How Core Values Drive Success: Lessons for Any Business

Ganesh Shankar of RFPIO Inc. shares lessons in core values and successful growth.

When we hear the phrase see some­thing, say some­thing” we often asso­ciate it with air­ports and trav­el, but for Ganesh Shankar, CEO and Co-Founder of RFPIO, Inc., it makes just as much sense in a day-to-day com­pa­ny set­ting. It also hap­pens to be one of RFPIO’s com­pa­ny val­ues and in his recent appear­ance on The Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture, Ganesh shared how those val­ues grew from activ­i­ties that the team cher­ished and enjoyed doing. Liv­ing those val­ues is how the com­pa­ny has grown from just three co-founders in 2016 to the 450+ team mem­bers they have today.

RFPIO is the mar­ket leader in response man­age­ment soft­ware. They help com­pa­nies cre­ate and sup­port RFPs, sales pro­pos­als and secu­ri­ty ques­tion­naires. The software’s bi-direc­tion­al inte­gra­tions and open API helps teams dig­i­tal­ly trans­form their response man­age­ment process­es, har­ness­ing the pow­er of knowl­edge and con­tent across their organizations.

How Customers Use the Product

When com­pa­nies design prod­ucts, they have to antic­i­pate that some­times cus­tomers will find inno­v­a­tive ways to use those prod­ucts, ways that maybe no one ever thought of before. Ganesh points out that the com­pa­ny name comes from RFP — request for pro­pos­al — and many cus­tomers use the soft­ware to issue those every day. But what are the char­ac­ter­is­tics of RFPs? They are:

  • Client-fac­ing
  • Com­pli­ant
  • Stan­dard­ized and consistent
  • Reviewed by sub­ject mat­ter experts

Cus­tomers soon real­ized that they could use the soft­ware to share infor­ma­tion with a whole host of stake­hold­ers, includ­ing ana­lysts, part­ners, investors, ven­dors, etc. Not only did this pre­vent rogue” doc­u­ments from float­ing around that didn’t have the qual­i­ties list­ed above, but it increased the veloc­i­ty of var­i­ous process­es. When stake­hold­ers can access the infor­ma­tion they need in an instant, every­one can per­form at a high­er lev­el. Even bet­ter, RFPIO’s soft­ware can work in any email client, allow­ing cus­tomers to get what they need from their email instead of hav­ing to go to a dif­fer­ent site.

In a dig­i­tal world with more and more infor­ma­tion locat­ed in dif­fer­ent places, we can some­times find our­selves scram­bling to find a doc­u­ment or file, know­ing that it exists, but not remem­ber­ing where we put it. An added advan­tage of RFPIO’s soft­ware is that offers a repos­i­to­ry for information.

RFPIO Values

Giv­ing stake­hold­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get what they need faster isn’t just a fea­ture, it’s a val­ue. It flows from one of the company’s core val­ues, Get it done.” The oth­ers are:

  • Be agile and nimble
  • Give back time
  • See some­thing, say something
  • Don’t mess with customers

Ganesh told Jor­dan that the Get it done” val­ue was orig­i­nal­ly print­ed on cof­fee mugs as GDDD, or Get the Damn Deal Done.” That phrase didn’t make the final cut for the for­mal cus­tomer-fac­ing val­ues but it clear­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed the urgency that the team had in those ear­ly days. It still remains impor­tant, but these days it lives on in an inter­nal Slack hash­tag: #getit­done.

See Something, Say Something

As men­tioned above, Ganesh real­ly sees the val­ue of the see some­thing, say some­thing” catch­phrase with­in the orga­ni­za­tion. It’s thought of as cel­e­brat­ing the crit­i­cal eye” and wel­com­ing fresh opin­ions. If some­thing can be done bet­ter or if some­thing is out of place, it’s on a team mem­ber to call it out. This, of course, ties back to the get it done” and being nim­ble” val­ues. When a prob­lem is not addressed it can slow every­one else down.

Give Back Time

RFPIO is a soft­ware designed to give back time”, which itself is a core inter­nal com­pa­ny val­ue. How­ev­er, the goal is not to save time for its own sake. Ganesh believes that time saved can be rein­vest­ed in the things that real­ly mat­ter; fam­i­ly, per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al growth, hob­bies, self-care, etc. This men­tal­i­ty also trick­les down to process­es and func­tions that aren’t auto­mat­ed such as meet­ings. Ganesh believes that every two min­utes saved in a meet­ing can be giv­en back to his team mem­bers and that accu­mu­lat­ed can then be put back into their per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al growth to help them to func­tion at a high­er level.

Don’t Mess with Customers

But what does don’t mess with cus­tomers” mean? Sim­ply put, Ganesh feels that cus­tomers have 1,000 prob­lems of their own to deal with and he doesn’t want RFPIO to be num­ber 1,001. Team mem­bers are remind­ed to make life eas­i­er — and faster — for cus­tomers at every turn.

These val­ues weren’t imposed from a top-down C‑level meet­ing, they were sourced from the process­es and func­tions team mem­bers most enjoyed, most cher­ished, most valued.

Transforming Competitors Into Team Members

Using these val­ues to dri­ve their busi­ness has been a win­ning for­mu­la for RFPIO. This has led to growth by acqui­si­tion. Some of those acqui­si­tions were of direct com­peti­tors. Peo­ple who were com­pet­ing against RFPIO one day were made mem­bers of the team” the next. Jor­dan asked Ganesh how that was navigated.

Ganesh states that none of those acqui­si­tions have been easy, there’s always going to be nat­ur­al fric­tion and mis­align­ments at the start of a new merg­er. Some­times that means that new team mem­bers have a short stay and choose to leave, but oth­ers choose to embrace the change. One of the rea­sons they gave for stay­ing was the trans­paren­cy that RFPIO used in com­mu­ni­cat­ing dur­ing the takeover. That trans­paren­cy helped those with doubts gain answers to ques­tions so that they could wait and see” as the new sit­u­a­tion progressed.

Check Out the Full Episode

Learn more from our chat with Ganesh by lis­ten­ing to our full inter­view on Apple or Spo­ti­fy.

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