Samuel Wilson Transcript

Clint Betts:

Sam, thank you so much for coming on the show. It means a lot to have you take some time out of your schedule to meet with us. I'm fascinated by... I've been perusing your website all morning. You've really got something pretty special here. How did you make it to this role of CEO? And tell us about 8x8 as well.

Samuel Wilson:

So, I'll do me first, and then I'll do the company second because they're both a bit of a journey, and I'll soundbite this a little bit. So, if you think about me first, previously I was in the military, I was on Wall Street, and then I ended up in software companies and I worked at a company called MobileIron. And in 2017, the CEO at the time at 8x8 hired me to take over their small and medium-sized business unit, which we created upon my hiring. And from there, I became the first chief customer officer. I've expat-ed to the UK and ran our European operations for a year, then I became the chief financial officer, and then I became the CEO. So in that world of if you always hire people smarter than you, I've achieved the dumbest person in the company role because everyone below me is definitely smarter than I am.

And then the company itself is a wonderful journey about sort of how Silicon Valley and persistence and grit, if you will. The company originally started as a chip company, and 8x8 is the number of pixels, and it made video chips, and then it moved into video conferencing, and then it moved into residential voice-over IP, and then it moved into B2B voice-over IP, and then it moved into contact center, and unified communications, et cetera. So, it's had big ups, big downs, and it's managed to reinvent itself three or four times, and we're in the process of somewhat reinventing ourselves again right now from that kind of legacy collaboration tools to more customer engagement in a broader set of business communications.

Clint Betts:

Well, I wonder as I look at this, it's like an incredible platform, and wow, that's amazing, everything that this company has been, that's super fast, and the fact that it's still alive and thriving is unbelievable. That doesn't happen too often, right?

Samuel Wilson:

No, it's had several near-death experiences, and the best part is, Brian, three CEOs ago, still is my chief technical officer. And so, he's got some great war stories of 17-cent stocks and desperately trying to figure out how to make payroll next week. We're now a $750 million year company with 130 million of EBITDA and cash growing in the bank account. He's got a whole host of stories that I can't relate to, but it's definitely an amazing journey of reinvention and grit and just trying to figure out how to do the right thing for everyone.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. Hey, how has AI affected all of this, and is that part of the reinvention?

Samuel Wilson:

It is, and it isn't. So, we first got involved in the AI space, I would say 2018, '19, because we were looking at things around the contact center, and we hired a number of individuals from IBM Watson, which is one of the pioneers of AI. And we were sort of deep in that space, but there's two things we realized. Number one is starting in 2020 and 2021, we really noticed the venture capital community step up and start to fund these things. So, all the technology that people see today, we first saw two, three, four years ago when they were being funded, and my best guess right now is there's been in excess of $100 billion of venture capital that's been allocated to that AI space. And I'm a firm believer that number of dollars of R&D equals innovation. So, if you're spending $100 and someone's spending $1,000, they're going to out-innovate you.

And I didn't want to compete with that venture capital wall of money, but the second thing is almost all of it needs a contact center, a set of workflow software to run on top of. If you don't have the right data sets and you can't actually execute the next best action, it really doesn't matter how good the robot is. And so, what we've done the last few years is really focus our effort on building that world-class workflow software, make a call, get a call, leave a voicemail, move a case to an agent, have that case directed to a bot, agent assist, all these kinds of little things through all the digital channels, all the fragmentation of communications technology.

That's really where we focus on R&D, and then we partner for that AI piece. And so, AI plays a definite role, and we are partnered with some of the leading companies in the world. I'm sure you're familiar with open.ai, the people that brought you ChatGPT. We started working with them six months before they came out of stealth mode. So, before the world even knew what ChatGPT was, we were already playing with it in our labs, and we use them for a number of core pieces of technology inside the platform. We're already working with Meta on Llama 4 and some of those kinds of technologies. So yes, we play a role in those areas, and we're sort of proud of our AI chops.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. As you go through, what area should the company focus on? What products and features should we build into the company, and where do we spend our time? And with integrations and things like... How do you think about that? How do you decide where to focus?

Samuel Wilson:

Look, I'm always brutally honest, and I would say I'm sort of a six out of 10 or a seven out of 10 hitter on this topic. So, just know the advice you're getting is I've made my fair a share of mistakes. Generally, the way we try to think about it is we want to bring AI or a given technology in-house if we want to make it a shared service across our platform. So, what's an example of that? AI is wonderful at figuring out how to take a question and synthesize what it really means. Would you like a pizza? I would like a pizza. What kind of pizza? These kinds of simple questions are actually really complex because they can be asked a million different ways, and you want to get out of the idea of how you ask the question gives you a completely different answer.

And so, those are transcription, translation, those kinds of things, and sentiment analysis. We'll bring those in-house, and we want to always make sure that they follow the GDPR and the data privacy rules. So it's really key, for example, about open.ai is we don't pass... Let's say we're using them for transcription and we want to take German into English, we don't give them the transcription and say, "Please give me the English response." We've brought the technology in-house. It's on our side of the firewall; it's hidden from the rest of the world, and so you can take customer data, put it in there, and get the English response in return because the tools are inside. And so, that's a lot of what we really focus on is that shared common service. Now, if you're an expert at customer service bots or an expert at sales bots or those kinds of things, we want to partner and we want to let you be. You're awesome at that. We're not going to customize it. We just want to supply the data to make the outcome the best.

Clint Betts:

How do you decide where to focus your time as the CEO every day?

Samuel Wilson:

If anybody would've told me taking this job over, what the job was really like, I'm not sure I would've said yes in hindsight, if I'm really honest. So, I think that's an incredibly hard question to ask. And what I really discovered as being CEO is you're no longer tied to a functional area. Even the CFO, 85% of my time was in finance. As CEO, the first lesson I had to learn was what I call context switching. I'm sure there's a better name from Mackenzie for it, but I can sit in a meeting from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM talking about product; at 9:01, I'm with the finance department; at 10:01, I'm talking to the legal team about FCC regulation, and 11:01 I'm meeting with the marketing department about a new campaign around our products. Wowzers, I was not really prepared to be able to switch. The lesson I learned...

So, my first year as CEOI was very focused on tactical items, and what I'm learning in my second year as CEO is there's only things my business card can do. If I want to meet the CIO of a Fortune 50 company, the reality is the only person inside my organization that's going to get that meeting is me. And I need to spend more time on the things that only I can do because of my status, my business card, my knowledge of the industry, et cetera, and I need to delegate more down, with clear direction, but delegate down more to people on the things that others inside my organization can do. And so, the number one thing I'm working on in year two is really saying, "You know what? I've got to trust the people in my organization. I've got to give the direction. I'll check in, but I'm going to focus on the areas that only I can do."

Clint Betts:

How do you think about work from home versus hybrid versus in-person and Silicon Valley where you're at, this is a raging debate even now, I assume, my experience of it is, where have you landed on that and particularly how to maintain a good culture depending on where you've landed?

Samuel Wilson:

You ask amazingly good questions. So, first, I'm probably going to tell you, I'm going to give you an answer that probably differentiates me from most people, and I think this comes from my time in the military and working in and around special operations. I want to hire the best people I possibly can. And so, I never want to be constrained by saying those people, by pure chance, have to be in a 20-mile circumference around where I have an office. I love working with best-in-class people, and if you want to do it from Montana, California, UK, Romania, or Singapore, I don't care. That's what the wizardry of video conferencing technology... So, I'm a firm believer in high bred, however you want to call it, but really it's like just hire the best people you possibly can, and then step two, build culture with that.

So, one of the things that we do is we have less buildings probably than most people and less offices than most people, but we set aside money for group meetings and team meetings and whatever, and we'll fly people in from around the world, and we'll let them work in a high octane environment for four or five days and build that collaboration and build that other stuff, et cetera. To me, the single biggest thing about that work remotely, work from home, work apart is communication. When you're sitting at the water cooler, you're sitting at the coffee machine, there's a level of communication. So, one of the things that I do, and I really encourage my team to do, I almost every week write an email to the entire company. Email is the cheapest form of communications on the planet. It doesn't care about time zones, and you get to read it.

And so, usually every Sunday morning, I try to sit down and write about something to the organization - something that went well, something that went terrible, something that's new, whatever, it doesn't really matter. It's something that's top of mind for me, and what that gives the organization is connection. You don't want people to feel like they're isolated, working in their spare bedroom, and don't feel connected to the rest of the organization. And so, for me, culture is about connection, so we have intense get-togethers, and then we try to have a constant stream of everybody should know what's going on. And what's amazing is FYI, if everybody knows what's going on, you actually get a more productive organization.

Clint Betts:

Funny how that works, huh?

Samuel Wilson:

Absolutely.

Clint Betts:

It's actually really beneficial beyond even culture. It's beneficial to your bottom line as a company that everybody feels like they're part of something.

Samuel Wilson:

Right, so in my world, hire the best piece of what you possibly can give them the tools to be successful, and make sure they know what success looks like. And if you do that, wow, a lot of stuff can take care of itself.

Clint Betts:

How did you come up with your values? Because part of culture obviously is values and what your company's values are, how you adhere to them, and beyond how you came up with them, how do you communicate those values both internally to your team and externally?

Samuel Wilson:

You are really good at this. So, I would say what you're about to hear is a bit of a military answer. So, I spent time in the military, and when I was in the military, I was an Airborne Ranger and the Rangers have the Ranger Creed, and the Ranger Creed is something that we recite on a regular basis, and it talks about what our values are. So when I took over as CEO, we didn't have that. We didn't have a guiding principles document, whatever. And then I was lucky enough to meet a personal hero of mine briefly, a guy named Admiral William McCraven. He's written a couple books. He was in charge of JSOC, his teams hit Osama bin Laden, and I said to him, "How do you create that culture that we had in Rangers or Green Berets or in SEAL teams, et cetera when you don't start with them when they're 18 years old? How do you create that culture when you're bringing people in from outside and whatever?"

And he looked at me and said, "You were a Ranger, right?" I was like, "Yeah." And he said, "Do you know the Ranger Creed?" I was like, "Of course I do." And he's like, "Did you write it down? Did everybody repeat it?" And so if you go to every office building in the world, you're going to see our principles, our values, the things we care about, and then at the beginning of every all hands, you're going to see those. So they're written down, they're displayed. I frequently, in notes over coffee, will highlight an example of where the value was done well. One of the values is we hold each other accountable, and I will write to the entire company when Organization A held Organization B accountable. Organization B doesn't always like to be called out as being held accountable, but they're also smart enough to know that sometimes they hold organization C accountable, and it sort of rolls downhill.

And so, what I would tell you is you have to write them, you have to argue about them, you have to agree that this really in your soul, this is what we care about. One of our values is disagree and commit is a real thing. So, I am prone to action. I'm prone to action because inaction, knowledge is created. And so, I had to create a value inside our company where disagree and commit is a real thing, and there was tremendous argument about this. "Well, what about this, and what about that?"

But in the end, we agreed that for the downsides, the upsides were greater. And so we publish these, we display them, we highlight examples of them, and we drive it, and it's been a year now that we've done that, and I would say I have another year to go before it's become ingrained in who we are. I think a lot about Starbucks. So, Howard Schultz has written some phenomenal books, and one of the things he says is, "If you want your customer treated well, you have to treat your employees well," and that's the culture at Starbucks, but boy, they've been doing it for 25 years or 30 years. For us to build that... The last thing I would say about culture building, it's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take you time, and it has to be continuously reinforced.

Clint Betts:

Something we talk about a lot at ceo.com is self-leadership, and how do you lead oneself and the various habits or tricks or various things that you do. I don't know that we've ever talked to an Army Ranger before, and so this question is really quite interesting to me. What did you learn about self-leadership as an Army Ranger? What did you learn just generally as an Army Ranger and how have you applied it to business?

Samuel Wilson:

So, I would say this as a general Army Ranger, Army officer, sort of similar thing, number one is you have to lead by example. So, I love the question you asked. I saw it on the list. I love the question that you ask about self-leadership because, to me, this is pinnacle. This is at the top of the pyramid. If you can't lead by example, never ask anybody to do something that you wouldn't do yourself, and it's amazing to me when I see CEOs who violate this principle, it's amazing to me when I see politicians who violate this principle, it makes me want to vomit.

Clint Betts:

They're the number one offenders, politicians, that's for sure.

Samuel Wilson:

Oh yeah, they are, but if you want to be a leader, if you want people to follow you, you have to earn their respect, and the number one way you earn their respect is you lead by example. So, let me give you a value at 8x8. We are cost-conscious, and so we generally fly coach class everywhere. The number one person last year that flew around the world was me, and the number one person that flew around the world in coach class was me. If my engineer can't fly business class, the CEO ain't flying business class. We don't pass rules that say, "Some animals are equal, but pigs are more equal," that will never happen, and I learned that from being in the military. The second thing I learned from the military is mission accomplishment. So you got to understand, the Army and in any branch of the service is, you're willing to give down your life to accomplish an objective.

Now, I don't expect anyone that works for me in the civilian world to do that, but what I expect is, "Hey, if I say I'm going to get it done by Tuesday at five o'clock, it's done by Tuesday at five o'clock." It's not that I'm going to die trying, but it's that I'm really going to give it the valiant effort, and that is a culture that we've infused in 8x8. For me, it means a lot in customer support and customer service. I'm really clear: if we tell our customer we're going to do something, we're going to do it. If you were internal to my meetings, one of the things you would hear me say all the time is we say what we're going to do, and we do what we say because, for me, that means we build strategic partnerships with our customers because they look at us not as one of these Silicon Valley tech companies with PowerPoints and words.

The flip side is sometimes I'll say to them, "We're not going to do that," and what's interesting is as they get to know us, they're usually very respectful. "Wait a minute, you're not going to do that; why don't you want to do that?" "Oh, we don't want to do that because you're the only customer in the world asking for that feature, and we think that's probably a mistake." "Whoa, we're the only person? How do other people do it?" "Oh, other people do it like this." "Why aren't we doing it like that?" And then there's sort of that self-discipline that wraps it all together, deliver what you say, make it happen, ask for the resources you need, don't be afraid if someone checks on you. And the last thing I would say, and this is, once again, a general militarism, is AARs.

So, in the military, there's an after-action review. If it goes well, there's an after-action review. If it goes poorly, there's an after-action review, hot wash, whatever you want to call it, but that's where all the learning occurs. All the learning occurs when you sit down as a group, and you say, what was supposed to happen and what actually happened? So, let's take a simple example in the real world: a marketing campaign. Hey, we're sending out this marketing campaign. You're going to hear me, the CEO, say, "Great, what do we expect from this marketing campaign? Write that down. What are the KPIs?" Et cetera. And then a month later, "Great, what were the results?" And I will never fire anybody for missing the results. That's not going to happen, but I'll fire you if you're not willing to say, "Hey, we missed the results, here's why we missed the results, and here's what we learned from it," and disseminate that information. We're not a CYA organization. We're an organization that continuously wants to get better because that's where all the magic happens.

Clint Betts:

I wonder you've mentioned Silicon Valley a few times now, and as I think about that, you've probably been there during this interesting transition where it was like the tech mecca, in my opinion, it still is, but where it was kind of like the tech mecca, and then there was probably COVID, a little after COVID, during COVID, this kind of tech exodus, and you started hearing a lot about Miami and Austin and these various places. It seems like Silicon Valley is making a comeback with the rise of AI, with I imagine the bulk of the talent being there, but what was your experience of that leading a company, being a part of a company through the various stages of Silicon Valley being the place to everybody leaving? And are they coming back now, or is it still a bit of an exodus?

Samuel Wilson:

So, I'm going to actually go a step further. When I first got to Silicon Valley in 1995, 1996, maybe '95, it was a land of hardware, Intel, applied materials, engineers. Going to the local Hobee's or Stacks and seeing people with pocket protectors and notebooks was completely normal. And then, for me, the place... I think Silicon Valley lost its way a little bit was in 2010, '11, '12, '13 when you saw the rise of the Google millionaires and the Facebook millionaires and the LinkedIn millionaires. These companies were amazing. They caught lightning in a bottle, but they caused a lot of wealth to be created, and it became more about the wealth and less about solving problems. I remember meeting these original famous engineers at Intel or Applied or whatever; they just wanted to solve problems. They wanted to build smaller transistors; they wanted to cure cancer.

They just wanted to do amazing things, and suddenly, it became about cars and houses in Atherton and whatever. I'm okay if some of that leaves Silicon Valley. We're at our best here when we want to change the world, when we want to do things that make our customers heroes, that whatever. If we make a little money in it, great. If we don't make money in it, so what? We're going to go to our deathbeds knowing that we changed the world for the better. I think some of that is returning. What I see with green energy, what I see with AI, that altruistic, we can do things... What I see the biotech industry doing that's when I love being in Silicon Valley. I love being in Silicon Valley, when people are exchanging ideas that make the world a better place. It's the best part of humanity. Silicon Valley isn't its best when it talks about private jets and stupid cars.

Clint Betts:

That's right. I don't want to get any into trouble here, but what about the political aspect of it? Obviously, you have Elon and various prominent Silicon Valley people kind of constantly attacking maybe political leadership or things like that. Has there been any difference that you've seen in terms of... If I turned on something like Fox News right now, it would say San Francisco is unlivable; you can't walk down the street. What is the reality?

Samuel Wilson:

Oh, the reality is it's San Francisco. San Francisco probably has a lower crime rate than 98% of the United States. Everybody bags on New York City, but the New York City crime rate is one-third of what the crime rate in Alabama is. And I'm not a blue-state, red-state guy; Silicon Valley is a little bit more about libertarianism. It's a little bit more of like, "We're going to find our own way, and we're going to build stuff that changes the world." And so, I think the reality is... And I don't know Elon personally; I think I've met him once or twice throughout the years; here's a guy that just can do amazing things. He can put rockets in space using ethernet, wants to put a person on Mars and become whatever, and then at the same time can go off the deep end on a tweet. I don't know; I'm not a big social media guy. I think it's got some problems, and so I don't know. I think there's a little bit of that libertarianism nature of just let people be people, and as long as you're solving world problems, it's okay.

Clint Betts:

It really is fascinating to see one of the greatest CEOs of our time tweeting all the time.

Samuel Wilson:

I don't know how he has the time. I don't know what he does... If I tweeted all the time, half of them would be misspelled because it'd be like in the hall running between meetings.

Clint Betts:

You mentioned your leadership style, and it sounded like a lot of it as kind of centers around empathy. What role do you think empathy plays in leadership?

Samuel Wilson:

Oh, I think it plays a key role. So, one of the things you learn really early on in the military, it's going to be this stereotype-busting thing, but it's a really empathetic organization in the sense that it has to be a culture of safety. You have to have to after-action reviews because you want the organization to get better. And so, one of the books I recommend, it's required reading of my senior management team, is The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. and what he does is it's a terrific book because it lays out these high-performing teams, and you're going to find they have many things in common, and one of the things they have in common is safe space. Safe space is you've got to be able to say, "We made a mistake." I love to use, in the civilian world, the comment that I've been married for 24 years. If making mistakes got you fired, I'm not sure I would've made it through the first week of being married because I did the dishes wrong. I put them in the dishwasher wrong.

I admit, to this day, I've been retrained in how dishes should be properly put in the dishwasher. I say that with humor, but the reality is none of us is perfect. I'm a CEO; I'm not perfect, the people that work for me are not perfect. You should assume no one's perfect, and once you make that assumption, your world changes because, to me, the magic happens... Remember, I said earlier, I'm prone to action. The magic happens when you take a risk, you have a 51% answer, and you brush forward and say, "We're going to try to learn something here. We're going to put this out." One of the things that we do, we launch products all the time in beta. I will tell you that in the last what I've been CEO over a year, we've not launched a single perfect bait on day one, and that makes me so incredibly happy because if it was perfect, we waited too long, and now we're getting the feedback we need from the customer to build the product that makes them successful. That's a perfect beta.

Clint Betts:

How do you deal with failure, both personally and within the business? Is there a few moments or a moment that stands out where like, "Hey, I didn't live up to the standards I expected. We didn't do a great marketing," whatever it is, how do you deal with failure, and what have you learned from failure?

Samuel Wilson:

All right, let me tell you a quick story. I'll tell you a quick story, and hopefully, I'll try to find the right politically correct words to say in the story, but it's going to wrap up the last two topics with a little bow on top. So when I was in the military, I think I was the first lieutenant; we were practicing at what's called the military at the time of kill house. I don't know what it's called today, but you can imagine it's got plywood walls, fake doors, and there's a catwalk above where the instructors are standing watching, and you're doing the stuff you've seen in the movies. You knock down the door, and you go in, and we were doing a stack, and I think I was third in the stack, and we went through the door, and I screwed up royally, and I got shot by these paintballs, I forget sim something they were called at the time.

And you looked, and it hurt like a... And I'm dead. And we were at the AAR, and the instructor, he's got his clipboard, and he kind of looks up, and he sees that I'm an officer, he was a staff sergeant, sees that I'm an officer, and he leans over and he sees I have a Ranger tab on, and his shoulders just slump, and I can read his mind. He's like, "Oh, this is going to be an argument." And he goes, "So, sir, how do you think that went?" And I went like this. I went, "Someone needs to write a letter to my mom explaining that her son's a moron."

And you could just see the look on his face like, "We're not going to argue?" And he's like, "Well, what went wrong?" And I said, "I was third in the stack and I screwed up." And he's like, "Sir, why did you screw up?" And I said, "I got all in my head. I was worried about what the unit was doing and what was happening and over there and this and that and everything else, and I just didn't have contextual awareness of where I was right then and there, and I screwed up because third in the stack, I was supposed to do this and I didn't." And he went, "That's exactly right." And I said, "Yeah." And he went, "What do you want to do about it?" And I was like, "Can we run it again?" And he's like, "Of course, we can run it again."

And that's what we did. We ran it again, and that, to me, is what failure means. Failure doesn't mean not making mistakes. Failure doesn't mean dying on your sword. Failure just means, "Hey, we took a guess." Anybody that's ever been an engineer, what's the famous Thomas Edison thing, 10,000 light bulbs that didn't work? Failure is built into engineering; it's built into investing. No one's a 100% perfect stock picker. Build it into the process, and as a matter of fact, once you build it into the process, you build better products, you make better investments, you think about things better. The idea that failure doesn't exist is laughable. Back to Elon Musk, what'd the guy do, blow up four rockets before he got it, right? Build it into the system.

Clint Betts:

It's interesting as CEOs and leaders; you now have to think about things outside of your company a lot more than maybe you had to 20 years ago when you were CEO and the macroeconomic environment, just the general, "Hey, there's a war in Ukraine and that affects you now in some way," or whatever it is. What are your thoughts on the current state of the world and the current macroeconomic environment? Do you have any predictions in terms of... This is a crazy year; you've got a bunch of elections in all sorts of countries; where are we at right now?

Samuel Wilson:

Here's what I see, so yes, we're a regulated telecom provider. We provide PSD replacement in 60 countries. I'm a bit shocked by the regulatory environment, and this is not a political statement; I'm just a bit shocked that sometimes... What shocks me is that the regulatory environment isn't always about doing the right thing, but it's about getting the paperwork correct. It's about having a way to say, "Gotcha." It's a gotcha regulatory environment, not a, let's not have babies do things that hurt them kind of regulatory environment, and you would think that's what the regulatory environment is. And I'll tell you where I see that a lot right now: you talk about funny things coming out of COVID, so because we're a telecom company, we file about 1,500 tax returns a month, both United States and globally. I can't believe how many audits we're under right now. We're under audits everywhere, from Indonesia through Chicago, through the UK.

We're under audits everywhere, and every government wants more money, and I get it. We pay our taxes. I'm not trying to cheat. I don't have a whole team of people trying to figure out how to bend the rules or find loopholes. We'll pay our fair amount. I don't have an issue with that, but holy mackerel, I've had to hire extra people just to keep up with all the audits. So, what I would say to the flip side of some of the commentary out there in the world is business people do good things. We are still human beings. We employ people. We want to build services. Alan Greenspan wrote years ago, "There's never been a famine in a capitalist system because the price mechanism creates more supply," and those kinds of things. So the one thing I would say is, "Hey, we're not bad people; we're not trying to get over on the system. We're just trying to do the right thing and make our customers heroes every day, and we'll get through the audits or whatever, but can you not give me three days to reply to a 30-page letter?" Come on.

Clint Betts:

That's awesome. Finally, hey, Sam, thank you so much for your time. Seriously, this has been remarkable. We end every interview the exact same way, and that is at ceo.com, we believe the chances one gives is just as important as the chances one takes. I wonder when you hear that, who gave you a chance to get you to where you are today?

Samuel Wilson:

Oh my God, the list that I have, I am here because of my mentors. I am here because people took chances on me when I was rough around the edges when I said the wrong thing in a meeting, everybody forgets... You can see the military played an important role. I was a military brat, whatever, but Admiral Nimitz, who was one of the heroes of World War II, ran a ship aground the first time he was put in command. And in that zero-failure world, we would've lost one of our greatest military leaders. So, I am incredibly thankful to the Brett Hodises of the world, and the Craig Johnsons of the world, and the Alfred Max of the world, the Colonel Bagots of the world, people that took me under their wing and went, "Not how I would've handled that situation. Let me give you some advice. Let me give you a shot."

The best part of the job of being CEO, and honestly, the best part of being 54 years old in the business world, is mentoring the next generation. One of the things, because I'm a veteran, we hire veterans, a lot of special operations veterans; it's a personal cause of mine. I've managed to get my organization to adopt it, and I mentor a lot of these people, and I think the same thing every single time. Somebody along the way was nice enough to give me a shot, and they didn't do it because they were selfish; they didn't do it because they thought they were going to get something; they just thought it was the right thing to do. And I am so incredibly thankful to them because, look, if I could take my CEO badge, I'd have to rip it into 75 pieces, including my wife, and hand a piece to all of them because I would not be here without them. It takes a village, it takes a team, and any CEO that tells you it doesn't, I would argue, has gotten ego and reality switched with each other.

Clint Betts:

That's awesome. Sam, thank you so much for joining us. It was a pleasure.

Samuel Wilson:

Clint, thank you.

Clint Betts:

Thank you. We'll see you down the line. I'm sure we'll have you back on.

Samuel Wilson:

Dude, I would love to. You are good at this. Holy mackerel, you ask good questions.

Clint Betts:

I appreciate it, thank you.


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