done that for, I don't know, three, four times in other startups.

Omid Ashtari: You know, maybe they failed a couple of times. Maybe this time they're not going to fail, but you want somebody that comes in that is plug and play, right? Knows exactly what they do. And what you want is you want to incentivize them on a very clear structure and goals that you set because you know what you want.

Omid Ashtari: You want to have X amount of sales from North America by the end of the year, right? So that's what you set them for a goal, and they know exactly what the job is, and you tell them to do it the fastest way possible, right? That's basically what you want. High role related knowledge. They know exactly what they want to do.

Omid Ashtari: They just need to learn how to apply themselves to your organization, not to the problem at hand as such. So this is crucially different from the figure out, you know, because the figure out is like, you [00:27:00] know, beginner's mindset, I don't need you to come with any baggage. I want all your baggage and well in, in scaler, you know, and I want you to just run, and I want you to execute very clear targets, figure outers,

Omid Ashtari: we don't even know what we want at this point, you know? And so I think that's one of the crucial differences, if that makes sense. 

Amardeep Parmar: I guess  one of the hard things for founders of scalers must be if those people come with such high domain knowledge, do you ever see instances where that ego comes into play with the founders of the leaders feel threatened by somebody coming in who's senior, who knows that talking about who might be like, well, your idea isn't actually the right thing because I've done this at 10 other places and this is the right process.

Amardeep Parmar: And how have you seen that dynamic and what can Founders think about to make sure that that doesn't happen 

Omid Ashtari: 100%. You nailed, you nailed it. I mean, I think this is something that's very common, actually. Um, and you know, again, I feel these are human things. Uh, I know I sound like a broken record. You need to kind of, um, ensure that the people that you're [00:28:00] hiring understand that sometimes,

Omid Ashtari: Um, and this only works if you have a good track record, right? Say you've built a company that, you know, just raised, uh, 40 million from Tier 1 VC, right? You're doing something right, right? And sometimes if somebody comes in and they have some sort of experience that, uh, is currently lacking in an organization that they're bringing to the organization and they now think they have all the answers.

Omid Ashtari: And they want to do it exactly the way they want. Well, that may not work for the founder of that organization because you know what? We respect and accept that you have a lot of domain knowledge, but there are ways we think you need to tweak your approach to our specific business. And what you don't want is somebody that does not have enough flexibility to negotiate that with you, right?

Omid Ashtari: And sometimes it's good that somebody maybe pushes you away from some of your preconceived notions as a founder. And you should be open to that too. You should be open to grow and [00:29:00] accept that. But what you need to ensure is also that you have talked to that person and say, Hey, look, we do things a little bit differently here.

Omid Ashtari: I don't want you to get frustrated after a month or two when we don't do exactly the playbook that you've done three times before, because one, you maybe have to like drag me along on this journey and sometimes prove me wrong. But I want you to understand that this is going to be something that is going to happen in unison between you and me, and this is negotiation.

Omid Ashtari: This is not, you just do what, you know, and I, I think this has to be upfront. I think if you communicate these things upfront, that's fine. Um, and ultimately it's very natural that these things may go wrong. And again, then you just have to ensure, especially with senior hires, that there is no bad blood that, you know, they, they kind of feel like, okay, there's a misunderstanding or there's a misalignment here in the way, you know, you're envisioning this.

Omid Ashtari: You, you send them off sooner rather than later, right? And you do this in a way that doesn't damage the culture or let's makes them feel bad about their experience as a company, because what [00:30:00] you don't want is a bunch of senior people that you've let go run around and talk, talk back bad things about your organization.

Omid Ashtari: Right? So it's about handling that in a very, um, uh, above board way. 

Amardeep Parmar: No, so really enjoyed this. We're going to have to like close off now because of time and go to the quickfire questions. But definitely getting going again. It's been really fun. And I know that you've got such, you've got so many other areas that you know so much about too.

Amardeep Parmar: So this isn't the end. So first quick fire question is who are three British Asians that you'd love to shout out that you think are doing incredible work and the audience should be paying attention to?

Omid Ashtari: I'm on the business advisory board of the mayor and Sadiq is, is, uh, I really appreciate him. Um, I know sometimes people are like, you know, Moaning about the U Liz or this or that, but he's, uh, such an upright, uh, kind of standing politician that's always been like consistent in the way he's approached, uh, uh, politics, which I really appreciate and the era of people changing allegiances all the [00:31:00] time.

Omid Ashtari: The second one would be Reshma Soni. I really, uh, you know. I'm in awe and our achievements that she's done with seedcamp is a hugely inspiring person and, you know, love hanging out with her. Also, personally, she's just fun. Um, and I think I guess in the same realm would be Sonali again as a female brown person rising to the top height of like being a tier 1 VC at Accel.

Omid Ashtari: Amazing investments and amazing track record. So those would be my three shout outs. 

Amardeep Parmar: Awesome. So if they want to learn more about you and what you're up to, where should they go to?

Omid Ashtari: Best place is probably go to startuppragmatism.com. Uh, it's kind of my hub for, um, business related things. I also have a blog called the full spectrum.

Omid Ashtari: dotblog. Uh, that's more about the human condition and philosophizing about reality. 

Amardeep Parmar: And sign up to a sub stack as well. So is there anything right now that audience could help you with? So somebody listening right [00:32:00] now, they could reach out to you and help you with something. 

Omid Ashtari: Yeah.  Um, I told you, I think before that, uh, I'm working on a podcast.

Omid Ashtari: So anybody who's, uh, you know, good at editing or has some ideas around how to, uh, how to do a podcast. Well. And, you know, I, I'd love to, um, guest post on other blogs. If people have blogs that, that, you know, they're, they're kind of interested in doing in a, uh, post exchange, love that too. So those would be a couple of things.

Amardeep Parmar: Great to have you on. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Omid Ashtari: Look, I think, um, this startup thing is hard. Uh, always remember other people have done it and don't be shy and reaching out to them. Because that's the only way really how all of civilization has been built, you know, by people being kind to others and helping them out in the moment of need.

Omid Ashtari: And, uh, if you feel like any of this resonated. Feel free to reach out to me on various channels that you can find me on.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello, everyone. Thank you [00:33:00] so much for listening. It means a huge amount to us. And we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes a world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here to inspire, connect and guide the next generation of  British Asians, if you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact.

Amardeep Parmar: And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests. We can host more events. We can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

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