Aaron Artery is a smarter data person. Here is a transcript of his interview.
You’ll find the actual podcast and the links to all of the things Aaron refers to here.
Cindy Tonkin: 00:07 Hi there, this is Cindy Tonkin. I’m the consultant’s consultant. I work with data science teams helping them work even smarter, faster and nicer. If you’re brilliant and you want to be even better, this is the podcast for you.
Aaron Artery: 00:24 Hey this is Cindy Tonkin, I’m the consultant’s consultant, this is Smarter Data People. Today’s guest Aaron Artery from Customer Crunch, he talks about how important it is to have values, why sometimes it’s great to fly under the radar, and how to ask for forgiveness, or why to ask forgiveness not permission. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
New Speaker: 00:56 Hi, this is Aaron Artery. He’s a fabulous data scientist, architect, what do you call yourself?
Aaron Artery: 01:02 I say decision scientist.
Cindy Tonkin: 01:03 He’s a decision scientist and he runs a fabulous organization called Customer Crunch, which you may not yet have heard of, but Aaron and I have worked together since … when did you start?
Aaron Artery: 01:16 Oh 2009, yeah 2009.
Cindy Tonkin: 01:20 2009 so about nine, 10 years and we’ve done some stuff together. He has generously given me some time today to talk about he in the decision science field, decision science?
Aaron Artery: 01:31 Yes decision science, I’ll explain why.
Cindy Tonkin: 01:33 Yeah, yeah, tell me why.
Aaron Artery: 01:35 I differentiate it from data science because they’re a dime a dozen: there’s a lot of data scientists out there, or you can go international, and you get data scientists, there’s lots of them out there. What generally happens that I’ve seen is they work very well with code, not the best with people, not necessarily the best with understanding the business nous, being able to translate data science into a mechanism to create an outcome that’s valuable to business. I stick my organization right in the middle of the whole decision science paradigm. We like to sit on the cusp of commercially what’s the intent and mathematically how you look at your data.
Cindy Tonkin: 02:20 Right, beautiful, it’s nice. The podcast, such as it is so far, is really how do we work smarter, faster and nicer. You have your own personal routines and ways of working, and you also have attained a decent sized team of decision scientists. What do you think helps you work smarter or faster or nicer or all three?
Aaron Artery: 02:47 Well smarter definitely for us is we put a lot of planning, we do a lot of strategic planning, that’s critical for us.
Aaron Artery: 02:54 Every week, every day we about that we have quarterly components, monthly components and even on sites with clients, we have a lot of work around hypothesis analysis. Before we start anything, they want to us write and start coding code and for us it’s around planning. We do a lot of stuff around that to be smart at what we do.
Aaron Artery: 03:14 Time wise, a big aspect of the learning that I’ve gone through, especially in the last I’d say decade but more so in the last years, is around the value of automation in terms of processes. I hate processes personally, I hate creating processes, but I understand the value of setting one up, and once you’ve got them set up, you can then get someone to run that process for you, and then you don’t have to worry about doing it anymore.
Cindy Tonkin: 03:44 You’re ultimately at the bottom line, you’re a lazy person right, as we all are?
Aaron Artery: 03:49 For sure, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Cindy Tonkin: 03:52 How do I do this most efficiently the first time so I never have to do it again?
Aaron Artery: 03:56 Correct, correct. We went through a training business program all about the processes component of that. We actually have a level about administrational components managed offshore. We do global research and come up with global analysis around certain things that are happening or national analysis of freely available data. Our clients wonder how quickly why we work so quickly and are able to turn it around when they couldn’t do it, because we are able to leverage and leverage through processes, so that’s a big factor.
Cindy Tonkin: 04:32 It’s partly about anticipating customer needs before you even necessarily got the customer.
Aaron Artery: 04:36 Correct, correct. Also, when you’ve got the customer, it’s really having that question that I talk to my guys and girls about a lot is around going there saying, “What else can we do? What else could we possibly do that we could help make these decisions better”? Our whole philosophy is around enabling our clients, making sure that they’ve got the ability to get the best out of their data science capability or customer capability.
Cindy Tonkin: 05:05 Do you want to tell us more about Customer Crunch? You don’t have to but if you want to.
Aaron Artery: 05:10 Happy to. Customer Crunch we focus really in that customer space. What I notice doing analytics all the time was or any form of commercial consultancy, there’s a lot of generalists out there that generalize across the industry, and we wanted some specific focus, we focused on the customer. In that context, we’re not an analytics firm, we’re a customer firm. Probably 50% of our DNA would be analytics, 30% would be some degree of marketing services and understanding customer journey, customer value, understanding the often even creative tone around elements around customer, and then the 20% would be the commercial consultancy part we talk about, the strategic part.
Cindy Tonkin: 05:55 What’s your favorite bit?
Aaron Artery: 05:59 It would ebb and flow between different elements to it. My favorite part is always the story right? I love it when it all comes together and there’s a story at the end. What I really love is when you have a junior data scientist or any university and they talk about data science, data science, data science, you explain to them about decision science, explain to them the value of that, then the moment when the story unfolds and you see their eyes pop when they come to that realization that this is where they should be focused rather than on cutting code, it’s amazing. You know that you’ve changed an element in them that’ll change their career trajectory indefinitely. The more people we can move across to that decision science side of the coin, the better.
Cindy Tonkin: 06:49 So you’re some kind of what’s that word, that’s mine actually, I’ll turn that off. You’ve become a what’s the word, I’m going to push go away, so you can go away, I’ll cut that out.
Aaron Artery: 07:05 Sure.
Cindy Tonkin: 07:06 You’ve become a disciple, a what’s that word when you try to convert people?
Aaron Artery: 07:11 Evangel.
Cindy Tonkin: 07:12 Evangelist yes, an evangelist.
Aaron Artery: 07:14 Evangelist.
Cindy Tonkin: 07:17 You’re an evangelist for the concept of decision sciences rather than data science. They’ve got to have the data science background, but they’ve got to have that something extra. Is that-
Aaron Artery: 07:28 Well the largest analytics firm in the world, long story short, they started Australia Major Bank and I got to work at that major bank. I then transitioned to another organization, and we started working with him about them about six months later. That grew out to a team of about 75. I went to Bangalore and worked with a team over there. What I did identify there was they had a three year internship, and their internship was teaching them taking engineer grads from masters statistics to a business understanding and then into some level of commercial design so either CX design or your business design mentality. That had some wins in that, but a lot of losses as well at the same time financially. It’s a scenario I believe around this space that is still an embryo. That being said, I strongly believe that over time analytics will automate a lot of data science components.
Cindy Tonkin: 08:37 So it can go tell a story?
Aaron Artery: 08:38 Anyone that’s being in this field are going to have to become the storytellers. They’re going to need to understand how to communicate better to do that.
Cindy Tonkin: 08:46 The skills are not just to distract your mind, it not just data, it’s also that softer stuff.
Aaron Artery: 08:55 Correct, yep.
Cindy Tonkin: 08:55 You are putting your guys which I was talking a little bit before about through Demartini. Tell me the story about John Demartini and what works for you on that.
Aaron Artery: 09:06 Sure. John to give you a bit of background on John Demartini.
Cindy Tonkin: 09:11 For the people who don’t know, I’ll put a link. I’ll put a link and if you make sales, hopefully I get some kind of affiliate, I doubt it.
Aaron Artery: 09:20 I don’t, don’t worry. There’s many, many things I could say about John. I’d say the best way really to give you some parameters around who this guy is, he grew up being told that he would read, write or communicate or never amount to much in life. He then moved in a path of finding a value in learning, and there’s a story in that there. Once he got into that, he then identified there was 296 ologies and a lot of chemistry, psychology, mathematics, physics, astronomy, theology itself-
Cindy Tonkin: 09:54 Right geology.
Aaron Artery: 09:54 … geology, all the ologies. Then what he did was he identified he worked with professors around the world and found what’s the top 10 textbooks of each of those ologies, then he read them and wrote an eleventh in his own words, then went back to the lecturers and said, “What do you think” and got them checked, this took him 30 years to do it. At the end of that, he came up with his own study around human dynamics and how the human mind works. There’s a lot of people out there that can tell you about it or the theories about it, but the great thing I love with Demartini’s work is it has actionable steps in ways to influence and change human behavior. Fundamentally what I see him doing is turning psychology from a soft science into a hard science. He’s been given a lot of credibility around that from doctors around the world as to what he’s doing. The value for us with Demartini, a key part of the Demartini work is around identifying values, identifying what’s your highest value, identifying what drives you, and there’s a process to be able to unblock that.
Aaron Artery: 11:12 The thing I love about this is if I have a team of people that are highly inspired about being their highest value, and they can link the value of working at Customer Crunch to achieving that higher value, I’m going to have high, inspired, engaged team.
Cindy Tonkin: 11:27 Fabulous.
Aaron Artery: 11:29 Test and learn is what we’re going through. So far the tests have been beyond an amazing outcome, let me say so. In terms of from a strategic leadership stance, the ones who have gone through and done his work at the back end of it are highly engaged, very grateful for the experience.
Cindy Tonkin: 11:51 Which is one of his things, gratitude is one of Demartini’s big things yes?
Aaron Artery: 11:58 Massive part, massive part. Then we’ve got this synergy forming around the leadership in valuing each others’ strengths, and also working to manage within each other’s weakness it’s been really good.
Cindy Tonkin: 12:14 You’ve always been someone in the time that I’ve known you, always been hungry and acquiring ways to be more influential and understand people better. I remember when we first met, you mentioned what was it the [foreign language 00:12:30] and the [foreign language 00:12:32] and the … It’s a form of disk, what’s the model, do you remember what that’s called?
Aaron Artery: 12:37 It’s from a book, I can’t remember that author’s name but it’s Personality Plus.
Cindy Tonkin: 12:41 Personality Plus oh yes that’s right, yeah, yeah.
Aaron Artery: 12:43 Is the book that it originates from. It’s the [foreign language 00:12:47].
Cindy Tonkin: 12:46 Right, it’s essentially a [inaudible 00:13:02] the disk, I’ll put some links on the website yeah.
Aaron Artery: 13:03 No it fundamentally was good as a base for that stuff yeah. What’s [inaudible 00:13:09] in Demartini’s work has been though that people’s interpretation of that information normally means that they haven’t identified those traits within themselves. If you think, “Oh I’m introverted”, it means that you haven’t identified in you where you are extroverted. If you can actually sit there and identify those areas where you are extroverted, you’ll find that you are in balance. You have a mix of each introversion and extroversion, everyone does have this balance.
Cindy Tonkin: 13:39 Absolutely that’s certainly the good type teachers that I know of recognize that, yeah totally. That’s interesting that he goes for that distinction, that’s nice.
Aaron Artery: 13:50 It’s been remarkable to reengage with his work ’cause I did the work for quite a period of time and stopped for a while and absorbed and to now back into it with the team as well has been remarkable. It’s attracted some amazing talent too I think as well because now people are being advocates for our brand and our business, knowing we’re not another analytics firm or data or customer firm, we’re a firm that actually cares about helping progressively people achieve their highest value. That’s attracting to us a lot more interest. We’ve attracted some really strong talent from a lot of big, competing firms and organizations have taken up strong positions in Customer Crunch already.
Cindy Tonkin: 14:39 Wow, well absolutely. If people are listening to the podcast the want a job, they should to go jobs@customercrunch?
Aaron Artery: 14:47 Well we’ve got a website.
Cindy Tonkin: 14:49 Well the website, go to his website, go to customercrunch.com?
Aaron Artery: 14:51 .com.
Cindy Tonkin: 14:53 Of course .com, absolutely. Talk to me about your daily routines. You talk about planning was an important thing in business, but what about you? How do you get productive day to day?
Aaron Artery: 15:04 Yep. Finally, mention a key asset in our business is a software called Teamwork, which-
Cindy Tonkin: 15:11 Teamwork PM?
Aaron Artery: 15:12 Sorry?
Cindy Tonkin: 15:12 Teamwork PM? Just Teamwork.
Aaron Artery: 15:15 I think it’s the same one. I think it originated out of the software Basecamp, Basecamp they created Teamwork. We had that as a fundamental tool across all of our teams. What happens is there’s a high level of transparency of all work that happens with all people. You can add work in for each other and you can put notes in there and you can communicate through there. Each day for me, I normally get up around six and I will literally log into that if I’m not going to the gym or something and straight away it can show an output as to what’s due, what’s outstanding, what’s coming up, but also those reoccurring tasks, those reoccurring tasks, depending on the day of the week for me. Monday’s first part of the day for me is strategic planning and then Tuesdays and Thursdays are mostly quite heavy days for me. Wednesdays there is strategic development work for the business, and Fridays I leave quite open to the need of that week which can vary to a high degree of client work.
Cindy Tonkin: 16:29 It’s the fix the problem or do the thing you promised day.
Aaron Artery: 16:34 I’ve learned the hard way that if you plan too much on a Friday, normally you can end with a very terrible week. You’re better off locking up on a Friday.
Cindy Tonkin: 16:42 Yeah, yeah you have a generous mopping up day, which means you’ve always got more time to it better, the planning is absolutely essential in that-
Aaron Artery: 16:51 Yeah, yeah. To be honest, it’s always a little mechanism for me, if I’m smart enough to get my week sorted-
Cindy Tonkin: 16:57 You can have Friday off.
Aaron Artery: 16:59 … on Friday I get a bit of a break.
Cindy Tonkin: 17:00 How many long weekends have you taken in the last couple of months?
Aaron Artery: 17:03 I honestly don’t.
Cindy Tonkin: 17:05 That’s a zero then.
Aaron Artery: 17:06 Well it’s funny though because I’ve linked the value of developing this business to my life’s values, so many times over and over and over again, being this sounds cliché but I live and breathe what I do now. I don’t feel like I need a day off. I work almost every day. I’ve worked weekends.
Cindy Tonkin: 17:32 I like working, I like working.
Aaron Artery: 17:34 It’s great isn’t it? One of John’s philosophies is, people go they want to do something until they retire and he says, “Retirement’s great as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your work”.
Cindy Tonkin: 17:46 That’s right, exactly, stop being paid for it, that’s fine but don’t stop doing, it, yeah, yeah.
Aaron Artery: 17:51 Yeah, got to find what needs yeah, what inspires you the most.
Cindy Tonkin: 17:53 Yeah, totally, fantastic. You started you dallied between you got off onto the Monday, Tuesday, do you have a “ I must read the paper” kind of thing, “I must run around the block twice a week”, you’ve got a step count? What do you do?
Aaron Artery: 18:08 I do three days a week gym. For weeks now I have allowed that to lapse a little bit which hasn’t been that bad, it’s been okay. I’ve literally, it’s one of those things that I’ve learned that if I’m not managing it myself but I want it as a priority, I outsource the management back on myself. I get someone to basically coach me. I’ve got a trainer now gym wise. I’ll go to [inaudible 00:18:38], I’ll go to Virtual CFO to handle all of that and to make sure I’m structured around my finances better with the business. Then I’ve also got the same kind of mechanism happening for any areas of business that I’m not as inspired by.
Cindy Tonkin: 18:52 That you’re not excited about yeah.
Aaron Artery: 18:55 Yeah where I need to be pushed a little bit, and I’m having to procrastinate or hesitate or frustrated. It’s good to identify what they are and find someone that I can instruct to punish me with the responsibility of that, which has been good.
Cindy Tonkin: 19:11 A lot of your professional development time right now is Demartini. Do you listen to podcasts? Do you read books? What’s your preferred professional development thing?
Aaron Artery: 19:23 Yeah I do listen to audio a lot, audio is big for me.
Cindy Tonkin: 19:29 Anything specific that you love?
Aaron Artery: 19:31 I’ve been doing a lot of Demartini of late. I’m getting into Gary-
Cindy Tonkin: 19:37 Vaynerchuk?
Aaron Artery: 19:38 Yes.
Cindy Tonkin: 19:39 Vaynerchuk?
Aaron Artery: 19:40 Yes
Cindy Tonkin: 19:40 Okay.
Aaron Artery: 19:40 I’m currently reading his book which is Crunch It. Crush it?
Cindy Tonkin: 19:47 Crush it okay, yeah. Let’s rename that Crunch it.
Aaron Artery: 19:50 You should, you should, yeah that’s right, it’s probably why I’m thinking crunch. I’m reading that at the moment which will be the main one for me. At the same time-
Cindy Tonkin: 19:59 When you say reading, you’re listening to it on audio or?
Aaron Artery: 20:00 No I’m actually I’m working at the moment so I’ll read that at the moment. Beyond that, I do a lot of articles to read.
Cindy Tonkin: 20:15 What kind of articles do you look for?
Aaron Artery: 20:15 I look for a lot of articles, I usually go for LinkedIn, I vet through certain people that I like on LinkedIn and I look at what they read. There’s a lot of stuff that comes from HBR that’s usually pretty good, I read a bit of HBR. Then I read New Scientist Magazine quite a bit. Also, it’s been a lot of change of late in laws around banking practice, data practice, things like that, obviously the Royal Commissions. There’s a lot of information, a lot of insight coming around about that which is really cool.
Cindy Tonkin: 20:51 You have to keep up with that, exactly.
Aaron Artery: 20:53 Open banking is a big conversation at the moment, so that’s something I’m really digging into in a lot of detail, then obviously a lot of stuff for me is around developing a business and moving towards expanding that capability out at a time.
Cindy Tonkin: 21:13 Yeah, yeah which is a current … it’s been how many years have you been working at Customer Crunch, two or three?
Aaron Artery: 21:21 It was at embryonic stage of analysis for a year, testing for a year, and then finally commercial application for a year so it’s year three.
Cindy Tonkin: 21:32 Year three? Beautiful ready to turbo charge and hit the moon.
Aaron Artery: 21:36 It’s funny, when it really took off, I thought mentally I was ready for it, but at the same time, when it happened I was blown away how quicKly it happened. I had to pull the reins on it, stop talking to people about it. That’s why I’ve flown under the radar quite a bit. There were certain times there where the last thing I needed was another customer.
Cindy Tonkin: 21:52 Yeah, yeah, is that great though? It’s a brilliant first world problem.
Aaron Artery: 21:56 Yes indeed, indeed. Then it really helped identify the areas where there was manual processes in place that needed to be propped up with automation. It also helped identify where we needed to have mechanisms in place to scale better and faster.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:17 You’re showing up the little holes in the dikes literally.
Aaron Artery: 22:20 Yeah. We didn’t invest in a website because we didn’t need to be known. We’ve flown under the radar lately, no one knows who we are.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:29 Except the customers who are keeping you super busy so what matters is them.
Aaron Artery: 22:36 That’s been key for us.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:38 Absolutely. What was the biggest mistake or the best decision you made?
Aaron Artery: 22:44 That’s a really good question.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:45 Or really even not in the best, some of the good learnings you had early in your career?
Aaron Artery: 22:51 Coming straight away, I worked in a call center and I moved into analysis as an MIS analyst. Back in the day, analyst didn’t exist so.
Cindy Tonkin: 23:03 You had to be a business analyst, that was it.
Aaron Artery: 23:06 Pretty much. I moved my way up the ranks being all different areas of analysis, analytics. I created something, got very excited about it, went out and showed the world, the world got excited and the world around me being in the organization I was in, they then went and took it globally and showed people overseas. I didn’t test it very well. It didn’t test it very well, so I missed… I didn’t create an error, I just missed a whole segment of data. The results that I presented in there were half the actual results.
Cindy Tonkin: 23:44 Half in a good way or half in a bad way?
Aaron Artery: 23:46 Half in a good way actually. It was okay so I didn’t get in trouble or anything. What it really pointed out to me was making sure that numbers the story that the numbers are actually saying is accurate, and you can actually go and say, “Is this right”? It probably helped me a lot in really understanding the value of the commercial lengths because analysts many times have those blinkers on to the analysis saying, “This is what the data says. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong”. When I think if you’ve had that experience of dealing with a mistake on a public platform in that regard, you really get to appreciate that you have one chance of demonstrating credibility.
Cindy Tonkin: 24:35 It was a big story. It’s not like a weekly meeting problem, this is a “Aaron’s found a way to change the world”.
Aaron Artery: 24:43 Yeah, yeah well it was a report on results but no one had cut results that way. Once I fixed it, the outcome was still the same in terms of the value, what it created. It really has taught me the value of making sure the message is right.
Cindy Tonkin: 24:58 How did you find that there was the missing link?
Aaron Artery: 25:04 I actually got feedback from the international team. They came back and said, “We don’t know if these numbers are right”. Then I went and checked and my heart skipped a-
Cindy Tonkin: 25:14 You was like-
Aaron Artery: 25:17 … several beats, and then I realized … it was that great lesson and fundamentally helped me in my career where I really I didn’t like making mistakes. Now I think in my seasoned years I’ve got the philosophy of it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. I actually go and get stuff done and if I stuff up or something goes wrong, then we apologize and go forward.
Cindy Tonkin: 25:41 It’s working for you?
Aaron Artery: 25:44 That works usually pretty well.
Cindy Tonkin: 25:45 You’ve also got one of your gifts is the ability to make people feel comfortable and happy to talk to you.
Aaron Artery: 25:53 That’s good to know.
Cindy Tonkin: 25:55 Did you not know that?
Aaron Artery: 25:55 I didn’t.
Cindy Tonkin: 25:57 I’ve spoken to people who have managed you in the past, who are like, “It’s a pleasure to be in a meeting with him”.
Aaron Artery: 26:02 It’s probably because I’m not pronouncing much.
Cindy Tonkin: 26:07 No I think it’s because you’re a nice person.
Aaron Artery: 26:08 Oh good.
Cindy Tonkin: 26:10 You heard it here first ladies and gentlemen. You have the ability to understand what people want to hear and put information in that kind of context. You love the story because the story works for you. Obviously you have seen people in the decision science fields who haven’t got that gift and you’re constantly honing it. Where am I going with this question? The question was okay the idea of explanation, how do you explain? What do you think about before you explain something to a client or a colleague?
Aaron Artery: 26:51 We have several methodologies within our business. One of our methodologies we use is a product of ours which we are about to launch more publicly which is called Sparker, that is an end to end science platform. Part of Sparker is the discovery element to it where we look at three dimensions of a business.
New Speaker: 27:13 Dimension one is, who is your customer? We identify who the customer is. We look at all the customer artifacts, your NPS scores, all your customer results, any complaints, who their actual profile is your customer, everything else, your customer journey maps, everything else, everything about the customer in the organisation.
New Speaker: 27:29 Then we move onto step two, step two is to look at your data. We start really digging into your infrastructure in terms of what’s available for analytics to do some work on, ’cause normally there’s not much there. We look at the quality of that data, we look at the speed and the velocity of that data, so you really start looking at the big data elements to it, we look at the architecture and we look at what assets have been built, what segmentations modeling, dashboards, whatever has been built.
Aaron Artery: 27:59 The final one is strategic intent. This normally comes from a sponsor or it comes from their bosses. We look at what is the strategic intent of that team or organization. We love to hit the c-suite-
Cindy Tonkin: 28:09 Much the same as the Demartini values question it’s essentially what’s the value of this work.
Aaron Artery: 28:15 Yeah. It really comes down to what are they after in the end, what do they want? Normally for our space or our customer, it comes down to two things, they either want to save money, or they want to make money. They want to grow their customer base, or they want to stop their customer base from leaving, it’s usually a thing or two. Then there’s elements to that around engagement, they want to improve customer engagement, they want to stop elements of churn but other elements they don’t, which can be true half the time, they want to get better at the sales funnel.
Cindy Tonkin: 28:47 They want to retain or they want to acquire.
Aaron Artery: 28:47 Get money for us.
Cindy Tonkin: 28:47 Get money or-
Aaron Artery: 28:48 Yeah, once we’ve established that, our story and all our work revolves around that, that’s all it does. We look at who their customer is, what data they have to understand that customer, what’s their strategic intent, instead of giving us the parameters and framework around devising a story. Then when we do that, we’ll present it back to the client and demonstrate what they can do over three years. They were blown away, we’ve done that so many times. They are surprised at what is possible when someone has clearly articulated to them the value of understanding the space.
Cindy Tonkin: 29:25 We’ll get you more money, we’ll stop from losing money, absolutely.
Aaron Artery: 29:31 My philosophy in the team has always been if we can demonstrate and this is what I say to our team all the time, if we can demonstrate that one dollar invested with our business can turn into three dollars as a minimum then-
Cindy Tonkin: 29:43 It’s a poker machine that always pays.
Aaron Artery: 29:44 … yeah we’ve done our job. We’ve always succeeded that by factors. I think we have that philosophy in our business.
Cindy Tonkin: 29:53 For a business, that’s all you need to do.
Aaron Artery: 29:56 That’s right. To some degree though it creates a level of arrogance in myself I must agree. I then start working with clients I’ve already done this even though I’ve got a start up, I’ve already said to some clients, “You’re not ready to do anything. You’re not ready to grow, and you’re not ready to become efficient”.
Cindy Tonkin: 30:17 Wow, pushing and challenging.
Aaron Artery: 30:19 “We’re going to leave”. We’ve done that already to clients and then it’s like, “Oh no, no, no, don’t”-
Cindy Tonkin: 30:26 Come back, we’re ready now.
Aaron Artery: 30:28 I love having the certainty of that position, because we want to make sure we give value. If I feel that we’re not going to give value, then I don’t want our team to be involved in it. I don’t want us to-
Cindy Tonkin: 30:41 This is us scrambling around, it doesn’t nurture and it doesn’t give you your values.
Aaron Artery: 30:49 It doesn’t inspire the team, there’s no good news story for anyone. Yeah we’ll make some marginal revenue, but they’re a dime a dozen these organisations, they don’t want to grow.
Cindy Tonkin: 30:59 That will take any … the Jezebel consulting concept, “You pay, we’ll do whatever the fuck you want”, yeah, yeah.
Aaron Artery: 31:07 We have that philosophy for us so.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:10 Okay now I had some other questions, let me find what they are.
Aaron Artery: 31:13 Hiring.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:15 Firing did you say?
Aaron Artery: 31:17 Hiring.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:19 Hiring? You want to talk about hiring? Let’s talk about that. When you hire, decision-
Aaron Artery: 31:27 Decision scientists.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:27 … I’m sorry it’s very hard for me to remember, when you hire decision, when you look for-
Aaron Artery: 31:32 It’s okay, we don’t hire those decision scientists, we hire data scientists and we evolve them into that.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:37 Beautiful. When you hire a data scientist, what are you looking for?
Aaron Artery: 31:37 We [inaudible 00:31:41]. My interviews are very short at this stage. I’ve done this quite a bit in my career, and you’ve known some of the people I’ve hired over the years or worked with over the years, and a lot of them have moved on to some amazing positions within this industry. I love to sit there and look at what they are most inspired by, trying to unlock what their values are, and trying to find out about their passion around this subject or not. If they’re not passionate to do this and this is I think they’re trying to phone this in, I’ve got no interest in hiring them at all.
Cindy Tonkin: 32:23 That would never work for you at any level. When you say short, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, five minutes, lunch?
Aaron Artery: 32:31 You’ll get 30 minutes, sometimes for an hour. To be honest, if it’s a really good conversation, I’ll let you keep going for an hour and a half. My job is three things within an interview, one is to identify their aspiration and vision and values.
Cindy Tonkin: 32:45 See if it aligns with yours yes.
Aaron Artery: 32:47 That’s the second part, does it align with the company, does it align with Customer Crunch our culture and our philosophy? We’ve had people that have been industry wise considered some of the best, they talked to us all about how they’re going to be able to get more sales and screw down the customers and get more margin, and I’m like, “That’s not our philosophy so see you later, not interested”. We have a philosophy, and a culture we want to maintain even at a small size. Then third is-
Cindy Tonkin: 33:19 You’re 20 ish now.
Aaron Artery: 33:23 I’d say we’ll be 20 in October this year so we’ll see how we do.
Cindy Tonkin: 33:27 Constantly growing you never know.
Aaron Artery: 33:29 That’s right. Then the third one for us is really bringing those ones together. Once we understand their values, and we understand that they culturally fit, I really want to understand their story, that determines whether or not they have the potential to become decision scientists. If they can string together their interest into a story, then we’ve got something to work with. I normally in a context in the interview ask the question, “Tell me your story” I say to them, “your experience. Tell me your story and tell me any aspect of your story. You can tell me about where you’ve worked, you can tell me what you’re studied, your family”.
Cindy Tonkin: 34:08 It’s going to bubble out anyway.
Aaron Artery: 34:10 Exactly. I’ve literally had some people through my team of these that they’ve had tears in the interview because they’re so inspired about their own story. I go, “You’re hired”.
Cindy Tonkin: 34:35 They’re like, “Fuck, I thought I fucked it up but no I haven’t”.
Aaron Artery: 34:35 That’s right. I do the first initial one and then I go “You’re going to talk to someone who has got a lot more technical know how more than I do on current tools and practices”.
Cindy Tonkin: 34:47 If they don’t pass you, there’s no point. If they don’t know the values, there’s no point. Then we’ve got to make sure we’ve got some technical practices on there. What’s your story Aaron? Tell me your story? What story do you want to tell?
Aaron Artery: 34:54 That’s a good question. I mean my story really is I inspire to growth and change and really understanding on all kinds of things. I’m always leading on identifying every customer’s unique story and then expressing that back to them way that demonstrates where they can grow and move beyond that, that’s my thing. I love stories, I love finding new ones and listening to people and hear them.
Cindy Tonkin: 35:21 When did you first learn that?
Aaron Artery: 35:23 When did I first learn?
Cindy Tonkin: 35:26 That you love stories? What was the lesson? Was it your grandfather taught you how to tell stories that you were six?
Aaron Artery: 35:38 I think it’s more the fact Demartini says the void drives the values right? If you have a void on something, then you’ll credit value inverse to that. If you had a void on you never traveled in your life as a child, you may have a value on traveling when you’re older. If you have a void on not having enough money as a child, you have a value on money when you’re older. It’s the void starting the values. I think for me fundamentally as a child, I had a void on anything new because it was a country town, there was only so many stories.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:07 What country town did you come from?
Aaron Artery: 36:07 Coffs Harbour.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:07 Okay.
Aaron Artery: 36:11 I still call it country.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:13 I went to high school in Tweed so yeah, yeah so yeah I get it.
Aaron Artery: 36:33 Yeah, it was boring, it was so boring. From a very young age, I wanted to get out of that town.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:33 You didn’t surf right?
Aaron Artery: 36:33 I did-
Cindy Tonkin: 36:33 Oh you did surf, wow okay.
Aaron Artery: 36:33 … if you can call body boarding surfing.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:34 Okay you body boarded we’ll say that, yeah, yeah.
Aaron Artery: 36:35 Yeah I worked in that context of I didn’t have much there to work with so I looked for stories and I created stories. I coded and created new programs for stories. I dived into movies. I used to watch movies indefinitely. Stories were always big to me.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:51 What’s your favorite movie?
Aaron Artery: 36:53 Good question.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:55 It’s hard to say one but-
Aaron Artery: 36:57 Shawshank is definitely one.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:58 It’s the boy movie, it’s the new Godfather is the Shawshank okay.
Aaron Artery: 37:04 It’s definitely up there. Contact would be one of my all time favorites. I literally watched it two nights ago.
Cindy Tonkin: 37:10 I’m re watching the West Wing right now from the very beginning.
Aaron Artery: 37:13 Okay yeah, yeah.
Cindy Tonkin: 37:15 I’m loving it.
Aaron Artery: 37:15 There’s so many really good stories out there. There’s a lot of crap movies. I don’t really have the time to watch movies all that anymore.
Cindy Tonkin: 37:23 You’re not reading any fiction at the moment?
Aaron Artery: 37:25 I have a book sitting at my desk next to my bed Feist, Raymond Feist, he wrote The Magician. It’s the second best fantasy book to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, amazing book. I have one of his new books sitting next to my bed, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s been there for six weeks. I was being so focused on-
Cindy Tonkin: 37:53 Some day you’ll pick it up, you’re in a literal Customer Crunch right now.
Aaron Artery: 37:58 Exactly. Probably shouldn’t have named it that should I?
Cindy Tonkin: 38:09 Yeah no maybe you should think about reorganizing that. You already told us a story that saying no to a customer, you’re not ready for this, and that actually caused them to push back. What else do you say no to?
Aaron Artery: 38:17 We definitely will say no to certain clients. I had a client who is in an area of business let’s say that takes money away from those with the least in society and they asked us to help them get better at that, and we said no. I won’t say what type of organization.
Cindy Tonkin: 38:43 No, no, that’s hard to yeah.
Aaron Artery: 38:48 We did that. It’s very interesting when I’m there with my team and they have an expectation that, “Oh it’s a client, let’s do what we need to do”.
Cindy Tonkin: 38:55 Jezebel no yeah.
Aaron Artery: 38:57 We’re not going that. Even most of the clients don’t understand why we do it.
Cindy Tonkin: 39:05 That’s essentially because it’s contravening your values.
Aaron Artery: 39:07 Yeah.
Cindy Tonkin: 39:08 When you say no, what helps you to say no in a way that you feel comfortable with? What’s the words, what’s the routines for saying no nicely essentially?
Aaron Artery: 39:20 Well literally I will sit down with the client. I mean there’s been a few times with certain projects where they want us to do certain things, I’ve basically said, “This is not going to work for us, so we’re actually ready to walk away from this. What we will do though is recommend A and B”. We will recommend others to do it, we’ve done it a few times. It’s always very interesting because when you take something away from someone, they’ve very candid about it. We normally have that situation occur a few times but I mean it’s still pretty early days for us in that regard. We say no when we need to. What I also do is I’m a big strong believer in protecting the interests of my team as well. I don’t put that situation with one client bullying one of our team. I’ve stepped at a client and in no uncertain terms said-
Cindy Tonkin: 40:18 This is not happening.
Aaron Artery: 40:20 … this is not happening, yeah. We’ve had situations like that.
Cindy Tonkin: 40:27 That’s tricky, it is very tricky.
Aaron Artery: 40:30 Very tricky.
Cindy Tonkin: 40:30 Let me see what else we’ve got here. What’s your favorite charity?
Aaron Artery: 40:39 B1G1.
Cindy Tonkin: 40:40 Okay. B1G1 is?
Aaron Artery: 40:41 Buy 1 Give 1, which it’s a global charity, it originated here in Australia, amazing network, I do recommend it. We’re about to integrate it into our website design. What it does, is it basically has a philosophy around it, if you’re going to buy a cup of coffee, that organization or if that organization went and planted a tree every time a coffee was made. What happens if that organization and you bought a bottle of water give water to a farmer? It’s a buy one give on philosophy to it. We want to integrate that as part of our philosophy within our own-
Cindy Tonkin: 41:22 When someone buys consulting services, they will plant a tree?
Aaron Artery: 41:27 For us, one of our key values in our business is around wisdom and learning and understanding. The great thing about B1G1 is you can choose which country and what projects you want to invest in.
Cindy Tonkin: 41:40 Right, okay and it distributes that through.
Aaron Artery: 41:41 That goes to them, right. They hit the governments up to fit the bill for administration. Every dollar goes to the cause you want to go to. For ours, a lot of our direction will be to causes around education, the educating of indigenous people, educating people across the world in different places.
Cindy Tonkin: 42:01 Oh interesting, cool. It’s always a pleasure to talk with Aaron and I look forward to seeing him again and recording him again on the podcast as he has so many ideas and experiences that are useful to hear. If you want to know any of the background information from Aaron’s podcast today, go to smarterdatapeople.com and look for the Aaron Artery episode, where you will find all references. If there’s something missing, please let me know. My name is Cindy Tonkin, I’m the consultant’s consultant. I work in corporates with data science consulting teams to help them work smarter, faster and nicer. Find me through smarterdatapeople.com or consultantsconsultant.com.au. I’d like to thank Keegan O’Shea who wrote the music that you’re hearing as we leave this podcast. I hope that there is something in it for all of us. See you.
You’ll find the actual podcast and the links to all of the references here.