Lloyed Lobo, the co-founder of Boast.AI and an expert in community-led growth, shares his journey of building deep, meaningful connections in the business landscape. In this inspiring episode, Lobo discusses the significance of genuine relationships in achieving business success. He opens up about his personal experiences, shedding light on how he cultivated a community-centered approach at Boast.AI.
Lloyed’s insights emphasize the power of authentic connections, not only in fostering business growth but also in enriching personal life. He delves into the importance of aligning company values with personal beliefs and how this alignment propels both individual and organizational success.
This episode is a compelling narrative on the intersection of personal values, community building, and business success. Lobo’s approach to entrepreneurship, focusing on authentic relationships and community engagement, offers valuable lessons for both budding and seasoned entrepreneurs.
“My why is bringing people together to create impact, to have a good time, to improve the quality of life, to have fun.” – Lloyed Lobo
“Pain is the precondition for growth. Anything great is on the other side of pain and suffering.” – Lloyed Lobo
“Great companies have great alignment. It’s important to get people excited to become the co-author of a massive impact.” – Lloyed Lobo
“If you don’t hire and fire people based on your values, then you’ll never put it in action.” – Lloyed Lobo
“Your values are constant and make sure the people you’re getting in bed with are aligned with you.” – Lloyed Lobo
“Society’s definition of success…All my life I was chasing society’s definition of success.” – Lloyed Lobo
“Life and business is a marathon, not a sprint. To be able to play the long game, you need to be able to sustain yourself mentally.” – Lloyed Lobo
“You may not get a second chance in life. You may lose, is it worth losing, is all the chase worth losing the relationships that you sacrificed everything for?” – Lloyed Lobo
Reach Lloyed at
Get Lloyed’s new book, ‘From Grassroots To Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community Led Growth’ (Wall Street Journal Bestseller) at https://fromgrassrootstogreatness.com/
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Dr. Jessica Kriegel: : Yeah. Okay, before we get started, just so you know, we don’t do a whole intro. I don’t wanna do the boring part of the podcast where it’s like, so tell us about yourself. We’re gonna do an intro for you. So we’re just gonna dig in right away, okay? Just assume they know all about you.
Lloyed Lobo: Yeah.
Lloyed Lobo: Yeah.
Lloyed Lobo: Yeah, yeah, definitely. You’re used to this. Don’t worry.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, perfect.
Lloyd, let’s begin with the first question that I ask everyone, which is, what is your why?
Lloyed Lobo: My why, actually I didn’t know for a very long time. And my brother, when I was writing, before I started writing the book, made me realize my why is bringing people together to create impact, to have a good time, to improve the quality of life, to have fun. And I never realized this. And then he one day asked me, what’s your why? And I started giving him the company’s why. And he’s like, man, stop it. Like.
I don’t want the why of your company. I want your why. And then he’s like do you realize something? Wherever you go in the world, anywhere, just mysteriously people come together around you. Right now I’m in Dubai. I have a lot of friends, family that quite moved here from the States and Canada and I spend like the winters over here. And he’s like there are people that I haven’t caught up in years.
And all of a sudden, as a function of you being here, we’re all just coming together to congregate regularly. So he made me realize that your why is actually a purpose is to bring people together just to deliver joy and smiles and create impact.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Beautiful. Do you know what it is about you that makes that happen?
Lloyed Lobo: I actually, I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know. It’s just I draw energy and joy from being around people. And that’s been a constant since my childhood. It’s a function of, a lot of what you are is your upbringing.
And more than your talent. And I think it’s a function of just being around my parents who are like that, always hosting people, always bringing people together. I’ll give you an example. I just went to Kuwait with my dad. My dad used to be the executive chef of a five-star hotel there some 35 years ago, 30 years ago. And for nostalgia, I wanted to take him to the same hotel in Kuwait, so I made him a reservation there.
And the cancel the reservation, they emailed me saying, and imagine he left Kuwait, I think, 99. So yeah, almost like just like 25 years ago. The cancel the reservation, they said, we see Chef Lobo is coming here. Your entire hotel stay and everything you do here is on the house. And when I went there, basically, they were telling me about my dad’s legacy, because he helped open that hotel in the 80s. And then when the Gulf War happened, and the hotel was burnt down and nobody, no European chef would come there. He trained people from the streets and who were cleaners and everything to become cooks and chefs. And they went on to become celebrated chefs. And they were telling me about that, his legacy and his story. And I was like, wow, this is 25 years later. So I think it’s just being around people like that. My parents loved bringing people together and hosting people together. And our house was one growing up that was always, always full. And my parents…
were poor or not very wealthy growing up, lower middle class, and they were not educated, worked themselves up to where they are today. But my mom grew up in the slums of Mumbai. And we were, she, I was born in Kuwait because if you’re not educated in India, you can’t make money. So you go out either West or the Middle East. And if you don’t have a degree, you can’t go out West. So they were in Kuwait and they could only afford
Lloyed Lobo: Every summer to take us back to India. So my childhood summers were spent in the slums of Mumbai. And I kid you not, going to the toilet was a communal activity and eating food and watching TV was all a communal activity. It would rain a lot in the summer and puddles would turn into ponds and we’d be swimming in there. And at the end of the summer when we had to go back home to Kuwait, I would grab my parents by their feet and be like, leave me here. So I think a lot of what you become is your nurture and what you’re repeatedly exposed to, your environment, the people you surround yourself with. So it’s always around people who drew joy from bringing people together. And I guess I inherited that.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm. So this, I get the great privilege of getting to interview people who are the masters of movements. And it feels like, correct me if I’m wrong, I want to get your perspective on this, that you are the master of mastering movements. It’s a meta sort of interview from my perspective. What, how would you describe the movement that you have mastered in your life, in your career?
Lloyed Lobo: You know, the only thing constant is change. Right. And it’s, it’s funny because. Growing up in Kuwait, experiencing my childhood summers in the slums of Mumbai, then eventually I think as an eight, nine year old Kuwait was struck with the Gulf War and security at lapse, there was no phone, there was no internet and.
The community had to come together to rescue the country. Every building became a sub-community that coordinated food supplies and security and help, et cetera, and communicated with the next building, next building over, that communicated with embassies, that communicated with governments, and evacuated us to safety. And I had to move from there. And fast forward a few years, we ended up back in Kuwait, finished high school, immigrated to Canada, finished engineering.
My girlfriend, now wife, was in med school in New Jersey, and I had to be there. And then just one after the other, I think the only thing constant has been change. The thing though is, what forced me to move has never been, it’s always been some like, it was a factor that forced me to move.
It was a very important factor like Gulf War, we needed to get out of there, or Canada was better prospects, or I wanted to be with the love of my life and we were teenagers dating since then. And so it was always a very important factor that wasn’t money that forced me to move. But as a function of dealing with that move, I had to overcome extreme pain and frustration to get there.
I’ve just gotten stronger and better as a function of that. And so I say this a lot is pain is the precondition for growth. Anything great is on the other side of pain and suffering. Everything or anything worth doing is a long slot.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm, trudging the happy road to destiny, right? So, okay, what is the, tell me about culture transformation. I’m fascinated with how to get large groups of people to transform together. I did this interview run last year where I was talking to CEOs and asking them, when does your community of employees, your culture, feel most connected, most at their best. And when I looked at all the answers across 60 CEOs that I interviewed, there were two scenarios. One was in crisis, which you’ve described, and the other is in great success. It’s at the extremes, right? When everything’s going to hell or when everything is amazing and we have something to celebrate, the people come together. But most people are living in between those extremes at any given time. You’re…
trying to get people excited about an idea and nothing is in crisis and you’re not wildly successful but you’re trying to create movement. So what is the number one thing that you would suggest people focus on when they’re trying to create movement when there isn’t necessarily that crisis or wild success to motivate employees?
Lloyed Lobo: You know, I recently gave a talk on seven lessons from building a hundred million dollar plus FinTech company and just my lessons and also lessons from the book. My book is called from grassroots to greatness, 13 rules to build iconic brands with community led growth. And, and in writing this, I looked at some of the most enduring brands of all time, not just the tech companies from the last decade or so, but like the ones like Harley-Davidson that have endured the test of time. And maybe talked to over a thousand people. And I found some very interesting things. One of the key things, at least from my lesson and the ones that I’ve seen that have endured is great companies have great alignment. It’s important to get people excited to become the co-author of a massive impact, right? Culture is huge.
Now, a lot of the times when you’re a small team or a startup, you don’t think about culture. You think it’s fluffy. But when money comes in, that’s the first thing that causes decay, right? Like, money doesn’t change people. It brings out the real you. And if you don’t pay attention to these foundational things when starting up, you’re going to be a failure.
They will come back to bite you. And I’ve seen this happen over and over again. It’s happened with me a couple of times as well. And so for me, culture is paramount. That’s where you start. My lesson number one actually on the talk was great companies have great alignment. So start with defining your purpose, your vision, your values on day one, right? Like your purpose is your forever. Like why do you exist? Your vision is like, what will the world look like because of us? Your mission is how do we do it? But most importantly, your values are
How do we behave? Culture is not what people do when you are in the room. Culture is what people do when no one’s looking. It’s the actions you take. It’s not what’s written on the wall. And a lot of people say, you know, this nonsense on their website. And I say, don’t look at their website, look at how they behave. If they say we’re transparent, but you’re pulling teeth to get information. If they say they’re transparent, and you don’t know the math on your ESOP, or your…
Lloyed Lobo: Echo stock options, are they really transparent? If they say they’re very analytical as one of their values, but when you do monthly employee reviews, the manager is very periphery and just wants to get you out of there. Are they really analytical? Are they deep in their reviews? They’re not. If they say they don’t tolerate toxicity, but they keep that salesperson who’s harassing people and not updating Salesforce because they’re closing deals.
Then their values are just lip services. As you scale the company, that will erode. For me, culture is the leading indicator of growth. If you treat people with love and help them grow, they’ll treat your business with love and your business with grow. And that is a constant I’ve seen across companies. Now, one very interesting thing I wanted to share is I have this framework for values.
Six values, cultural values of some of the most community led enduring companies. And I call it Camper. Sounds cheesy, but if you have Camper instituted, you’ll have happy, happy campers. And C stands for connection. Basically, these companies that I talk to, right, the founders, the tech company leaders that have endured over a period of time.
They had very six, that six very common values. And so I broke it down and it ended up being camper. Um, right. And it’s very, very cheesy, happy campers, but connection means they foster genuine bronze, they build bridges, they nurture relationships. When people feel connected, it empowers them to support one another and grow. Autonomy, they grant freedom and independence, right? When people have the space to make their own decisions, they take ownership and they drive innovation. Look at base camp.
Basecamp champions a culture of remote work and self-management. They don’t do meetings, but this has helped them achieve tens of millions in profit with only 80 employees working 40 hours a week. And their competitors raised hundreds of millions. Mastery, which is enabling people to just get better and better at their craft. Adobe’s Kickbox program provides employees with resources and mentorship to fund and explore new ideas. If you noticed in the last little while.
Lloyed Lobo: Photoshop had this thing where you could just fill the background with AI and like it was so cool It went viral right like background of any image and that came out of there. So so the fourth one is purpose they Feel like they’re making a difference And they find fulfillment in their work when they’re united by a purpose that’s beyond your product or profit. I think in 2023 There’s been a record number of layoffs
But at the same time, people can become creators. They can drive an Uber while doing DoorDash. They can do consulting. They can do upwork. People are starting to realize that I don’t need to be beholden to a nine to five. I can figure out what my quality of life is and move to a place that enables me that and then work to fill that gap.
So why would I work for somebody’s nine to five to only get fired and deal with toxicity? There has to be a purpose that’s beyond just making money. And I find people feel deeply connected to the purpose. The fifth one is energy, this environment of enthusiasm and passion and positive vibe, right? When your culture is lively, look at some of the greatest movements of all time. They have great lively energy. It sparks inspiration and cultivates an environment for…
endless possibilities to flourish. I mean, Red Bull is a great example of this, but there’s a lot of companies, Red Bull, CrossFit, etc., that have this inherent energy. There are tech companies that I know of that when you go in there, there’s this infectious energy that you just want to join them. And energy is key. It’s also key responsibility for a leader to communicate, to energize and inspire people. If you’re just communicating…
to inform people that just send an email. Your job as a leader is to do this day in, day out, because people who are energized and inspired will move mountains for you. And then the last one is recognition. I can’t say how many companies don’t do this right. They just wait for that performance review or wait for an employee to complain about the salary. The best companies proactively acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and contribute,
Lloyed Lobo: People that contribute. And when you appreciate people proactively for things, no matter how small or big, it makes people wanna come back for more. And I’ve seen this in my personal life as well, right? I started with appreciation for my kids and my spouse, and I just saw a relationship gets better. They wanna do more. Everyone wants to be rewarded and feel appreciated. So I feel like these things…
We’ve tried in our company, I’ve seen them in other companies at connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, energy, but most importantly, recognition. When you proactively bring that to the forefront, people are energized and want to show up for more. When there’s that purpose that’s beyond, ah, you just need to push the last percentage of margin kind of thing.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I love all six of those. And let me push back a little bit and ask you this question because I think I have gotten disenchanted with the idea of company values because for so many companies, they are platitudes and they’re not lived experiences. How at scale do you act?
Lloyed Lobo: Exactly.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Those six values. How do you get the middle manager that you’re not getting to interact with that often on a day-to-day basis to live and breathe those six things just as much as you and the executive team do?
Lloyed Lobo: You know, I’ve seen this firsthand because we went from like 30 people to 130 people in one year. And if you don’t hire and people fire people based on your values, um, then you’ll never put it in action. I think it’s very important for the founder, one of the founders to proactively onboard every person. And I don’t mean like go and, you know, give you the employee handbook. I hate that. I’m like, literally you have new people joining. Be there, talk about your values, exemplify them through actions.
Behave what you say and make it visible around the office, around the behaviors. And I think if the leaders manage their middle managers the same way and set the same expectations for the middle managers and do this on a cadence consistently, it gets done. For example, BOST is very community-led company. And so what does community-led company mean is we do right by the community, we
We support the community, we help, we give first, right? And without any marketing, we got to 10 million in revenue. Now, to be community-led, I didn’t go and hire a community manager. For years, I hosted an event every single week, and I was there. I was there, I showed up. Because I showed up, I planned our annual conference. I planned, till the day I left the company, I was in charge of planning our…
annual retreat and trust me when I had no money we still when me and my co-founder no money the company made no money we still spend before we took from the company on these employee retreats Kabul, Costa Rica, Hawaii because those things that mattered and being community-led meant one of the founders oversaw that activity and as a function of that when the company when half of the company was acquired how did that happen?
Private equity firm came to a community event we hosted and expressed interest in buying it. And that’s what community led means is, or rather living your values means, is you do what you say and you do it day in, day out. You do it even when it’s hard. I hated hosting events. I still do. The logistics suck, but I still did it. For when the pandemic came, we freaked out.
Lloyed Lobo: Because we used to host a lot of events, partnered events, our own events. And now we had to cancel a big conference, right? And our conference is called Traction. We’ve had CEOs of Uber and Twilio, et cetera, come. I’m going to cancel this. And I freaked out and I said, listen, I don’t think I can do a two day conference. I can’t sit through on myself digitally, at least an online conference, virtual, which was huge. So I reached out to every single speaker and said, would they do a live AMA?
Twice a week because we had so many speakers, it filled up the whole year. Rain or shine, we hosted that live webinar twice a week. And people would show up twice a week. And if I drop the ball on doing them, that means I’m not living by our values of being community led, which is enabling our customers to become successful beyond our product or service. In the early days, we had a salesperson in Vancouver, Canada.
And we were just starting out that market. And of course, you know, bootstrap company, we couldn’t afford to hire many salespeople. So he was bringing, obviously, all the revenue there. And he was just toxic, just extremely toxic. Nobody wanted to work with him. And we fired him. Honestly, it was super painful. It was my co-founder’s decision. It took several, several months, but we made the decision to fire him. Of course, our revenue went down.
All of that stuff. But we rebuilt it back in droves years later. Because ultimately, if employees are happy, your business will be in good shape. And so I think you got to live your values and it’s going to be very difficult. Values and money are two different things. I truly believe that if you chase money, you make short-term decisions. Like, oh, we’ll keep this toxic person, which will bite you in the long term.
If you chase power, you will destroy relationships. If you want to build a lasting culture, you got to focus on impact and that impact is sometimes at loggerheads with money. It’s a lot of the times the value you’re providing to your employees and your customers and putting that first and if that means telling a customer that I screwed up even if they’re gonna cancel a hundred thousand dollar contract, so be it. If that’s firing a salesperson who’s toxic, so be it.
Lloyed Lobo: Because if you don’t do those things, then it’s a free for all for everyone.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Totally agree. And I know a lot of CEOs who agree as well. I don’t know that I’ve seen a lot of private equity investors who think that way, right? I mean, private equity is defined as short-term thinking. I mean, how do you get a private equity backed company to live that philosophy when you ultimately have people who are running the business but are disconnected from the business?
Lloyed Lobo: I think this requires a whole other hour long behind the scenes without my face conversation on how things change when investors come in and what kind of investors. It’s not just private equity, it’s any kind of investor for that matter, right? Investors want to return the highest amount of…
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hahaha!
Lloyed Lobo: Money to their limited partners, whether it’s a VC, a private equity, growth equity, any private capital provider wants to return money to their LPs. Now here’s the thing, if they can’t make an outsized return to their limited partners, then why wouldn’t the limited partner just put that money in the S&P 500? Year to date is 17% up. And if you look at the…
I share its portfolio of the SMP 500, it’s like 40% up, and over a 10-year period, it returns 10%. So why invest it in a risky asset class then? They wanna see a return. That’s what they care about. The thing is, a lot of investors are great, but there’s a good bunch of investors who are just, MBA grads from Ivy League schools, and they’re used to running things on a spreadsheet. But all business…
Until the day humans are buying from humans, business is gonna be part emotion and part data, and you can’t run a business on a spreadsheet. And if you try to compromise on values for money,
There’s going to be cultural decay and it may not, it may be fine for a short-term meal ticket, maybe in the next two, three years, you may be able to get the flip. But if you’re trying to build a long-term sustainable company, that cultural decay will catch up to you and you’ll see it in your revenues, in your customer happiness, in your employee happiness. And that’s how it’s going to play out. And I’ve seen this time in time out.
I’m an LP myself in 10 funds now. I’m an angel investor in 18 companies. And in writing the book, I’ve talked to so many and been through my own experience. And I can, without a shadow of a doubt, tell you that culture is the leading indicator of growth. And if you short-term think it, you will eventually not build a long-term business.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So what is the experience of being a CEO that reports to a investor group of whatever kind that cares about people, cares about culture, completely agrees with you and yet is being told, I need you to do more, do faster, do more with less? I mean…
I think that there is an unfair stereotype in the social narrative that CEOs are evil, they’re greedy, they are exploitative. When a lot of CEOs feel trapped by the structure and the system that they are within, they are the face of the company, but oftentimes they are not the puppet master. So how often do you see CEOs who feel trapped and like they themselves are being exploited even?
Lloyed Lobo: Jessica, you know, I’ve never worked for a big company. The largest company I’ve worked for is my company. My first job at a university was working for a startup founder. My last job before I started my first company was working for a startup founder. They’re all venture backed. And mostly, I think they all failed, not mostly. And I’ve seen this journey. The partner you pick.
And I’ll say this explicitly across every scenario. It’s neither the destination nor the journey, but the companions that matter the most. Who you surround yourself with can make you feel like a rockstar or a peasant. And it’s very, very important to pick the right investment partner. Because a lot of what I’ve seen is they stress you out.
Because they wanna see growth, because they wanna show that in their shareholder meetings, their LP meetings. And as a function of that, you then start doing rash things. And like they say, crap flows down the leg, you’re relaying it to the team, right? It’s very, very difficult to not be able to cave into the investor pressures. And my advice to a lot of founders today, because I think, you know,
Accelerators, incubators and everything, they provide a great service. But I think we do one big disservice. We enable founders to create the best pitch decks to win the deal. We don’t ask founders what they actually want to do with this idea, their business. What is there? What are their values?
And when you do these PowerPoint gymnastics with the investor, now think about that. Investor is coming into the deal wanting to provide the highest return. Most of them have not been entrepreneurs. They’re MBA grads, career investors, most of them. And now this founder has talked to like.
Lloyed Lobo: Tens of people getting advice on how do I show my total addressable market massive and convince the investor it’s gonna be a ten billion dollar company and they’ve pitched like in front of a hundred people to polish their pitch deck and So they’ve convinced and they’ve won the deal But that tech run charticle is not celebration, right? Like you got to live with this investor For years, it’s a ten-year commitment on average. So what happens?
If you’ve not internalized, that’s the journey you want to go to. After the second board meeting, things go south because they want to see this triple, double, double growth and you’re not delivering it. So what I tell founders is again, alignment is key. Ask yourself, what is my personal definition of success? That’s not money. That is what would I do if I had the money? What are the things that bring me joy that I would love to do when I had some money?
To how much money do I need in my bank account to live that personal definition of success? And lastly, is there a version of the company I don’t wanna work for? When you write these things down, then it’s easier to find alignment. And then you can start saying, man, I don’t want to take this investor money.
Maybe I’ll just bootstrap with customer revenue. See, after being a part of three or four venture-backed companies and then being on the founding team of another venture-backed company, that all failed, the only success I saw was being a part of Boast, my co-founder and I bootstrapped this company and…
A lot of it was his fortitude that, you know what, we don’t need investors. We don’t need investors. Let’s control our own destiny. Because me living in Silicon Valley, I get caught up with the sizzle, right? Oh, if you’ve not raised money, are you really a serious company? So ignore the naysayers. Ignore what the media is telling you. The media has perpetuated this addiction to unicorn porn. In reality, the world is run by horses, camels, and donkeys. And what that means is…
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Ha! That’s the best line. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Lloyed Lobo: Perfect example.
Lloyed Lobo: But there’s, we have to talk about this unicorn porn because see what happened in the last two years, right? There was a black swan event, which was COVID, and everyone was shut.
So anyone who wanted to transact needed to transact online as a function of needing to transact online, they need to get zoom Shopify, snowflake, Twilio, whatever they needed by startup tools, tech tools, which were delivered by startups. So startups started seeing obscene amount of growth. At the same time, the interest rates went down like rock bottom. So people flush with money said, Hey, let’s head a hedge our bets. Startups are seeing growth.
Even if one of the companies we invest in becomes a hundred billion dollar company, it’s a win. Hedge funds, private equity funds, everyone started investing in startups flush with cash and started investing at obscene valuations. 40x, 50x to companies with, you know, a million, two million in revenue. This caused sort of FOMO with traditional more sane VCs and they started following along.
Then banks like SVD started lending venture debt to the same startups. 2020 went by, 2021 won by. Early 2022, these companies now started missing projections because you didn’t explode the size of the market. It was a black swan event. If people didn’t digitize in 2020 and 2021, they’re not going to in 2022. Projections started to go down, revenue started to go down or rather sales started to go down.
Growth started to decline. And now the market started to fall in parallel with the interest rates going up. And then you got a bank like SBB, you know, falling, right? And what does that tell you? At the time of COVID, when the interest rates were low, all the advice that was coming is just grow, grow. And then when the interest rates went up, the stock market fell.
Lloyed Lobo: And people started missing their projections of private companies, the valuations are down, lots of down rounds. They’re saying, oh, grow profitably, grow profitably. So, you know, I think it’s very important to realize that your values are constant and make sure the people you’re getting in bed with are aligned with you because if it is generating the best return for their investors, then they’re going to advise you based on what the market dynamics at the time are. And they may not be in line with what you want to do. And that’s going to be very difficult if you own very little of your company or their active board members. It’s going to be difficult conversations. And so I think…
Again, here, like culture and alignment is key.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And you know what’s interesting is you can expand that metaphor about unicorn porn and the obsession that we have with the stories we tell about these leaders Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg and insert leader here who has billions and billions of dollars that they can take risk with it’s really not risk because They’ve got plenty of wealth to take risks with that will leave them with other wealth that they can Lean on if that risk fails, right?
I’m much more interested in the horses and donkeys, the guy who has the one shop physical rehab facility in Sacramento, California, that has no access to equity and 10 employees, and is trying to figure out how to be leaner in his business. I mean, that’s the guy I wanna take leadership lessons from, not Elon Musk, you know, because what is the obsession other than the wealth? It’s everything, everyone has everything backwards.
Lloyed Lobo: You know, we are used to taking advice from anomalies. There’s a reason why they’re anomalies.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, right. Yeah.
Lloyed Lobo: 99% of the venture-backed startups fail. We don’t hear about them. We only hear about the anomalies and we take advice from anomalies. And Elon Musk actually has great advice on this. He always says, don’t reason by analogy, just because it worked for somebody, it may not work for you. Boil things down to the lowest common denominator to first principles and reason up from there.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.
Lloyed Lobo: And that’s the only way to do it and maybe that’s why he’s super successful is he doesn’t listen to anyone He just like brings it down to the most common denominator But we now try to mimic some of the other things he says me which may or may not be relevant But I’m with you. So when we bootstrap both we were providing R&D funding to businesses and And basically hundreds of billions of dollars globally are provided to businesses by governments. But as with anything government, it’s a cumbersome application process It’s prone to frustrating artists and it takes a long time to get the money.
So we said, hey, we’ll tap into the tech and financial stack and automate the applications for these government funding programs like R&D tax credits. And we’ll take a cut when they get the money. When we started, nobody would talk to us. Nobody. They’d make fun of us. What is this? It’s a small, obscure market. And a lot of them invest in A-sayers. I’m like, I don’t even care for your advice. I’m not even asking you. So why are you telling me if it’s fundable or not? I didn’t ask you for this. But.
Just because we’re in the startup community and you ask me what I do and I tell you, you feel the need to tell me why I suck. But sometimes it’s important to have a contrarian view and just eventually stick with it. And you’ll come out good on the other side, right? Do not build society’s definition of success. So, doc, I’ll tell you one very interesting thing. Despite all of this, I still feel I chase… I was gonna call you Jessica, but then I…
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Did you just call me Doc, by the way? That’s the best nickname I’ve ever gotten in my life. No one’s ever called me Doc. Okay, sorry, that’s an aside. Go ahead.
Lloyed Lobo: So I’m going to call you I’m going to call you Doc because my wife’s a Doc as well. And, you know, just she my wife funded the family for the last 10, 12 years through two failed startups, one failed events company. And then eventually we had this outcome. And I’m like, OK, you know what? I’m glad it finally worked out. So it’s my turn and we can have some fun.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hahaha
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s my turn.
Lloyed Lobo: But nonetheless, I think I lost my train of thought. What was I saying before?
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Sorry, we were talking about taking advice from anomalies.
Lloyed Lobo: Society’s definition of success. So all my life I was chasing society’s definition of success. See, I was very unconventional I didn’t finish high school I finagled myself into engineering and graduated engineering and then after engineering I never wanted to get that do a job in engineering I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I asked around and I understood that communication is the best skill you can have as an entrepreneur because Everything you do from convincing your spouse that I’m not gonna bring money to convincing
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yes, there you go.
Lloyed Lobo: Employees to join on low pay to convincing customers I have nothing please buy my stuff is all communication. And I knew I wasn’t self-motivated because if I took a public speaking class and five people laughed me off the stage I would never probably go and do that again. So I had to find a job that would force me to communicate day in day out and so my first job was cold calling for a founder and that was my journey. So cold calling and when I wanted to marry my girlfriend now wife I mean.
She’s gone into med school, second year of undergrad without MCATs. And I’m this bumbling guy going from startup failure to startup failure. Her parents didn’t want us to get married. And it’s like, he’s going to mount to nothing. He’s just going to live off you. So for the last 12 years, I just chased the society’s definition of success, which is money. And what’s really interesting is when that money came, my wife would say, Like, we got three kids. You spend no time with us. I’m like, listen, it’s all going to work out. Trust me. And she’s like, nobody cares about that one to vacation a year. We care about like phones down time with us. The compound interest on consistently being there, even for a small amount of time is huge. I’m like, we’ll figure it out. And then the deal went through. I booked everyone to Bora Bora, meaning my family, my parents, my sister, all of us. And two days before the trip to Bora Bora, I was hospitalized with bilateral COVID pneumonia. I was on oxygen and my wife being physician at that hospital couldn’t see me. People were coming in with spacesuits and they set up a 24-7 zoom and all I can hear is people crying and my life lost meaning. And I’m like what is this? Like why am I chasing society’s definition of success? If I die today like who’s gonna enjoy this? And so I think my life has been a we started with movement has been a series of movement.
Lloyed Lobo: And so now I always come from a place of do things that bring you joy. If the money is less, it’s fine in the short term, it might pinch, but in the long term, you’re going to be happier and healthier mentally. The number of people, founders who call me because they are burnt out given what’s happening in the investor realm, right? Like COVID boom. And then now the drop, massive drop in valuations is enormous. I made a few posts on LinkedIn around mental health and I got hit up by.
Actually the founder of a mental health startup that raised 100 million and he’s like, bro, I’m lost. I feel like an imposter. Like my investors are putting so much pressure on me. And it’s all a function of what you sign up for, right? If you sign up for a big outcome, then just better believe then it’s going to be a long journey ahead. And it’s better sometimes to speak the truth to the investors and say it’s a small market and it’s going to grow at 50%. And if they don’t want to fund you, it’s fine. But if you say it’s…
It’s a hundred billion dollar market and it’s going to grow 300x year over year and you don’t deliver that then they’re going to be on your case day in day out. They’re going to frustrate you. They’re going to talk to your employees behind you. They’re going to probe into your company and you’re going to lose your mental health.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: But you know what’s interesting? I completely agree with you, and I think it’s really easy to say once you’ve achieved society’s definition of success, to then realize that wasn’t it. But when you haven’t gotten it yet, to convince someone who is on the way up that they’re going up the wrong hill,
Lloyed Lobo: Exactly.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I don’t know that there’s a lot of value and I don’t know that insight can necessarily be had. Maybe you’re super enlightened and you’re living a life of humility and that’s what the nuns and priests do maybe. But I hear all the super wealthy, successful people and that was also my experience. When I got to that certain level of success, then I was able to turn around and be like, oh, this isn’t it. I’ve been climbing the wrong mountain as David Brooks would say, that you climb that first mountain, you get to the top and you’re like, wait, this is not it. And you see the second mountain.
Lloyed Lobo: No, you’re…
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: which is service and love and giving.
Lloyed Lobo: You’re exactly right. A lot of people tell me that, oh, you came into some money, you have the option to do nothing for a little bit, that’s why you’re saying this. And I’m saying partially true, but also I think my enlightenment didn’t come from money. It came from almost dying after the money came because I could have continued on running at the company, chasing the next moving goalpost.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.
Lloyed Lobo: It’s funny, we all do that. We say we’re going to hit this and then it’s the next one and the next one. And there is the next one, right? We hope to sell the company for half a billion or a billion dollars in the next seven, eight years or six, seven years. That’s why they invested like the growth equity firm bought half the company. They want to see a good outcome. And as a founder, I’m no longer in the company, I’m on the board. And so you make these conscious decisions and make peace with the fact that.
You may not get a second chance in life. You may lose, is it worth losing, is all the chase worth losing the relationships that you sacrificed everything for? And I think I was there and I think that made it.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.
Lloyed Lobo: That crystallized it for me. And so now for me, it’s like fitness, family, friendships. And if anything takes that away from me, I’m out. Like I don’t do it kind of thing. So I think you need a life event and that life event could be money or it could be a crazy health scare, one of the two. Otherwise you’re not gonna tip. For him. You need some, or something, right? Like.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, it’s one of those two things. Money or a health scare. You know, it’s funny. I’m just thinking about my dad because he was living the rat race. He was the CEO of a fairly unsuccessful business. Eventually it crashed because of, you know, technological advancements that he didn’t adapt to. He became a real estate agent in New York City. He was again, not very successful at that. He always felt like a fake.
And then one day he decided to sell everything that he owned by a motorcycle with a sidecar and he hit the road and he traveled 12 years around the world on his bike, meeting people, sleeping outside. I mean, really living on a small budget because he didn’t have much money. And what was the catalyst? He didn’t have a health scare and he didn’t have money. His catalyst was…
I was graduating college and someone said, what are you gonna do next? And he said, I never thought about that before. And by the end of that dinner, he decided to hit the road. So I’m wondering what makes people realize they don’t have to follow the rules of the road anymore. It’s money, it’s health. And I mean, there’s an example right there of someone who did it just because. Maybe we can just do it just because.
Lloyed Lobo: Exactly. And you know, I think I was a bumbling idiot for a lot of my life. Right. And I think there was one very important incident that changed my life and caused me to chase the society’s definition of success because I wasn’t ever chasing it. My wedding was called off two days before because the company I was at shut down and my in-laws are also from India to get married.
It’s massive Indian wedding. We’re also catholic so it’s mixed culture Uh some portuguese in there because of the portuguese influence in india uh kind of thing so This is massive wedding gets cancelled and basically the message relayed to my mom was that listen Your son’s gonna amount to nothing and um, we’re just concerned that He’s not the right fit for a daughter and he’s just gonna live off her. She’s gonna be a doctor and all this stuff
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So it was canceled by your wife’s family because of your business failure, that’s why.
Lloyed Lobo: You know.
Lloyed Lobo: Because of me being this just this non-serious Bumbling idiot. It was a combination of things I mean one jumping from startup to startup to I was into martial arts and I was just against the grain like her and her brothers are physicians And I’m you know, I’m just this community guy brings people together Into all these other things like basically money not being a priority and a lot of most of my life money has never been a priority I just focus on bringing people together.
And it just, I don’t know, mysteriously just helping people as a function of connecting them and bringing them together. And some opportunity just follows. My life has been a series of lux engineered as a function of bringing people together. And so that happened and my mom asked me this one question that day. Did I make a mistake leaving my career to stay at home and raise you? Was that wrong? That…
One question killed me. It killed me so much that I just started running and I never stopped. I did one company, two startups, an events company where the co-founder ran away with a quarter million of the profits we had to assume. But it just never stopped because that was in my head every single day. And when my mom asked me that question, I uttered something really stupid that I did for several years. I said, Mom, don’t worry. I’m going to retire at 40.
And me and my wife, despite that wedding got called off, did end up getting married like nine, eight, nine months later. She didn’t. We went obviously common sense prevails. We moved back to the States and now she’s distraught. She doesn’t want to plan another wedding. So what do I do? I learned to plan a wedding. I give her dream wedding and it was beautiful. Still three, four hundred people, I think, four, three and fifty people showed up. It was everything she wanted.
Here’s the thing though, don’t let rejection rule you, let it fuel you as a person. You take something positive from it. As a function of that experience, I learned to host a massive wedding, which helped me eventually when I was doing business because all our legion came from hosting events and conferences that we never had to hire anyone to do. Big production events like Uber CEO and Atlassian’s president and all these people come that we host without hiring any external vendor. And so we make.
Lloyed Lobo: Money on that, and those events not only brought us leads and helped us grow to over 10 million and now over 20, but it also made us money. And so that was a positive thing, but I tell my wife every single week, don’t worry, I’ll retire at 40. And you know, it’s really funny. I never believed in manifestation, but there was an event we hosted when briefly things that opened up during COVID and this growth equity firm came to the event we hosted.
Expressed interest in buying half the company and I kid you not the week of my 40th birthday the wire hit my bank account and Man My mom my wife Everyone just lost it. So I don’t know what to make of it. But like I chased Society’s definition of success, but like you said there was this one incident that actually put me on that path I likely wouldn’t have cared otherwise
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hehe.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm, that’s a beautiful story. So I will wrap up by asking you my favorite question, which is what is one question that you haven’t gotten asked on these podcast interviews that you’ve done that you really wish more people would ask you?
Lloyed Lobo: Ooh.
Ah, yeah, you know, a lot of people ask me about business advice. And most podcasts all they ask about business advice, growth, building community, raising money, exiting. Nobody asks this. This one question is like, how do you play the long game? Life and business is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. And to be able to play the long game.
You need to be able to sustain yourself mentally. Right. And a lot of it’s an emotional roller coaster. One day you bring money, one day you don’t. Your family is pissed because you missed an important event or you had to compromise your kids school event to go to a board meeting. It’s just misery. So how do you stay in peak mental shape is key. And nobody asked me that.
And actually I wished enough people talked about that on my journey because I hit rock bottom and got depressed after I landed in the hospital for covid. And so I think I think more conversation needs to be happening around founder mental health kind of thing
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, so how do you play the long game?
Lloyed Lobo: Yeah, so for me, it was one, number one was changing my environment. A lot of what we do, I say to cope with mental health is what? Medication, right? Like SSRIs and all of this stuff. Meditation. And then I’ll just say masturbation as mental masturbation, all the other shit we do to cope with it. But if you’re doing all these coping mechanisms, but your environment sucks, then that’s the first thing you got to change. And so for me, it was just cutting out negative energy. The people who constantly bring me down disengaging from negative conversations, negative news, you know, there’s so much negativity out there. And the compound interest on the consuming that day and day out for years, it was just destroy you mentally. So you got to make sure one you, you cut out your negative energy. The second thing I did was, um,
Cutting out a lot of the dopamine, like, you know, and I’m not trying to be a proponent of all you shouldn’t drink alcohol, but a lot of us entrepreneurs, we socialize for a living kind of thing, right? Our life is spending time with customers and that. And as a function of that, we consume a lot more alcohol than is good for our body. So I just made the decision to cut out alcohol and did my best to cut out sugars up and down. I don’t even do caffeinated energy drinks, none of that. And that helped a lot.
Clean my diet. I think a lot of your mental health is what you eat because of the things that happen in your gut. And so eating whole foods, remove everything processed, that was huge. And then working out first thing in the morning. There’s this study by Naperville High School called Zero Hour P.E. They asked students to work out before they even flipped a page of a book. Those students over time ended up having some of the highest IQ.
And um Highest athletic ability in the world. There’s no brain function that exercise doesn’t improve. So I can’t Operate or start my day if I don’t work out like first thing is Think something good that happened the previous day a person or a thing and i’m not saying like go and say it on social media Write in a book, but just mentally say that and then uh, you know My jam is play eye of the tiger and bang as many push-ups as possible and then i’m warmed up and I have to I have to go to the gym, but workout like
Lloyed Lobo: And that doesn’t just mean go and lift weights. It could be like dance. I dance twice a day, twice a week, or do calisthenics. Some movement activity, walk 10,000 steps, do something. And it just releases endorphins in your brains, I feel. And it just, sometimes at work, you feel like you’re losing. And actually a lot of the times, especially at certain inflection points of a company, maybe en route to one million, you feel you’re always losing.
Then when you’re trying to eke out to 10 million, you feel you’re always losing. Then when you try to go from 10 to 20, you got to change the management team, maybe change the systems, you feel like you’re losing. The gym is one place where you can win every single day. Do a little more, push a little more, lift a little more. And then it puts you on that winner’s mindset and you’re just pumped. So I think that’s worked really well for me mentally. Surrounding myself with positive people, working out, eating clean, and just being active in and around nature, soaking in some sun.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, thank you so much for chatting with us today, Lloyd. I have learned a lot today, and I am so grateful for your time.
Lloyed Lobo: Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun and I hope it’ll be insightful for your audience.
Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And that’s it! Thank you Lloyd, that was great! I loved it, I learned a lot.