Jonathan Cherins Transcript

Clint Betts

Jonathan, thank you so much for coming on. Tell us about Vector Solutions and how you became CEO.

Jonathan Cherins

Thanks, Clint. Super happy to be here. Vector Solutions is an e-learning and training company for first responders. So we provide learning management software, accredited content, risk management solutions, and workflow solutions to help, number one, satisfy their training needs that are usually mandated by a governing body, and secondly, to help improve productivity and safety. So I've been at the company a little bit over two years, joined in January of 22. The owners of the company is a company called Genstar that I worked for 20 years ago at a company called TravelClick. I've been in sales and marketing growth roles my whole life, nothing vertical specific. I've kind of bounced around a little bit. Spent some time in the consumer world and we stayed in contact and they bought some assets and we're really interested in getting to grow a little bit faster. And one of my peers was on the board of directors and we hooked up I guess fall of 21 and we started talking about it. And I love this opportunity. I love the company. A rare thing to be able to provide income for so many people. We have about 700 employees at the company. And at the same time, do good. And be able to explain to your friends, your family, your children what you do. I've had a bunch of jobs in my career, probably six or seven, and trying to explain in-depth location management software or credit rating agencies to your six-year-old is challenging. But we help keep the firemen safe or law enforcement officers safe and productive. It rolls off the tongue a little easier.

Clint Betts

Yeah, and it's like you're doing something worthwhile, right? Something with meaning inside of it, which is always great.

Jonathan Cherins

The mission is a huge win. The mission has huge wins for us in fulfilling work and recruiting talent and retaining talent. you have stressful moments at work. We all do. They're not all that way, but when you're sitting there trying to do something and you know that what you're doing is going to keep a fellow American safe or a worker from hurting themselves or a student from getting into trouble by getting in the wrong crowds or use drugs the wrong way or alcohol abuse, you feel good about the work you're doing. So it's incredibly rewarding to have that kind of Venn diagram of the opportunity for so many people to do well and pay their bills at the same time, you know, put good out into the world. So I feel very fortunate to be here.

Clint Betts

How did the company land on first responders and education and like that as the market that you could go to? Cause as you know very well, there's a lot of like learning platforms and education platforms for all sorts of different sectors. Why first responders? Why focus on them?

Jonathan Cherins

Sure. Well, the learning management system world can get commoditized. It's just a platform because there's lots of solutions out there. So I wish I could tell you I was the founder of the company. Definitely not. So the company was founded years ago in architecture, engineering, construction, a company called Red Vector doing licensing state by state for workers. And then through both organic growth and through mergers and acquisition started to you know the thesis around okay what are the accreditations and certifications people need to do their jobs and it started the next big push was into actually fire safety and firemen for the acquisition of target solutions many years ago and so then the thesis kind of evolved into okay where are their markets that are highly regulated that you have to do training and certification. Endeavor creates true recession-proof businesses but even in periods of like COVID as an example, those emergency services, those frontline workers, teachers, people in the commercial market, public safety, those things kept going. So it's a really good business to be in. It's obviously easy to understand state by state what the regulations are in commercial markets, what they are in education markets, what they are in public safety. So It grew organically from those origination points and we just kept building on that thesis and thesis over and over again to where now we're in those three markets, again, education, both K-12 and higher ed, commercial markets like AEC, mining and gas, and then in public safety, which is really kind of law enforcement, the cops, fire, and then large state and federal agencies like TSA, DOD, things like that.

Clint Betts

What is the sales process like? That sounds like it seems, it seems like it would be long. You're just kind of selling.

Jonathan Cherins

It depends actually. So we, since we, we, we talk about the three different verticals we're in, we're also, you know, let's use, you know, firehouse as an example. Where do you live, Clint? You're in Utah, right? Utah. Yep. Yeah, right. So your local firehouse has one set of training needs and there's the Utah State Fire Departments and as well as the Utah Sheriffs. The larger the entity, the longer the sales cycle. But you know, the sales cycles, they all have very similar characteristics. Usually our salespeople are in the markets as experts and they've been in those spaces for a year building relationships. We have our go-to-market marketing team that helps develop pipeline and create leads at the same time. It's what happens from the transactional kind of smaller entity to somewhat mid-market into enterprise where the sales cycles take on a different length, obviously, in a different motion, thought leadership pieces and kind of, you know, more software integration, customization at the high end. So we operate kind of both in the short term, medium term and long term.

Clint Betts

How do you decide how to spend your time each day as the CEO? I mean, there's a million things that you could be doing. How do you decide which one to focus on?

Jonathan Cherins

When I'm doing a good job, I'm in charge of my calendar. And when I'm doing a bad job of that, my calendar is in charge of me. So I usually try Friday afternoons to plan out the next couple of weeks. And I have a little bit of OCD, so I'll use color coding on my calendar. So I think about, what are the things that I'm worried about? What are the things that I'm concerned about moving the company forward? And I try to make sure that those things are represented. There's a certain amount of regular cadence things that happen. Like I'm having a one-on-one with each of my key people probably every 10 days or so. We do have an executive team meeting in some form or another every week. And then I actually spend a lot of time on the road, cleansing customers and seeing team members. Post COVID, we're pretty distributed. We have four offices, but we have a lot of employees around the country. And so I go out of my way to make sure that I am present and pull people and issues together. So we're not always no offense to this, but on a screen looking at it, being across the table from each other. So that's how I kind of, that makes me plan my weeks. And then the days are a result of that and try to make sure I leave myself space to think, to breathe and to be flexible at what's going on. You know, especially like this is the end of a quarter. I'll give myself a lot more flexibility and time around to be available, to talk to customers and prospects and things like that. What do you read? I alternate between. light reading as a distraction and heavy reading. So I'm usually right now, it's funny, I just went through this whole process with I have a 24 year old daughter who lives in New York City. So you just went through all the Sarah J. Maas books. I don't know if you or your readers know them. Oh, yeah. Horde of Thorn and Roses. It's complete fantasy escapism. It's like the perfect airplane book. You know, you take your mind off of work, those are perfect. And then I'll go bounce back and forth between either biographies or historical fiction, like stuff like Eric Larson, Devil in the White City. And I do a lot of biographies of people who did great things. I just love those stories. So I try to alternate back and forth. But there's been a lot of a lot of dragons and fairies the last six months because there's a lot of books in those series.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that's incredible. I haven't really gotten into the fantasy and sci fi as much as I want to. But, you know, reading things like George RR Martin and things like that.

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, sure. Well, the thing for me is I have three different children who have three totally different Like I have a sports kid who only wants to talk about sports. I have a sci-fi kid who's a sophomore at Purdue studying engineering, and I have my daughter who reads fantasy. So I do try to do some form of infotainment with each of them, because it keeps us connected. Like Maya, who's my daughter, she'll be reading this and I'll be traveling the country, we could talk about a book and it keeps us connected now that we're all not in the same house. So it's a fantasy is it is exactly that it's escapism. You know, we all have intensity in our lives. And sometimes you just you want to read about Ned Stark, right? You just want to read about dragons. So it's nice to take an escape on an airplane sometimes.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that's from the biography standpoint. I totally relate to you there. I got way deep, maybe like a year ago on like Winston Churchill. I was reading like everything. Sure. Possibly. That's a lot of those.

Jonathan Cherins

Robert Caro.

Clint Betts

Recently it was Teddy Roosevelt.

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, I think I've read, I know I read one of the Roosevelt books. You know, it's funny, I get fixated on authors, like that guy, Robert Caro, who did the Lyndon Johnson books. There's a guy, A. Scott Berg, who wrote a great one about Lindbergh. You know, I definitely browse the bestseller list for biographies and like, who won the Pulitzer and things like that. The Lyndon Johnson books, if you haven't read them, I think there's three of them written by Robert Caro, like one about when he was like a lowly House of Representative guy, one who was like Senate, and then when he was in the White House, and the accumulation of power. Another one, if you're into Rex, which you haven't asked for, I'm going to give it to you anyway. Robert Moses, another Robert Caro book about the rise and fall of the city of New York called The Power Broker. Just an amazing story about somebody who started off trying to do good and power corrupts. And if you're a history buff, how they built the roads and bridges and things around New York City, it's a fascinating book, fascinating.

Clint Betts

What do you take from reading these types of things and implement in your own leadership style in your company and how you interact with your employees and who you are as the CEO?

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, it's a good question. You know, sometimes it comes from books, you know, I'm inherently an introvert. I've learned to talk and ask questions. So I'm going to answer your question, but kind of not. My first job, I was selling classified ads in the back of a magazine right out of school. And they taught us a sales technique called spin selling, situation questions, problem questions, implication questions, and need payoff questions. And as an introvert, it was a forcing mechanism to ask questions. to not talk, not talk about your products, do not talk about what you want to talk about, but just be curious. And I think if you take that, that is probably the driving force of who I am as a leader. And it really stuck with me from when I was 21 to, you know, you go into a meeting and you know, you have 700 people working for you or you're going to a prospect and it's impossible to know everybody, everything and every solution. And even as a seller or somebody going, you know, go to market role, but what you can be in every opportunity is curious. Like, well, tell us more about what you're trying to get done. What is the problem you're trying to solve? And I think that works as a leader, whether you're a first time manager or CEO board member. And as, as just an employee, as a father, I probably that's the driving influence of my leadership style is to ask questions, open-ended questions, and then try to be quiet. And you learn so much.

Clint Betts

There's something kind of beautiful. I'm an introvert as well. And it does seem like. that in some ways is an advantage because you are inherently built to listen, like you want to listen. And listening is like so such a big part of leadership and like not talking that much, like you just want to like get as much information as possible. How important has listening been for you?

Jonathan Cherins

I mean it's been it's it's attention i would say like i totally agree with everything you just said it is the number one quality it makes everything work better you know as you start to accumulate years of experience you you think you know the answer and you wanna. give the answer, whether it be you're talking to a 25-year-old or 30-year-old who's like an SDR or early product person. You want to just tell them how to do things. So that tension exists because you know you should be quiet and ask questions. And you know that the person you're engaging with needs to grow into that answer on their own. People, if they own the answer by getting there on their own, it's in cement. If you give them the answer, it's met with cynicism. So that's kind of the way I think about it. I'm at my best as a leader when I'm curious and not talking. I'm at my worst when we're telling people what to do and that's never a good sign and you try to catch yourself. And I use buddies like on the executive team and people I work with. Many people on my team I've worked with before, so they know the things I'm trying to improve on, the things I'm trying to get better at. And we have little codes to like, hey, somebody will text me or teams me during the meeting, like you're doing it, you should maybe ask a good question. So having that kind of support around you to for people to help you in those areas of development that we're working on. So it's a huge plus.

Clint Betts

How are you thinking about artificial intelligence in your world? I think that that's kind of fascinating. I imagine a lot of the videos that you make in the training modules and things like that are all human beings. But in the future, it's entirely possible that they won't be.

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, it's a yin and a yang, I would say. So obviously, it's a topic du jour. It's everywhere around us. When you think about where AI is impactful to our business, obviously, you can start with content development. We have over 7,800 content libraries. that different parts of our vertical customer base use and consume to satisfy their needs. And it cuts both ways. AI is a tremendous tool to produce incredibly engaging content at a lower cost and a more engaging way. At the same time, some of the institutions that are requiring training are very wary of it. and want to make sure that the content is not developed by computers, but developed by subject matter experts. And whether that be in law enforcement or fire or education, people who have done those jobs as opposed to, you know, a bunch of workers just typing content. And so we view it as a major asset to us as we engage both in content development, software development and creating more efficiencies the way we do this, as well as, you know, obviously there's vulnerable to the two guys or gals in a garage who want to start something and don't have that heavy, intense cost to get going because they could build something with AI. So we're spending a lot of time, money and energy thinking about it, a lot of time in integrating it into our businesses, but doing it in conjunction with our customers and talking to our customers about this so they understand. It's really important when somebody is taking a learning experience to know, just like us consuming content on the internet or wherever we do. Is this content that was made by a computer or is this content that was made by a person who's done this job before? And I think that's the issue that I don't think has an answer yet. So it's an important part of who we are. It's a growing part of who we are, but we're proceeding enthusiastically but with caution.

Clint Betts

It does seem like AI, like the value is going to come from those who use it as a tool. They don't use it as the end product. And it's like being able to curate and have really, really excellent content and really excellent product that, you know, is obviously used as a tool. You kind of have to at this point, but it's not the only thing. Because like you said, you can tell pretty quickly that this is all AI generated.

Jonathan Cherins

For the most part, I've been able to tell. I think I have a pretty good eye for it. I think you and I are both in the business, and you can kind of have a knack for what is and what's not. But a lot of our end customers or people who are on the go doing their jobs are not in the tech community or know those warning signs. So I think we've got to be open-minded about declaring what kind of content or what kind of experience somebody is having. But that being said, I agree with what you said. It has to be part of what we're doing. It should not be the only thing we're doing. Vector is powered by human capital. We are, you know, 700 people are strong, mission oriented, who know our customers, who know our space. And I don't think that ever can be replaced by a computer.

Clint Betts

How do you define culture within Vector?

Jonathan Cherins

Great question. You know, it exists in a couple planes. Number one is, you know, we, like everybody else, and I did this when I first became CEO, we kind of outlined what our mission statements were, and we have our values and our operating principles. And I think that's the easy answer, which I could read to you. But I think to me, culture is enabling our people to be successful. and enabling them to thrive at what their job is and what their ambitions are. Some people want to move up the world and run the world, and some people want to have that perfect work-life balance. We want to have the flexible culture to allow people to achieve their goals, and especially in commensurate with Vector's goals. So enabling people to be at their best, enabling people to struggle openly and ask questions in a safe environment, ask for feedback. The two words that always come to mind for me are feedback and outcomes. We are a company that keeps score. We do care how we do, how we do financially, how we do on projects, do we hit our deadlines. But you can't go anywhere without asking for feedback and giving feedback. Nobody gets better by themselves. And I think if those two things are happening, that's what I would call winning culture. And we spend a lot of time on this and our review process and our weeklies and just the general cadence of how we interact with our employees. But, you know, we as a company need to get out of the way of individuals achieving their goals and ambitions, whatever they are. We have to spend time with them, making sure that they're pointed in the right direction and making sure their goals are aligned with ours. But that's to me what great culture is.

Clint Betts

How do you How have you handled the work from home versus hybrid versus all in the office thing? And how has that decision changed culture? Has it been harder to maintain all of that type of stuff?

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, there's no great answer to this. And I'm curious what you're seeing. I've listened to obviously a couple of the episodes where this has come up. When I got to Vector, it was kind of the end of COVID. Everyone had been home for a little while. And first year employee retention was horrible. People were not staying. And so I've seen it done so many different ways, like the top down mandate, RTO, everyone's got to be in four days a week, or we're going to be totally distributed. The reality is, is those companies who we compete with for labor in this market, Some of them exist in the pull-to-work-from-home environment. Some of them exist in the RTO environment. So we try to think about this and what's best for Vector and what's best to keep and grow our employee base, thrive it. So we empowered local leaders, not by geography, but by discipline to make the decisions what's right for their team. So we have, you know, four or five major hubs around the country, Tampa, Cincinnati, I'm in Bloomington, Indiana today and San Diego. And the people who run the organizations that are in those markets, are setting their own policies and what's right for their team. Product development, technical development is mostly work from home. Younger roles, let's call it SDRs, entry-level sales roles, we strongly encourage those managers to make decisions to bring people into the office because it's very hard to learn by yourself. You have to learn by experience and learn by listening to others and what that phone call looks like and how did that meeting go and so there is no one size fits all answer. The strategy has been working employee engagement is up, you know, attrition is dramatically down to world class levels. I don't know what the future holds yet. I definitely, I think for people, and I'll just group you in my age, kind of a little older, we grew up going to offices and working at companies in our networks and we built our networks from meeting people at the office. And it's easier for us to make the transition to work from home in a hybrid. Like I traveled 50, 60% of the time. So, and then, but I worry a little bit for younger generations who are starting their careers without those networks. And, and they have great jobs, but you know, how does that turn into a career? And it puts a lot of onus on us as leaders and as HR people to create that culture and create the environment where they can interact with peers. So it's a never, it's a, I don't think there's one solution that's going to work for everybody. And we recognize that vectors in a lot of different markets and a lot of different geographies. So there's certainly no one size fits all, but so far we've been pretty happy with the results.

Clint Betts

How do you, just to double click on this real quick, maintain the culture from the perspective of you have all these people in all these different areas, all these people in various segments, how do they all understand the mission of Vector and they're all, I just think this is maybe top of mind for so many leaders, right? How do I make sure my whole team knows the direction we're rowing, what our values are, what our mission is, when they're all sorts of different places focused on various parts of the company?

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah. I think it's the hardest thing a leader has to do. And I think it comes down to a communication platform. And I think it comes down to a rhythm. So when I first got here, I put in place, you know, a couple things. There is a quarterly town hall. Sounds basic and everyone does one. But then we start off the town hall with that mission, with our values and with our results and what we're trying to do. In each of the off months, the divisions, whether it be product or sales or tech, are doing theirs. To compensate for the hallway chats that you and I had when we were all in offices many years ago, I do a CEO roundtable every week where I take 10 or 15 people. And as opposed to just us sitting in the lunchroom and talking, we'll have a beer after work, or we will talk about what's important. And it's half work and half culture. But I think the communication platform of how those things come together cannot be casual. It has to be purposeful. The more distributed you are, the more purposeful you have to be about the messages that go out and that you can acknowledge that those messages were received. How do you know that people heard what you said? Asking for feedback. Does this make sense to you? Do you understand what your role is in us achieving that mission? And I think closing that loop and using kind of our values of feedback, has been critical and I'm very purposeful about our communications. I use a tool which I learned many years ago called an ABC and so basic. Audience behavior content. Who is the audience you're trying to address? What is the behavior you want out of that audience? And then what is the content, the C, that you need to deliver? There's a D and E, which I don't use as often, design, how do you design the communication, E, how do you evaluate it? But I think sometimes it's as equal as a Post-it, like I'm going to go talk to somebody, what's my ABC? And then when you're writing a board deck or you're writing a town hall, it's more robust. It's a document that's thoughtful and edited in exactly what you do. And I strongly encourage leaders to really think about their communication platform, especially in leadership positions like mine. People listen to you more than you think they do. They'll take a casual conversation and it becomes a directive because it came from the CEO. So you have to be very careful with what comes out of your mouth and what comes out of your fingers when you're typing. And you don't want to be cautious about it. I believe in transparency. I believe in telling people everything that's going on that I can. But you have to be very purposeful about it.

Clint Betts

Well, like board governance and how you interact and engage with your board, present to the board, maintain relationships with the board. Um, that's another thing that I'm seeing more and more as we interview more and more CEOs is just like, Hey, that's a whole different set of skills and a whole different approach than it would then say like CEO round table every week or these town halls, right? It's a different thing. How do you manage it?

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, number one, I think the principles are the same about being purposeful. I was lucky enough to have a couple mentors in my career who taught me when I wasn't writing the board deck, but I was in the room. How does it go? So the number one thing, nothing should ever be a surprise in a board meeting. So I try to pre-align number one. I have regular conversations with board members, right? So whether it be a quick call or text or what have you, like there's different layers of communication I have with each of them, but I'm keeping them abreast of what's going on and what's keeping me up at night and what's good and bad on a regular basis. And then we use the same ABC tool for a board document. I use it as a forcing mechanism for my team as well to make sure that we are kind of on task. But, um, It's no different than, you know, it is different, but it's no different than a round table or a town hall. You have a certain audience who you need a certain behavior from, certain outcome, and then what is the content I'm going to share with them, how you deliver that content. If you're not sure of an outcome of a board meeting before you start, you're going to fail. So it is, I don't want to call it performance art, but you should know what your chairman and his inklings think before you get into it. There's no new information. Financial information should be de minimis because they should know the results. That can be shared over email. You're not going to go through every detail of every spreadsheet in a meeting like that. The things that require intense thought and debate where you need help, you need feedback, you want to pull their expertise, that's a great board meeting where there's discussion and debate as opposed to just a one-sided report out. Reporting happens in email and decks that are sent out weeks in advance. Board meetings should be for pivoting choices. What do we do differently? And, you know, you have to use your relationship skills to build relationships just like we talked about with your peers when we were younger. And they are people too. They have things that keep them awake. And, you know, I ask my same questions of them as I do of other people, like, you know, what's going on with you? What are you worried about? You know, what feedback do you have? And I think it's more similar than many CEOs think it is. I think it's more similar than different. Different approach, but the same construct.

Clint Betts

Sure. How much of your time are you thinking of things and events and what's happening in the world outside of your company versus what's inside of your company? And to give you some context to that question, it does seem like more leaders and CEOs are having to think about what's going on in the world more and more versus like maybe 20, 30 years ago, you could really just focus on what's going on in your company. That no longer seems to be the case. How often are you looking at that?

Jonathan Cherins

It's a really wonderful question. More than I used to, that's for sure. And I think it encapsulates, you know, the morale of the company, where is people's mindsets? You know, there are incidents in the world that affect our business too, especially in public safety, whether that be, you know, unfortunate incidents in law enforcement or fire, and tensions that exist between the population, those agencies. The education markets obviously with higher education, there's lots of controversies going on in higher ed. And we think about how that impacts our customers. And we're the thought leaders that are trusted to work with them. So we pay attention to what's going on in the markets because we're in those markets with our customers. On a cultural basis, when there is a seminal event going on, irrespective of anybody's opinions, whether that be politics or legal events or catastrophes, you have to acknowledge them. And I don't think people will trust you or be in the boat with you if you don't engage in the things that are keeping people up at night. And I think that started to really intensely change with COVID. Like that is something that we as leaders had to deal with because people were appropriately freaked out and what was going on. And we had a lot of energy around communicating and what we're doing and how we're keeping people safe. And I think that is stuck. And I think with all the controversies that are out there, you have to be aware of it. You have to be transparent about it if it affects your company, but you have to be willing to talk about it without being divisive. It shouldn't matter. We're a diverse team. diverse in color, sexual orientation, all forms. We're also diverse in age and geography and politics. And we are a replica of the country as a whole. And so it takes a lot of different people. And I don't think it makes a lot of sense to sit here and tell people what you think as a CEO. I don't think a social platform as a per se is something that I delve into my politics or my politics or whatever. But I do think you have a strong role to acknowledge when people are stressed, to acknowledge about the things around them. And I try to be myself.

Clint Betts

What is your thought? And by the way, I'm not trying to get you to weigh in on something political or anything like that or divisive issue. Don't worry, I won't. Yeah, but I wonder what your thinking has been or how you've thought about this whole diversity, equity, inclusion debate happening in the world and that becoming like a political thing. Because I used to just live in the business world and now, or as I understand it, And now it's become a whole different thing. Like those words don't even mean the same thing to certain people.

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah. I think about it a lot in the context of our business. So, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion has, there's a fair amount of training around it that some institutions have put in place, both in commercial entities and education entities. And those decisions, purchase decisions, we were talking earlier about sales cycles, are directly related to the political climate in which that environment, that debate is happening. I don't think this is controversial to say, it seems to be very much a state-by-state issue at this point, where certain states are embracing it and certain ones are not. It mostly manifests itself in the higher education clients that we work with and what their attitudes are. We try to satisfy all of our customers and all of our prospects. We always come back to what is the needs and what are the questions that we need to ask of our customers and what is keeping them at night? What are they doing to manage their enrollment, to keep their students safe, to keep them productive as well as their faculty? And if that is one of their goals, we can help them. And if that is not one of their goals, we respectfully understand that and we help them in other ways. So, you know, that's the way we think about it here.

Clint Betts

What are your thoughts on the current macroeconomic environment in the United States and the rest of the world, obviously? But particularly in the United States, how are you feeling about inflation and money being a little bit harder to get than maybe it was five years ago, interest rates up? How are you thinking about that going into 2024? I mean, we're already in, we're a quarter in, but.

Jonathan Cherins

Oh my God, that's crazy. I can't believe it's almost April. Listen, cost of capital is a real thing. It impacts our employees and how they pay their bills. It impacts debt capacity as we think about borrowing costs to acquire companies and what our world is like. So it is certainly eased up a little bit than kind of at its worst, probably a year or so ago. And we look at the M&A market and things that are for sale and what's out there, and you could see the volume of things kind of creating a little bit of easement in that. That being said, the nuanced answer is it's different. It's different in a commercial environment with somebody doing EC than it is in a K-12 school in Texas or New York or California or wherever, as well as for the government institutions which are directly related to continuing resolutions or passing budgets. I try very much to acknowledge the nuances of what's going on in different markets and different geographies in our country. And to recognize that, you know, there is a macro view that the economy is growing. At the same time, there are pockets of pain and challenges that some of our customers are going through and some of our employees are going through. And so, you know, I know it's not an easy answer to say it's not one size fits all and there's nuance, but that's the truth. And I think that's why we're in the jobs we have to help provide leadership through that nuance.

Clint Betts

Who's a leader or an example of a leader that you admire?

Jonathan Cherins

There's a couple people that stuck out. They're not going to be famous. I kind of stick that to my books and biographies, but there's three people that always stick out at me in my career. One was my first job, when I mentioned earlier, selling classified ads in a magazine. A woman named Allison was my first boss. This was the opposite of COVID. You were selling classified ads, but you were putting on a suit and tie, going into New York City every day to make 100 phone calls. yellow legal pad was your CRM. There was no Salesforce. And she taught me professionalism and accountability and outcomes. And to this day, I'm incredibly grateful to her because I was an okay student, but I was much better at work once we started measuring things. And she had a tremendous influence on me. The second person, a gentleman named Larry, who I worked for from 2002 through 2015, really got me into the world of private equity venture capital, held me to an incredibly high standard, taught me a tremendous amount about P&L management, people management. And listen, I'll say the first thing, from all these leaders, you take some things you want to emulate and some things you don't want to. So none of these people are perfect or anything like that. And the last is my father. I grew up in a business household where my dad ran advertising agencies. And so I grew up listening to pitches and HR matters at the dinner table. And I lost my dad this past year. So I think a lot about the lessons and the little idioms that came out of his mouth for all those years. One of my favorites, which I'll share with you in the audience is only morons are always at their best. You have to have a bad day. Like it's hard, you know, today's rough. Like, okay, like tomorrow's going to be better. Like not everyone's going to be in a great mood every day. You're not always going to say the right thing at the right time. You're not always going to have a great month or a great quarter. And that's okay. In order to have a great day, you probably have to have a bad one. And those little things stick with me a lot.

Clint Betts

That's beautiful. Well, this kind of, you kind of maybe answered our final question, which is, um, at co.com, we believe the chances one gives is just as important as the chances one takes. And we had every interview with this question and that is who gave you a chance to get you to where you are today?

Jonathan Cherins

Yeah, that's, you know, it's kind of the same answer. I'd say the person who had the most change in me professionally is this gentleman, Larry, who, you know, I found after graduating business school, I happened to dance through the network and ended up working for him at a company called Dun & Bradstreet many, many years ago. And that person has made the most difference and exposed me to things like we talked about board meetings and things like that and culture and leadership really challenged me at a very young age to, I'm not sure what your career was like, but like at a certain age, I was really young managing people and you can kind of Oh, I'm young. I don't know what to do. And it really just changed my entire kind of worldview on leadership and what performance looks like. But I learn something every day and I look at the Vectorites that I work with and the mission that they're on and you see somebody bend over backwards to do something for a first responder and it's as inspiring as anything I've ever seen in my entire life. So I am open to being inspired every day by the people I work with and I'm just incredibly lucky to be here at Vector with the people I work with and looking for inspiration tomorrow as well as I had over the last 30 years.

Clint Betts

Jonathan, thank you so much for coming on. Seriously, what an honor to have you here. It's been a pleasure talking to you. Come back on.

Jonathan Cherins

I could, we could do that- it would be my pleasure.Get out to Utah every once in a while. We used to have an office out there, so I would definitely do that. And anything I can do to help the cause and CEO.com, please let me know. And it's been an absolute pleasure. And thank you so much for your great questions. I really appreciate it.

Clint Betts

I appreciate it. Thanks, Jonathan. Have a good one.

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