Nick Araco is the CEO of AchieveNEXT - a Philadelphia-based growth agency that provides a unique combination of Peer Advisory Networks and specialized Human Capital Performance Solutions to enterprise leaders and their teams. Nick recently sat down with Chris Snyder to discuss how passion has always driven his business decisions.
The power of asking questions and demonstrating curiosity
How to be disruptive in order to be a catalyst for change
The intentional thought behind creating the AchieveNEXT brand
How passion for business led Nick Araco into creating success for the mid-market
If it can't be measured against tangible revenue results, don't spend money on it
Diversity, inclusion, and a multi-generational workforce
You're not alone when it comes to business adversity - don't be afraid to ask for help
This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.
Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.
"You cannot outsource passion." - Nick Araco, AchieveNEXT
"If you don't know what you want to do or you don't want to do what you're doing now - start talking to others and say, who do you know?" - Nick Araco, AchieveNEXT
"People started to say, 'how do you have this ability to demonstrate understanding at your age?' I was like - I'm not demonstrating understanding. I'm demonstrating curiosity - which lends itself to demonstrating understanding." - Nick Araco, AchieveNEXT
"It also means I'm not disruptive for the sake of being disruptive, I like to be viewed as a catalyst that's going to spur some reaction in some way." - Nick Araco, AchieveNEXT
"People are a great accelerator or they're great decelerator." - Nick Araco, AchieveNEXT
Chris Snyder [00:00:35] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll.com and founder of Banks.com. On our show, we talk with industry leaders and entrepreneurs about what's working and what's not with their growth programs. Of course, we're going to cover a little bit of COVID-19 today as well. Just a message from our sponsor. Juhll is a full-service digital consultancy, and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital growth problems. We do this while working as an extension of the executive team. We focus on three things. We quickly identify the biggest problems impeding growth. We propose solutions that give you the best opportunity for success. Finally, the work has to get done. So we bring a private marketplace, a vetted world-class talent to execute your plan. Of course, we manage the whole process. Soup to nuts. To learn more, go to juhll.com. Or you can email Chris personally, Chris@juhll.Com. OK. Without further ado, today, my guest is Nick Araco. He is the chairman and CEO of AchieveNext, a Pennsylvania based career services company that provides everything from executive coaching, sales, and leadership training, diversity and inclusion, compensation and other consulting achieve. Next provides a unique combination of peer advisory networks, specialized human capital performance solutions to enterprise leaders and their team. We offer them the indispensable business and insights, advice, and support they need to achieve their mission-critical priorities. Welcome, Nick.
Nick Araco [00:02:28] Thank you, Chris. It's great to be here.
Chris Snyder [00:02:30] Absolutely. Absolutely. Nick, I'd love to learn more about where you grew up and how you got started. Most of our guests take nontraditional parts and have interesting backstories. So tell us a little bit about the early years before we dove into AchieveNEXT.
Nick Araco [00:02:46] Yeah, so, so much fun to talk about it, too. I'm blessed to have a wonderful family and backstory behind all of this. So I grew up outside of the Philadelphia area. I love to say that because when people listen to or see this, they begin to automatically think. Does this guy sound like what I think of Philly guy sounds like? Is there an accent there? I'm not sure there is a whole people. Well, let me know whether or not they hear that throughout the course of our discussion together. But I grew up outside of Philadelphia. I have a great family around me. And I had my light bulb moment in fifth grade. So go back to like that age in fifth grade where the world is your oyster, you could do anything at all. And my English teacher said, I want you to write a paper or a page long, which seemed like a lot back then. What do you want to do with your life and career? Like if you had your dream job, what would it be? So here I am in fifth grade. I'm a sports freak and I loved baseball and I loved the business of baseball. And I wrote a paper in fifth grade that said I wanted to be an arbitrator that would tell them to make a decision on between the athlete and the agent and the team on what their compensation would be. And I will never forget it. My teacher was like when I handed it in. And I got a grade back. I got an A.. OK. I remember that. But she's like I ask you, like, people were like, I want to be a fireman. I want to play baseball. Yeah. You want to be an arbitrator. Yeah. I was like, yes, I wasn't a geek. Like, I didn't do like I was like crunching the math with something about the business of it really kind of stuck with me. And when I told people that I wrote it, everyone's like, you need to go to law school, you need to be a lawyer. So now from fifth grade. Until my first semester in law school, which I'll tell you from fifth grade to that point. Every time somebody asks me, what do you want to be when you grow up? What do you wanna study in college? What do you do? Postcards. I go to law school. I'm going to be a lawyer. I'm going to law school. I'm going to be a lawyer. So I walk onto the campus and law school in Delaware and I'm like, you know, all proud like I'm going to live this dream. I went through, like, my first few classes and I was like, oh, my God, I hate this.
Chris Snyder [00:05:08] This sucks.
Nick Araco [00:05:09] This sucks. OK, no offense to all my friends and family that are lawyers, but I was like, oh my God, this sucks. I'm paying for it because I was blessed. My parents put me through amazing private schools and Loyola University undergrad and I was like, I'm gonna pay for myself to go to law school in Delaware and I'm gonna do this. So now I'm on the hook and I'm like, all right, forget it. You got to do this for the next three years. I'm going to pass the bar now. I'm going to see what happen. All right. So the whole time hating it, by the way.
Chris Snyder [00:05:42] So you grew up with this mental... So how did you get what planted that seed in your head to be an arbitrator? Like, what does that even come from?
Nick Araco [00:05:51] I love the business. I love finance. And I love the numbers behind business. You know, you're going to hear me talking. I'm like, let's talk about EBITA, let's talk about the top line, bottom line shareholder value performance. And I thought I can marry the two - my love for sports, my love for baseball, law, and the business of it all. And I get to make decisions to. Right. You're kind of in between the two. So, yeah, I love all of that kind of negotiating power at persuasion, you know, that useable. And I thought it was like a dream scenario until I got into the study of law. And I'm like, oh my God.
Chris Snyder [00:06:27] Which is 300 from what I can ascertain, about 300 pages of reading every single night, copious amounts of Latin. I think you would know. But you basically put yourself through purgatory for three years.
Nick Araco [00:06:48] Yes. But here's why I say it's important to mention the Purgatory piece because if you just said a nick looks like you have a finance background and a law background, you're probably a good lawyer. I was like, all right, I'm gonna see this through. I'm going to persevere. I'm going to be resilient, but I'm going to run from the law. The second I have the chance to run from the law. OK. And I actually passed the bar. I practiced law briefly in litigation. And I actually said I'm going to embrace that entrepreneurial side of my brain and I'm gonna make a move. I did have to justify it. I actually wrote an article called Running from the Law, which was my story about allowing my Italian family being the first generation to have that comma after your name. My son is a lawyer. A year and a half, two and a half years. Know what I'm done. I don't want to do this. I'm going to do something completely different.
Chris Snyder [00:07:42] They didn't sh.out. I'm sure they said nothing. They kept their mouths shut, I'm positive of that
Nick Araco [00:07:48] Oh, actually, they shouted. They shouted things I can't say on this on this podcast. Yeah. Very upset and angry. And they were like, no. And I and I will tell you, I was like, yes, just trust me. I know what I'm doing. I don't know what I was doing.
Chris Snyder [00:08:06] So you punish yourself. You put yourself through law school. You get out of law school. You get a decent job. You become a litigator. You do a couple of those - you have a dog and pony shows in court. Right. It doesn't sound like transactional. It sounds like, you know, litigation. Obviously, there's a difference. At which point did you go? OK. But I also love finance. Then how did finance happen?
Nick Araco [00:08:29] So what you're going to see is that, if we can outsource anything in this day and age and find somebody who's better at doing what needs to be done, I'm all about it. You can't outsource. You cannot outsource passion. And the people that know me best said that they saw me most passionate when I was talking about business and innovation and leading-edge. And who's winning and who's losing. And the competition or market share. And it was just me watching everybody else do it. And I said I got to get myself in this game some way, shape or form. And I don't necessarily I'm probably to make mistakes, but I don't necessarily have to go at it alone. And so I started to put the word out there, the people that knew me and I made a very specific ask. And that's a piece of advice they give to everyone. If you don't know what you want to do or you don't want to do what you're doing now - start talking to others and say, who do you know? And I talked to someone and I said, well, who do you know that I could talk to? And they introduced me to someone who said, I'm going to give I'm going to take a chance on you. I'm going to bring you in to our firm. And it was a really nice, well respected Philadelphia based business consulting accounting tax firm. So they were numbers people, but they said, we're going to stick you in the group that's everything other than the numbers. We're going to give you access to talking to our clients about their people, about their business strategies or about risk management, about technology, all the things that drive business as part of that business consulting line. We're going to see what you do there.
Chris Snyder [00:10:16] Also. So, by the way, for someone like that, sounds super exciting. I mean, that might seem like paint drying to other folks, but that's why we're. I mean, this is what we do as an entrepreneur? We care about all aspects of business, not just the law side, not just the finance side, not just the sales side, not just the marketing side, not just quant and analytics. Like you've got to do the whole thing, right? Yeah. So what happened?
Nick Araco [00:10:43] Well, Chris, you just hit a key point, like your approach is to connect the dots. And I immediately said, wait a minute. Law school taught me something. It taught me to use my ears before my and my mind before my mouth. So I'm going to open this up. I'm going to listen first. I'm going to ask as many questions that come to mind that I have, because by asking questions, it allowed me to move from this -It's a legal thing - to no, it's a business thing, it's a people thing, it's a customer thing. It's a technology thing. It's a service thing. It allowed me to see that entire ecosystem. Yeah. And there's where the transferable skills came in. Because I can't tell how many people asked me, do you regret going to law school? Like hell no. I don't think I would have approached that opportunity I was given to see this and really been able to see this. So what happens with that approach? I probably sounded and looked beyond my years. People started to say, how do you have this ability, ability to demonstrate understanding at your age? I was like - I'm not demonstrating understanding. I'm demonstrating curiosity - which lends itself to demonstrating understanding. You end up, by asking questions, answering the questions that people probably ask themselves.
Chris Snyder [00:12:06] Yeah. Yeah. You got to be you have to not be afraid to ask the questions. And when you're passionate and you're into something at a very young age and especially I mean, we're generationally we're close to the same.
Nick Araco [00:12:22] But back then, you had to climb the ladder, like, totally. You were totally doing shit at twenty-five years old now unless you climbed a very specific ladder and maybe by the time you were thirty-five. Yeah. Got an office with a desk that mattered. Yeah. Yeah. And so thanks to this firm's leadership and trust in me and my performance, I became a director there which is a shareholder level before I was 30. Wow. But I will tell you this, my wife, my better half said to me all along as I rode this ride in those early years, she said, you're going to outgrow this platform. She's like, it's Groundhog Day for you. Yeah, it's too limiting. But I loved the types of leaders and enterprises we were working within that firm. I love the middle market. Right. I love the ten million dollar business that every day it's a fight to go from 10 to 11 to 17 to 20 to 40. There's a journey there. I love these enterprises. They're big enough that they have a lot of it around them and they're big enough that they have a lot of, excuse my language, shit around them, too. Right. There's a lot that you can do with it. So I started to feel that way that it was like, oh my God, the holiday parties at the same place yet again. And the client base. How many times can I talk to this client base? It started to feel limiting. And I, at that very young age, I had the opportunity to create this really cool event in Philadelphia that brought together about thirteen hundred people involved with mergers, acquisitions, corporate growth initiatives. And I was on a stage that day and I walked off the stage and this guy came up to me and he goes, I need to buy you lunch. And I'm like, OK, I don't know who you are, but I'll have lunch. You seemed like a good guy. So he said, I follow up with them and he says to me. I can sense her passion and understanding for the middle market, for U.S. based companies that fit that mold of too big to be viewed as early-stage and smaller lifestyle business. But who big that they have the spotlight on them. Right. And I said, yeah, you're astute. So what? And he said, look, I'd like to provide you with an opportunity to join a platform that's much bigger, that hat and deeper. And see what you could do there. I know you'll be successful growing yourself, doing great work, and impacting our firm. And it took us a year. And I'll tell you what the trigger was. I said, yes. When I said I have one final demand. Do not typecast me. Explain to everyone that I'm coming in to have an impact, to grow the firm, to enhance what we do, to make it more efficient and effective. In fact, I want you to. If I do this well to be referred to as "that guy". Not that sales guy. Not that consulting guy. Not that leadership giant. Just that guy. And to his credit, he said, OK. And he introduced me on the first day as like "you're going to come to know this guy is like I got to talk to that guy - here he is. "
Chris Snyder [00:15:47] That's great. That's a great story. It's just, you know, I feel like I'm now saying this on every single one of these shows. But I think it's the kind of guests that we want on here. It's we want that guy or that gal on this show. We want the professionals that look at an organization and say, oh, my God, look at all the opportunity. Look at all the things we can fix. Look at all the things we can do. And I think you and I both have probably helped organizations that are just that are stuck, they're in the muck. Their people come in literally at 9:00 a.m. sharp. Everyone streams out of the elevator. Yeah. And they met at noon. Everybody strains out of the elevator and goes to lunch. And then they all stream back in at 1:00 and then at 5:00, they all stream out of the elevator and it's like. It's Groundhog's Day, having those scenarios are what have kept me an entrepreneur for so long. Yeah, it's like torture.
Nick Araco [00:16:45] Yeah. I don't do maintenance mode, Chris. And I don't think you and your guest do either. And I'm not going to apologize for it. It also means I'm not disruptive for the sake of being disruptive, I like to be viewed as a catalyst that's going to spur some reaction in some way. And by the way, I probably, you'll find when we talk about the network. I've developed a reputation for being a bit of a pied piper, but there's probably as equal as many people that are like, oh, God, here comes that guy. And I'm okay with that. Okay with that. But it's just not the mode I'm going to operate in. You mentioned we're going to talk about crisis and maybe the current some of COVID situation that we're in. I'm not someone at all is going to downplay the risks side of the equation or the hardship that comes with it. But you've got to also balance that with the opportunity side of the equation. Otherwise, don't have a conversation with me.
Chris Snyder [00:17:39] Yeah, I agree. If you don't want to grow and you don't want to get better and your firm wants to be average, you're not the right client for us. And I get the older I get that. You're not the right client for a chief next. If you don't want that growth both personally and professionally, you don't want your team to get better. You don't want to mitigate risk while growing the business. Right. You probably best not to call Nick.
Nick Araco [00:18:04] You know, Chris, it's funny. I know that Juhll really kind of helps solve some of the problems. I think our biggest issue and it's so funny when I say the words AchieveNEXT. We actually put a hell of a lot of thought to the assets we created. First, the CFO Alliance, a peer advisory network that has now 9000 chief financial officers as a part of it. We actually, I think, at the time when we created it - eight, nine years ago, I said, OK, this is let's start with this network for finance leaders in the best part is the CFO. And then what's another word that really means more than Networkers Association? And I put alliance up somewhere, great CFO alliance, but I said we're not going to educate, engage them through it. There's some level of empowerment. And I said, so we had to file the LLC documents. And I'm like - there needs parent company above this. And my business partner and I were like, all right. Two words that describe what we're trying to create and provide. A verb and a descriptor. And we played with it and it was like achieve? Well, you know, because they achieved something different risks than it does to next. It can thematically be the same. But it means something. It means you're not static. I mean, it's both. It's not doing. It's achieve. And Next is forward and forward. Doesn't necessarily, to your first point, mean a ladder? It could be as a ladder, series of moves. But next, there's a next to beyond the now. Telling that story and creating that vibe and in what we deliver. That's our new opportunity. Our next still.
Chris Snyder [00:19:47] And it's specifically crafted for the middle market. Let me let's take one step back and talk about, OK, we went to law school. We did that. Then we went to this other firm and then. Yeah. Did you go straight into building AchieveNEXT? Or tell me the genesis of AchieveNEXT.
Nick Araco [00:20:07] Here's the trigger event. So I joined that firm and I to this daybreak relationships everywhere I've been in this firm was going through a major metamorphosis. It was a firm that got over 100 years ago with very strong Midwest roots. And through acquisition, Enroll Up was becoming a player across North America and around the globe. But they had no story to tell. Right. They had great people, great reputation. If you knew and worked with them. Passionate clients. OK, so I thought, you know what, if we start there, that's great. But it's what are we with it now? So I played a critical role in helping them grow both in my home area and other markets. Five years into my stint with them. I had for the most recent three year period and the number one originator of new business for the firm across North America. And it wasn't my job. And I will never forget a friend of mine who's now a mentor to me, the chief marketing officer, said to me, Nick, what is your secret? And I said I don't know. I never asked anybody why they were coming to me because I wasn't a recipe salesperson, right? I didn't have priority target lists. And Paul, campaigns like the business was coming to me. And so rather than have myself on the back, I thought, you know, let me ask these people, the buying audience, why are you coming to me? So I took a colleague of mine who's now business partner and shareholder here at AchieveNEXT who's kind of the yin my yang and my 180. And I said, let's create a focus group and let's have some fun with it. So we invited seven chief financial officers who were our primary buying audience out to dinner. They didn't know each other. I plowed them with seafood powers and expensive bottles of wine. And I was like, OK, why do you call me? Why do you come to me? Why do you ask me for help? Why do you respond to me when I ask you for something? And they said, all right, beyond being a qualified, selfless listener, more often than not, you connect us to a peer who's either been through the same issue, challenge or opportunity. And there's no greater source of confidence-building than to ask a peer or qualified set of peers. What do you think? What did you do? What should I do? And because the audience were chief financial officers, the chief reality officers were the numbers tell the story. They weren't full of shit. A CEO will tell you the glass is always more than half full. Absolutely. CFO will say no. It's point four, six percent full. We've got to work on the other point, five, four to get it full. Right. So the second question we asked was, what? Doesn't anybody provide that to you in an efficient and effective way to connect in an environment where you can openly talk and have a voice? And they said, no, we're treated like watchers, not winners were treated like the spectators, not the athletes. And so I said, well, if I provided that to you and we provided that to you, would you use it? Would you spend your time and money? Your own kind of capital in harnessing that power. And the answer was yes. So I went back to my firm leadership and I said, all right. Figured out the secret. But here's what they actually want. They want a pure, safe place where they can connect about shared interests in the issues and opportunities, the industries and the markets they live in serve in. I think we can and provide that to them. But it has to be pure. And ah, to the credit of the highest level firm leadership. They said, go build it. We want to be a part of it. But you will bring us in to be a part of it because we've tried to do it ourselves. We'll ruin it. It'll become a thinly veiled attempt at selling services or it'll be a place where we just dissect them like little animals. And all I got was really an inscription for Chris, who given the opportunity and Segway and commitment from a firm that I had developed credibility with. We were able to create this. And then as it grew. Pull it out and create it to what it is today.
Chris Snyder [00:24:52] Got it. Got it. That's a really interesting story. And I mean, obviously, the germination in the seed of this started with someone that sounds like I mean, you had the passion for it. You had this ability to connect the dots. And then furthermore, you know, in the industry, a lot of people talk about product-market fit or founder or market fit. We got all kinds of bullshit buzzwords that everybody is. But you actually set out to do it, not just say you do it. So the problem that you're solving, it feels like it went towards an audience. First of all, of a demographic or an audience that was underserved, which is the CFO finance community, that probably because of their personality and a lot of cases, they're not on center stage. They're not by nature. Yeah. So now. So they're sitting in the back seat, but they're the ones candidly to tell you they're the ones doing the work and they're keeping the company in line.
Nick Araco [00:25:52] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I thought if we're gonna do this, go back to that word I use. I'm like, let's be a catalyst. So let's be very clear that we want athletes, not spectators and winners, not watch strippers. And don't apologize. If you get a taste of us and you're like, that's not me. It doesn't mean that you can't be wildly happy and successful. But if we're going to help define and really help individuals and enterprises as the finance laws achieve the next level, we're gonna be you're pushing them and we're going to be the chief accountability officer to make sure they do what they say they hear and they and they say they're gonna do.
Chris Snyder [00:26:32] So let's talk about the marketplace or the network and let's talk about how it works, because there's a combination there, likely a combination of a peer in and out people that probably participate in this marketplace or this network. You have full-time staff, right. So tell us a little bit about how this connection, part of it works between your firm and others, probably outside of the firm that agree to chip in. How does this work?
Nick Araco [00:27:02] Yeah. Yeah, so. So first off, I wanted dialog to be the definition of the culture and the experience. So anything we were going to do, anyone or any enterprise where we're going to introduce this network needs to embrace the fact that they learn more by using this, this, this and this. The heart of it is it's not speak at, it's speak with - be a catalyst for dialog in exchange and find a way to build your reputation the way everybody else will, which is by sharing and giving, not just taking. So it had to be two way. So I knew firsthand that if we were going I knew with this demographic and frankly, this crisis has done nothing but accelerate the evolution. I knew that we would have to find a way to bring them together for dialog. I knew that we'd have to embrace technology to do that because it can't scale otherwise. I didn't want it to be. Let's say Chris and I have this great you and I had this great conversation in your home market in California. Well, I didn't want another tease. I love act that because they weren't in California. I didn't want to aggravate you to be the boundary. But I also knew that time was going to be the greatest asset they were managing. And remember, not the most social by nature. So that does not make it a destination site. A place where they go. Let's make it a place where that if they really need an answer or really need a confidence boost. Really need to be challenged. If they knew they could come to this place, this network, OK. I also don't to build it and they'll come. Remember, the story came from seven CEOs who said, hell yeah, build this. I also said they need to be the center of this. So work. We made sure that from day one that benchmarking and best practice sharing would be the source of determining what we talked about, who would talk about it, who would attempt to help, who would engage, who would play orchestra conductor. Let them tell you. And so from the beginning, we were this let the data steer us. And so you dig into the conversations that we've been having with our networks. They're driven by what these executives are talking about. And what they're talking about is what drives business. The intersection of people, the evolution and ever-changing impact to their business and enterprise strategies. How technology is the great enabler or decelerator or disruptor to the customer experience and the employee experience and how risk management is becoming increasingly come across in this world. These four forces of strategy, people, technology, and risk became a circle that we always ended up talking about. Right. And so because it's what drove the office of the CFO, it's drives the office of the CHRO, the chief human resource officer, second network and frankly, any C Suite executive in this day and age as some combination, those four forces driving everything. So we began by saying, let's create an efficient and effective way for that dialog. Here's the education piece. Let's make sure it's two way. Here's the engagement piece. But here's the unique moment we had. The individuals using this network are merging and mid-market enterprise leaders said, you assume we have the horsepower to implement and execute what needs to get done where we don't. So can you empower us by also providing us some access to horsepower that you vetted or you provide directly theirs? The networks and the solutions play. They came together because there are a lot of networks out there. They just talk about it. And there are a lot of solution providers out there that just say, well, we're here. Call us if you need us. It's the combination of the two that I think is really proved to be our source of need that we're meeting and differentiation and catalysts for our accelerated growth.
Chris Snyder [00:31:17] Yeah, that's amazing. And so you've got this. I'm going to call it a market place. I mean, interchange that with a network where you've got this network that's built on these people in this process and technology and everybody has access to it. Something I've seen in professional services and I'd like you to comment on this is there's been a move from a pricing standpoint away from kind of, okay, I'm a hundred bucks an hour and you're 500 bucks an hour. And, you know, I think about firms like BCG or PWC. Can you give us a little bit of insight into what you see in the strategic consulting executive coaching this diversity and inclusion? You guys are clearly focused on executives in the mid-market. Yeah, these guys probably aren't going to pay for it. And 50 bucks an hour. I mean I mean, maybe they will. But what what what separates you guys from some of these firms that focus on large enterprises? Tell us a little bit about the business model and how you price and package things for sure.
Nick Araco [00:32:31] So. So when it came time to determine what solutions would we provide here and AchieveNEXT directly and then what solutions were we look for partners to provide? We went back to what drove our passion, which is people. So I said, let's look at where the need actually lies in terms of people issues inside of enterprises. Well, there's two components that I'll categorically box. We've gotten into the talent acquisition side. Or we could have gotten into the performance side once the talent's there. The talent acquisition side and still my opinion needs to be disrupted. It's still transactional. It's only for supply and demand. And that's transactional approach airdate. I said I don't want to go near it. It could be at sub-level of activity that occurs within our networks. But I don't want us providing that solution here and AchieveNEXT. So then I'm like, all right, let's look at the performance side. Well, no matter what discussion that we tried to spur within our networks, be at risk management or implementation of a new technology or a disruption to business strategy. Guess what? We ended up talking about 90 percent of the time. People are a great accelerator or they're great decelerator. And hey, many of our members were like, honestly, we're the problem, too. So can you help us? We looked at that performance space and I was like, all right. I don't want, to your pricing point. I think in this day and age, anything like that, through technology and efficiency and innovation can be delivered. And I don't want to call it a commodity-like environment, but it is shouldn't be bought and delivered that way. Yep. There are certain areas that people will say are hard to scale that I call hard to replace. And I think the areas we've picked and the firms we've done three acquisitions in the last three years, the firms we've acquired and the firms who said no to acquiring. There's been a very distinct reason why. So we have chosen an executive coaching and in career services, in sales and leadership training and in diversity, equity and inclusion training to pick services, intellectual property and people that are centered around the strength of relationships and that are hard to scale because it's human capital intensive, but also hard to replace. So all three financially focused. So the CEO of the coaching firm is a former public company CEO who serves on boards. And can you know if he can't measure the impact of what the coaching team is coaching for? We say no. The head of the diversity equity inclusion firm we bought, she was a practicing bankruptcy lawyer in a major firm for 20 years. You don't get more black or white or financially focused than that type of person. And on the relational capital side, measuring the strength of relationships, something that's hard to measure. He developed IP because he was a CPA by background. I'm a numbers guy. So I said, let's anchor and be financially focused and measurable. Well, let's also price it to value, because if we can show a correlation, the top line bottom line, a shareholder value impact we can charge - what we managed to charge is equated to the value.
Chris Snyder [00:36:00] Yeah. Yeah. So you know what's interesting about that? A lot of what drives and I'm thinking about marketing as well. I think they've got the relationship sorted out. Unfortunately, they don't have the price to value equation sorted out. And I think as we continue to slog through what's going on right now. Look, if you're a CMO and you have a relationship with a large firm, that is only going to get you so far when there's a lot of blood in the streets. Right. And as they cut these brand budgets and people realize that, do we really need to do this stuff?
Nick Araco [00:36:41] No one is thinking about the results. No one is really thinking about the actual true bottom line and how and how to map this amazing relationship or this amazing creative firm or this amazing analytics firm. Like no one's mapping that back to the value of the firm. It feels like you guys figured out a long time ago. And forget the focus on whether its CFO or CIO like that doesn't matter. We're all providing what we believe to be differentiated executive-level services that deliver value. Right. If you're saying you do that, like measure it, measure it.
Nick Araco [00:37:18] Right. And part of it is the the the national audience we chose a CFO is one of the first things they ever said to me was - if we can't measure it, we don't want to talk about it. Now, that was a challenge. I'm like, given this day and age, who would have thought in 2020 that you could go through technology, get a relationship strength score that ties to your existing clients, your priority prospects, your employee engagement? Right. Who would have thought there'd be a way to measure that strength and be able to use that with confidence that there was liberty behind it? A decade ago we would have said, that's B.S., right. What was once not measurable now is. I love that. But I also believe they were right: if we can't measure it, don't spend a dollar. Don't spend a minute. Don't spend an ounce of anything on it. If it's not going to have a measurable tie, your top line, bottom line, and shareholder value performance. And that can be individual right development. Topline. Bottom line. Shareholder. It could be enterprise-wide.
Chris Snyder [00:38:29] Got it. So so tell me how it works. Somebody signs up for any number of your programs. You have benchmarking. You have best practice. You have leadership tools. [00:38:38] You guys do events. We'll get into COVID a little bit after that. But the things that that you are talking about and I'm thinking about board rooms and I'm thinking about executive-level meetings with eight people sitting around a conference table running of fifty-five or 100 million dollar company. And you're saying you can map this back to performance and I'm like, OK, how long is that going to take? So you're going to send an army of twenty-two year old consultants to my office. They're gonna sit in the chairs for, you know, six months to a year before we deliver a result. That can't possibly be true. And I know that's not true with a AchieveNEXT. So tell me a little bit about how that works and how fast you can deliver.
Nick Araco [00:39:23] Yeah. So, first of all, we have a lot of help and support given the people that we have here internally and the relationships we have built as well. So if they need help in measuring it and don't say you want to use one of our tools, our assessment tools are free. OK, give them the tool. All right. It doesn't mean they necessarily know what to do when they are using that tool. That's a commodity. Right? Right. Right. Give them the whole or if you don't, they don't. If there isn't a tool. Find someone to develop it. I'll give you an example. What I mean. I had this morning a group actually yesterday in New York, today in D.C. virtually. I had groups of about 15 CFR was from a variety of different enterprises. Each day during the midst of this crisis and we gathered together virtually the zoom and adjust as a forum. There was a framework, right, for a discussion. You can't bring 50 people together and say, now talk like this. You're in a CFO room. You'll hear crickets right in another room. You may hear chaos. We said, look, we're going to talk about resiliency in this crisis and moving towards reentry and rebound. What is on our plate today. And before we can even get into it, one of the CFO said. I'm at my breaking point. Get me off the ledge. I say I'm working more hours. I'm working longer days. I'm working in the same room. I am talking people off ledges. I'm helping this one file, an unemployment claim and this one salesperson saying, what about my sales quota? And this operation's proceeding saying we can't. Boy, I actually can somebody, like, walk me off the B ledge. So to our credit, one of our partners that that develops tools for financial planning and analysis said I developed a wellbeing tool in an Excel spreadsheet model. I'm going to give it to you. And I and actually everybody raised their hand and said, I want to see this. I want it. I said I gave him control. He merely puts it up on the screen. Here's this DNA geek who's developed a wellness scorecard during COVID-19 to keep himself sane. And he's like, you can plug different things in here, and I promise you, those Reds, I.E. measurable can become yellows and greens. And everybody wanted it. And I said, there's our network in action. If you can't measure it, don't talk about it. Right. You want to measure the Greens in that wellness scorecard. Secondly, it's not important. Let somebody else do it. This is actually really important. And third, give the assessment away - teach them how to use it.
Chris Snyder [00:42:22] So time to value in this particular case was literally 20 minutes. And that in that is the power of the network and having a private network. And, you know, obviously, you know, the power of networked network effects is clearly documented. But I think the way, you know, folks tend to think about network effects and marketplaces, that they're huge. They're undifferentiated. Yeah, I think what you guys have built. So if you and I wanted to gather up, well, you could do it because you already have done it. But if you and I wanted to gather up and make sure we were doing all the right stuff with FEMA, the financial planning and analysis for a services firm that was between 10 million and 20 million dollars that had so many employees that we would lose sleep at night. Not being able to ask anyone if we were doing the right thing or thinking about the right stuff. Yeah. So getting back to the question I asked, I think the answer is, OK. We're all sitting in a conference room, OK? Post-COVID. Right. Yeah. I do want to come back to how these tools are delivered digitally. But we're all sitting in a conference room and we don't send an army of, you know, twenty-four year old MBA and consultants to your office. We basically can get stuff done within the first two weeks of the engagement. Right. Bring trials. The tools are free like you said. And as soon as we learn a little bit more about your org, we can then dipped into our private marketplace and our network should we need to. But it sounds like you guys are solving problems from almost from the day you come in.
Nick Araco [00:44:02] And you need to go back to the original by the story. You need to use this and you need to use this. Somebody else who gathered those people together would have said, Chris. That's what I've said to that person. I'm sorry you're feeling that way. But we have an agenda today that we're going to stick to. We got together today to talk about X, right? We're the exact opposite. We're like, wait a minute. Somebody here who's meant to be here with the like-minded people together needs help. I guarantee you that person is not the only person who had that problem. Goes back to the original part of the story, seven CFO said, more often than not, you connect us to a qualified peer challenge or validate the decisions we need to make. I know I'm not alone now. Right. And so. So there's where you've got to use this to write. I could have said we'll take that offline. No way. No way, man. The exact opposite. We got a problem to solve. Who's got a way to help solve that problem?
Chris Snyder[00:45:11] I love that approach that you just gave me. You just gave me a cringe by even saying, let's take that offline. A list of all the bullshit corporate bingo stuff. Right. And it just makes me cringe. I mean, we're here to support our clients. We're here to support our friends. We're here to support our peers all the way to spin.
Nick Araco [00:45:36] Chris, I always say call a spade a spade. Right. Like, if you're you've been in that position where you've seen that problem and you're like, I just got to say, the problem is not X, it's Y. Are we going to deal with why this is we're not going to deal with why I'm not going to charge you to go deal with X?
Chris Snyder [00:45:52] Yeah, well, and by the way, X is immeasurable. X, I'm sorry to let you guys know, is your own pet project the greatest status and political game? We can't measure X or answer, though. Candidly, if we don't if we do X, we're gonna get fired and blamed for it. So we're not doing X. How does that sound. Or call someone else to do X.
Nick Araco [00:45:52]Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there is the chief reality officer that I like. I want to get everybody here and AchieveNEXT that title. Right. Chief Reality Officer in training. Because that's what you really need to be in this day and age. That's what people are looking for. God also said, we don't know, we know who does. There's the power, the network. So there's why the networks is an important component because I liken it we have a Yelp-like environment going on inside the alliance networks. I tell I tell certain service providers that are deemed as much needed by this network and it's filling a void and on a focus for mid-market and emerging enterprises. Be careful. You're also entering a Yelp environment. And if somebody gives you a thumbs down, we're going to deal with it. We're going to deal with it head-on. Yeah. Are you ready for that? Yep.
Chris Snyder [00:47:12] And that is also the power of having a managed and private marketplace that's properly policed. I don't know if we should use that word, but, you know, people need to be accountable. People need to be professionals. And if they say they're going to do something, they need to do it within the confines and the culture that you've created AchieveNEXT. It's part of the deal, right? Yes. One thing I want to talk about is so you've got some benchmarking studies that obviously can continue to be delivered digitally and probably are. You've got best practices, obviously. But let's talk about given these unprecedented times, I'll be dramatic about that one. What is going on with the business that you probably traditionally served as an offline component? How does that work?
Nick Araco [00:48:00] Yeah, so. So remember, we had, I believe that the intimacy factor is a component of this. So even though we've been bringing together groups of C Suite leaders for a decade, it was never in a conference environment. It was never in a large group environment. It actually was in a boardroom environment, an intimate environment. So moving from physically gathering in small groups face to face, moving online of virtual gatherings of small groups still face to face. But through technology has been seamless. We've actually seen the demand. By the way, we've also opened up the networks. Who said you fit the qualifying criteria? I've seeded C Suite leaders in these respective areas. You're in and you're in now at no cost because you need the support. And we need to provide that to you. So on the one hand, you guys, we've stopped traveling to facilitate and move to virtual facilitation. And by the way, we had to be cognizant of Zoom fatigue or technology fatigue. We got to mix it up. Right. We've got to take it down a notch and just give them a place where they can take a deep breath and vent. We've got to get creative to stick to that environment of creating dialog. And so what we've had to invest in is training people how to facilitate a discussion. Not lead and or be the one speaking at the group, your gathering process to go harder on that. You know how to ask one-word matters when you ask a question. Because it could from crickets or it can prompt real-life dialog. And you also need to know when to bring it back, when you've got a small group, if some person takes it unbeknownst to him or hijacking it somewhere, too. So there's a bit of an art and science we've had to invest in. But the small group in the intimacy piece has really allowed us to move to virtual and be feel good and be OK and still feel like we're adding that value. Yeah. And the solution side, thank God, the coaching we've done the majority of it on the screen, the trainings we've done. I've moved to virtual group training in lieu of face to face and thankfully they continue on.
Chris Snyder [00:50:24] Yeah. So it's, it almost sounds like. Your business and maybe from a cost standpoint, never made sense to travel. It never made sense to kind of you guys didn't want to do it. It wasn't part of your cost model from the beginning. So I guess what I'm hearing is this isn't such a leap for you guys.
Nick Araco [00:50:44] No. Now, the hardest part, I think is, is we start and I start again every day with a huddle with my group. And I remind them in the beginning of the end of those meetings, very clearly make sure you're sensitive to understand that there's someone on the other side who may be dealing with a completely different situation in a completely different environment than you're used to get to know your audience. Be sensitive to it. One size does not fit all. During this crisis and this crisis means something different to everyone. So someone who is working remote may have little kids around them. May have a sick family member, may have lost someone, may have stress in the household. You know, it may feel the walls are closing in on them. You've got to be sensitive to that. And that that goes in a crisis environment or in a normal day today. So I think people were hiring. They certainly have to have the intellect, but they've got to have this got to be sensitive to heat to use those ears of theirs and really, really resent what they're hearing really needs to stick.
Chris Snyder [00:51:58] It's an EQ component. Yeah. And it's also, you know, you don't have to feel sorry for people, but you have to have something called empathy. So sympathy and empathy are two different things. You know. You know, you just have to be able to understand what they're going through. You can work around it. You don't have to feel sorry for him, but you can't be empathetic. A couple things I want to talk about, because I think you guys have done a great job with this and you're pretty proud of it. The diversity and inclusion business practice. Could you tell me a little bit about the problem that that solves, like the market? You guys target and then like where you see that business going? Diversity and inclusion.
Nick Araco [00:52:44] I mean, look, I go back to my own driver for our corporate growth strategy and for me as CEO, I don't do build it and they'll come. And I and I'm always attempting to better understand from the market what they need. And over the last three to five years, in particular, the complexities, they have come with a multigenerational workforce. Are you going to make or break an enterprise is making good on those plans to continue to meet or exceed whatever goals or objectives. Except and it's the complexities that I think need to be talked about, not the noise. It's the inclusion piece of the diversity, equity, and inclusion that I really wanted to see us to hone in on, because that inclusion piece involves embracing diversity and creating an equitable experience for your employees. So the inclusion piece is where I wanted to go hard. If you're going to talk about inclusion. You're going to be looking about how business does do what they do and who they do it for and who delivers it. The alignment between the employee experience, i.e. the culture and the strength of that culture and the differentiation and strength of that customer experience and being able to create a lot measurable alignment between the two is what this practice is all about. Because in my opinion, diversity, equity, inclusion, attempts to address, try to put it in a box and say the issue is X. And I think it's really holistically how an enterprise treats its people on both sides of that equation. The customers they serve and the employees delivering it and helping enterprises understand that and put what needs to be in place to create alignment between those two is what this practice does. But I'll tell you, I go back to the CEOs of former bankruptcy lawyer and when due diligence with her, I said, tell me when you say no to helping a client, tell me the last time you said no. And she said that client could not answer for me. How we could measure the impact to anything we could do to help them in some financial way, meaning I think this is hindering our top line or it's hindering our bottom line or it's hindering our shareholder value. That CEO that she was talking to didn't believe that diversity, equity, inclusion had anything to do with it.
Chris Snyder [00:55:19] It's a PR thing. It's a PR nightmare.
Nick Araco [00:55:21] It's PR thing. Right. And she said, no, this is a business issue. And I'm going to show you. And if we had to deal with this, how it impacts your top line, your bottom line, your shareholder value.
Chris Snyder [00:55:34] Yeah. No. So it sounds like and of course, I love what you said at the beginning about the noise. I think Google comes to mind almost immediately. And so what I have in my head right now about this product is you guys have figured out a way to identify and define what diversity inclusion actually means as it relates to fulfilling, you know, top-line and bottom-line initiatives. You probably put it in front of them and say, look. And then here are the things that that means. Right? There are people at this organization. There are cultural things. There are peer-related things. There are gender-related items. Yeah. We've figured out a way to benchmark you first. Just raw benchmark you. Yes. And then we believe that if we change some of these things, we're actually going to improve and impact your top line and bottom line. Is that what that is?
Nick Araco [00:56:29] It is. And it's applying it. OK. There's where you say there's you just saw it. There is one we can say, OK. It looks like the issues in talent acquisition. If we move the needle this way and help you adapt your talent acquisition strategy and execution efforts, we can see a correlation to performance and ultimately to top line bottom line shareholder value. Maybe it's leadership and succession planning. Right. OK. Let's isolate that. Let's turn the needle there and help you kind of address the critical issue there. Maybe it's it's how you communicate with and invest in the performance of your middle management. We're in the middle of everything. Right? I was say don't call the people in the middle. Stuck in the middle. They're your middle. They're not stuck there. They are your business line leader. That person that's onsite with the client that's managing a staff. Maybe the issues there. So. So, yes. Let's talk about where the measurable impact will be. But let's look at a specific area identified. It's underperforming or below the standard. And let's try move the needle and let's see how that impacts your top line. Bottom line shareholder value. Yeah. Give me your business discussion.
Chris Snyder [00:57:46] Yeah. Give me a sense, if people are if CEOs and executives are more reactive to this issue or if they're actually stepping up to the plate and go and look, I'm not calling you just because I don't want to be in the in the newspaper tomorrow. I really believe in this. And I think we should do it because it matters. Give me a sense of what the market tells you. I will tell you over the.
Nick Araco [00:58:11] Let's look at 2019 into 2020 pre-COVID-19. And I'll be curious to see how this practice evolves and how the trends evolve. But the number one trigger for us being called in was something doesn't feel right or something doesn't look right. We're losing talent. We can't secure the talent. The talent seems unhappy. The clients we're seeing turnover. Right. And so anything with human capital, something was doesn't feel right - it tends to be the phone call we get. It's not crisis management. Oh, my God. We're in the headlines. Help us deal with it. It's something is not working. Or something. I the leadership team, use those words. Something doesn't feel right around here. Help us figure out what that is. Right. And then as long as we can help them figure out what it is and we can help them measure some type of return on investment and our impact will help them. The most frequently cited was someone saying on behalf of the leadership team, something's off.
Chris Snyder [00:59:17] Interesting. That's interesting. So the other thing I want to ask you about is this relational capital training. That seems super interesting to me. Obviously, you're talking about people with relationships and how much those are worth. It seems like. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Nick Araco [00:59:35] Yeah, it's funny. So so we acquired the executive coaching and career services firm first. But I wouldn't call that a platform acquisition. Right. When you think about a corporate growth strategy in human capital performance space. Because it is a very intimate service. It's not, someone doesn't wake up and say, oh, today I'm going to solve my problem with a higher coach. Right. So I didn't view that as being I view it as core, but I didn't view it as being the foundation for Human Capital Performance. So I said the second piece I want to go off and find is something that's more foundational. You know, something that's enterprise can be applied to leadership through mid-level to entry-level to white-collar, to production and manufacturing operations, to the field people. I wanted to do something that's going to be able to help raise human capital performance on a scale. Well, I started looking at training and development practices, and I will tell you, in July of 2017, I got a phone call from a friend of mine, Ed Wallace, who, by the way, a decade before I'd written a forward to his first book, was about friends with bears and how relationships thrive. Everything in it. And we should add up nice. I mean, it's obvious that we owe you what we're up to. Back discussion began as a catch-up discussion. Fast forward five months later, we bought his company. Why did we buy this company? Because what I found was in that period of time, we hadn't seen each other. Here's a guy who, with a team, wrote four books on how individuals need to invest in relationships and their happiness and their success in business or whatever it is we're doing, that you could measure the strength of relationships and argue we gave it. And then if you invested in the strength of relationships by increasing your competencies through training and development programs, you can apply that to measurable goals. So here's a guy in a company that was saying to sales teams, let's isolate the most critical relationships. You need to be successful. Let's measure the strength today. Let's train you. They strengthen those relationships and let's measure the strength and performance and top-line revenue for that sales team. That's something they created an app that embeds in CRM that tells you the strength of the relationship. But he couldn't scale it, couldn't scale it. Typical of a traditional entrepreneur. That becomes the product. And I said, no, this product is amazing. You are the driver for it. Let's put it on a platform and get much broader exposure and reach. So then it becomes helping these enterprises achieve the next level through use of this IP, through use of this training for use of the tools and these and the resources.
Chris Snyder [01:02:35] Yeah, that's simply amazing. And who would have thought? I mean, I, I had no idea this something like this could even exist. Yeah. Obviously you speak with a lot of folks and you have the platform to support this. This sounds like an amazing product. Let me ask a quick question about startups or bootstrapped entrepreneurs. I mean, look, the the the Seed Angel series, you know, let's call it all the way up to private equity firms you guys work with probably closer to private equity than they are for Venture Capital Series, A and low angel and seed. That's a pretty big business, a multi-billion dollar business with startups that are funded every single day. I think, you know. Twenty-five hundred startups a quarter in that range, but. A lot of these seed and series companies that are being funded have sometimes young entrepreneurs. I mean, have you thought about a package for that market? I don't think you maybe would not be as profitable, but how would this toolset relate to the startup community and venture back community?
Nick Araco [01:03:56] You know, I'm glad you mentioned that because the fastest-growing segment of our networks and our solutions clients are first-timers. Their first time in the seat. And Chris, you remember that it's a lonely place. You don't have the answers. And what I love about this current generation of entrepreneurs is they're not afraid to say, I don't have an answer. And in this day and age, I can go find that answer or find that challenge for validation for what I'm thinking. And I'm going to go find it. Get it. And I'm going to ask I'm going to get smart fast. So we've actually created advanced programs that take the pieces. What do we do with our networks? Nick Grimston provided to that, too, to actually call it three personas that fit that profile. You just set the entrepreneurs in that seat for the first time with a hell of a lot of pressure here, see themselves and or has the pressure because they think that a round out to you. Right. And you now have had the spotlight on them. Their soon to be, i.e., being groomed by that entrepreneur to grow that X1. That's the second persona. And the third persona is the person who says we need to be more agile. We need to be more like that entrepreneur series, a round funded enterprise. We put all three together and we created a 12-month long advance program to give them access to tools, resources and support and little or no cost. Because to me, like, it's a gift to get get in and have some fun with this and we'll find a way to do business together. We just want to see more of those entrepreneurs and those businesses make it or decide. Making it means pivoting and not being what we are today, but being something else. And there's where people, I think, are surprised. I come from a market in Philadelphia that has deep and rich Quaker roots, which also makes in an environment that is very conservative in terms of risk, very much around consistency and and and maturity. This is not a market whole market. I live in that. You show up at a meeting with a business card and you show up for the next one with a different business card. In fact, it's frowned upon versus other markets where if you saw at the same business card for three years, it means you're stuck somewhere.
Chris Snyder [01:06:24] You're stagnant, you're stale.
Nick Araco [01:06:27] Right. So we've thought these advanced programs should be a catalyst and a lift, but it should also allow them to see a broader spectrum of businesses in industries that may help them pivot. They may not be right or that business may need a bit of a tweak or they may need horsepower from somewhere they didn't think of. So it's built for them and it's built for them to come in and use it. But it also is giving them access to that midmarket. That's a little bit more mature, maybe seen and heard some things they haven't. And if they want to listen or use them.
Chris Snyder [01:07:01] That is a great resource. And look, a lot of these teams are small. Right. I think the math behind the number per employee would be about, you know, ten thousand dollars a month in total overhead. A lot of these guys in the seed rounds are getting between five hundred thousand dollars and a million dollars. Right. So you just if you have three or four people on your team payroll alone, you're out of seed in a year or 18 months, depending on who you talk to make it. So if you're not hiring, by the way, you're not hiring for executives.
Nick Araco [01:07:39] You're hiring one wearing all four hats.
Chris Snyder [01:07:42] Exactly. And then the rest of those folks are making, you know, between five and six grand a month and they're actually pounding on keyboards doing work. So I see this as an opportunity for those folks to get the extra help they need. Then as they grow, if they make it, then they're going to have to hire a controller or an accounting person, not a CFO. Yet they're not ready for that. But I have access to CFO resources. If someone on a seed or series a team needed that support, you certainly have that supported AchieveNEXT. And I think that is amazing.
Nick Araco [01:08:18] Yeah. I mean, that reputation, that that culture that your reputation is is built based upon what you say there. There is a, you know, gig CFO, advisor, CFO. When we started this used to be an evergreen product. It meant the gray-haired CFO who is on the last stage, who wants to stay connected, doesn't half the world has changed. Think about that multigenerational workforce that includes the baby boomer. Is that still as relevant, active, and needed as ever before, interacting with a first-timer or soon to be? That's scheduled collisions. And that's the environment where I go back to that example of the meeting. That's that CFO needed help getting off the ledge. And so many people said, let me help you. And I think that lends itself to for an early-stage enterprise leader to say, you know what? It's not just great to be in a room where I know I'm not alone with other entrepreneurs. I'm in a room full of people that maybe I can tap into, see things differently, or I've seen this that I can also tap into as well.
Chris Snyder [01:09:24] Yeah, there's a difference between leadership and a good manager. And, you know, being a leader takes time. And, you know, maybe this isn't the right way to say it, but I believe you need to be groomed for that. You don't just wake up one day and you're a general and you're running into war with everyone chasing behind you. Like it doesn't you need to evolve into that. Intro back to your other point. If you're carrying a business card for 18 months to 24 months, you spent six months learning your job at that company. You spent the next 12 months delivering a little bit of value that you spent three months interviewing for your next job. Right. So where is the pathing and where's the leadership with that? Right. Right. So this could be a way for you guys to fill a gap that we are missing in the marketplace to allow some folks to get some leadership, mentorship, and some capabilities training and some peer group training that they would not otherwise have at their firm.
Nick Araco [01:10:29] Yeah. I mean, I'll leave you with an image, Chris, which is I hope everyone will think about themselves and their careers as navigating a series of lattice moves, not ladder moves. You know, when you move on a lattice, it means going up, down, and around. Right. It's a series of intersecting points. I feel like we've done a lot of people and still do a disservice. I'm trying to put them on a ladder. They say the only way is up. And I think that's all wrong in this day and age. And I think we have an opportunity to help everyone approach things differently. So when they need that lift, they need that validation or they need that challenge, that it's comfortable, that it's not viewed the way my move was viewed, which was I had to explain it. I'm not going to be a lawyer anymore. Right. I think that's the greatest thing we have going for us given our culture here and in the United States and in the various markets that we're operating in.
Chris Snyder [01:11:29] Well, I love it. You guys are kicking ass. And I love the mission and the vision with AchieveNEXT. So, you know, this last question I'm going to ask as we wrap up on time here. You know, you have a wealth of experience and knowledge. You've seen a lot right now. You went through the tech crash. You went through the 2008 financial crash. We're now in the pandemic age. What can you tell your peers or younger entrepreneurs or executives? What can you give us as a word of advice since you've seen a lot?
Nick Araco [01:12:07] The number one thing that comes to mind is you're not alone. And the second that you feel alone, go get someone and talk to them. And I mean that in the most sincere way from a business standpoint and personal standpoint. I'm not trying to be preachy, but that the. Yes. I lived through the dot com bust boom-bust 08, 09 financial crash. And now I'm here in this crisis in the common tie that that has bound me and by others is we're gonna be better by coming out of this and relying on others to help us get through it. And that means using this, using this, using this and using this. Talk about it. Talk about it with people that you trust. Don't typecast. Don't think I'm only going to hear this. I know. And there's no such thing as a stupid question during a crisis. In fact, I think when you go back to basics. Right. And just say, how does that feel or what are you thinking or what can you tell me that I don't know. So "you're not alone" is the best thing. And don't try to go at it alone. Because, by the way, if you're going to live as long as we are, there's going to be another crisis.
Chris Snyder [01:13:20] Absolutely. There's going to be there might be a couple more in our lifetime. Right. So, Nick, this has been great, everyone. Nick Rokko, he's the chairman and CEO of AchieveNEXT. Nick, I really appreciate having you on the show today. I will put out the Urals. It's achieved next. Dot.com and any other contact information in the show notes. I know you can five find Nick on LinkedIn as well. I'll leave you guys with this. Thanks a lot, Nick.
Nick Araco [01:13:51] Have a great day. Thank you, Chris.