Fresh Leaf Forever

Future Proofing Career, Business: Strategies for Growth & Innovation

March 18, 2024 Vai Kumar interviews Dean Debiase Season 3 Episode 18
Future Proofing Career, Business: Strategies for Growth & Innovation
Fresh Leaf Forever
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Fresh Leaf Forever
Future Proofing Career, Business: Strategies for Growth & Innovation
Mar 18, 2024 Season 3 Episode 18
Vai Kumar interviews Dean Debiase

Ever wondered how some organizations and careers go through a metamorphosis to come out even stronger on the other side?
That's exactly what we uncover with our guest Dean DeBiase, Chairman of Reboot Partners. 

Traversing Dean's entrepreneurial odyssey, from his teenage business ideas, to steering innovation at some of the world's leading companies, we highlight it all.

His wisdom spills over into a rich discussion about the art of selecting transformative projects, the essence of product desirability, and the crucial timing within the market landscape. 

This episode is a treasure trove for those looking to push the boundaries of business growth and innovation. 
We dig into :
- the consequences of market timing 
- the role of people, platform, and passion
- Dean's practical toolkit for catalyzing growth – the 'three Bs': build, buy, and borrow
- crafting a purpose-driven career, balancing fun, money, and impact
- AI and emerging trends
- Being nimble and adapting to growth needs
- Planning things out quarter by quarter and rearchitect trajectory

Join us as we navigate the shifting employment landscape and what it means for future-proofing your career. 
We spotlight "the power of AND", now essential within the workforce, and how to strike a balance between your day job and growth-oriented activities. 

This episode isn't just a conversation; it's a compass for those seeking to reboot their organizations or personal career paths to unprecedented heights. Tune in for actionable nuggets for sustenance of your career and propelling it forward!

Send us a Text Message.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how some organizations and careers go through a metamorphosis to come out even stronger on the other side?
That's exactly what we uncover with our guest Dean DeBiase, Chairman of Reboot Partners. 

Traversing Dean's entrepreneurial odyssey, from his teenage business ideas, to steering innovation at some of the world's leading companies, we highlight it all.

His wisdom spills over into a rich discussion about the art of selecting transformative projects, the essence of product desirability, and the crucial timing within the market landscape. 

This episode is a treasure trove for those looking to push the boundaries of business growth and innovation. 
We dig into :
- the consequences of market timing 
- the role of people, platform, and passion
- Dean's practical toolkit for catalyzing growth – the 'three Bs': build, buy, and borrow
- crafting a purpose-driven career, balancing fun, money, and impact
- AI and emerging trends
- Being nimble and adapting to growth needs
- Planning things out quarter by quarter and rearchitect trajectory

Join us as we navigate the shifting employment landscape and what it means for future-proofing your career. 
We spotlight "the power of AND", now essential within the workforce, and how to strike a balance between your day job and growth-oriented activities. 

This episode isn't just a conversation; it's a compass for those seeking to reboot their organizations or personal career paths to unprecedented heights. Tune in for actionable nuggets for sustenance of your career and propelling it forward!

Send us a Text Message.

Buzzsprout Get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Two Brothers Organic Farm India
Buy Organic products with code FLF10 at checkout from TBOF India for a 10% discount.

OurPlace Cookware
Shop versatile, aesthetic cookware sets/appliances from OurPlace.

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Instacart Grocery delivery
Free delivery on your first order over $35.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

Vai Kumar:

Welcome to Freshly Forever, a podcast that gives you fascinating insights week after week. Here's your host, Vaikumar. Hey folks, Welcome to another episode on Podcast Freshleaf Forever. Today I have here with us Dean Debiase. He's an operating partner and chairman of Reboot Partners, where he's a trusted advisor to boards and CEOs, helping them tackle their most challenging issues. Dean is a Forbes contributor and host of the Reboot Chronicles, a top business podcast that has interviewed hundreds of CEOs, unpacking their untold stories to help audiences reboot their organizations and themselves. It's with great joy that I welcome Dean here to podcast Freshly Forever. How's it going with you, Dean?

Dean Debiase:

Doing well. Good to see you, Vai. How's it over there?

Vai Kumar:

Well, pretty good. So just, I guess the next generation.

Dean Debiase:

The podcast is doing well. That's good.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, so thrilled to have you here to discuss about all this next generation of work that's taking. That's becoming the buzzword now and taking center stage. So rebooting organizations and carriers, that's what you are an expert at. So your carrier journey, though, is a bit of a hybrid, so why don't you get us started there with all that background story and how you got here, dean?

Dean Debiase:

A bit of a hybrid, that's fine. Yeah, some people would say a bit of a mess. My parents always ask me what do you do? It was always a long paragraph.

Dean Debiase:

I grew up in the corporate world and was very fortunate by to be able to basically start up companies inside the protected shell of some of the largest companies in the world like Western Union, fedex, at&t, lg and a company called Anixter in Chicago. And I just had a knack for so as a kid I started my first little venture at 14 and I was still I was in high school but kind of bringing just disparate, diverse people and things and industries together to kind of smash them up and create something new. So I learned how to do that. At FedEx we created this service called ZAP Mail, which is one of the first electronic mail carrier types of things. It's fax based and AT&T partnered with them to invent the first fiber optic laser which basically transformed cable TV. It took it from 24 channels to thousands. So that was a lot of fun. And then later one of the AT companies, I became my CEO. I was the first games and metaverse, as they call it today, companies. That was my first Silicon Valley venture. Before I did that.

Dean Debiase:

My last gig was at LG. They bought Zenith in the United States. We my team we invented the first cable modems to totally, as you know, kill, dial up and transform that industry. So kind of grew up in this hybrid hardware software thing. So I was under services and hardware and software. I could never settle down into an industry and then just got. I had this serendipitous moment where Steve Jobs was around and I got to kind of it really inspired me to like quit my corporate job in the movie Silicon Valley. So I did that. It became a CEO, more of an entrepreneurial CEO, and never looked back. I just became what they called the serial CEO. I'm not sure why they called me that, but I did about 12 ventures where I would do that over and over and over again in different industries. So yeah, definitely a Harvard view, but I think it's a big message we can talk about later in terms of you know, what should people do about careers now, because there's some good tidbits in there.

Vai Kumar:

Oh for sure, and as an operating partner and board member, ceo, you have taken over and run dozens of companies. Dean, how do you make decisions about what projects organizations need to? You know, just go after.

Dean Debiase:

That is a tough one because I'm typically not the founder. They usually call Dean when it's time to have some come in and reboot. You know the company. That's how I came up with reboot partners, because now I just do it. You know more in a advisor role, but for me it comes down. It's very situational. Of course, it is very personal, right, because it's about me getting involved in a company for a few years. So whether it's a project or a venture or organization, it could be anything for the listeners to think about. So I kind of narrow it down to like three, and this one, I think, was like three P's, you know, is it the right product, the right people and maybe the right period of time to?

Dean Debiase:

actually do this because I'll look at I'm still doing this today, looking at dozens of things to get involved in either from an advisor or a chairman role, but as a CEO it's heavy duty because you're all in right. So on the product side, it's like so of those three things I'll just run, even if you're just taking a job at a company, just try to, you know, filter this through your selection process. Even if you're not the top dog, it doesn't matter. But is it, is the product, something people or organizations, if you're a B2B company, is it something they really want? And there it's usually the case is not always yes. So right product, right time.

Dean Debiase:

And you know one way to you know, think about that is you know, there's a difference between innovation and invention. So an invention is something you just bring into the world. Innovation is something that people want. But what's missing is the third level, business innovation. Will people pay for it the right price so you can make a return and make money? That's business innovation. And most ventures fail because they don't pass that test. That could be a whole podcast episode. So an example I don't know. Some products are just bad ideas. Cheerio's lip balm comes to mind. They literally tried to do that product. So products important, the right people is a tough one, because as the CEO you can change that right.

Dean Debiase:

But I don't look at it that way. It's like I look at you know, is it a good team whether it's government or educational, because I'm involved in lots of government and university projects doesn't have to be a company, you know, are they good to work with or are they going to have fun together? And you know, is there a good board? You mentioned boards and I learned that lesson very, very painfully once one of my board's auto web that I took public it was a very kind of unsupported going with the current, you know, trend of the hour kind of boards.

Dean Debiase:

So even if you're not, you know, looking at a board, it's like who else is involved in the company and do you agree with them? And then the last one is at the right period of time, especially if you're looking at a new venture. So there's all types of products that are just it's a great idea, it passed the first test, I love the people. Then I look at is it really too early or too late for markets? And at one point I looked at joining a Palm Pilot way back in the day and that product was just too early. They're using it now, but they, you know, they basically proved that the thing and another one.

Vai Kumar:

So the synergy is important, right. Those synergies have to kind of align for anything to you know, just become big right.

Dean Debiase:

Oh yeah. Yeah, I was just pointing out you know some products that could still be a cool idea. You love the people, but you have to ask the people is this product actually is it the right time Like? Another one was Microsoft Zune. No one remembers that, but it was like a little music. It was a copycat product because Apple was getting all the rage and it was too late. So sometimes things really sometimes, so the timing is important too. But anyway, those are just the things I look at. That's the filter, and you can do that on anything that you have, and you often call large corporations BFSs, right?

Vai Kumar:

So is that a bad thing?

Dean Debiase:

I get a lot of flack for this. Bfss means big, fat and slow, and so I make fun of a lot of big companies in my Forbes articles on the podcast when I'm teaching, but I also. It's a trap because I also say, hey, it's okay to be big, fat and slow, because most of the companies I'm working with are talking about are massive multinational companies. There are billions and billions in revenue. Of course they're gonna be big and fat and slow, just like governments are right.

Dean Debiase:

But what's the cautionary tale? There is like, oh, if you put those three together, what's the connected tissue between the three and the three things I identified that I hate is irrelevance, obscurity and decline. That's the bad part, that's the downside of big, fat and slow. So the question is how do you maybe not change the whole company, but still stay away from decline and irrelevance? And so many companies are struggling with this now. Macy's right now, is trying to differentiate itself and say, hey, we're not getting the young audience, what are we gonna do? We're not getting the luxury audience anymore, what are we gonna do? So a lot of these big companies can reboot themselves, but I think those are-.

Vai Kumar:

And as well in retail markets relevance. That's very, very significant.

Dean Debiase:

Right.

Vai Kumar:

Gen Z relevance. I think everybody's trying to fight and get in that radar now.

Dean Debiase:

X, y, Z and Alpha's to boot, yeah. So yeah, I don't mean to pick on a certain industry. You could take any industry, any organization it could be. You're going to NASA and working it down there. It's like, hey, what is it that can?

Dean Debiase:

But when it comes to industry, it's like that irrelevance, obscurity and decline is what is leading to many of them falling off the S&P 500, going out of business, being bought out they're just gone. A lot of the brands that we grew up with are gone. Doesn't mean they're gone out of business, but they're not the leaders anymore. So that's just a dangerous thing that you have to constantly reboot yourself. Some CEOs are really good at it. They'll fire themselves, metaphorically speaking, once a year to try to like say, hey, if I was a new guy coming in, like Dean, what would I do to this company? So a lot of this you can do yourself, even in just a line level jobs Like hey, I know that we've always been doing it this way, but maybe we should change, because Tesla came out with this whole new way to build something and you might be in a different industry. So I love stealing ideas.

Vai Kumar:

So where does Dean come in then, when it comes to that rebooting part? How did Dean do it?

Dean Debiase:

It depends. So in the CEO world it's pretty clear With many companies it's unlike the one company, some of them are just startups, so they don't necessarily need rebooting. Like I'm chairman of Reveve, which is a health, beauty and wellness SaaS company, so it's business to business type of thing, so you're just helping on the growth acceleration on the outside. With other companies it's like do you need more help on the inside? So I tend to net things down. You know me, there's two things in a company I can look at the product roadmap inside and I can look at the go-to-market strategy. Those are your two buzzwords you should be smart on if you're trying to learn, because that's where you can help companies. How do I help them become more efficient or relevant to consumers Right product, right price, or how do I get them to market better? And different channels, different partnerships you know all that stuff. So that's like the high level thing.

Dean Debiase:

But reboots in general, like if I step in as an advisor, there's one company I'm looking at right now and they need a core reboot which is basically going to be blending that like the thrill and excitement and coolness of a startup that vibe with the discipline and rigor and exactitude of like a turnaround.

Dean Debiase:

So I just mentioned two things that are totally juxtaposed. When I tell people that they're like there's no way you can bring a startup and turnaround together, those are like totally different, and I said actually you can. That's why you want to do a reboot. You need to do it before the turnaround guy shows up, because if the turnaround guys show up, there's companies that's only do it's too late, you've missed your window, and so I think that's real important. The short answer, though, on that is I look at three things. So reboots there's a really 12, but the three are most important are people, platform and passion, and at any type of reboot I've ever done or just helped on, it always affects all three, because you need to come in and figure out do we have the right people doing the right things?

Vai Kumar:

Should we have different. Oh, absolutely.

Dean Debiase:

That's probably the most important one, the platform we already talked about. Is the right product, right time? That's usually a no, it's off base and the passion is not so much what you think. It's not everyone running around being excited and having a great day. It's if we already have the right people and we're actually focused on the right markets. This should be a really exciting opportunity to kind of restart the excitement level and the focus and the entrepreneurialism in some cases in a small group inside a big company. Sometimes you start small but, yeah, I find that people, platform, passion blend.

Vai Kumar:

If I don't touch on those three, like if there's ever been a failure, which usually we didn't do one of those well, Okay, people platform passion, but then everybody like I guess you would have noticed even when you walk in they all just want growth, right? Everyone wants growth. So they probably don't even look at some of the factors that are impeding their growth. But when it comes to growth and innovation, dean, what are some approaches organizations can make to shift?

Dean Debiase:

Right. Well, it's funny because you said they all want growth, so sometimes they're not ready for growth and we have to.

Vai Kumar:

But do they even realize that? Do you think?

Dean Debiase:

Sometimes they don't, so we have to focus on efficiency. So what you're seeing right now in the second half of the 20s here is the big tech companies that bet everything on growth are becoming more efficient. So some of them actually need to become more efficient first and then regrowth or restart from that platform. But in terms of again, it's really situational. But you need to look at the product and service mix and figure out what needs to be changed in order to get to that growth level. But three things we look at there are we call this the three Bs instead of the three Ps. It's just focusing on the platform, right, the people and not the passion. So it's a build by borrow. So what is it that we should continue to build with?

Dean Debiase:

our people, our core. I don't care if it's software, dresses, shoes, gasoline, whatever it is. What are we going to build ourselves? And let's just keep that at our core. What are we going to buy, acquire whether it's an actual company or some component thing and then what are we going to borrow? And the magic comes in the combination of those three. That's how at least I look at unnaturally accelerating the growth of a company faster than others. So I'll give you three examples. So a good build example is a company called Zoho, and Zoho is an SMB tool that has just about everything you need to run your company, and they have built it from scratch. They've never required anything. So they've got like 50 apps that are in a suite and it's a billion dollar.

Vai Kumar:

Just a build machine type of.

Dean Debiase:

They have all their own people, all their own software, all their own AI folks. They do partnerships but they haven't acquired any companies. Then you switch to another one or who's done a buying or maybe too much buying. So these are examples. These are the two extremes. So Google really, if you look at their core innovation, they haven't really built much. They've acquired most of their successful things except for their ad business. But even there they acquired a lot of companies in the early days. You know YouTube was an acquisition. So they really haven't been that great at organic innovation, where Zoho is just at the option extreme or are they right or wrong? No, but that's just where their DNA was.

Dean Debiase:

So when you bring in the third component, which is borrowing, without getting too boring here, you know that's the magic of hey, if you're really good at building, let's do more borrowing. If you're really good at acquiring companies, let's figure out how do we even empower our own people or actually start doing more partnerships. So I'm trying to think of a couple of examples for you on borrowing. So product partnerships, right, an old one might be Apple and Nike coming together, for you know, the first kind of you know, connected kind of a sneaker shoe a go to market example. More channel stuff is like a Sherman Williams once partnered up with pottery barns like you're you know, buying your shopping for your home?

Dean Debiase:

Why aren't you talking about colors and paint? It was like low level partnerships, but the real good partnership, not low level, but that didn't totally change the trajectory of the company. But if you do this right and you get really good at borrowing most companies aren't. It's hard you can change the trajectory and growth of the company versus just, you know, getting bigger at what you're doing. So that's that's how we came up with the whole, you know, dancing with startups program.

Vai Kumar:

It's part of the part of the? Okay, so I was just going to ask you about that. So how does that, is that more beneficial for like a solopreneur or, like you know, entrepreneur? Just, you know, kind of trying to just figure their strategy, you know, and then, kind of, you know, just get their grounding, or do you think it can also, kind of, you know, borrowing examples from that or borrowing some facets of that program is kind of how you also help some of these large corporations need.

Dean Debiase:

That's actually how it was invented years ago. Came up with the dancing with startups program while I was teaching at Kellogg, northwestern, and it was designed for the BFSs the big fat, slow multi-nations to help them literally dance with startups, not just buy them. Again, this could be a, you know, a two hour talk, but how do you actually start slowly dancing with them to affect your trajectory and affect your culture and affect your growth and affect whatever?

Vai Kumar:

Some of them and is right, some of the mergers and acquisitions and all of that.

Dean Debiase:

And that was that's usually the last choice. So there's there's there's four things we help them with. These are big companies and you can flip it and do it. Entrepreneurs can do the same thing, but in reverse. So there's a there's four things that big companies can do. To be March, but I'll dance with startups. There's actually way more, but the four that we find most useful are basically enabling your current employees to become more entrepreneurial and giving them the tools for actually hiring new people. But they're, but they're basically full-time employees around payroll. They're not. They don't have much to do with the entrepreneur of the ecosystem and some companies have done that well. Others have, you know, not necessarily given them the freedom or the latitude, or they don't really have the skill sets to go start up something new inside a big company. You know which I told you. That's how I started out as a kid. I was one of the youngest managing directors at FedEx and I was just lucky enough to get that opportunity. So they need to give people more opportunities, like I had to start things, whatever it is, could be a product, could be anything. It doesn't have to be a big venture. So that's essentially enabling who you have. The second one is embedding entrepreneurs inside your company. So this is going out and bringing more entrepreneurial talent into the company. So that's, whether you're you're involved in an accelerator or an incubator or, like Disney, partnered up with Techstars years ago to try to find different types of companies that they could partner with, but this is more bringing. Like you said, solo entrepreneurs need to come into large corporations to to help them be a part of it or blending them together somehow.

Dean Debiase:

The third one is my favorite. We call it separating. So separating from the mothership is all in a four square, if you could imagine it. And that actually is setting up bigger ventures where you're giving these people. I've done three or four of these back in my large company days where you take, you know, you start a new venture, typically in a different building, different location, and you set up an entirely separate culture that can start new ventures and new companies. And that's the most successful ones I've had in large corporations back when I was a kid.

Dean Debiase:

Was is when we actually separated from the mothership without letting, like you know, the numbers guys are, the CFOs restrict you. You need to actually let the model play out so you can't just be on, like you know, a part of a floor, you know, with some cool stuff hanging from the ceiling. It actually needs to be real. And if you can do any one of those three, the last one is just engaging with the global entrepreneurial systems. You dance, you're doing all these at once and most companies try to jump to that right away, without trying to do the first three, which is embedding, enabling and separating from the mothership.

Dean Debiase:

So to you know, to answer your question, the other reverse is what we came up with later. It's like okay, now we help maybe a hundred companies, big, huge, bfs is how do startups and entrepreneurs deploy this model? Well, they already were, because all of the deals that we helped a large corporations with, they were all the startups, solo entrepreneurs, people like you, that were brought in or partnered or acquired, built by borrow, with some of the largest companies in the world, like Exxalon, whirlpool. There's dozens of them that use this as a way to become more entrepreneurial and get a growth track going.

Dean Debiase:

So you know, a decade later, it's helped. And what you'll see, though, a decade later, or almost two decades now, you know everyone's doing this for companies. Now there's been a lot of false starts, so it's not for the faint of heart. It doesn't work in some big companies. Sometimes you know a lot of lunchmars will come in and new general manager will show up or CEO, and next thing you know the program is cut. So you have to go into these relationships with pretty thick skin.

Vai Kumar:

And before we jump on to some of the personal challenges you have encountered in the process and all of that, Dean, what? And also focusing on the next generation of work, again AI taking center stage. Now, right, so AI and sustainability and several other, you know. Where do you see AI coming into the picture, predominantly in terms of businesses? You know can go from this point on.

Dean Debiase:

Yes. So, whether it's business, government, universities, organizations and just anybody, ai is going to totally turn your industry upside down. But comments like that are very helpful. I've been involved in AI companies for 10 years. One of them is Revive. They are one of the first skin diagnostic companies to help you know brands and retailers.

Vai Kumar:

And doing bespoke services right, based on all the data.

Dean Debiase:

You take a piece of it right and then you use it to start a new company or a new service. So so you know the short answer let me give you a short answer, because the long one's too long and it is, but it's very important is like don't be worried about AI taking your job away. I tell people be more worried about someone like Vi, who's going to become AI enabled. She's going to learn enough tools using AI to make her more productive, smarter, better employee, and I'm going to hire her over you. So you should be worried about someone who's actually leveraging AI and they're going to bid you on a job, because people like me will say, boy, I can get things done three times as fast as the other, or they have new capability, skill that we haven't even invented yet. So that's one. And the second one is you know, just be a lifelong learner and AI is just one new thing. Don't get. Don't get stuck on just the one new thing, because if you did, you'd be stuck on metaverse from a couple of years ago.

Vai Kumar:

And again.

Dean Debiase:

That again didn't go very far, so I think it you know. Just those are the two things. You don't need to know how it works and you don't need to worry about it putting it out of business. You need to use it as an enabler so you're more competitive in the marketplace, whether they're going to be in a big company, a small company or going to be a solopreneur.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, a lot of applications right, optimized and sustainable logistics for company. A lot of the data analysis is going to help them in several different ways. You know, including you know Right.

Dean Debiase:

And whether I just didn't want to go into all that because there's so many industry applications. I think the message for your folks is so important for their career. They're going to learn new skill sets that will do two things going to change their capabilities. I'll use you as an example. You know you've learned a lot of things in the last year that you probably are more productive than used to be I wish I could say that about myself, but got too much going on and it can also help them change their trajectory, their career and their whole industry. That's how useful it can be, but just don't get stuck in it.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, don't get caught down by it, but just add it as a piece of the puzzle in terms of the learning agenda, right?

Dean Debiase:

Right.

Vai Kumar:

Yes, and in the road ahead, dean, what should people do to better prepare themselves for the next generation of work?

Dean Debiase:

This is my favorite topic, actually working on a book about this called the Reboot. It's a three series one. So the first one is about rebooting yourself. The next one is about organizations. It's going to go on and on, but there's like a three part question. It's like what can you do and what kind of roles are there out there?

Dean Debiase:

But I think the biggest if I had to take it up to a high level is you need to learn the power of and A and D, both inside your organization and outside your organization, whatever the organization is. But let's assume you might work for a big company or something. And then you need to look at the ecosystem out there. There's basically three buckets. There's huge I'll just call them XL organizations very large organizations public, private, government, university, doesn't matter. There's extra small organizations, everything from startups to scale-ups to just being a family on businesses that have been there a hundred years. And then there's just to use a to coin a trendy term. There's the gig economy, so I call them gigsters. That'll change, we'll keep calling it new things. The freelancers, whatever. You need to be able to dance in all three of those in the future, and I know that sounds overwhelming. So what I teach a lot of my students and even executives is you need to do your day job.

Dean Debiase:

And one other thing In your company. We'll get to the outside, but inside your company you need to do your day job. You're the director of e-commerce or your product manager and you need to figure out a new role in your company. So I basically lay out five or six roles that they can take on, and these are really focused on growth and innovation. So they're or efficiency, so they're very self-serving about how do you help your company outside of your current role. So if you want to do the power of and many people choose to do it inside their company, I actually coach people to do something outside your company because it prepares you for the future. I don't have time to go into it. But inside your company, there's four roles I talk about.

Dean Debiase:

There's basically, you know, scouting, planners, builders and sustainers, and those are roles that it's not in your job description. You're just doing it on the side. You know, maybe you're letting people know, but you're kind of scouting for the next thing that they could be involved in or do, or partners. You're planning it, figuring out how do we actually build this venture. That's usually more of a job that they offer you, but learning that planning skill, it's like, yeah, I know we want to get into this, but here's a way to do it. It's like we could actually partner with these guys.

Dean Debiase:

We don't have to hire 100 people. Builders are the ones that are actually going to build it. So those are those entrepreneurs inside the big companies that are needed. And then the last one is you get older. You're going to become a sustainer inside a company. You don't have to be older anymore, but just you have a higher level of job and you have more influence and you can help all these people keep this movement going, whatever it is, because movements and companies usually trickle up. They do well and then new person comes in, from CEO to a manager, and they stop it, and it's important for the sustainers to keep that going.

Vai Kumar:

But do you see this gig economy taking more precedence, more of a choice when it comes to employment, or like the traditional career route?

Dean Debiase:

So that was inside the company. I'll start. You know how do you deploy the power of and outside your company? So, first of all, yes, the the gig economy. Let's just call them freelancers, you call them solopreneurs 20 different words. There's 1.5 billion people in the workforce that are self-employed. That's like 40, over 45% of the global workforce. That's a shocker, it's just a shocking number. And that number, so we, you know, when our parents were like in charge, that was a very low number. It was a lot of small businesses, but there's never been a better opportunity to do something on your own. So, so no, I don't think it's going to go away.

Dean Debiase:

The important thing and the power of and is what do you do outside your company? So you got your day job, you work for a company, maybe you're doing your own thing, but what else could you be doing? So it could be anything from volunteering to doing something that is actually preparing you for the next move, whether it's, you know, learning, education or actually just working in another venture. For many of my corporate I'll call them students I often tell them fine, keep your job at KPMG. But also, you know, volunteer here at 1871, one of our incubators in Chicago, or with a startup or whatever. Don't worry about getting paid, but figure out a way where you can actually do something else that's not too conflicting with your current job. That is either providing you with a lot of joy or actually preparing you for the next generation.

Dean Debiase:

And the important thing to your direct question is what is the next generation? It's being able to dance in that XL, xs, extra small, extra large, gig economy job. Those three things are more and more intertwined and your career trajectory will be more hybrid, just like mine was. I never had these opportunities where you might start out as a startup and go to a big corporation and start your own thing. You might start out where you're doing your startup, then you go to a small company because it's you know, it's just a natural thing to do, and then you ended up a big company. Many of the people now are like they're stuck at these big companies and they're trying to get out of them and they're not ill-equipped to move to the you know, small startups or to you know, their own venture.

Dean Debiase:

So you're starting your own company or just being a solopreneur. So understanding all three of those. Again, there's more, but trying to keep it simple, it's a global economy where you can kind of dance in all three of them and it does prepare you for, you know, right now a lot of companies are going through layoffs, where the people that have done this they're more prepared to be gigsters and start out on their own and, you know, create a small business. Others still want the safety of the next big one, but they may hang out a while in the entrepreneurial space while they, you know, try to find their next big job.

Vai Kumar:

Is that the best route, then, to kind of finding purpose and what they do, dean, because a lot of times I think people get bogged down and frustrated with what they do and maybe some, you know, they get stuck for lack of better word and I get stuck, I totally get it it goes to the point that it starts to even impact mental health, right? So?

Dean Debiase:

it does. So you mentioned purpose and I find that finding your purpose is critical. It's critical to, like you said, your physical health, your mental health, your happiness, and there's a lot of consultants and diagrams out there that'll show you. This just brings all these things together. I'm drawing a circle for those of you not on the video feed and they say purpose is in the middle. So I'll show that slide first. And I said this is a trap. Don't ever think purpose is in the middle of all these beautiful things, because none of us can do all those things at once.

Dean Debiase:

Purpose is a very fleeting, situational moment that you just have to create yourself and life occasionally or with people. There might be something by and I do as a project or a venture, or maybe I'm finding it right now, just recording this podcast with it and most people think purpose is like I have to have it all the time. So I basically it took me a while to get to this I used to make decisions. Where you asked me before how do I make decisions? It was like can I make money and is it fun? And if I could check both of those boxes when I was younger, I would just do it. I wasn't very picky Might it be both boxes, though and then I realized later in my life something was missing. There was no purpose. It was whatever. It was just anything from like upsetness to sadness to depression. You're just like, oh, I'm doing this, working.

Dean Debiase:

So I added a third one to the mix, kind of accidentally. So I added impact. So the way I make decisions now is fun, money and impact, and if you put those three together and any graphic that you like, now I only have to check two of those, not both, but if I can check two, I'm pretty happy with it. So if you take fun, money and impact and put them together, it's the connected tissue again Between the three is where I find purpose. So I'm like, hey, there's a job here, it's fun, but there's not a lot of money. That's probably a startup. Should I do it? Yeah, I think I'm gonna do it. Should I do something for impact and money? I'm like, well, that's the hardest thing to find For me. It's public speaking. It's like you get paid, you're motivating an audience, it's nice. Most of them are like they're impact, but they're not a lot of money. That's like volunteering at an organization, whether it's anything from your church to a business group, so you can do all these combinations.

Vai Kumar:

What I've found mistakenly is I'll keep your passion and find your true calling right.

Dean Debiase:

Yeah, but it's situational. It's like. That's why the power of and is so important Because your fun, money and impact will be different from everything you do. So there's some things that you just need to give up on and say I'm not doing this for money, I'm doing this for fun and impact. There's other things where you're saying it's my day job, I'm doing this for money, I'm actually not having any fun, but I'm gonna tolerate it a little bit longer because I have a couple other things going on that do bring me joy and passion and purpose. The trap, I was saying, is, if you try to bring all that together on your day to day job every day, it's basically demotivating. It's too hard to do. So you give yourself a break and create situations where you can find a little passion and purpose situationally, either day by day, or project by project or company by company. Gotcha.

Vai Kumar:

So what about any personal challenge or career advice if you will Dean for our audience and all about everything else that? That's on the cards for Dean DePiers.

Dean Debiase:

Yeah, I mean I have no shortage of personal challenges. I mean, everything I just described has been a lot of fits and starts and learning curves along the way, and that's why, you know, just try to help people learn from that, figure out. You know, how do I learn from other people's? Not so much mistakes but different, hybrid versions of themselves. So you have to, um, my biggest one was, oh boy, moving to Silicon Valley. So when I had this you know encounter with Steve Jobs and decided to quit my pretty successful corporate career I was doing really well in Chicago and moved my family out to Silicon Valley, I was, you know, I took my first flight out there, been there a lot of business, so I loved it and I felt I landed and had my first meeting and I instantly felt, wait a minute. In Chicago in my corporate life I was this young whippersnapper, you know whiz kid, and somehow, as I flew out to California, four hours later I was like the oldest guy in the room and I was only so you were a different person.

Dean Debiase:

I was only 30. Now it's just like everyone was so young in Silicon Valley and in Chicago. Everyone was still, you know, I was the young one and they were all the old people still wearing suits and yeah. So I just like instantly it all changed, which was very strange to me. But the toughest challenge was not that, obviously it it. It was a little bit, but it was okay.

Dean Debiase:

A you need to be more entrepreneurial. B you're in charge. You're not like the VP of product, you're the CEO of the Imagination Network, the largest games company in the world, which was currently run by AT&T. And I quickly figured out, you know. So here I am on the, you know, a CEO of a subsidiary of one of the world's largest corporations, one of the first companies on the stock exchange in the US, and I quickly figured out that they had bought the company for the wrong reason and probably hired me for the wrong reason, and we spent the next two years, you know, rebooting the company, getting it switched over to two different platforms and Microsoft 95 was coming on, all that. So it was a triple challenge of, you know, wrong people, wrong owners, maybe the wrong time, and they were pretty far behind. So it was.

Dean Debiase:

It was a. It was a you question yourselves in the middle of a meeting at 2 am in the morning, when the servers are down and things aren't working anyway. So we ended up I didn't know it was going to be a reboot. So this is where I kind of got the the the reboot skills on your own, where you're not really protected by anything. But we quickly figured out who owned us didn't really shouldn't own the company, so we had to divest the company from AT&T and sell it to you know whoever who was interested at time, as Microsoft and AOL. We ended up becoming the AOL games channel, which was just nirvana. We went from being this you know company we're not sure where it should fit again like it's game company out there to AOL, which was like, oh my gosh, we're so glad you're here. So bad situation turned into a good.

Dean Debiase:

But yeah, be careful what you ask for and do your due diligence. As I said before that that whole all the things I said about you know, right place, right time, right people is is important and the only other advice I would give is just go back to the power of and what is it that I'm doing? That maybe isn't giving me purpose or passion or whatever, but understand that's fleeting. You can still work through that. But what else should I be doing right now instead of going to I hate to say the gym, but instead of going to all the normal things you do, you could carve out one or two hours a day to do so many things, including just using your computer to learn a new skill like AI, or helping out a startup, or, if you're out of startup, doing something different. But you need to have multiple skill sets.

Vai Kumar:

So the for the revolutionary times ahead in business, which is going to be, you know, moving between large companies, small companies, entrepreneurial ventures, teaching or nothing for time for yeah, like you said, yeah, pro bono, offer your skills pro bono and then, kind of you know, that's definitely going to offer more learning opportunities and and definitely the power of and is just amplified right there, correct?

Dean Debiase:

yeah it's. It's helped a lot of my students. But what I've noticed is it's helping a lot of mid-career people because they're stuck. So whether you're thinking about joining a big company coming out of school or you're stuck in one right now either one you should be doing two things. Don't just take the job and just say, yep, I got this new job, I'm going 100%, it's like that's cool, go 90 and then spend the other, because 100% of your time is 25 hours a day. So do your job, but do a couple other things and goodness is it, can be anything you want fantastic.

Vai Kumar:

Thank you so much for taking the time today to talk to us, dean, and so what's coming? What can people look forward to with Dean DeBuyas?

Dean Debiase:

with me. Oh, just, I am working on a new book, the reboot. That always takes well, but just out on a speaking tour now talking about it and so speaking and writing. So check out our podcast. The reboot chronicles.

Dean Debiase:

It's great stories from CEOs that I'm pretty good at getting them to open up and tell their stories. That helps us personally as, as you know, career-minded folks or just personal passion types of stuff. The book is really there to help on what we just touched on, which is like how do you plan and how do you prepare yourself for the revolutionary business decade ahead and so that you're kind of on top of things, not just reacting but actually being proactive and having more options and we call it optionality in the book for yourself and your own career, so that and you know, just trying to keep doing what I'm doing, which is every decision I make. It's like fun, money and impact. I have to always remember to come back to that and kind of plan things out quarter to quarter.

Dean Debiase:

Don't get stuck in. Hey, every year, every December I look at the year and I plan it out and then by February I've failed, it's like you know. So every couple months you want to kind of come back to the drawing board and re-architect where you're going. It sounds a little overwhelming, but my best advice is have some fun with it. So that's what I'm doing perfect.

Vai Kumar:

So such wonderful nuggets there for sustenance of work and for, you know, everyone there thinking about the next generation of work. Thank you so much, dean, for taking time to talk to us today and wishing you the best. With the podcast and speaking of the power of, and I've had the pleasure of working with Dean DePiers on his podcast, the reboot Chronicles, so that has helped me. That has helped me learn a lot. That has helped me put a lot of things into perspective, aside from doing this freshleaf forever podcast, and it's not just podcasting, but it's a lot of business strategy that I've got to work with Dean on and do a lot of writing and and content creation and strategizing. So thank you for that opportunity, dean, and look forward to having many more wonderful conversations.

Dean Debiase:

Thanks Vy, good to see you.

Vai Kumar:

Listeners, as always, follow the podcast, rate the podcast and leave a review from your podcast app of choice. Follow me on Instagram and YouTube at vaipkumar. That's v-a-i-p-k-u-m-a-r for all things digital media and lifestyle. Until next time with yet another interesting guest and yet another interesting topic. It's me Vai, along with the wonderful Dean, saying so long.

Navigating Rebooting Organizations and Careers
Strategies for Growth and Innovation
Accelerating Growth Through Build, Buy, Borrow
Navigating the Future Workforce Landscape
Finding Purpose