Harpaul Sambhi – Founder & CEO of Magical | Trials and Tribulations of Serial Entrepreneurship

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About The Guest

Harpaul Sambhi is an entrepreneur and current angel investor. He is the founder and CEO of Magical. He bootstrapped his first business, Careerify, serving over 250,000 users globally at customers such as Microsoft, Deloitte, Unilever, Blizzard Activision, and SpaceX. Careerify achieved profitability within its 2nd year of business and was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015, marking LinkedIn’s first acquisition outside of the United States. Harpaul joined LinkedIn and rebuilt Careerify and oversaw LinkedIn’s HCM initiative, and led product development for LinkedIn’s partner ecosystem in the recruitment space. After LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft, Harpaul joined Microsoft’s Dynamics product team to build a best-in-class HR technology suite.

During his professional career, Harpaul has been fortunate to write a book, Social_HR, published by Carswell/Thomson-Reuters, analyzing the impact of social media on the HR Industry. This led to some very fortunate speaking opportunities across North America and Europe and becoming a lecturer at the Kellogg-Schulich School of Business.

Talking Points

 

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 02:10 — Harpaul Sambhi’s origin story
  • 07:10 — Harpaul’s entrepreneurial lessons
  • 12:39 — Building a hiring process
  • 15:55 — What to look for in candidates during an interview
  • 19:01 — Managing input and feedback across your company
  • 22:04 — How to hire the right fit for your team
  • 25:28 — Top tips when looking for talent
  • 28:54 — Finding value-driven people
  • 31:47 — The importance of company values
  • 35:14 — Ten things that you should never do in your business
  • 41:33 — Advice for young entrepreneurs
  • 43:21 — The most important character trait for success
  • 45:50 — What startups should you invest in?
  • 49:38 — Where do people connect with Harpaul Sambhi?
  • 50:45 — Harpaul Sambhi’s biggest challenge
  • 51:19 — Harpaul Sambhi’s mentor
  • 51:47 — Harpaul Sambhi’s book or podcast recommendation
  • 52:14 — Something Harpaul Sambhi would tell his 20-year-old self
  • 52:23 — What does success mean to Harpaul Sambhi?

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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.

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Machine Generated Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, business, hiring, magical, employees, company, thinking, entrepreneur, key, values, ultimately, founder, learned, create, job, build, selling, trust, entrepreneurship, career

SPEAKERS

Scott, Scott D Clary, Harpaul Sambhi

 

Speaker 1 00:00

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Scott D Clary  00:35

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot podcast network, as well as the blue wire Podcast Network. Now the HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible shows like the martec podcast hosted by Benjamin Shapiro. The mahr tech podcast is all about maximum value in 30 minutes or less. The mahr tech podcast share stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success on your lunch break. If you like any of these topics, you’re going to love the mahr tech podcast. Some of the topics are zeroing in on the ideal product price point. Identifying loyalty plays for smart marketers, finding the line between sales and marketing and SAS extending the lifetime value of your customer. If these are topics that are interesting to you, go check out the mahr tech podcast hosted by Ben Shapiro. Wherever you get your podcasts Today, my guest is her Paul Sambi. He is the founder and CEO of magical he’s a serial entrepreneur. He’s also an angel investor, he bootstrapped his first business career phi serving over 250,000 users globally such as Microsoft, Deloitte, Unilever, Blizzard Activision, and Space X, before selling to LinkedIn, this is his second go around with magical, he just raised one of the largest series A rounds of investment coming out of San Francisco ever. So an incredibly successful entrepreneur, we went into several topics. And the way we structured this episode was things that he did in his first startup at career phi, and then things that he would do differently with magical so a lot of great lessons learned this is focusing on the human side of entrepreneurship, both internally in the company and who you look for to help you grow as an entrepreneur or founders. Let’s jump right into this. This is Harpaul Sambhi. He is the founder CEO of magical

 

Harpaul Sambhi  02:46

Awesome, well, my story comes from Toronto, Canada. I’m a son of immigrants. And as a very early age, I learned how to hustle because not a lot of things came to me because my parents were trying to provide food on the table. So I didn’t have allowances it didn’t have some of the things that my friends had at school. So as a result, I had a result entrepreneurship entrepreneurship very quickly. Example, I read labeled Froot Loops and Lucky Charms do Harpole loops and like her Paul charms, and I sold them to my neighbors to afford have a Bubba Gump. And you know that that kind of mindset of just like being able to kind of like figure out how to sell something repackage things, burn CDs, make more money kind of came to, you know, too engrained in my kind of overall job descriptions. And when I thought about like applying to jobs, it just didn’t resonate, because, you know, they want you they want people to be in a box, roles, responsibilities, and I was like, I can provide a lot more. So entrepreneurship came to me naturally. In university in college, I started my first company that was a software business called Career five, career five was really focused on empowering every employee to become a recruiter, because the fact is, Scott has really great relationships, but he may not know all the jobs that are at a company. He may not know all the people that he has amassed in his respective career. So how do you kind of connect people to jobs and really empower the employee to become a recruiter? So we really kind of focused on connecting the social graph, the LinkedIn, the Facebook’s, the Twitter’s of Scott, the employee, and then come back to Scott and say, Hey, Scott, we think our Paul could be a good fit for this job. What do you think? And, you know, the, the, the, the idea originated from my dad, because, you know, again, he’s, he’s an immigrant. He works at a manufacturing company. You know, that company in 2009 was servicing GM Chrysler Ford. Obviously, we know what happened in those stories, where there’s massive unemployment and layoffs and he was fortunate to have a job though he took a 60% pay cut, but what he’s really sad and was the fact that his friends weren’t able to bide food on the table anymore, because they don’t have a paycheck. So, you know, for me, I really like this building businesses where it ultimately helps people do the things that they love versus just pleasure, like I help I love helping pain. People either kept finding a job, or they’re having mundane, repetitive still crushing tasks or things where they can ultimately improve their lives. And that’s kind of, you know, where my, my, my passion kind of comes from. So nonetheless, career five was completely bootstrapped from start to finish, which is kind of rare nowadays, I feel in a software age. And, you know, First Four Years went from zero users to one user, potentially, thankfully, I was living with my parents. So I didn’t, you know, my salary was $1. And I didn’t necessarily have to do a lot, but I didn’t burn a lot. But at the same time, we were struggling, you know, Crossing the Chasm, as we call it. And the last 18 months, we went from zero to under 40,000 users, we had several million in revenue, seven figure contracts with Deloitte SpaceX group on Microsoft, Unilever, ended up selling it to LinkedIn, in 2015, and then join our product that joined the product team at LinkedIn. From there, I really want to just give back to the community. So I made it a life mission to help any entrepreneur who cold emails me help any student and help the elderly. That’s kind of like my life mission now, and spend time investing in startups. You know, and at the same time thinking about my next play, which was really kind of what do we do with this, this platform of the internet, where people are connected to so many different apps, and they have to do these data swivels, like how many tabs you have Scott, open right now, by the way, too?

 

Scott D Clary  06:49

Well, too many, so I’m not 12345678, I’m at eight, and I closed some, so that while we’re recording, my CPU doesn’t get too high. And I don’t have any, like breaking breaking the connection or whatnot. So like, eight is like the minimum basically.

 

Harpaul Sambhi  07:07

And I think that’s the life that we live in. Right? Yeah, so we are context switching all the time, in order to write the email we’re referencing or CRM, maybe it’s LinkedIn, maybe it’s a system of record to kind of solve a problem. And we kind of data swivel back and forth, back and forth, back and forth to source to data entry to fill something in or even to send a message. And that is essentially magical, which is my latest company, which is to automate soul crushing, mundane tasks, so you can do the stuff that you love. So, you know, in a nutshell, entrepreneur love to help people. And that’s kind of like my overall story.

 

Scott D Clary  07:44

I love it, and the the the story arc or the thesis for why you do things, it makes a lot of sense. And I know that now now, that helps me sort of put the pieces together as to why you choose to start certain businesses, right. I actually never knew the story behind career phi and why you wanted to build out like an alternative, it seemed like just like, like a, like a professional networking platform, but it was actually to leverage like human capital and social capital to help people like in your network, place them, find them jobs, help them improve their lives. Same with, like, magical, that’s what you’re doing now. So as we you know, as you go through your entrepreneurial journey, I think would be interesting to walk through some of the things that you’ve done previously, when you built your first company, and then some of the lessons that you’ve learned, and then some of the things that you’re doing now, maybe a little bit differently. And I also want, like you can, you know, speak to the success that you’ve had, in terms of maybe the velocity of the success that you’ve had in the second venture versus the first venture coming from experience? Was it easier? Did it move quicker? Or is every time you start something as an entrepreneur? Is it just as difficult as the first time you did it?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  08:55

Yeah, I think entrepreneurship is difficult, no matter what age, how much experience, you have, no matter what, I think the gray hairs or lack of hairs, in my case, starts to speak volumes of like some of the experiences of what not to do. And there’s key lessons that you alternately learn. The I did a retrospect actually, the day after I sold my business, took LinkedIn the first time around. And I realized that that six year journey could have been shrunken into two, two and a half years at most, from what I learned during those six years at the year six, to ultimately be able to kind of do the same outcome. Maybe it would have been not sold to LinkedIn, but would have had the same amount of revenue would have had the same amount of traction. And I think that’s just what experience gives you right? It’s the it’s the gray hairs it gives you what not I I was really naive when I started my business and it didn’t know what to do. And I think I think I could chalk it up to probably 10 Key kind of like highlights that I changed from my first business career phi to my second business magical. So first and foremost, like, I’m a big, I’m a big fan of hiring and thinking about di, you know, diversity inclusion. And it really the way that I think about it is not necessarily to have like an artificial number, because I think a lot of companies like slap something on and they’re like, hey, we need to have a specific ratio of, of gender of, of, you know, ethnicity and so on. I really think about it from like a thought, diversity perspective. And ultimately, like, Who are you serving, so magical we serve the billions of people that use the internet. And as a result, you have to look at the composition and start to say, Well, how do we kind of really reflect an act and start to articulate some of the needs and wants of our of our users. So for us, as an example, we have an internal metric where we’re shooting for 52% of our work composition to be female. And it’s not necessarily to, again, create a number, but it’s just from our perspective, we say, the ratio is of the world, there’s, there’s more female than male, we have a, we have, we have that in equal representation, when we look at our user base no matter what. And we should start to represent that because the more that we start to represent that and have a lot of different walks of lives, the better we can start to have some of the finer things and that an individual user wants, whether it’s from a different country, or maybe if it’s a different age, as an example, as well. So that’s something that, you know, we just didn’t have a full touch on and appreciation on when we built our first company. And hiring is exceptionally explicit here where we’re really trying to ensure that we’re talking to not only, you know, different age groups in different ethnicities, but different diversity, like thought perspective, like I want the best farmer to work at magical because the best farmer can teach us things that hopefully we can incorporate from a different industry.

 

Scott D Clary  12:08

I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode HubSpot. Now, the new year might have you thinking ahead to what you want out of your career. So when you think about your success story, what do you actually picture? Is it retiring early with a beautiful view of the skyline? Is it leaving a legacy with your name on it? Or maybe it’s helping influence and change some of the world’s most pressing issues? Whatever it is, writing your success story starts by working smart because when you work smart, your success story writes itself. A HubSpot CRM platform helps your marketing campaigns work harder and smarter. With intuitive visual workflows and bot builders, you can create scalable, automated campaigns across email, social media, web and chat so your customers hear your message is loud and clear. Are you tired of your content, not adapting to mobile, making it difficult for your customers to absorb your message HubSpot CRM platform optimizes your content for multiple devices so that you can reach your customers, wherever they are, which is just smart. Learn more about how you can transform your customer experience with a HubSpot crm@hubspot.com. One thing that I was curious about was how do you build a hiring process that supports that? So it’s it’s so simple, it’s so so simple to fall into the trap of and this is not a good thing, but this is what happens when people you know the the incorrect interpretation of culture in a business? Is you just hiring people that are similar to what you already have, which is my opinion, and what you just described, incorrect. So how do you make sure that you build this into an actual process so that an entrepreneur starting out can get this right from the from the, from the gecko, because a nervous entrepreneur that’s just starting out? Probably would feel more comfortable hiring somebody that’s very similar to them? It probably would feel like safe, right? So how do you not? How do you go against that?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  14:02

I think there’s a couple of things to to ultimately anchor an entrepreneur on number one, like be intentional about company values. I think ultimately, my first business, I went to kind of websites, went to Google went to like other companies and just said, Hey, let me go ahead and just steal their values. And then you write it on a wall. And that’s it. And really quickly, I realized that not a lot of people even knew what our value. I didn’t know what my values were either. So being very intentional, the values of what you want to become, I think really starts to help in the sales process overall. I think then you create that intentionalism and you start to go into interviewing and saying, okay, like we have, we know who we are. We come from this ilk. We have these people in our network, but at the same time as well, where do we want to ultimately help diversify and be explicit and intentional about it? So as an example, or we said, hey, we want to start to tap into the LGBTQ community, we don’t really have much in our network. So let’s go out there and find it and be explicit and start to go into those communities. And that’s something that you have to be more proactive on instead of taking the reactive measures. And I think it’s last one of the the things that people, they, they just don’t necessarily an entrepreneurs just don’t kind of like come back to. And this is like one that I really had a huge guard up, but now I’m totally forest is asking for help. Right. And

 

Speaker 2 15:35

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Harpaul Sambhi  16:42

asking for favors, such as being able to Scott like, I don’t have a network here. Do you have a network here, and being intentional about the explicit helps that you need? Can you really start to open up the kind of like the conversations and speed up the ability to get you into those networks to then become more intentional about your hiring. So these are kind

 

Scott D Clary  17:03

of like a lift after you figure after you make that connection is less of a lift after you do it the first time after you ask for help the first time then it’s all of a sudden, something that’s more easily accessible to you too.

 

Harpaul Sambhi  17:12

Exactly. Yeah. And I think those are, those are like the key areas of how to become a lot more intentional. When it comes to kind of like the hiring process. Start for a start by, you know diversifying your pool being more explicit there getting into avenues and channels that you’re not comfortable with and being okay with. And then ensuring that your interviews have well, diversity or representation of the diversity that you you’re in for.

 

Scott D Clary  17:38

Okay, so that that covers like, so now that’s hiring. And then as you’re interviewing, you’re seeking out these candidates. So hiring and interviewing kind of like go hand in hand when you’re trying to improve, improve this aspect of your business. What about what about the transparency, when it comes to both? What you’re looking for in a candidate as well as what the candidate is exposed to in your business?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  18:03

Yeah, I, you know, in my first business, I was hidden, I was hiding everything. And it’s not intentional, but I you know, you just learn that less is more, I guess, like, that’s like the adage that people sometimes say, and as a result, like, you know, my I would say my employees, sometimes we’re in the dark of like, where we fundraising, we were not what happened to this big account that you were talking about, that just didn’t happen. And I realized there that if you have radical candidness, in your company, and this is what we’re doing it now magical, where we we have our investor updates or open our financials are open to every employee to scrutinize or ask questions of why we’re making these investments. Our decision making processes open, it allows people to a understand your side and be allowed them to ask the right questions for themselves. Because I think a lot of the miscommunication and challenges in in company building comes from and stems from assumptions. And if you don’t know the key facts, then assumptions start to create and then you go to other employees that might have other assumptions. Now, if you level the playing field of just creating all the facts within your company, then we’re all basing it off the same facts. And that creates the ability to have a very binary discussion to be able to say, Hey, these are the facts. This is how we’re thinking about it. What is your thought, and now you agree to disagree versus not. And I think my first time around, like I said, in career five, my first business, we just didn’t have that a lot of entrepreneurs that I spoke to I was like, Do you provide, you know, financial updates or like no, we don’t want to show the fact that we have six months of runway. Now. Those are sometimes situations where you as an entrepreneur have to ask yourself like, what is this information going to do to an employee like It could be potentially an alarming figure. But at the same time, it’s reality. And why not give. If you give people the data, if you give radical candidness, you start to create a foundation of trust. And a foundation of trust is where you can work off of versus, you know, providing an alternate universe, if that makes sense on specific data points, or conversely trying to lead them on hoping for a prayer at a whim, like a nuclear kind to kind of increase your runway. And that never happens. Right. So that is something that we definitely learned a lot of, and I think you’re spot on in terms of building out that transparency, and ultimately, within the actual company itself.

 

Scott D Clary  20:45

How do you deal with deal with is probably the wrong word? How do you manage all of the opinions that were going to come at you now, when you do you have that radical candor? Because now everybody is going to have an opinion about what you should do? And how you should do it? And it may be difficult for people to understand that you’re not accepting their opinion, or perhaps you like if they’re coming from a place where they think they know what what’s best, but potentially you disagree with them as a founder and entrepreneur? How do you manage that? Because there’s a ton of noise the second you open everything up?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  21:23

Yeah. For me, it’s specifically it’s about instilling trust and ownership. And we can always agree to disagree. You know, I think the the big thing that I’ve learned over 12 years so far is people want to be heard. And if you can’t give them the voice, then you’re, you’re already facing that battle of, of mistrust, and not understanding the entire interpretation and the decision making process, once you provide them this data points are not providing the data points. So you often have surprises where people just resign. And you’re like, Well, where did this come from? Right. So I think it’s important for any entrepreneur to say, this room that we’re building with you as employees is, it’s a room of trust, it is something where we’re not going to always agree by but at the same time, if you take the adaptation of learning and listening, and then pausing to reflect, and say, I agree or disagree, that is actually like 90% of the battle people want to be heard, right. So that is the way that I like to construct it. And the the delta between my first business and second business is night and day, people make informed decisions. People will say, Hey, Paul, I disagree with your thought here. But let’s move forward. Because ultimately, a lot of decisions when you when you come down to kind of like, what is this decision, it’s not going to break or make the company. Now, if it’s a decision that where you’re gonna make or break the company, if you’re going to sell the business, you’re gonna go for fundraise, you’re gonna go bankrupt, you’re taking on a key account that trust transcends the overall business, then I do think you need to kind of move slow, and think long and hard about it, and welcome those opinions to ensure that you have it. But most of these ideas, most of these decisions, there’s always two doors. And if there’s, if the door can allow it to come back, you can always kind of say, Hey, you’re right, let’s go now build this. And you now have a bedrock of information that you can now quickly speed up in order to kind of sell for the solution again, versus not going out at all. So that’s how I think about it. And as a result, like I said, like it’s, it’s really elevated our ability to have a better employee experience in the company.

 

Scott D Clary  23:45

That’s smart. I like that. Okay, so you’re hiring talent. Speak to me about investing in talent. So do try and Bootstrap? Do you try and find the cheapest option and train them up? Do you look for certain maybe soft skills as opposed to x experience with a certain hard skill or in a certain position? How do you go about that?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  24:07

I think there’s always a trade off depending on your financial situation. My first business I was bootstrapped, you know, I Penny pinched, I come I come from immigrants, right. So we really try to stretch the dollar there. And, you know, I think what what ended up happening is we really hired for like that can do attitude, the hustle mentality instead of experience. And while that is great, the challenge is, and I think the key what I’ve learned from the best in the business in the tech space, at least, is you want to scale yourself as an individual. And in order to scale yourself as an individual you need to create ownership. And there are moments and times where inexperienced hustle is exceptional for the job, but you have to then delineate of you have to in that In this scenario when you want to invest in that, that your time and energy is going to be there to uplevel and train them, which is always part of the job. And then there’s going to be positions out there where you really need to get the top talent. And so what I like to do is I look at the job position, or the roles or responsibilities and say, if this is going to really transcend the company or hinder the company, do we want to make a bet on someone that’s going to be raw, have a whole bunch of hustle or hire someone that has top talent. And I found that my decision making process to Ecker phi given that we were bootstrapped, I would often kind of curve to inexperienced. And while I might have had the money, but it’s if you know, I might have shaved off another month of runway or, you know, would have been tight in winter, you know, I wouldn’t be able to hire three people I would be able to hire to like if you start to have those conversations in your head, where you’re trying to umming and ahhing about the quality over quantity aspect go after quality hands down, especially if the job title and the job position is something that is very, very pivotal for the organization itself. And I think the No, go for it.

 

Scott D Clary  26:11

No, I was gonna say so. So clarify you did, you did Bootstrap, because I just want to highlight that the difference. So clarify, you did Bootstrap and you were going for cheaper hustle. And then with magical, you are hiring, you’re trying to push your your budget for the talent that you’re bringing in so that you aren’t as a as a CEO, as a founder as an entrepreneur, spending your time trying to upskill these people you’re trying to get people that are walking in that do have the experience, especially in those executive or or like key integral roles, right? That’s what you’re doing with crack right now.

 

Harpaul Sambhi  26:41

Yes, we’re paying above than what public companies will pay, simply because we want it to be a place where people can get ownership. And you don’t have to think as an entrepreneur for that line of business. Now, there’s always gonna be problems, right? But you’re creating an instilling trust in that person to get the right to get the job done. And hopefully, his or her perspective, career. And experience can can be something that you can lean on while making decisions while they’re making decisions as well.

 

Scott  27:12

It seems like that’s an entrepreneurial maturity thing, that you’re able to hire somebody and trust them. Because I know a lot of very successful entrepreneurs that have the biggest issue trusting the highest salaries on their team, even though that’s why they’re hiring them. I’m curious if you have maybe advice for somebody that’s in this position, they want to hire talent. And they’re self aware enough to know that they sometimes step into like a sort of like a micromanaging mindset. What’s that? What What’s the trust factor? Like? What how do you put How do you? How did you allow yourself to let go of employees? What was the tasks that you did internally in your head that was like, This person is actually doing quite well. And I keep screwing stuff up every time I step in and try and oversee what they’re doing? Is there something that you did to yourself that allowed you to remove yourself from that kind of mentality?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  28:05

Yeah, I think the big thing was just self awareness of what I’m really great at and what I’m not great at at all. And there’s a lot of things that I’m not great at, in fact, I’m really poor at doing. And I think though, we might have some understanding of the overall business you need to start to, and you might have like the best feel for the end user or for your end customer, because as a founder, or founding team member, you’re like, I just know this person really well. And I know the problem really well. We not we may not know the solution. So I would say like the stark difference again, being in career for my first business, I wanted to own it all, because that was what you see. Right? I wanted to be part of the the decision making process, I wanted to be in part of it. But that slowed the company down to a halt, where if Harpo wasn’t there, he was on vacation. If it didn’t pick up the phone, there was nothing happening in the business. So what one has to do is to say, Okay, there’s two things. One is what’s best for the business. And that’s the first question that I asked myself, is what’s best for the business? Is it for Harpole to do this? Or is it for someone else to do this, especially given that they might have a better pedigree better experience a better intimate understanding of a specific part of the business itself. And then second, it’s really thinking about the overall of letting go. And if you can let go of the things that you’re not great at with people and interest them immediately. And not even thinking about, like, I think there’s this important factor of like, trust over time and trust and day one. If you give people trust in day one, they have faith that they can run with it. And there’s gonna be mistakes. Sure, but at the end of the day, what you really want to drive for is that overall trust and integrity that you have in your empowerment of this person, that they got this and, and then what that ends up doing is if you hire people that are 10x better than you or better than you in every facet, including the things that you’re great at It allows you now to do things that are more strategic, maybe you can take a step away from the day to day and start to think long term, maybe it’s to say, okay, they got this part of the business. Let me now focus on another part of the business that I’m we haven’t really opened up yet. And I think that’s the key thing is the ability to kind of like really allow you to extend yourself to areas where the what matters to the business. So those are kind of like the the key thoughts of how I was able to kind of like, move my way myself away from owning everything to now saying, let go of everything, and be able to focus on key strategic things.

 

Scott  30:37

And that’s, that’s, that’s letting go, that’s trust. And the last sort of, I guess, the last people or human component that you touched on before that I thought was interesting. You mentioned how important company values are and company values kind of transcend almost everything that we just spoke about. Now, the follow up question is say you are a founder, and you have the company values that you’re really adamant about. How do you hire for those? How do you hire people that fall in line or believe in the same values that you have as a founder, because ultimately, I think that’s that would that would make that person you can trust them. And they can be excellent at their craft. But if they don’t fall in line with those same values, that’s going to be a huge issue as well.

 

Harpaul Sambhi  31:20

Yeah, there’s, there’s something very tactical that one can do, which is, I like to take half of our values that are key to magical, and then take values that are not key to magical and present them to a candidate, and then ask them, Which of the top values speak well to you. And what I’m trying to assess there is how well, they are in line with our core values and values that are really strong, but not necessarily represent magical or magicians as we call it, our employees today. And that gives me a good telemetry very quickly. But I think the key thing here, and I love values, I’ve spent a lot of time the last three weeks on rituals that we’re starting to instill in our year and a half old company, that and one of the things that I recognized is values of a founder might be very different for values of the early employees or values of a 50, employee number 50, or 100, or 300, or 500. And we’ve made this a yearly ritual, where we reevaluate our values to see and represent who we are today as a company. So value number one was built by me. However, value number two was built by a team of 10, where these founding employees now can become part of the fabric and say that this is what they contributed to. And now they breed the breed that because that’s really important for scaling is you want those people to embody and breed those things. So then they can scale your culture to the next level from 10 to 100. And then so on, so forth. So those are the two tactical things that I do. One is refreshing values, to make sure that they represent all the employees today and have a very thoughtful discussion around them. I often bring on facilitator coach to kind of just really help codify that and anchor us and grant us on that. Number two on the tactical side on interviewing, really thinking about the overall kind of employee candidate experience where we ask them, like what is true to you, as a as an individual, and then we can make that assessment if they’re gonna be a good cultural fit or not?

 

Scott D Clary  33:31

Can you? If you’re, if you’re comfortable with it, can you walk me through like some of the some of the values that you’ve actually instilled that magical because I just think it’s fascinating that you focus so much on them. I think it would be a good lesson for people to understand what’s important for somebody who is a, you know, serial entrepreneur building a second company, and how you sort of built out this tiered value system as your company’s grown?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  33:53

Yeah, for sure. So first and foremost, our vision is to build a global workforce. It’s free and mundane of soul crushing tasks. That’s number one. And our vision,

 

Scott D Clary  34:05

told me, that’s the first thing I told me on like on our first call together, I remember that Yeah,

 

Harpaul Sambhi  34:09

exactly. And our overall mission is to deliver products and empower all Internet users and create this magical moment. Because as a magician, you know, when you’re watching the magician, they pull a rabbit out of the hat or they they take the car and they’re like, No way, how do they do that? That is what we really want to create ourselves. So we really embody the cultural elements into the company brand, when it comes to magical and how we kind of think about our overall values. So that’s our vision and mission is we set those up and we codify that. And the then can kind of come down to kind of like the values of raw and we have six valleys. So number one is make make magical moments. So gain, kind of you can play experiment, you can create these magical moments for both your employees or magicians as we call it, and also for your end users. Tip number two, create grit without compromise. So have the competence to hustle and spark change. But at the same time, keep the quality in mind because you’re scaling a product, right, and we went from March zero users, we’re now over 300,000 users, we have over 25,000 companies using our products. And you know, you have to think about scale, and you have to think about quality. Number three is practicing thoughtfulness. It’s really about measuring twice, cutting once. And understanding that every decision has an impact to your colleagues, to your customers, to your users, to your stakeholders. So just think about it twice. Number four, five, and six are really thinking about like who we are as individuals. Number four is really thinking about everyone belongs. And the key word that we have here is being psychologically safe in a company. So we realize in software, anyone can build anything, it’s pretty easy to do now. So what is our real superpower. And it’s really our differences as individuals. So we really want to make a place where everyone has a voice, their psychological safe, and our differences are truly our greatest superpower. Number five is really about practicing radical candidness or candor, being open, transparent, constructive, with everyone that you’re speaking and working with and having that voice. And then last but not least, is hiring for a 10x human, which is a key distinction, Scott, between hiring a 10x talent, because you can be a 10x talent, but be an asshole. And what we want to do is we want to hire, we want to hire 10x, humans that practice compassion, kindness. And, and that is the key distinction there. So those are kind of like the values that we bring forth at magical.

 

Scott D Clary 36:58

Now some of the some of the points. So that was sort of on the on the human side of the business. And then some of the points that you highlight are important for entrepreneurship. I want I also want your opinion on these getting through, I think, your opinion on why some of these are important is interesting, because I noticed that there’s a list of some of some, some things that you’ve put together that you want to do differently, or what you do do differently now with magical, but none of the items that you listed are our bit like, like if their business, their business items, but they’re not what I would assume somebody would put in a list of 10 things I do differently. For example, I would assume somebody would speak about investment, or how to scale faster, or how to build a better product, or all these different things that are actually not on this list. So the last four are learning, asking for help being vulnerable and being human. So you focus the first six, on hiring the best people and all the things that come with that than the last four, almost seem like who you are as a person, as and that’s important to to entrepreneurship. And none of the items in this list were focused on, like business growth strategy. So I just thought it was an interesting observation, and maybe walk me through the last four, and why they are important. But also why did you choose this list of 10 versus something that I maybe incorrectly would assume would be something that would be a very tangible takeaway from your first business that you could have implemented in your second business?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  38:42

Yeah, I think that the key here is, how could this be ubiquitous to any type of business, whether you’re building a sushi restaurant, you’re you’re building a winery, you’re building a startup in the tech space or real estate firm? Doesn’t matter, right? And I think the application has to be universal, and it has to transcend any boundaries, so to speak. I think just generally, having a growth mindset or, you know, learning continually, is something that is embedded in in woven in a lot of the successful startup founders that I actually know. They’re constantly learning to seek to learn continually in their craft of business and outside of the craft of business, because they want to see if they can apply what they learn to the best wineries to build in their tech startup or, you know, understand how a DTC company does so then they can apply for their real estate firm. So I think learning is embedded no matter what. Number two, I think the key thing that has helped me my first business was I was the sole founder. And it’s a tough journey, man, like I remember so many times where I just didn’t know where to go to and people are afraid of just ask for help, and I think the adage of if you don’t ask the question, it’s always gonna be no. So true, right. So like, being able to go out and showing that I need help, which then stems to like, the second last point in this article that I kind of wrote which vulnerability, right? Like, people have their guard up, they, you know, we often say, How are you doing? The first word that you often hear is doing? Well, you know, when do we hear people say, I’m not doing great. And it’s interesting, because like, when, when I’ve actually done that, people stop with their agenda to lean in. And when they lean in, you got 100% of their attention. And I think, you know, for me, now, I, I’ve said this to my current employees, sometimes that magical, I was just like, yeah, like, I’ve had a mental stress point where I just needed to take a day or two off. Now, if you’re hearing that from the founder to be like, COVID, like, did some shit to me. Like, it’s reassuring that this person is human. And I too, can start to create this vulnerability and start to put our guards down and start to build that trust, because trust is what makes or breaks a relationship and makes your brace ultimately accompany. So I think it’s extremely important to kind of just like, have that vulnerability to not only the stakeholders, whether it’s employees, but also to customers, like we’re human, at the end of the day, we want to help people. And I think if if it wasn’t for vulnerability, and for me lowering my guard, eight days from going bankrupt that career phi, I was eight days from going bankrupt. By the way, I wouldn’t have signed that contract. Because she literally like, you know, God bless her. She, she, she, you know, she was an HR lady. And she was kind of hanging out with like, just saying, Yeah, your products great. But maybe another time, even another time, maybe another time, the classical like, not now. And I told her, I called her up to say, Hey, I made these from going to bankrupt, I’m not looking for sell, you’re an HR person, how do you transition people out, so you give them a soft landing? That was a conversation that I was trying to have with their. And she’s like, hold on, wow, she said, Hold on. And then literally a minute, a pause. I was just like, not sure what’s happening. And she’s like, check your email. This, your agreement is now signed. And I was flabbergasted because I was just like, I am eight days from going bankrupt. And now you just funded me $30,000 to now give me a month runway to then became 235 months afterwards and became profitable. But why did you do this, I’m telling you that I’m going bankrupt. And she’s like, because you’re human. And before you’re trying to sell a product, a value proposition. But you have to realize, you know, especially at the startup person, you’re selling your vision, you’re selling yourself. And if I can’t deal with, if I’m dealing with a robot, I don’t want to deal with you. If you’re a human, and you want to like learn from me, and I’m learning from you, that’s the type of relationship that I want. And that moment really kind of codified to me to become vulnerable with people and to share more, because that’s how you build a bond with each other.

 

Scott D Clary  43:16

Amazing. Amazing. So now as like this is, this is stuff that you have all of you’ve applied to you’ve applied to magical, what would be a message or a takeaway, that you would want? Somebody who wants to start their own thing? What would be the one takeaway from entrepreneurship? It’s difficult, it’s hard. There’s these lessons that you’ve learned? Is it worth it for somebody to do their own thing? Or is this something that would you do it again, if you had the chance?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  43:54

We often have no, it’s it’s cliche, but we have one life. And the way that I look at decisions now is if if this decision, or an idea or a thought process, we’re at the juncture of making a decision and saying left is equal to something and right is equal to something should I do? Or should I not? If this decision is going to haunt me, we’re in my last hour of my deathbed, assuming I had one hour before I died. If it comes to my, my idea, or my one hour left, if it comes to me that I should have would have could have done just do it. I think in today’s world, technology has made it so simple to craft your trade, whether it’s selling content, building products, providing value to an end user, so if your dream is to help people go do it. I think that’s like the biggest thing and if it fails, you have your own hustle MBA that you can learn from that someone will value ultimately in the business.

 

Scott D Clary  45:04

And and I guess a follow up question to that. So people are say people are highly motivated. What does it take to be successful? Is it motivation? Is it what’s a character trait that you see? Is the the main character trait that would drive an entrepreneur to be successful? Can somebody if they are motivated or passionate enough make anything work? Or do you have advice for what ideas you should actually try and execute against?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  45:33

I think it’s less about the idea. I mean, I think the idea comes secondary to kind of like, what, what is your purpose in trying to achieve something. And because at the end of the day, there’s gonna be days and nights where you just don’t want to wake up, or you don’t want to even open an email. And you’re like, like, this is a cringe worthy, and you’re gonna have those roller coaster moments. And the reality is, is there’s going to be a motive that is not extrinsically driven, not ie financially driven, that will help you to push yourself in moments of hardship. And those are the things that you really want to kind of like, ground yourself into versus thinking about making a million dollars or a billion dollars, or whatever that financial output is, I think that helps with kind of like, in ultimately this it, it helps with the whole entire sales process, selling to a customer selling to employee, the moment you have like this, this energy that’s kind of going beyond just like the extrinsic motivations. people gravitate that they love that energy, they want to listen up, pick up and be like, This is what I want, this is the leader that I want to go after, because, and this is the purpose that we want to go for. And I think that is ultimately kind of like the key distinction versus the idea. And I think the idea has to make sense, right? Like, don’t do something that I think that that’s like the business fundamentals, but I think that you can stem that from like research and whether people are going to pay for it, they’re gonna love it and all that stuff. But it’s ultimately the the intrinsic motivation to get up every day, the intrinsic motivation to, to have that spark and energy to sell. And to convince people to take your products, services or be employed, whatever the causes, that is ultimately kind of like the thing that one has to kind of seek in order to kind of make that decision for entrepreneurship.

 

Scott  47:32

Awesome. And this was really good. This was like the this was like, the human side of entrepreneurship. Because this is this is everything that I don’t think people speak enough about. And candidly, like, when I have a lot of conversation with great people, it’s either like very tactical advice on how to build a business. Or, alternatively, there’s a lot of negative sentiment towards the startup and hustle culture and, you know, misalignment between what a founder wants and what a VC wants. So I appreciate this as well, for a founder, are there things that that they should be cognizant of, or aware of, so that they can maintain all the things that you mentioned, if they’re looking for external capital, because that can heavily influence a lot of the items that you just mentioned, external capital is probably the one the one item that could have the most negative impact on all those really good lessons learned. Because if you if you take money from a VC that does not believe in a lot of the things that you just mentioned, I feel like that could be a really difficult relationship. So how do you find the right person?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  48:41

I think anyone who’s gone to through relationships knows this, you know, the easy and hard way, right? Personal relationships. That is right. It’s, it’s easy to, to hang out. It’s provocative to think about long term marriage and partnership. But it’s exceptionally hard for the breakup. Yeah. And one has to kind of think about that, you know, when we did our fundraising, for magical, we’ve done a couple of fundraising, we just raised one of the largest rounds in Silicon Valley history. We chose investors that had the same vision and mission of what we had. We stress tested it. We said it and this is the course over eight to 10 months of just meeting with these people not even pitching them to be like what’s your thought in the industry? Okay, how do you think about the best entrepreneurs, what do they do differently? What are the values? What are what are the things that that you have seen help? And this is key learnings that we’re learning from as well, right? Like there they are 50 100 companies that are 1000s of companies that they’ve invested in and you’re getting this key extraction, but you’re getting a better sense of like, what makes them go and at the end of the day, we have to recognize that venture capitalists are trying to do their job which is trying to At 10x their investments for their investors. So one has to be mindful that if you’re taking venture capital, that revenue and valuations are going to be the ones that they’re going to be kind of indexing on. However, there’s a human side of the business. And it’s best to work with people. Like if you have a field where Hey, investor, one is giving you better terms, but investor two is more in sync with you take the investor to because dilution at the end of the day is not going to like 1% dilution difference, not going to be material at the end of the day, if you’re trying to make a meaningful outcome. So I think that’s kind of like the, the key thoughts that I often provide to entrepreneurs is really think about the people he wants to do business with. Because at the end of the day, they’re all going to try to focus on making their capital 10x. And that’s just part of doing the business. But the reality is, is you want to have, you want to pick up the phone and call them. That is the key thing. You don’t want to pick up the phone or think about, like you don’t have one that have a negative feeling or cringe worthy experience to be like, oh, shoot, I have to call Scott. What is he going to say? Like, you know, you won’t be like, I got to call Scott because I have a problem and he’s in and out. Share this problem with me. And this is gonna be awesome, right? That is like the type of feeling that you want.

 

Scott D Clary  51:18

Amazing. Okay, I love it, man. Okay, I want to I wanna do some rapid fire to pull out some some last like career insights from you some some professional insights, but before before I pivot, where do people connect with you if they want to? If they want to get magical if they want to test it out? If they want to chat with you, where do they go?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  51:39

You hit the nail on the button if you want to get magical go to get Magical Black calm.

 

Scott D Clary  51:44

Even to be honest, until I said it I’m like, Wait, that’s the domain.

 

Harpaul Sambhi  51:48

Yeah, it’s a it’s a good domain. Yeah. Yeah. So if you want to like you know, automate your soul crushing mundane tasks, checkout get magical. I get magical calm for me personally, I am. I am indebted to the world I’m indebted to. And serving entrepreneurs, students and the Alibre. We all equal. So hit me up on Twitter, H sanbi. Or LinkedIn, I’m usually up start typing in Harpole. I’m like the first person that kind of comes up the key benefit perk of having unique name. But yeah, hit me up either on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m more than happy to help you.

 

Scott D Clary  52:27

Awesome. Okay, a couple rapid fire. Let’s, let’s jump, let’s jump. Jump into it. Okay, so the biggest challenge in your professional or personal life, what was it? How did you overcome it?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  52:39

Taking money from my parents, as the only funding and having to tell an immigrant mother that didn’t know anything about business that my $5,000 that I’m taking to pay people are it’s going to be rewarding and worthwhile. That’s tough.

 

Scott D Clary  52:55

That’s a lot of stress. Good for you. Good for you for not for not messing it up. That’s a lot of stress. Okay, if you had to choose one or multiple people that have had a huge impact on your life, obviously there’s been many but who was that person? And what did they teach you?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  53:14

Yong Woo from Toronto serial entrepreneur. He told me the adage of never never fucking quit. That really helped. And my dad who continued to believe in me, those are the two that come top of mind

 

Scott D Clary  53:30

a book or podcast you’d recommend people to check out

 

Harpaul Sambhi  53:34

some Scott’s you know, your own podcast. You know, I love to play bigger is one rug category creation. I just like really kind of expands that. The second one more on the philosophical side, the courage to be disliked. I think it’s a really great book.

 

Scott D Clary  53:58

If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be? Just do it. Is it good? And last last question, what does success mean to you?

 

Harpaul Sambhi  54:11

Success means to me to ultimately, my first business success was to help a million people get jobs. We did that. Great. This time around. I want to help a billion people do the things that they love to do. That’s what success means to me.

 

Speaker 3

This season on American prodigies black girls in gymnastics, you’ll hear about Trailblazers like Diane Durham, learn what you don’t know you don’t know about Dominique Dawes meet superstars like Olympic silver medalist, Jordan chiles, and more. Here how black gymnasts have and continue to transform their sport you can binge all the episodes of American prodigies now wherever you get your podcasts

 

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