Cultural alignment — aligning your organization’s culture, values, and goals with its people — is a vital part of the recipe for business success. Today host John Laurito chats with CEO and Co-Founder of Viddyoze, Joey Xoto, about the power of cultural alignment in a business organization and how they created theirs.
In 2015 Joey co-founded and bootstrapped a software company called Viddyoze. Thanks to their powerful automated video creation engine, they help over 250,000 businesses create exceptional marketing videos without needing any technical experience whatsoever.
Viddyoze proudly remains a profitable bootstrapped business, boasting over $35m in sales and serving the likes of Coca-Cola, Tesla, Vodafone, and more.
Most recently, Viddyoze landed as the #16 Fastest-Growing Technology Company at the Northern UK Tech Awards and won the 2021 Young Entrepreneur Award.
Connect with Joey:
[2:01] What is essential when creating an aligned culture in business?
[5:53] What should a leader do to decide the kind of culture to create?
[9:51] Does his team know how their roles connect with the bigger vision?
[15:05] On bringing someone new into the organization
[21:52] Find out more about Joey and Viddyoze
John (Intro): Over the last two decades, I’ve been on an insatiable quest to learn everything I can about leadership. What makes the best leaders so good? After running companies small and large over the last 20 years, today I speak on stages worldwide to audiences interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito. I’m your host, and I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this very topic and what makes the best leader so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, Tomorrow’s Leaders, another great guest for you. Joey Xoto. I love that name. He is based in the U.K. He is co-founder and CEO of a really cool company. You got to check it out. Video is kind of a way for, you know, technically incompetent people like me to create these really amazing videos. So I’m diving into it. So very cool stuff. But he and I had a great conversation about how he’s built this company. I mean, just leadership, leadership, leadership. He has a really cool story. 50 plus employees, but more in particular, like some of the lessons he learned about the culture. And when it starts to not go right, what to do about it. Just really, really cool stuff. So I think you’re going to get a lot out of this. I did. And here is Joey Soto.
John: All right. Welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep in all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host, and I’ve got a great guest for you today. I’ve got Joey Xoto, who is the co-founder and CEO of Video’s, a really cool company. I’m looking forward to talking about Joey. Great to have you. Welcome to the show.
Joey: Thank you, John. Really appreciate you having me here.
John: Absolutely. And I know you’re all the way in the UK, so special. Thanks. I think it’s. Is it evening time there now?
Joey: Yeah. About 7 p.m.
John: Seven. Okay, terrific. Well, extra thanks for carving out your evening time for us. I see Joey, a couple of things I want to talk to you about. And you obviously built a very successful company. We’ve got listeners that are entrepreneurs that are looking to start a company. Maybe they’re running a larger company and interested in leadership. I know you’ve learned a lot about leadership. You talk a lot about it. We were chatting earlier about building the right culture. What is important, is what do leaders need to know about building an organization that -really has a really well-aligned culture in their organization?
Joey: Yeah, you know, I think when we first started our business, we’re a completely bootstrapped business. And as a founder of a bootstrap business, typically we don’t think about things like culture until we get past a certain thresholds of employee size and team size. So if you ask me now to go and start a brand new business and we had zero employees and it was just me and maybe another founder, the first thing I would think about is what is the culture that we want to create and what is the vision that we’re trying to
accomplish? Because basically what we found in our business as we got to the size of about 40 people, 45 people, and up until that point, it was always just about growing the business. It was always about profit, profit, and more sales. This is keep growing as fast as we can build are the normal stuff that you would typically think about.
Joey: And then, you know, we started getting the little niggles in h.r. You know, we start getting people problems and some people want to leave. Some people say they’ve got negative feedback about the way things work and, you know, what’s the holiday process, what’s this will stop. And all of a sudden we realize, wow, we’ve kind of got a people problem in the business right now. And it wasn’t like we had bad processes or anything. It wasn’t that we didn’t think about things like holidays. What it was was that we didn’t actually instill any kind of cultural or cultural values of what we’re about and how we deal with things when we have to make strategic decisions. And what we started finding was that because we didn’t have a culture aligned and not everybody understood the way in which we were trying to move when it came to making decisions and giving people the autonomy to go and create solutions for problems, everyone had different ways of doing things.
Joey: Now that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad, but it just meant that sometimes the way people wanted to solve some problems wasn’t really in alignment with the way that I wanted it or the way that my business partners wanted it. Because, my business partners, we all have a really similar philosophy in the way we’ve grown our business. And that’s naturally just happened by chance because we all get along really well. We all have really similar values personally. So we’ve managed to, you know, kind of do really well together as a team of three partners. But as we start bringing in more people, those values have never really been communicated. So what we found ourselves in a position of was that we don’t actually know what our culture is. So we had to go and find that out and actually like learn about what the culture was.
Joey: And I think one thing to realize is, you know, you’ve got two options. Either you create your culture from day one or your culture will automatically create itself up until the point you identify what that culture is. So we were on the latter side where we had to identify the culture and then we had to go through quite a painstaking process of actually carving that culture, shaving it, and shifting it into what we really wanted it to be, which isn’t how I would do it next time. But, you know, things like this happen. So you’ve got to have a solution to kind of get to that.
John: Mm-hmm. I love that. And that’s so important. You have to create your culture, your. Culture will create itself. And I think leaders forget how important that is. Some people I’ve talked to think that, okay, well, the culture is a result of great results and a growing company. And it’s really not. It’s the other way around. The results come from a strong culture and you need to start with that. So what does that look like? I mean, what is a leader do in order to kind of control and really decide on the culture? Maybe they have it in their mind. What’s the next step? I mean, are they just talking about it or are they looking for signs of when it’s right and when it’s wrong? Of course, correcting. Talk a little bit about that.
Joey: So ultimately, this just comes down to one really fundamental thing, which when I go back ten years of my business experience, I used to think it was like just this really corporate thing and it didn’t really matter. But now and a little bit of wisdom through the years, I’ve
realized that it’s all about your vision and what mission, what mission your team is actually on. And then the values that are assigned to the mission that you’re on in the boat and the vision that you’re trying to achieve. So to kind of break that down, the first step is if we don’t understand what the vision of the company is and where we’re really trying to get to, the first problem is not everybody knows where they’re going. Now, I and my business partners have always known where we want to go, and that’s great. But when you get past that certain threshold that we talked about, you know, your team doesn’t really know what that is.
Joey: So if they can’t align themselves with the overall vision, there’s no way they can really bind to a culture. Because our culture, like if I think about, you know, when we first started, the culture that we had was it was fast, it was imperfect action and it was all about just getting things done. You know, that’s the culture that we had. It was it wasn’t about creating really bloated processes, and it was always about getting things out there. MVP, minimum viable solutions unless it’s going to make things happen. That’s always been the lifeblood of who we are as partners. And we actually have a mantra in our business off the back of that called just three clicks, and you’ll see that on our website and things like that. And the idea is that any solution that we’re trying to come up with, any problem we’re trying to solve, or any process we create in the business has to be really simple. Like one, two, three, like just three clicks. So that’s how we used to think about things and how we still think about things. But the team didn’t know this, so we went through this process where we started bringing in lots and lots of people. We actually got to about 80 people in the business at one stage.
Joey: And what we started to recognize was that there were a lot of processes being built in the business that we didn’t really like. I would look at the processes and say, You know what? I get what they’re doing, but it’s so slow and it’s so sluggish. Why don’t they get it? Why don’t so-and-so team members understand that this isn’t the way we do things? And even when I’d go and speak to the person and say, Look, the processes are already bloated, we need to make it faster, that’s okay. Like, you know, I can go and talk to each individual member and, and say that, but if they all just understood what that vision was a top line and what those values were a top line from day one, people just get it.
Joey: You know, they would already go and have the autonomy to create processes that are in alignment with your values. So that’s really like kind of solve that at the basis of it is, is what is your vision like? What is it you’re actually trying to achieve? Does everybody know that? Like, that’s a really super important question because honestly, like if you what I found was that the more and more founders and business owners that I spoke to if I’d go to them and say, hey, do you know what every single person in your business is actually doing day to day? Most of the time, nine out of ten times they would say no. And the reason that they say no is because they don’t have an alignment in the vision. Like this is where we used to be. So I’m not trying to say this like I know all the answers definitely don’t.
Joey: But where we are today, I can. I can now like I don’t know exactly what tasks everybody has done every day, but I know that every single person in our company is working towards one thing that we’re all trying to achieve. And that’s because we’ve created a vision and we’ve created values that are aligned to that vision. So I know that everyone is working collaboratively with those values in mind. We’re trying to do fast, we’re trying to be MVP and we’re trying to just get things done, you know, as efficiently as possible. So that
was a really painstaking process to get through. But that, I think, is the fundamental kind of the basis of creating that culture.
John: I love that. Do you feel like everybody on the team knows how their role connects with the bigger vision? Is that another piece of that?
Joey: 100%. 100%. Like it’s you know what? Once you kind of figure out what that mission is, it’s like a hierarchy, right? Like the top of the pyramid. You have your vision, then you have your mission. So what are the things that we’re going to do every day to go and reach that big vision we’ve got? What are the values we’re going to live by to, you know, to real action that mission? So what are the things, the key? Three things that we need to have to make sure that the mission’s always being done the best way it can. And then we look at the top-line goals. So what the three goals, the four goals we’ve got for the next 12 months that we have to do kind of a. To make sure that the mission is happening. And then within those goals, we’ve got objectives going to Oscars and, you know, all those different things, KPIs.
Joey: So this is the way that I kind of look at the organization and that’s how it would essentially break down. And, you know, once you’ve got locals and CPAs that Cape guys are aligned with your mission and your values, everybody has a role, right? Everybody has a part that they play in completing that, you know, objective and that key result. And people can see that, you know, we’ve got a dashboard, we’ve got, you know, tasks and things that are lined up and that’s all fine. You don’t need to have flashy software and all these kinds of things. I think as long as everybody understands what those top-line things are, and again, that’s another part of your culture do you communicate it? And this is one thing that we never used to do. We never used to communicate those top-line goals and that vision and the ideas that we had.
Joey: So what we do know is we do global huddles every month. We do department huddles every month. So we make sure that all the key people in the business and all of our teams know what those kinds of goals are. And we have to do constant check-ins to make sure we’re always online with that vision. And if anybody’s retiring from it, we just come back and say, okay, well, what’s the mission? What are the values? We have to live by day to day to make it happen, and we can just keep people stay on track. So it all just comes down to having those things in alignment.
John: You’ve almost got to be maniacal about it because it can slip so fast and so easily. So what I hear you saying is the importance of the ongoing reinforcement of it. It’s not just at the beginning saying, Hey, here’s what our culture is and our vision and what your role is, how it
ties in. But it’s repeating that and making sure people understand it and also know what it looks like when it’s going right and when it’s not. In other words, people need to know those signs of, okay, we’re doing the right things or we’re leading in the wrong direction.
Joey: Absolutely. And you know, this is where things like a one, two ones and a PDP’s and things like that come in because, you know, we’re really guilty of this. We used to do one-to-one with our team members and our and our managers, but we never really understood the real purpose of doing those one-two ones. It was always a case of we’d sit with someone, we’d have a catch-up, we’d see what kind of problems they got and that kind of thing. And that’s fine. But really, if everybody’s on the same mission and they’ve got
alignment with what we’re trying to do, there are one or two ones that are really, really crucial to figuring out what blockers they’ve got in alignment with your goals.
Joey: So because everybody’s on the same path and everybody’s got the same goal in mind, the one-two ones become super productive because the only problem that ever really going to have is whether they’re deterring from your values and whether they’ve got blockers for the things that we’re trying to solve on the specific, okay, ours. And I think once we’ve kind of figured that out, things are started running a lot more smooth and there is a big piece on transparency and communication. I think culture is really built through that communication. And if you don’t talk to people and really set those values in stone and repeat them all the time, as you said, I think that repetition is so important and sometimes it can sound like you’re a bit of a cheerleader.
Joey: And to be honest, if you’re a leader of the company, you kind of have to be the cheerleader of what your culture is. And once even still, that is your kind of key leadership team, then you leaders will go and do the cheerleading for you. And that’s really kind of what we’re trying to do in our business instilling those values in our key leaders. And then that essentially will become part of our day-to-day culture. And now this is a process for us that we’ve been going through for the last kind of 18 months now. And it all started with just sitting down and saying, You know what, we’re going to go and survey all of our staff. So we have done an engagement survey using a tool called Culture AMP, which is really great, by the way. And culture AMP, goes out and it essentially is designed to get real, genuine feedback from your team in terms of what they feel your culture is and how they feel about your company, you know, what other kind of feelings they have towards the company, towards you as a management team, you know, what do they see problems with? And it’s a really great way just to see and benchmark where you actually are as a company.
Joey: And some of it’s really hard to read and some of it’s really surprising you’re going to find that you do things really amazingly well. And then there’s going to be some something that you’ve probably never thought about before. And that’s what we found was that we just didn’t even think about it from things like, you know, what kind of social kind of what kind of
social impact do we have as a business? You know, what do we do for society or for charity and things like that? You know, people care about these things. And I think that’s been a big learning process for me and a massive development thing for me to learn how to kind of operate a business like that when you get to a size of a bus of that size.
John: Yeah, I would no doubt about that. So when you’re bringing somebody new into the organization, how much thought are you giving to kind of two-pronged question here. How much thought are you giving to this person, how do they fit in the culture, not just their expertise? And then secondly, how much are you talking about that culture with that person ahead of time? If so. So in the interviewing process, I mean, you want them are you trying to get them to vet out? Whether the culture is going to be right for them. And also, are they going to be the right fit for the culture?
Joey: Yes, it’s definitely a two-sided thing. We’ve had really great people come into interviews before, but we inherently know that they’re not going to fit. And it’s not that they’re bad at the job. They’d be great at the job, but they just wouldn’t fit in our type of organization because and probably a lot of other organizations of our size because with small, with
bootstrap. So we have a very dynamic way of dealing with things. You know, we’re not we don’t have a lot of bureaucratic processes or really long-winded processes. So anybody coming from a business where building out those, those processes is their key strength, you know, we have to look at it and say, okay, how would they apply that to our business? Is it going to make our business slower or could it add more efficiency? And that’s like a simple example of how that could work.
Joey: Another one is someone who came from a business that’s got really big budgets. Now, you know, for some businesses that might be great for our business, we have to be really lean and really, really careful with the money that we spend because we’re bootstrapped. So, you know, again, it comes into our mind like are they going to able to fit into an environment where we ask our team to be really resourceful and imperfect versus somebody who might be coming in and saying, you know what, I want $100,000 budget on a website and I want six months to go and implement it now. And some businesses that might work completely fine, but then an offer wouldn’t. So, you know, we’ve made a lot of bad hires over the years and lots and lots of bad hires.
Joey: And when we finally start looking at culture and looking at the type of business that we are as a culture, that’s when we finally realize how to actually hire people properly. Because we used to bring in all kinds of people. We brought in corporate people. We’ve had people from big companies like IBM and, you know, really large organizations, and they just didn’t fit. And we always used to get this frustration and say, why didn’t it work? Because this person has worked in IBM. They’re really senior people in that company, and they were really great there, but they’re just not working in our business. And it wasn’t because they were bad, it’s just because we just chose the wrong person for our type of business.
Joey: So yeah, it plays a massive part of the hiring process and I think it’s imperative to get that right because it’s going to save you a tremendous amount of money and you just have people that work better together. You’ll have a team that gels together really well because we all share that same kind of value and that same mindset.
John: Yeah, it’s almost it’s more important than their expertise in reality. I’ve seen so many people that have been in the company and it just is to your point, it’s, it’s the wrong fit. And it’s not that they are not skilled enough to provide value. It’s just there wasn’t the right fit, it
wasn’t the right experience for them or the company. And, and I’ve been on the other end. I’ve hired people into my organizations where I found as you did, that was not the right fit, even though the person had what I was looking for on a resumé and they were super smart and very talented, it just they didn’t gel with the organization and whatever reason that might be, but inevitably it didn’t work out. And so the more that a leader or an organization can do that, work up front to see and hire slowly to see if there’s the right fit, the better is what I hear you saying.
Joey: Yeah. You know how hiring slowly is like a big, big lesson. It used to be the highest low fire fast. I think if you hired slowly with the right process you don’t you won’t have a need to fire fast. You’ll just have the right people. Yeah. And that’s something that we’ve learned through a lot of years and a lot of years of mistakes. But I think we got in there now.
John: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about your organization’s videos, which have a really interesting, uh, service and product. I love learning about it through you, and I’m going to be learning
more about it as I get my hands on it. But what do you share with the audience a little bit about what you do and what your company is all about?
Joey: So videos is a Web-based video creator, so the whole idea behind our app is to allow people that don’t have the technical experience to create great content. So they’re not video animators. They don’t know how to have all that technical time to learn software like Premiere Pro, whatever. You know, we’ve designed it for people that don’t have that technical knowledge but want to still create that great professional-looking output. So the way that it works is you simply log into it and you choose from thousands of pre-created templates that we’ve created and those templates are basically crafted by our in-house professional animators.
Joey: Everything looks really, really good, really high polish and you know, essentially anybody can use it. We’ve got kids that have used our app that has great, really great output but don’t know anything about creating video. One of my co-founders, Jamie, is a little kid who probably got ten or 11, and now uses a user app to make great video content for a YouTube channel. Just as an example, just to kind of highlight how simple it is. But when you actually see the output that our content can look like, it’s incredible. You know, there’s nobody else kind of doing highly polished content the way that we do. And traditionally, if you’re going to go make a video like the ones that we produce, it could take weeks. The home of a professional animator creates stuff like that. With our app, you basically go in the editor and within about 3 to 5 minutes you’ll have a fully fleshed out, kind of highly polished animation, ready to go.
Joey: It’s really designed for people that want to make their videos want to make their content look more interesting. If you want to stand out in your market from your competitors and look a little bit more flashy, that’s how we’re really designed to kind of. We’ve got 250,000 customers now. Some of them are companies like Coca-Cola, Tesla, and Vodafone. We’ve got really big brands that are using our product. But then the vast majority of our users are kind of like smaller businesses, people like myself or maybe yourself. John has smaller businesses and doesn’t necessarily want to go and hire a full-time animation team or an editing team to do their work. So that’s who we’re really kind of targeting with our product. And yeah, 200,000 customers, 50,000 customers. We’ve been around for about seven years almost now, and yet it’s going really well and there’s a lot of new stuff we’re doing in the app as well that’s going to make it even more amazing later this year.
John: I love it. Well, that’s certainly you fill a gap and serve a need that’s there for sure. Speaking as a small business owner myself and that ability to have something that high quality with relatively little expertise or no expertise really is something I know that a lot of people are looking for. So if they want to learn more and find out more about you or the organization’s videos, where do they go? How do they find out?
Joey: So you can just head over to viddyoze.com. If you want to connect with me, I’m just on LinkedIn. You can search by name. Joey Xoto with XOTO is how you spell Xoto and yeah, just connect with me and we can talk, and maybe I can help and help you guys make some better video content.
John: Excellent. Well, congrats on your success, Joey. I’m not surprised by it. Based on your leadership philosophies and everything you shared with the audience, which I know is
going to be valuable too, but greatly appreciate your time and carving out your evening for us.
Joey: Thanks I really appreciate your time and giving me a chance to share our message. Thank you.
John: You got it. And we’ll have all that info in the show notes. For those of you who are listening, you can go there and see the link to the videos and certainly I encourage you to take a look. It’s really impressive stuff. As always, appreciate you joining tonight and or today wherever you might be. And of course, like share, subscribe to this episode. I subscribe as well as go down below and rate this episode. Of course, five stars much appreciated. Always appreciate your insights and suggestions and future guests and content. And thanks for joining us tonight. Have a good one. Bye.
John: Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John @Lauritogroup.com. Once again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks. Lead on.