Kofi: 00:00 On today's episode we have John Goo, owner and founder of MAVPAK, and we're going to dig into how they're approaching packaging differently. Let's go
Speaker 2: 00:09 [inaudible]
Kofi: 00:16 On today's Skill-Up Buildup podcast we have owner and founder of MAVPAK, John Goo. Welcome.
John Goo: 00:22 Thank you. Glad to be here.
Kofi: 00:24 I am Kofi Darko,
Adam: 00:26 I am Adam Soltis
Kofi: 00:26 Your cohosts as usual, and we're going to have a lot of fun on today's episode. Adam, get us deeper into this episode.
Adam: 00:33 We're going to dive right in. I am excited to have you on, I know you personally, so I knew a little bit about your story and the background, but can you share with everybody your personal background and kind of how you got to where you're at today?
John Goo: 00:46 Sure. I'd love to. Um, personal background. Uh, I'm an Indy guy. I'm a, I'm a Hoosier. My Dad, my dad was in the army so I grew up overseas, but when we, when we landed back in America, we landed in Indy and I look forward to retiring here and raising my kids here. Love the people, love the values and uh, yeah, that's me.
Adam: 01:07 How did you start MAVPAK then? Talk to us about that.
John Goo: 01:10 Sure. Matter of fact, we're a three and a half years old almost.
Adam: 01:14 What is it? What's MAVPAK?
John Goo: 01:15 We are a packaging distribution company.
Adam: 01:18 So cardboard.
John Goo: 01:18 Sure. Corrugated. Yes, exactly what we call it. So if your, uh, if you're shopping online and Amazon box shows up and there's a label on the outside of it and that pretty printed tape and some air pillows or a crumpled up paper, that's all the stuff that we do. And obviously Indianapolis Central Indiana is an incredible market, for distribution centers, manufacturing, ecommerce. So those, those huge buildings you see on the sides of the
interstate, those are the people that we work with and partner with and sell packaging to every day. Have you always been in packaging?
John Goo: 01:54 Thank God. Yes. It's, is not what I thought I was going to do when I graduated. I was a double major in accounting and finance thinking that I would go do something with that degree. And, uh, went to work for 3M company coming out of school selling tape, which is, you know, every young young mans dream.
Kofi: 02:14 Lot of future.
John Goo: 02:14 There is, it's very sexy. It worked well at the bars with the girls. Um, so I went to work for 3M and that's how I got introduced to the industrial selling world and working with packaging distribution companies like I now own as a, was working as a vendor rep at that point. So I got to learn the business. I spent a decade working for a great company, um, that I was able to really learn the business. And about four and a half years ago, a little over four years ago, it got put on my heart to, uh, God put it on my heart to take the guests that I had been given and start a company and- love packaging, love Indianapolis. It was a great fit. And so that's, that's kind of the, the beginning of MAVPAK.
Adam: 03:03 Well, I want to know about the name MAVPAK, how you got to map pack. But this was, this was a calling in your eyes when you were at your previous employer for 12 years, you felt like this calling to start your own company. Or like I just, when you're successful at a current company doing what you do, to go out on your own, that's a leap of faith. That's a, that's a big leap right there. So what do you think like pushed you to start your own company in the packaging industry? A place where you've been super successful?
John Goo: 03:37 Uh, my faith truly, this is a walk of faith. Um, I was blessed in my previous 10 years of employment. I was, um, it was really successful. I had an incredible team around me. Um worked for one of the best companies in the industry, had incredible customers. I had been making more money than my family needed for a number of years. Um, and when, you know, not a lot of people have the opportunity to say something like that ever in their career where they're making enough money to where money isn't a worry. And it doesn't have to be a driver. Um, and so when that was taken off the table, kind of around the same time that I started going to church as I was starting a family. So, um, I started realizing pretty quickly that money isn't what I, money doesn't motivate me and I'm after something a
little bit more. Um, I got to know my faith at an incredible church again about seven years ago now. And the reason I, you know, you ask, how did you, how did you decide to, you know, why, why leave a successful career and go start a company? Because it's not easy. And I wouldn't, I wouldn't recommend it to most people. Um, and, and I will tell you, as I, as I found my faith and I started attempting to be a better person because you've known me long enough to know me when I was not a great person. Um, and I'm trying to get better every day, still uh- but as I started trying to live out my faith at home at first, and then I got better at that and then I started trying to live it out with my family and with my friends. And then I also started, uh, you know, kind of the final frontier for me was how am I going to live out my faith at work? And, uh, I won't say that my old company and didn't appreciate it, but they certainly didn't embrace it, which is okay. Um, but I was, I'm absolutely convinced that if people would do business God's way, they would make more money and be more successful and be happier and profits would be sustainable and partnerships would be deeper and trust would be, would come quicker. And so I'm now I'm on a mission to prove that, that if people would just come to work every day, I think a lot of people are confused for a reason. Uh, they think that you can do one or the other. You can either put money first or you can put God first at work. And I think if you put God first, you'll actually make more money and there's not a trade off. You don't have to hang your faith at the door when you walk into work. You don't have to walk in and preach. We're not preachy at all. Um, but you can choose to do business his way. Um, and in doing so, the money will follow. So you don't have to pick one or the other. As long as you put God first, you're going to have all the money under the sun. Um, so that's what we're trying to show people, we don't walk in and talk to our customers about our faith every day. We don't, we generally won't lead with that. Um, when we, we want to be the best packaging company they've ever worked with, we want to operate with excellence. We want to be 100% accountable. Um, we want to lead. We want to literally show them like, this is who we are. This is what we're all about in hopes of gaining influence. And so as they see us operating with excellence, as they see us constantly pushing the envelope like, well past what we need to, to earn their business and make the money.
Adam: 07:00 Yeah.
John Goo: 07:01 Uh, I want them to turn and say at some point, this is the influence piece. Like why do you, why do you guys work so hard? Why do you care so much? Why do you do all these extra things for us? And I want to be able to turn them to something
and say, well, it's easy. We're trying to do business in a way that would make the Lord proud as opposed to do enough to make money.
Kofi: 07:21 Um, so that sounds like the reason why you do, why MAVPAK exists. That's your why, right there.
Kofi: 07:29 Yeah. Oh, for sure. I mean, our mission is to honor God in the way we serve people in a life giving pursuit of excellence and accountability. And we keep considering tweaking that, but we are in it for one reason, one reason only. And that's to bring glory to God through the way we go about this.
Adam: 07:43 That's good, man. Talk to us about MAVPAK, the name. How did we get MAVPAK?
John Goo: 07:51 Sure.
Adam: 07:51 There's a story there. I know there is.
John Goo: 07:53 Oh yeah, I'm, I'm going to try to give you the abbreviated version and you guys can cut out what you want. Um, it was in January that my, that God had really put it on my wife and I's heart to start this company, this new packaging company. And we didn't have a name for the company at that point. At that time. My wife says...
Adam: 08:12 Of what year January of...
John Goo: 08:12 2015...
Adam: 08:12 2015. Okay.
John Goo: 08:13 Yeah. 2015, 16 yup. 2015. Um, so January, 2015, I'm making plenty of money again. I love what I do love coming home at night to incredible family. Um, God kind of started my wife and I down this path, uh, at the time she's pregnant with twins. And uh, so that's in January. And we start considering, you know, what are we gonna do with this- kind of start walking the path. In February, my wife calls me, I had been with my team at my old company that, uh, we're actually at wheeler mission downtown packing boxes, uh, just doing a team serve day. And I get a call from my wife that she's bleeding and she needs me to come home and take her to the, take her to the doctor. So I drive home, grab her and my three year old and we had to the head to the doctor's office, um, and they laid her down and take a quick look and say, you know, John, pull your car around, lay
the seat back, your wife six centimeters dilated. And at this point she's just over 20 weeks pregnant. And so it's really, really important to get her to the hospital quickly and they said, try not to stop if you don't have to. Um, they're going to be waiting for it. We went to Saint Vincent Women's- incredible hospital. Um, fast forward, uh, we get to the hospital and the doctors say, uh, delivery is imminent. These babies are coming they're way too small, way too young. There's nothing we can do to help them- make your peace with it. And so, uh, we start praying and just praying that God's will would be done and that, uh, my wife would be safe and, and that, okay, God, make this, make this easy. This sucks. But okay, if this is what it's supposed to be, a couple hours turns into a day, turns into two days, turns into three days. And um, you know, she's in the delivery bed in the middle of the hospital and the days, uh, start ticking by and they'd, uh, there's a lot of things that happened. Um, but we get to a point where there's a decision that had to be made. So fast forward a couple of weeks of her laying in a delivery bed, she's amazing. Never got up. Yeah. So fast forward a couple of weeks, uh, doctors were amazed. Um, but now delivery was truly, we're getting to that- like it will be any minute, any hour. And that, again, still drug into a couple of days. But there's this funny time, uh, between 23 and 25 weeks that a delivery or like viability, the chance of a baby surviving between 23 and 25 weeks is really slim. Even if you spend a couple million dollars in, you know, but the baby in the bubble and do all the things to try to try to save the baby's life, uh, and because the chances of survival are so low, it's actually a parent's choice whether or not to intervene. So between 23 and 25 weeks, a parent has to choose to, to do the massive intervention, send the baby to the Nicu, or just let nature take its course. Nature taking its course means the baby might survive for 20, 30 minutes outside of the womb with a faint heartbeat. There's no chance of life without an insane intervention. So we have these twin boys and we're getting, we're creeping up on that, you know, 23 week mark. And so we were praying like, okay, if we're, if we hit 23 weeks and we have a choice, what are we supposed to do? Uh, we got an answer that, uh, you know, God had gotten this, the room's ready for these babies and we were supposed to send them home. And so we weren't supposed to intervene. Um, that's what we both felt very comfortable with. And, you know, our doctors were amazing. Our pastor was amazing. Everybody said, yup, every parent makes the right decision, which means like, you know, it's kind of a tough one. Um, we had perfect peace with it. And so when Maverick our first was finally born, we didn't intervene. Um, so he was born naturally and, uh, uh, because had we intervened, they would've done a C Section because these babies are, you know, pound, pound and a half.
Um, so he was born naturally again. He had a faint heartbeat for a little while. We prayed over him and it's skin to skin and, and loved on him and then sent him on to be with Jesus. Um, and, and then we waited for, for Lincoln our second boy to deliver right after him. And again, deliveries imminent, couple minutes turned into a couple hours, turned into a couple of days. Um, and after close to 48 hours between Maverick being born and going to be with our Savior, and Lincoln, still in their cooking, they were, they were finally willing to take a look at my wife and try to figure out what was going on cause they were scared to death that they were going to, you know, again, cause a delivery. And when they took a look, uh, her cervix had closed, which, um, was, it wasn't the first in what we now realize is a whole bunch of physical miracles that happened. But it was the first really overt one. Um, it's only happened a handful of times in it. Literally a handful of times since they started keeping track of this in America were twins would deliver more than a couple days apart. Um, uh, infection set in. There's lots of crazy things that happen that cause, and then just nature. Um, so, uh, again, we have this amazing experience with Maverick and then a couple of days and then her cervix is closed and they didn't know what it meant and they said, okay, so we're just going to leave you in this delivery bed and you still can't move. And then, you know, one day ticked away and then another and then another. Um, and she ended up, uh, going almost two weeks.
Adam: 14:01 Where were you at? Were you and your wife right now mentally? Like, I mean, you've been here for three, four, five weeks.
John Goo: 14:07 Yeah, for sure.
Adam: 14:10 Like emotionally, like holy cow,
John Goo: 14:11 We'd never been better. Really. I, uh, all my friends, all my friends said we were completely full of it. Um, we had, we had been to a marriage conference the weekend prior to this, had no idea why we were like, we almost didn't go to the marriage conference. We were in a big fight. Of course, it's what always happens if ever you want to go do something good for your marriage, you will be in a huge fight leading up to it. Um, so we went to this marriage conference and it was, it was like a, it was one on DVDs. It was kind of corny, but the preaching was amazing. And we were handed at that marriage conference, the most simple approach to like how a husband and wife are supposed to treat each other. Like biblically speaking. It was brilliant and simple and it was, and, and we, you know, we thought, okay, this is a great weekend. Cool. But I think we went
out and I had a beer afterwards. Of course she didn't because she was pregnant. Um, and then two days later, we're in the hospital dealing with the craziest season of our life. And what we didn't realize at the conference was we, we were being handed the exact set of tools that we needed to be able to handle this crazy season with just an insane amount of grace. Um, so we just completely, and again, our faith is such that we're supposed to lean into one another and then together, lean into the Lord. And that's how, you know, husband and wife is supposed to get out this world. Um, you know, lean into one another and then together into the Lord. And that's all we did the whole time we're in the hospital and we cried every day, middle of the night just, but what we did, like we, if we cried 2% of the time, we were laughing 98% of the time. And it was truly one of the, it was the most rewarding and amazing time in our marriage. And for me it hands down in my life like this month that my wife was in that delivery bed- or five weeks I think total. Um, so yeah, uh, we were actually great and again, it was really hard. But when you, it's a funny thing. It's funny thing about the way God says this is supposed to work if you like, we are at our strongest when we are, we can lean into him, right? Cause then we can pull off his strength. So that's, that actually really works. And it's actually, so people say like, oh, how did you guys deal with that in the hospital? I'm like, well, it's actually pretty easy because it was nothing we could do other than lean into Him. And so like we had no choice but yeah, but, but today I want to have a bad day this afternoon. I'm sure I'm going to get all upset about something that I think I'm supposed to control. And, and I, I'll have harder days selling boxes than I had losing a baby in the hospital. And, and that's a stupid choice that we make to, to not lean in all the time, right. Because we think we're supposed to do it on our own. But that's why when people say like, how- I could never deal with something like that, I'm like, sure you could. You just have to, you just have to lean in and ask for help from the right place and you'll get it every time. And we did. And we were covered. Our family, I mean, my daughter at home and the way my three year old dealt with- because she, we introduced her to Maverick, um, uh, before he had been cremated. And the way she handled that, that was hands down. The hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life was, you know, walk through the lobby of the hospital to grab her and bring her up and introduced her to her, her little brother who was, who had passed away and uh, crazy stuff. But man, the whole thing was so covered in grace. It was, it was actually easy. Um, but it wouldn't have been if we'd tried to do it on our own. So, um, yeah, so the funny, the funny part, the like ironic part, whatever the God, the Big God wink and this whole thing was, we thought God was saying to us when we prayed about intervention, like,
are we supposed to intervene? And God said, no, send those babies home. Well, we obviously didn't hear him quite right. He was saying send that baby home. Um, because his land, like he'll turn all these broken things for his credit if we give them the opportunity. His plan was, have us send Maverick home, and then he was going to perform a miracle with our son, Lincoln. And, uh, my wife stayed pregnant with Lincoln for another two weeks before an infection set in, which generally happens in like two days. Um, and, and Lincoln, so Lincoln went past that 25 week mark and, and obviously at this point we knew we were intervening right. We'll bring the whole world to this kid to help him. And um, and we had to, he was in the Nicu for four months. Um, he, he's now three and a half. No, almost four. Sorry Lincoln.
Adam: 18:49 We can edit that part.
John Goo: 18:51 In a month he'll be four. If you didn't know he was a Premie, like they call it the babies as small as Lincoln Micro preemies, and they're not premies they're micro premies cause he was a pound and a half. Uh, if you didn't know if the doctors didn't, if we don't tell the doctors that he was a Preemie, they can't tell. Like he has not a single issue. Now, he had tons of issues and they were amazing number of nurses and doctors that came to help us. And God worked through so many different people to, um, to let our, our story be realized or let his story be realized. Um, but the reason we decided, so we leave the hospital, we get home, we've got this little baby home now, we don't know if he's going to have issues. We don't know what's going to happen. Um, and I make a comment to my wife about, you know, maybe, maybe we put this new company thing on the back burner for a year, see how things go with Lincoln. Again, I was working for a great company at a time, um, and my wife looked at me like, did you learn nothing in the hospital? Like God's plan? Not Ours. Like, we knew we were supposed to do this. How are you going to question him now? Like we're doing this. And I said, okay. And we decided to do it. Uh, and the reason we named the company MAVPAK is we wanted that reminder that if we're just willing to follow God's plan, like he already has an amazing outcome, but we gotta be willing to walk his path. So when when he said you send those babies home, when he was really saying was you send that baby home. Had we intervened with both of our twins, you know, when it was time for Maverick to be born, we had done the c section and taken Maverick and Lincoln out at the same time. We put them both in the Nicu and we would have probably ended up pulling the plug on both of them at a minimum, one of them. And they would have most certainly had horrible brain bleeds
and all the things that happen to kids in that realm. So, like would have never had a chance to bring Lincoln home had we not just followed God's plan for our life? Um, and the reason I say I don't recommend starting a company to most people is, there's so much you don't know and there's so much that you have to have- I couldn't imagine starting a company without a strong faith because you could have the best plans on earth, but that doesn't matter. Like you have the best idea, the best business plan, like the best work ethic, all the money in the world and it still doesn't matter, right? I think God laughs on our faces when we make plans. So you have to be able to walk in faith like you have to be able to do the work, right? Like we've got to work hard. Our team talks about all the time, like it's God's job to provide tomorrow, but it is our job to do the work today so he will bless it if we work our tail off today. So we are going to work harder and faster and smarter than everybody else around us and we're going to lean into one another and work as a team. But we wanted that reminder every day that if we were are just willing to follow God's plan for our lives, whatever that is, that he's already provided a perfect outcome. We just don't get to pick what that outcome is. We don't get to know what flavor it is, how much it is and when it is, we just, we just operate out of faith. So that's why it's Maverick packaging. And then my wife decided that pack should be spelled Pak instead of pack, cause six letters was better balanced than seven. So we misspelled it and that's, that's the rest of the name of the company. So it's Maverick and we wanted a balanced a logo, so, so that's
Adam: 22:14 That's awesome. Thanks for sharing that.
John Goo: 22:17 Yeah, I know that's a lot.
Kofi: 22:17 That is a deep story and I'm so grateful that you walked us through that and very demonstrative. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that story, John.
Adam: 22:30 So where's MAVPAK now compared to when you started it? Um, or maybe where is MAVPAK now compared to where you thought it would be. Um, and where's MAVPAK ack now compared to where you thought it might be at this time?
John Goo: 22:46 That's an awesome question if, cause I always know where we're going to end up. If you asked me today where we're going to be in three years, like I can paint you that picture. Um, it's, it's actually one of my strengths, uh, futuristic. Uh, of course I would be dead wrong.
Kofi: 22:58 I was gonna ask what gives you that certainty!
John Goo: 23:00 Yeah, no, I, I know, I know. Yeah, I know that I'm going to be wrong. I read it in a book at some point. There's not much original about me. Um, that's my wife's favorite thing to remind people. Uh, when a leader doesn't have to be right about where they're headed, they just have to be resolute about it. Like you gotta be able to paint a picture of a brighter future. And this is where we're headed. You don't have to be right because we can't control tomorrow. Um, but people have to have something they're working towards. So from a leadership standpoint, like in order for MAVPAK to grow and for us all to be on the same page and on the same path, moving towards a brighter future together, somebody's gotta be able to paint that picture. That's why I can tell you, if you asked me where we're going to be three years from now, I'll paint you that picture so that we can all head towards it together. But we're wildly humbled, um, to the fact that that picture is going to change a lot. And it may change every day. And that's okay. We just have to be willing to say this is where we're headed. That's my job. Um, so where I thought we were going to be three and a half years ago compared to where we are today, we have, um, a much bigger team then I thought we would, uh, I thought we were going to be killing it in packaging with a lot of our old customers from my, from my old world. Um, cause I had such amazing relationships with all of our old customers. Um, we got so busy with the new, the new customers that, uh, that we've been blessed to work with that we never really had a chance to go back after most of our old customers.
Adam: 24:37 Wow.
John Goo: 24:38 So I thought for sure we'd be like, you know, that we would have a lot of new customers and a lot of old customers. But we've been so blessed with so many new customers and um, with a couple of other pieces of our business growing that I never saw coming. Um, we never had a chance to go after them. And so that's been beautiful because we've been given a ton of influence, um, in this, in this town, especially for a packaging company. Um, you know, we have an 80 or a hundred ish awesome customers and growing every day and we are, uh, I don't know-humbled and blessed to have a chance to walk into that many different places and do work with them and learn from them. I mean, our customers, each one of them teaches us, you know, our businesses to know packaging. Um, but we got to get to know our customers and their business and what their specific needs are. So like each one of them is incredible and special and we just, we love that opportunity to
learn about them. And we have 17 people on our team today. Yeah, we'll probably have 22 by the end of this year. I mean our revenue, I don't even know how to guess at that. Like we get, we get after it every day really hard. So, uh, I don't believe in looking down or looking back much. And what I mean by that is, um, we don't like the numbers, right? Like sales numbers and profit numbers. Those are a report card. So like we're after influence in the market. Like we want to kill it for our customers and we want to kill it on such a level that, that we would have influence in these people's lives both corporately and, and as individuals. And so if we're pursuing right, uh, selling packaging the way Jesus would have us do it, which Jesus does not care about boxes at all, I'm positive about that. Um, but he does care about people. So if we would go out and walk into places and just try to serve people first, worry about the money later, make sure our customers always win before MAVPAK. We talk about it constantly, like our customer need to win and our vendors need to win. If our customers and our vendor win then we'll win every time, right? And, but when we're out there pursuing our own, when we can get in the way of our customers winning constantly. And so we're pretty darn good about staying focused on making sure our customers win, um, and our vendors winning. And then by doing that, we ended up with a great amount of influence and we're trying to use that influence to do some good things. And we find that when we do that, the numbers tend to take care of themselves. So we've, we've grown like wildfire from a revenue standpoint and a profit standpoint, but we're not chasing it. And I can tell you, I don't know what our numbers are going to be for the month of February and I literally don't care. I'm like, we have 17 families that count on MAVPAK. So like, I do care, but, but not not enough that we're going to go pursue the numbers. We just pursue serving people and the numbers just keep taking care of themselves.
Kofi: 27:42 We're all about how you lead talent to thrive on this podcast, and you're painting a great picture that's making me curious about what happens with those customers. And then also what happens with the 17 employees. So let's start internally. Um, how do you lead the 17 team members you have, how you lead them to thrive? How do you help them put forth their best and, and put them in a position to thrive in and their professional and personal lives?
John Goo: 28:13 Yes, I think you're describing, um, maybe one of the next people I want to hire to, to do all that leading internally to get the best out of people and empower them. Uh, here's what I can tell you. I'm a good leader. I don't think I'm a very good manager,
so, so it's, uh, I'm a big work in progress as far as getting each of the people on the bus in the right seat, empowering them to use their strengths to, you know, to make the biggest difference. I'm just, I'm not great at it. Um, I work at it all the time and we talk about it constantly. Uh, but at MAVPAK we believe in strengths. Um, if, if strength finder...
Kofi: 28:57 You've already mentioned your futuristic, and I'm, I'm happy that you speak in strengths language, I know my strengths. I know not all of everyone else's strengths, but we love them and embrace strengths here.
John Goo: 29:06 Yeah. So, uh, strengths are awesome for a lot of reasons. Uh, first it's a common language and to have a common language that you can speak with your team, Um, it helps in growth. It helps in conflict management and it helps them with being able to say, hey, like I hear you're talking but I don't understand the words coming out of your mouth. Uh, remember this is how I process best. Can you reframe that, that criticism? Can you reframe that strategy? Can you reframe that idea and something that I guess communication is about what the other person needs to receive, not what you have to say. Um, strengths we love. Uh, and what strengths does is it gives you access. It's a assessment that you pay to take.
Speaker 1: 29:49 And the logic is every person contains some level of these 34 different strengths. It's like every person on earth. If, if you were to boil down all of their talents, they'd land in 34 different strengths and you take this assessment and this assessment will rank your strengths and it will give you as a standard your top five strengths. Now we love that because it's going to focus you on what people are good at, not what they're bad at. Most managers and the vast majority of our culture is based around weaknesses saying, hey, you're really great at that good job, however you suck over here. So this quarter I want you to focus where you stink at and I want you to get better at what you suck at. Well, the research shows to get better at what you're naturally not very good at. You actually have to dull what it is you are naturally good at. So we believe at MAVPAK that being well rounded sucks. We don't want our employees to be well rounded. Uh, we want them to be wildly focused, living in their strengths as much of their day as humanly possible. So we literally tailor roles to people's strengths like we've got a job to do for our customers. This is all about our customers at the end of the day. Um, so we have a job to do for our customers. Our customers expect to have a certain experience. They have certain needs that they need met. Well the idea that one salesperson could meet all of the needs of a, of a customer from
the beginning of the first time they meet him and start building a relationship with them to strategically working on projects to managing the business for five years. Like in our humble opinion, there is no single person that can do all those things really well. Uh, so we actually do team based selling. We do team based everything and on inside of MAVPAK and that's a constant moving target. But we like to focus in on what is the experience that the customer needs and what are the strengths that would be best suited to deliver that experience. And then we work together as a team. Everybody focused on their strengths. Generally people that are focused on their strengths are excited to come to work. Their days fly by, they crush it. Like, you can only be worldclass. That's what Laura on our team always says. You can only be worldclass at something you already naturally had strengths for. Um, so we want our people to be fired up to come to work. Feeling like they're living in their strengths all day and excited to get out of there at five o'clock and go home and sit around the dinner table and tell their family about how they smash it all day using the gifts that God gave them. And strengths. You know, again, my faith comes into this, believe that God designed us all on purpose for a purpose. The chances that anybody else has the same top five strengths as you in the same order is one. And I get this wrong every time. It's like one in 32 or 33 million, I forget which one. Um, let's, so the chances that anybody else has my same top five strengths in my order is one of 33 million. That's pretty special. Like to me that that reflects what God would have us focus on in one another. What is uniquely awesome about each other? We all have our weaknesses. Like I got my problems, I've got tons of, I already told you I'm not a great manager. Like my strengths don't, don't make me a great manager. Um, we just love focusing on strengths and what God made special about everybody. We worked together. We go further faster. It's great.
Kofi: 33:14 Did you focus on strengths right from the beginning or are there any other strategies you had in terms of developing internal talent?
John Goo: 33:21 We definitely didn't start on that from the beginning. It took close to a year of- there's an incredible lady that works with us. Her name is Laura. Laura has a passion for all this type of stuff. She's read every leadership book there is out there. And when she's like wicked passionate about training, development, teaching, um, she came out of the educational world to work for packaging company. Uh, from day one- It was kind of a, it was kind of funny.
Adam: 33:47 Was she employee number one?
John Goo: 33:48 Uh, no employee number two. Uh, but she started right from the beginning. And I was humoring her. I feel like is what most cruddy bosses do when people are talking about, hey, let's focus on culture and treat each other well and learn what's special about each other. And so at first- ah okay, go for it. And so that started us down the strengths path and, um, you know, as I'm begrudging like, okay, this'll be cool. Like we'll do this for a month and then we'll stop.
Adam: 34:17 [Laughter]
John Goo: 34:17 Well, no, I mean this is true. There's, uh, and...
Kofi: 34:19 That is business.
John Goo: 34:23 And here we are three and a half years later and we like, we've, there's just so much that you get out of this. It's so much like rooted in who we are now. It took about a year for really to sink in on just how special and important this is and how we can't possibly not do it. Um, and we fell so in love with it that Laura, we actually sent to school- Spent about 10 grand and a couple of weeks of her life to get her certified in strengths because we thought to ourselves, well, if our mission is to honor God and the way we serve people and we have influence with our customers, there's not a lot of great training that goes on out there for, for the warehousing, manufacturing, distribution community. But we, so we had this grand idea will, well let's, let's empower our customers with uh, let's give them access to their strengths. Like let's provide a strengths assessments to our customers. Well, to hire a strength coach, a couple of grand for like two hours. So we're like, oh, that's a little prohibitive. Which is how we ended up- Laura's like, well I'll go. And so Laura went and got trained and certified and now we actually host strengths classes open to the public, open to our customers or spouses, we don't care who comes, um, cause what better gift could you give somebody then helping them like quantify and qualify who God made them, like made them to be like, here's what's great about you. A lot of people that come to those classes haven't heard a compliment spoken over them and a really long time that gets kind of sad. How many environments both at home and at work are just full of you know telling you everything that's wrong with you. And so we figured, at least with at MAVPAK and we got plenty wrong with us, but if you come to one of our events, we focus on empowering our customers to know what's great about them and then try to give them tools and tricks to, to use those strengths every day
to lead a little bit more of a fulfilled life. Um, it's been an insanely won't well received. I mean how could it not? It focuses on what's uniquely awesome about each person.
Kofi: 36:25 Yeah, let's shift that focus to external and what happens with their customers. I've been to a couple of your events and you all do a really good job of having strong attendance from customers for events or classes that are happening outside of normal business hours. How do you get so many customers to come to your events? What is it that you're doing that's engaging in customer so well, can you share something about that?
John Goo: 36:49 Uh, sure. Uh, we are just giving people what they want, not what we think they want or not what-
Adam and Kofi: 36:58 [Laughing]
John Goo: 36:58 Yeah. And like I don't mean to be a smart-alek like literally it's like we actually ask our customers like what is it that we could do to help you move the needle in your business? We ask that all the time. When we asked that and don't put qualifiers on it. Like, hey, tell me about what packaging things you need help with. You know, we say that be were like, Ah, who cares? It's just boxes. But when we say like, what are the things that really you struggle with inside of this building, if there's one needle that we could move, what would it be? And people say things like, we really need help building our bench. Like we, we don't have good supervisors on our team. The ones that we have that are good leave cause we don't train them and we don't develop them and we need help with that. And we heard that for years before we finally started honestly answering the call to like, all right, we, we looked outwardly to try to find people that were doing stuff where we could send our customers because we're not a leadership development company. Like the whole idea of like MAVPAK. We were just going to sell some boxes and kill it and do it for the Lord. And hopefully He'd bless that and we'll see what happened. Well now we're, we've become like one of our four kind of core businesses- or core offerings that we have for our customers is leadership development, uh, specifically for our customers. Right. Trying to, cause nobody else is doing it. And we decided we could probably do it with excellence and we didn't, we weren't doing it to make money. And so when you're just doing it to get influence for the kingdom and you're not worried about making money, it's pretty easy to, to, to put together a good product. And that's kind of what happened. So
it wasn't an accident, but, but we weren't out trying to make money. We were out just trying to give people what they kept telling us they needed. And customers will always tell you what they need if you actually want to hear them. Like if you actually ask number one, and a lot of people ask and never listen. And we're guilty of that too. But when we ask and actually listen, and then we'll try to do something about-
Adam: 39:06 And to respond to it....then respond to it...respond to it respond to it
John Goo: 39:07 And respond to it with the goal of gaining influence for the kingdom, not making money. Some really great things come from that. And, and, and you're allowed to make money too, right? And none of that said you can't make money. That's what gets most people tripped up. If they can't see how they're going to make money, they won't do something. Well, you gotta start doing something before you're gonna be able to figure out that you can make money. And so most people just sit on the sidelines forever talking about, well, I can't make money so I'm not going to do it. And they miss amazing opportunity to go out there and serve and lead and create something new.
Adam: 39:39 Is that a shift you've seen in the industry or is this a shift you're trying to put in the industry because you know- packaging is packaging and tape and you can do that all day long.
John Goo: 39:51 Sure.
Adam: 39:51 But what I'm hearing from you is that you're trying to go completely outside of the box, excuse the pun, but give them what they want. It sounds like leadership and training and strength finding, like all this other stuff that you just said. You know really- well, we just stumbled upon it, this is what they want. Is this a shift that you guys are creating or is this what you see happening?
John Goo: 40:14 No, I mean every single one of our customer's biggest issue- the biggest concern is labor- is people, right? And, and we think that the people problem, and I'll offend some when I say this, but pretty sure that on a micro level, anybody could affect their people problem, any company in the city if they so choose to, can fix their people problem. Um, I don't know how you fix it on a macro level. Like, I dunno how we fix the fact that there's so many open jobs and literally not enough qualified candidates. But I can tell you we have amazing customers every day that pour into the people, that have built a great culture, that develop their leaders, that treat people well, treat them with
dignity, treat them with respect. They don't even pay more than their neighbors. So take pay off the table. Pay you have to be competitive clearly. Um, so they pay competitively, but then they do all the things that they need to, to make people feel valued, to make them feel a part of something greater than themselves. Right? They're, they're a great servant leaders to take care of their people. And they don't have people problems. They're bad leadership- you know, a couple of bad leadership changes away from having people problems. But every company out there will tell you like that they struggle with people. Um, some of them choose to do something about it and a lot of them choose to be victims to the situation waiting for the state of Indiana to fix the problem. And that's like, sure. And hopefully the state of Indiana does. And I know Morales is doing a ton to address things with a lot of people out there working on this macro problem. Right? The, the big problem. And we don't, you know, care about that. Like we have no clue how to fix that problem. But if we can come alongside our customers that, that already know us and trust us because we hopefully we crush it for them on packaging, um, if we can come alongside them and help grow their leaders and help love on their teams and help treat their hourly people the way that they should be treated. Because without the hourly people on the line making it all happen, like none of these buildings run. And so we're just trying to come alongside these awesome customers. It's what we get to do. Clear. I mean, we're not trying to be a leadership and training company. We are trying to be the best packaging company that this area has ever seen. Like we want to kill it in packaging. That's how we get paid. That's how we've created 17 you know, incomes for 17 families, and how that'll be 30 or 35 or 40 families two years from now. It's through packaging. But along the way, if we were so choose to, if we aren't worried about making money, like there's a lot of other needs that we can help meet and, and, and we don't want it to be a leadership and training company. So we've chosen like one or two things to become really good at because nobody else has. And we see a very real need for it at our customers. But our goal would be to partner with other amazing companies here in town that are already doing great things and just connect the dots for people, right? We're not, we don't want to be everything to everybody. We want to kill it and packaging it is how we keep our lights on. And then we want to keep saying thank you to our customers by either connecting them with amazing other resources. That's definitely where we have great network partners, like, like Morales. Um, I know that's a pretty simple business model. Like it's, you're trying to kill it and packaging and then some other things have come
from it and we treat it as this is what we get to do and it's a lot of work. But man, is it super rewarding.
Kofi: 43:48 Well, all of your responses, have registered very high on our great response meter to the point that we are now in the bonus round.
John Goo: 43:51 Okay, good.
Kofi: 43:52 I'm very curious to your response to this question. If you could sit across the table from any business leader that you admire, what would you ask them and why would you choose that one business leader? You've had some great quotes today. Um, I want you to show up for this one.
John Goo: 44:06 I'm going fail you miserably. (Kofi Darku- no pressure) No. Um, I recently was at a conference and I got to hear, I might have a butcher, his name Allen Mulolly. I don't know if you guys know Mulloly. He's a Boeing executive that, uh, that love Boeing to win and went to Ford. His story's incredible. So he was going to be the next CEO of Boeing and he left and he was a first Boeing executive ever to go into the, the automotive industry. So he moved to Detroit to run Ford right before the collapse- and Ford. I don't know if you guys know that before. It is the only car company that did not take a bail out. Um, and they, they, when he took over, they were the worst of the bigs and then went into a recession, only one not to take a bail out and came out that I'm one car company in America.And the guy was, um, so I was at this organizational health conference put on by Patrick Lencioni. Again, Laura from our team. Brilliant. She got us down there. Three of us went from the company just to learn about how we can make MAVPAK better. And, uh, it was incredible. It says Alan guy I'd sit across from him and I would just dig in with him on a organizational health is about like we have to be great at what we do, right? Like Ford can't make bad cars next to have to be good cars and we have to hit our deadlines, we have to make money. Uh, it's a, it's a basic of business, right? But then organizational health is about the phenomena that companies like Chick-Fil-A and Southwest practice, which is where we also have to have a behavior matters too, like just as much. So you have to, you have to hit it on the performance, but then you also have to hit it on the behavior and, and it's not one or the other and it's not, you know, be nice. You know, people would dig on nonprofits and churches all the time cause I think they have the proper behaviors, but they suck at performance. And that's why they struggle when you've got all these companies out there that a greater performance, but they got crappy behavior. And so they treat people like hell, but they're making
money. And so right. And, but then there's that happy place where what if you could treat people amazingly will all be held to the same awesome behavioral standard and kill it at what you do. So you've got companies like Southwest that is a low cost airline. I think they're the most profitable in the world considering their size, um, and by far the greatest experience for a traveler and or an employee, they're killing a chicken lays the same thing they are for. So forget the whole Jesus element of Chick-Fil-A. And like I used to think, I didn't like Chick-Fil-A it back in the day because of the Jesus Element. Let's tell you how far I've come. But chick fil a is the best, not because of their faith. It's because they are the best non fast food company on earth by far. And they treat people unbelievably well and they hire and fire based off of the behaviors that matter the most. So if I were to sit across a Alan Malolly, he talked a lot about hiring and firing based on behaviors in a very life giving way. Um, so I'd have, I'd have them explained to me like, how do you create that culture where like, we don't apologize. These are our behaviors. This is who we are and you're either in or you're out. And please, if you're all in like, come here and this is going to be amazing. And, but that everybody in this company is going to be held to the same exact standard. And so if somebody, he would always say something funny and this couple hours, four or five hours, we heard him talk about how he would keep pulling people off to the side and say, hey, you can keep doing that. You just can't do it here. And just kept showing people the door saying, if that's who you want to be, that's fine. You're just not going to do it here. Not on this team. It doesn't fit the behaviors. It was epic stuff and it was so simple. Um, and to have that kind of clarity and transparency for everybody on the team. I happened to be blessed with the most phenomenal team. I literally feel like God has hand-picked every employee that we have and sent them to MAVPAK. And I really do mean that I'm, I'm all in on this whole faith thing.
Kofi: You'd lead with it and then we believe you.
We they're amazing. I recently shared with the guy who was newer to our team who was struggling a little bit at the beginning like you always do on a new team and a new company. And I had told him like, listen, every single person on our team is all in. You gotta be all in to. Like, I'm not gonna let anybody be on this team and effect what we got going on. Either get all in or we'll figure out a graceful way for you to leave, but just be all in like, let's all, let's all do this together. Like just, just go all in. Just just give it up, give it up, get all the- get in here. Like, we're all in, like our customers are all in or vendors are all in like, this thing is cool, this is really cool. What's
happening here. And they get, you're like getting the game, like get engaged. And he did. He's doing incredibly well. Um, it was, it was hands down the easiest hard conversation I ever had. And in there's Alan Mulolly guy, he, he did this for a living, like I was his thing. Like he did it every day, all day, and he didn't apologize for it. And he was, he was gracious about it and he was kind and loving as he fired people. Um, and, and you know, again, I'm a, I'm a young business leader, so I'm still figuring a whole bunch of this stuff out as I go. So I'd have them teach me about those.
Adam 49:13 So finish this sentence for me. Pressure comes from,
John Goo 49:16 I don't, pressure comes from this world, man. Pressure comes from what everybody else is telling you you're supposed to be or should have been or, or what it's supposed to be. Uh, I get, I don't, I don't, uh, you know, there's good stress and bad stress. There's books written about it that I've never read.
Adam Laura resolvable.
John Goo Yeah, exactly. Much smarter people than me to read these things that give me the cliff notes and then I, I tried to claim it for my own, this is why my wife said I’m not original. Uh, but like I don't mind good stress. I can, if I don't feel pressure from good stress, I love it. So when we're doing all the right things, things are growing and we're crazy and a bad stress though, that pressure comes from other people's expectations. Like things that don't matter. At the end of the day, like worrying about like money and doesn't matter. Like we're going to be fine. Like how much money we're making, like things like that. I don't, uh, yeah, what the world would tell me to do. That's where the pressure comes from.
Adam 50:14 So counter to that success comes from
John Goo: 50:17 The Lord. If we would just walk God's path that is different for every single person. I mean, I don't even know what my team members are supposed to do their life, right? Like my job leading them is to help them get from where they are now to where God wants them to be. And that lines also not original. I think everybody's church says that all the time. Uh, but that's as good as I got when it comes to like how am going lead people? Like what do you want to be when you grow up? Like what's God calling you to do you- want to take a couple of years off, raise a family and then come back to work? That's fine. A success comes from like walking God's path again. The best month of my life, uh, I was laid up in a hospital room with my
wife. We didn't even see our three year old but twice that month and were really good parents. Like we love being around. Like I go home, right? I go home, hang out with my family. And I did that when I just had one. And my wife's amazing. And so the fact that we spent a month in the hospital only saw her three year old twice because of flu ban was on. She was not allowed in the building. Crazy. Uh, best month of, of, of our lives of our marriage is we were just walking in his path for us. We lost the kid. Granted some miracles happened, but if we're just walking God's path for our lives, and that's an individual answer. So success as, the world would say it money again, who cares? Uh, walking God's path is where success comes from.
Kofi: Wow. John, I mean you gave us insight on how you're leading talent to thrive, both internally, externally, and oftentimes people are still caught up in the war for talent. They don't think about some of the things that you touched on in this episode. So I really appreciate you just taking the time to unpack it and letting us learn from you. Appreciate that.
Adam: 52:00 Well, I think that was a different type of podcasts than we've ever had. Uh, John Sharing his story about how MAVPAK was started was awesome. I really liked how he talks about the customer and vendors winning as long as the customer and vendors are winning, MAVPAK’s going to win every time. That's such a different mindset that not a lot of companies have. It is about me, me, me, me, and what our company's doing. But customers will always tell you what they need. You just have to listen. Great. Great stuff from John.
Kofi: 52:29 Yeah. And I really was impressed with um, his focus on how he's leading talent to thrive, uh, both from the employer standpoint but from the internal standpoint and especially from the internal standpoint in that he wants each team member to be wildly focused on something that involves their strengths. And that's really, really impressive to me. Uh, his philosophy being to always operate with excellence to earn the business is also impressive. And just that as he enters into 2019 with the 17 members of his team, planning to be at 22 members by the end of the year also shows that they're growing and really benefiting from that type of investment. Check out the Skill Up Buildup podcast at iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts to stay in tune with the conversation.
Music: 53:18 [inaudible].