Empowering the management team and delegating decision-making are crucial for effective leadership and scaling the business. Every job has a hidden job description that goes beyond what is written in the official job description. Embracing the challenges and opportunities presented by the hidden job description can help individuals become world-class in their roles.

In this episode

Vitaly’s journey from COO to CEO of StackAdapt, a thriving programmatic advertising company, is marked by substantial role diversification and a refined approach to leadership. In discussion with host Aydin Mirzaee, Vitaly highlights the nuanced differences between the roles. As COO, operational efficiency and internal management were his forte. However, stepping into the CEO role required a shift towards more strategic decision-making and external representation of the company.

Understanding that effective leadership requires reliance on his management team, Vitaly speaks about empowering this team. He emphasizes hiring a chief of staff and an executive assistant to better distribute tasks that pertain to decision-making and execution, allowing him to focus on overarching company goals and culture.

A cornerstone of Vitaly’s leadership philosophy is the importance of company culture, which he identifies as a dynamic rather than static element within the organization. He candidly shares an anecdote about a positive customer service experience that reshaped their office greetings, subtly yet significantly influencing the company’s culture. This story highlights how small changes can have far-reaching effects on an organization’s atmosphere and employee morale.

In episode 5 of season 2, Vitaly notes that leadership is not just about leading others but also about continuous self-development and fostering an environment where both employees and the company thrive. His experiences and strategies shine a light on the path to being an adaptive, thoughtful, and impactful leader. As the podcast episode concludes, listeners are left with actionable insights and the encouragement to reflect, adapt, and lead with intention and innovation.

Tune in to explore Vitaly’s techniques and insights that helped propel a bootstrapped company to monumental success, now operating with over 1100 employees across 10 countries.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Scaling Excellence: The Stackadapt Story


Early Mistakes in Team Management


From COO to CEO: Navigating Leadership Transitions


Decentralizing Decision-Making: Empowering Teams for Success


Uncovering Hidden Opportunities: Solving Problems at Scale


Cultivating Culture: Actions Shape Company Values


The Importance of Self-Reflection for Leaders


Rethinking the Manager’s Role

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Aydin Mirzaee [00:03:43]:

Vitaly, welcome to the show.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:03:44]:

Aydin, thanks for having me.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:03:46]:

Yeah, very excited to do this. I mean, you were just telling me before we hit record that as part of the new role that you’ve taken on, you’re now in London and it’s 07:00 p.m. Your time. You’ve had a full day, you know, lots of activities, and you still made time for the Super Managers podcast. So I just wanted to call out, you know, thank you. That, that’s a lot of commitment and dedication, and we’re super excited to have you on.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:04:11]:

Thanks. Thanks. I’m sitting in Wework and it’s total ghost town here, so it’s nice.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:04:15]:

Yeah, very, very nice. So, Vitaly, before we begin, I just wanted to give a sense to the audience for a little bit about stack adapt. I’d love for you to just, in your own words, tell the audience what does stock adapt do? What is the scale of the business? How long have you been at the company? And then we can dive in from there.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:04:35]:

Yeah, for sure. So myself and two other co founders, Yang and Ildar, we started the company ten years ago out of personal frustration working in the industry, and we wanted to build a next generation platform in the field of programmatic advertising. Since then, the product evolved into something much bigger than we originally anticipated. I mean, we always wanted to build a big global technology company, but I think it’s a lot, just more complex than we thought originally. And, yeah, we had a nice run for the last ten years, we’ve grown to a team of now almost 1100 people. We have people across ten countries. We’re selling into 16 countries. So got to a decent scale, but not taking the time to celebrate yet.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:05:15]:

Still lots to do.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:05:17]:

Yeah, that’s awesome. And congratulations on all the success. And one of the things that was super interesting me, is that you guys, do I have it correctly? You haven’t raised venture capital like traditionally to scale up the business a little.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:05:30]:

Bit in the beginning, but we’ve been full intensive purposes, bootstrapping up until that point and beyond. So we’ve been profitable for a number of years now. And I think it’s a byproduct of we were in our twenties when we started the company, didn’t have tremendous experience in Canada in a field that’s very sort of poorly understood. So I think we just naturally struggled to raise money in the beginning. We thought we just have to take a path of building something sustainable and control our destiny. But, you know, at some point a couple of VC’s took notice of us and we got a little bit of money in the beginning, which was really helpful. But beyond that scaling to where we are now, it’s been all organic.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:06:11]:

Yeah, yeah, it’s super impressive. And again, it’s not a story that you typically hear, right. To get to the type of scale that you have and being able to do it in that way. So, you know, what I sense in the background is really awesome management, really awesome leadership. And we’re going to talk a lot about the learnings that you’ve had, but you’ve listened to the supermanage podcast and you know that we like to start out, but by always calling out a mistake. And so the question that we want to ask you is that, do you remember an early mistake that you used to make when you first started leading or managing a team? And it could be a more recent one. If you have one that’s like super fresh, we could go into that. If it’s something that you remember from the early days, what’s a mistake that you used to make?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:06:55]:

I’m not sure if it would be just a mistake. Maybe it’s sort of a lesson in it. I think throughout the last ten years, there are quite a few distinct points when I felt a bit of an imposter syndrome, and it definitely became more pronounced stepping into the role of a CEO. So I was a co founder and ran second as a chief operating officer and a co founder for the first ten years and then officially transitioned three months ago. So. Well, January 1, 2024. And, you know, that was a moment of, oh, my goodness, there’s thousand plus people. I am the CEO now.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:07:31]:

You can psych yourself out a little bit. So I was like, okay, let’s like what is a more healthy way of thinking about this? Instead of maybe focusing on myself and trying to think of like, well, am I good enough or am I not good enough? Really try to think of more the people around me and asking what sort of CEO does the team need to have? And really try to sort of become that person versus trying to, I don’t know, obsess too much, comparing myself with somebody else or my vision of myself. It’s just inherently that energy is not as productive. And I think shifting it towards thinking about how can I be a better person for the people that work with me. I think that was a helpful way to reframe of that kind of question.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:08:15]:

Yeah, I love that. So you thought about maybe when you first decided to take. When the company decided to move you into the position of CEO, it was this idea of like, can I do this? But then you took a step back and said, what would an ideal CEO position look like if stack adapt had the best possible CEO? What does that person look like? And I want to deliver those things. So it’s almost like coming to the most ideal candidate, but just by backing into it, starting from like, what would great look like for this position?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:08:49]:

Yeah, I mean, I still have lots of things to learn, but I’m trying to think of it from a perspective of how can I be that person for the team.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:08:56]:

Yeah, I love it. It’s a really good place to look at. And I find that for, you know, very often, even when it comes to giving feedback, even when you have people on the team, there’s two ways I feel like to give feedback. One way is to say, okay, based on where you are, let’s say, from where you are to what you need to improve, or giving that kind of feedback versus saying what great looks like in this role and seeing what that is, and then being able to give that kind of aspirational feedback to people on your team. So I think it’s just a super helpful framework to use. One question that I did want to ask you. You’ve been co founder of the company ten years as COO and now transitioning to the CEO spot. What are some differences? If you were to distinguish life as a COO versus a CEO in your mind, what are some of the differences in the two roles? What kind of focus areas did you used to have and what are the new ones that you will take on?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:09:56]:

I think COO role is vary so much company to company, and we came up with that title essentially when there was three of us, so it felt natural but my scope of work was always sort of defined in the context of my co founders, because one of them is obviously, Yang runs all the engineering and data science and product. So technical. Right. Ildar was the CEO. And so I was thinking, like, what are the gaps that I can fill? Maybe what are the things that they don’t want to do? Or they feel that I can be better at doing and sort of play that role in sort of being across the company, just problem solving and creating value. So the nature of that role was always changing. And I think the biggest change that one thing I’ve learned over the last two months of doing the job of the CEO is that I should tell Ildar that I think I understood that, like, I knew CEO role is different than mine, even though we’re equal founders. But at the end of the day, for ten years, it was him in the hotspot.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:11:01]:

And I think I underappreciated just how much maybe pressure he had to go through getting the company started as a CEO from zero to where we are now. Obviously, my job now is to take it to the next phase of growth, to the next level, and it’s going to be different. But I think I come to appreciate that this role is quite different, even if on paper, where equal founders, the title CEO carries certain set of pressure and responsibilities that are, to me, like personally now, really excited. I’m really passionate about the job and becoming the best, but I also understand that it now comes with a set of expectations and that they’re not something that I actually had for the past ten years.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:11:44]:

Yeah, super interesting. And so just talking about how you distinguish between the COO and CEO role, and it sounds like it is very dependent on what the company is and what the roles of the other execs are. And I’ve heard this very often, which is like, the CEO and the COO have to really be very complimentary and together they help run the company. And so moving into this new role, are there things that you now need to do that maybe you didn’t spend as much time thinking about? Like, are there a handful of things where you say, like, oh, now I need to, like, really focus on these types of activities or parts of the company?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:12:25]:

Yeah, there’s a certain set of activities that are net new. For example, obviously representing a company to the board or, you know, being ultimately the final decision maker on some of the strategic items related to the company’s execution. But I think one of the bigger changes for me is actually the fact that just philosophically, the composition of our founding team at the executive table changed, right, because we had one technical person, two business people, and now we have one technical and one business person. And so that means that, I think, one thing I quickly realized that we just cannot run business the way we did for the past ten years, because I need to rely a lot more on our executive team and our management team to support making decisions and support running the business, because it would be impossible to do it the same way we’ve done it for ten years when there was two of us. So now I think I’m actively shifting towards involving the management team a lot more in running the business, which in the past we’ve done too. But I think, from my perspective, at least, I’d be curious to hear what they think. But I think it accelerated in the last two and a half months, and I think that’s a good thing, because as the company gets larger, it would be insane to think that you can do this. You can make all the right decisions in such rapid succession with just one person.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:13:45]:

One or two people.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:13:46]:

Yeah, that’s super interesting. You’re absolutely right. This dynamic, when the dynamic changes and of the team, or there’s new people, or, like, some people move on all of a sudden, it does require a rethinking of things. Like, even my co founders and I, this is our third company together, but we had an additional co founder in the last one. And one of the things that was, like, a first realization for us coming this time around, we’re like, whoa, he’s not here. So all of a sudden, there’s this new gap of who’s going to do those sorts of things? And we really did have to rethink and restructure things. So it sounds like you’re doing the same and thinking, really relying on the management team. So one of the questions I have is, practically speaking, what are some ways that you’re doing that? Maybe like, some activities that you’re now doing to utilize that team more? Like, anything come to mind that you may be doing differently?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:14:45]:

Yeah, I would say it’s just trying to empower the team more when it comes to problem solving and bringing forward solutions. There’s just such big volume of decisions that need to be made every day, whether it’s fairly tactical, day to day, or more longer term strategic. I think it’s, you know, I would be such a bottleneck if I was trying to be involved in every single decision. And so one of the things that I’ve done, pretty much immediately I brought on chief of staff. And I think that that was, well, chief of staff and executive assistant and aside from management team, just really helped sort of remove the concentration of so many decisions and activities within, through me. And I think that, like, now, two and a half months later, I would think, because all my previous reports still stay with me and I inherited a lot of new reports, I would think that I would be absolutely drowning. And I. Yeah, I would say I’m fairly busy, but it’s because I think I’ve been able to effectively empower the team to run their businesses and their functions and also get support in the form of an executive assistant chief of staff to help run special projects, help give me a little bit more leverage in terms of just my day to day execution.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:15:58]:

But it’s still work in progress. You know, we’re still very early on. We have a long list of things to figure out, but it’s, in my view, trending in the right direction.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:16:06]:

Yeah, I love it. And so is that two people, a chief of staff and then separately an executive assistant?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:16:12]:


Aydin Mirzaee [00:16:13]:

Yeah. Awesome. And so in terms of, like, the decision making, like, if you kind of maybe look forward to the ideal state that you wanted to get to, what does decision making look like at the company? When do you get exposed to decisions? Like, do they happen in meetings? Are they happening offline in async format? Just talk about decision making. Because you’re right at a company, your scale, the amount of stuff that needs to get decided across the board is just some gargantuan portion of decisions that need to be made. So what is the ideal way that you’d like to see this shape up?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:16:49]:

Yeah. So it’s definitely a moving target, because having done the job of a chief operating officer for ten years, I think I really took pride in knowing every little detail about what’s happening in the business. And I knew very intimately so many processes and all the nuance that goes into running the business. And I think now stepping into the role of a CEO, you have, well, there’s just a lot more that you need to keep in your head. So it becomes really, really challenging to know every little detail. Instead of what I’m trying to strike the balance in with, how do I make sure that I spend my time on things that are really needle moving for the company? And there’s really a handful of things that are going to be transformational for the company in terms of if we’re successful in executing this project, we know it’s going to be transformational. And there’s million other things that probably you’re going to add maybe a little bit of an incremental improvement and combined they matter. But they obviously take up so much of your mental power to remember and understand how they work.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:17:55]:

And so I think it’s a constant sort of rebalancing act. It’s almost like standing on one of those foam rollers. You’re just trying to balance, because on one end you can get really far deep into details, and sometimes you have to throw yourself deep into details because my view on this is that the magic kind of happens in those details. It’s just understanding how product works, for example, how exactly customers use the product. It really matters. It would be insane if the CEO doesn’t understand this. And I think there’s a lot of. Last thing I want to be is the talking head that talks on stage but doesn’t understand how the business functions or how the products operate.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:18:34]:

I think it’s important to keep understanding of these core details of the business. But there’s some areas that, you know, I have to be comfortable with letting go and say, like the team has got it. It’s not an area that I need to provide an intelligent comment on the spot.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:18:49]:


Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:18:49]:

And if I do, then I can come back, go to them and ask for their perspective, ask for their feedback on what do they think about the performance of their team or areas of focus. And I can learn it very quickly, but my focus needs to stay on needle moving items and my job, which is there’s a set of things that I need to do and I just need to do them better than myself yesterday.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:19:14]:

Yeah. So it sounds like it’s almost that prioritization matters even more. And you really try and focus on the areas where you can add unique insight that really matter and are things that the CEO can truly influence. It’s almost like an active process of removing yourself from things where you don’t need to be an active participant per se. And I’m sure this happens all the time. People want to loop you in on things. And do you have a rule of thumb or a way to not take on more things? Because that’s one thing I’ve also learned, is it’s also a process of actively letting go of things, because if you don’t actively let go, you’ll just end up with a lot of things and you never end up reducing any of those things.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:20:00]:

Yeah, I think I’ve heard feedback that maybe I should be removing myself a little bit more, but I care about how things are run. Like, I feel there’s a lot of experience that I’ve accumulated over the years of being able to connect the dots. And I think having the superpower of the CEO to be able to essentially quickly assemble teams around certain problems or spotlight certain issues to a broader company, I need to use that to our advantage. Right. And I will not be able to do this effectively if I don’t understand what might be the problems. So I would say, yeah, I don’t really have a good enough model to sort of say no. I think right now it feels fairly balanced, like, I feel busy, but I think it’s a healthy balance of keeping broader understanding what’s going on with the company and areas that where we’re doing well, where we could do better. But at the same time, I still feel like I spend meaningful amount of time on things that I think will be those game changing initiatives or projects for the business.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:21:04]:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:21:56]:

So one of the things that I wanted to ask you for, people who don’t follow you on LinkedIn, you know, Vitaly puts on a lot of great content, is always writing not so much, you know, maybe a little bit less now, but you’ve certainly put out a lot of great material.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:22:13]:

So one of the pieces that you.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:22:15]:

Wrote was around this idea of three mental models that you use daily to boost your own happiness at work. I mean, it sounds incredibly intriguing. So would love to know what the mental models are and maybe a little bit about how you arrived at those.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:22:30]:

Yeah. So yesterday I heard a quote that was actually very much related to one of the points here is it goes, the more problems you solve, the more privilege you have to solve more problems. And I thought this was absolutely relevant to a manager, because the better you are solving problems, the clearer there is a path for career growth within a company. But I think that sort of philosophy applied to the CEO is also relevant, because the better you are at solving problems as a CEO, the more privilege you have at solving problems at a larger scale because your company is presumably succeeding. And so the first model that I think about is that every job, and no matter what job, whether you’re an intern, whether you’re a CEO, every job has set of job descriptions that go beyond what you would find on a job description. And, well, those are things that people don’t want to write typically on the job, right? And a lot of times it involves dealing with either uncomfortable situations or things that nobody would want to do when they were applying for a job. But every job has things that people typically would choose not to do if they had an option. But one way of thinking about it is thinking about that those hidden parts of a job, they’re in many ways more important than the parts of the job that are clearly defined and sort of accepting that these hidden parts of the job description, these are really opportunities to really separate yourself from the average.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:24:09]:

And if you’re great at mastering solving problems that are part of these hidden job description, this is an opportunity to really become world class, in my view. And so the way I think about problems that arise that maybe would not fall in a clear model of activities that a CEO should do, sometimes I just reflect on, well, can that help me do something that kind of pushes me outside of my comfort zone or something that sort of builds maybe more resilience in myself? And I use that as an opportunity for growth. So essentially recognizing that within any job, there’s a lot of things that you have to do as part of your job that are not clearly defined, but that’s an opportunity to really become world class.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:24:57]:

So I think that that’s super interesting. And you call them these hidden problems, like things that you don’t necessarily expect are going to come up. And sometimes it might feel like someone’s throwing a wrench into the equation and taking you away from what you maybe perceived before getting into the job. That was your job, but you’re realizing that actually your job is just really hard to define. There’s just a lot of things, but the ambiguity actually makes you better. And it’s a privilege to be able to solve these hard problems because as you were kind of alluding to, it’s this idea of, like, the better you are at solving the problems, the more problems that are going to come your way. And so I love it. It’s just like treating this stuff as a privilege.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:25:38]:

There’s going to be hidden problems they’re going to come your way. And when they do, if you can overcome them, then you keep getting better at your role.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:25:45]:

And I think for every new manager, I think they’re probably surprised by how much people related problems or people related topics that they spend on daily basis, because being an individual contributor, you’re focused on doing your job. And when you become manager, I think a lot of people are surprised by how much of your effort goes in topics related to people. And I think a lot of managers shy away from that topic because they feel like maybe they either miss the actual craft or they think, well, people management is people. It can be very complex and difficult, but I think that becoming good at that is what really separates a good manager from the best manager. So it’s really understanding that those situations that feel difficult and feel uncomfortable, like how you rise to the occasion and go through those challenges, they are the defining sort of characteristics of a great manager.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:26:43]:

Yeah, it often feels like the people problems are potentially getting in the way, but in reality they’re just part of the job. And possibly the most important part, actually. Yeah, yeah, the most important part for the most part, because that’s how you can use your team to actually solve those problems and leverage them. So at the end of the day, it all comes down to the people.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:27:05]:

Yeah, well, another mental model that’s maybe worth covering is just, I don’t know, maybe it’s a bit controversial, but I think, I think in the world that is so rich in data, everybody wants to be very data driven. And I actually think that it can be a bit of a cop out and it sort of can breed a lot of inaction by trying to be very data driven, because by saying, well, don’t we want to be a data driven company or don’t we want to make a data driven decision? I think it puts people at a position that it’s really hard to oppose that view because nobody wants to say, no, we’re going to scrap that and we’re going to make a decision entirely out of our, you know, as a gut feeling. But I think one helpful sort of the thing that gets, I feel, helps with my mental, with my mental state, and we’re talking about mental models to increase happiness, is understanding that, you know, I’m not a robot, that I’m not going to be essentially presented a perfect set of data and I’ll be administering it, you know, probabilistic, like a machine that I think, you know, for me, I find a lot of satisfaction in the art of the business. Where you’re creating things sometimes that are not perfectly data supported, but you’re following. So your instincts. And I think you, I find, obviously, like, it has to be taken with a lot of grain of salt, a big grain of salt, and a lot of fine print. But, you know, like thinking about business not as just a pure, we gather data, we make decisions, but think of it as an art because it is art, because if it was perfect science, every business would be successful. But that’s not the case.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:28:54]:

And businesses are hard. And I think being super managers, podcast topics of people are art. So as much as companies try to quantify people related metrics, I think they have to be also taken with a grain of salt. And I think people related topics, those actually subjects may have to be approached with a bit of a. More instinct than a gut feeling. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because businesses are people, and sort of approaching it a bit of as an art, thinking of a business as not just a perfect science, but over indexing a little bit on the art side, because I think it gets lost in today’s world where everything has to be data driven. Everything is the robot.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:29:36]:

Yeah. It almost feels like to some extent, sometimes you can hide behind the data or just follow the data blindly, but not really truly understand where the story behind the data, and I’ve often heard this kind of anecdote, where if the data and the anecdotes don’t align and they don’t tell the same story, go with the anecdotes and not the data, because oftentimes, like, the data can also be wrong. There can be a mistake in the data, but you kind of need a little bit of both. And you’re right, you’re never in this world of having all the information. One thing that I’ve heard, and I don’t know if you would agree with this, is that a lot of times you have to jump to make a decision when you have 70% of the data, or you’re 70% sure because it’ll never get to 100%, or if it does get to 100%, then you’ve waited too long.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:30:25]:

Yeah, I absolutely agree that I think there’s. I mean, not in all cases, with everything that we’re talking about has to be pretense that not in all cases. But I think there’s definitely a case in favor of speed to be made that sometimes speed wins over that precision, because getting to that precise answer might take a long time, because, well, gathering data might be like, there might be no data unless you actually do something. Right. And generating data sometimes means that you sort of identify, like, what are the low risk activities that we can do from our gut, essentially. Right. How we’re going to collect data and optimize based on that. Right.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:31:08]:

Versus trying to sit and craft a perfect experiment, because that might take a long time and you might not be able to get dramatically better results out of that experiment. So I think it’s controlling for the downside, making sure that whatever you’re doing is not going to hurt the company. It’s something that’s low impact or it can be reversed. And I think in those areas, it’s a great area to experiment and see what can be done in a new way.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:31:36]:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:31:38]:

And I think that’s an area that founders understand really well, because standing from zero to one, you can have all the data you want, but there’s some intangibles that go into it that cannot be captured with data.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:31:49]:

Yeah. So another topic that I’d love to chat with you about is just around the culture that you’ve built at stack adaptation. Obviously, culture is a very big part of making a company successful. And in a LinkedIn post, you said that stack adapts. Culture isn’t strong because of its values, but because the organization understands how company culture is built and evolves. I’d love for you to just, like, tell us a little bit more about what you mean by that.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:32:22]:

Yeah, so what I mean by that is that, and we try to repeat this quite often, that our view on this is that we want everybody to know that every single person in the company impacts the culture of the company. You don’t have to be a top ranking person or somebody who’s had many, many years at the company. Even a person that joined two weeks ago, they already have the power to impact the culture of the company and evolve it and so forth. Right. And the second thing is that all of this culture, it only gets shaped through action. One anecdote that I have given before, but I’ll repeat, you know, when we, I was taken back by a person that picked up a phone at a bank when I called them, this was like 2015, and it was such a pleasant experience where. Thank you for calling TT bank. How can I make your day better? And that was just so surprising to me.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:33:18]:

I was like, wow, this is such a refreshing way to greet me. And so when people walked into our office, we just kind of over the top greeted and we’re like, welcome to stock it up. How can we. Can I get your water, please? Sit down. You know, and we kind of almost made it into a bit of a joke. And the funny thing is, like, it got picked up because people came for interviews, and they saw us doing this, and then next thing you know, it became just a thing that people come in, they’re offered water, and sort of anybody, like, no matter who you are, you see somebody at the door or somebody came in, sitting at the couch, come in and ask, have you been greeted? Can I get you a glass of water? And, like, we had, you know, I remember one person that was at the office, and I came up to them and said, have you been greeted? Can I get you a glass of water or tea? They’re like, I’ve been just asked this, like, 15 times.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:34:07]:

I was like, awesome.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:34:08]:

That’s great. Right? And that. I mean, this is, like, one of million things that sort of shapes the culture of the company, but it’s all through action, right? None of this would be possible if people said, you know, I’m gonna. I like this. Whatever this is, it’s cool. I want to do it, too. And it becomes a thing. Right? And so one thing that I hope as we grow, we maintain that knowledge that it’s about to shape the good culture around you.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:34:35]:

You just need to act in accordance with values or, like, your view of what good culture is. Right. I think all of us could probably think of what that good culture is, where you can really be yourself, where you can form meaningful relationships or connections with people around you feel like you can be most productive self. It’s probably very similar for everybody. And the key here is just getting people to recognize that their action actually actively shapes that culture around them. And I don’t think we have everything figured out, but this is sort of the way we think about it.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:35:10]:

Yeah, I love it. It’s amazing to see how almost an action that everybody takes through can become viral within the company, and then it can just spread.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:35:20]:


Aydin Mirzaee [00:35:20]:

And be internalized in that way.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:35:22]:

Yeah. Like, we have this thing that was brought to me and not something that we thought of. Like, somebody was like, oh, yeah, you know what? We love that stockade has this paid forward culture. And I was like, what does that mean? I’ve never heard of this. And this was, like, a few years ago. They’re like, well, you can ask, and people go out of their way to help you, and they really help you because they know that at some point, somebody else will help them. And I was like, wow, this is so powerful. Like, this is what great company culture is, right.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:35:51]:

It’s feeling that you can just really go out of your way to help people, knowing that somebody else has your back, too. That forms a great environment.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:35:59]:

Yeah. And so one of the things that I know you also pay a lot of attention to is how you onboard employees into the company. You know, part of it, of course, is now you’ve got, to a certain extent, indoctrinate people, teach them these values. Presumably you’re interviewing for some of these values so people have some alignment even before they come into the company. But I think a lot of your growth, you guys also were not remote first. And then after the pandemic, I guess you hired a lot of people remotely and successfully scaled during that time. What have you figured out in terms of, like, onboarding people, bringing them into the culture and making them a great fit once they’re there?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:36:40]:

I think without doubt, being virtual first, I’m sure there’s some opportunities that we might be missing, especially in earlier stage when people are joining a new company. But we’ve made decisions to stay virtual first company. So we need to find ways to make it work. And I think having structured onboarding, where we bring in leaders across the company to run this onboarding every two weeks. Every two weeks. I know that I have my onboarding session, and I’m meeting all the new people. We’re talking, I’m answering questions. I usually run onboarding session, and then I run ask me anything session later in the month, and I usually combine two groups.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:37:18]:

Oh, so you’re still involved in both onboarding, and you didn’t ask me anything for every cohort?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:37:23]:

Oh, yeah, every two weeks I still run it.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:37:25]:

Wow, that’s so cool.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:37:26]:

Yeah. So I’ve counted how many times I’ve done onboarding. It’s a really large number, but, yeah, my plan is to keep going forever. It’s tougher to do. Like, I admit, it’s a lot harder, obviously, with time zones. So if, for example, if it’s one person joining in APAC, somebody joins in EMEA, and somebody joins in North America across two time zones, just impossible to do individual sessions. So sometimes we share a recording of a session within time zones where we have fewer people. But I do run a session every two weeks, and the same goes for, like, all leaders across all major functions.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:38:03]:

So, like, it’s a two week onboarding program, and in that two weeks, people run one session every two weeks, so.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:38:10]:

Wow. So everybody in the company actually gets to participate, like the leadership team, you know, whoever’s involved. Yeah, that’s super interesting. And that’s been an important part. And what kind of things do you cover, like when you speak to new employees, like, what’s really important for you to be able to communicate to them.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:38:28]:

So for me, my session is called evolution of stack adapt, which is probably exactly what it is. I think I definitely over index on stories and I just try to tell about how we got started and some of our philosophies about business and how we think about our opportunity, how it shaped where we are as a company. I tell a little bit more about myself, too, so people understand who I am. And actually, so the first half is dedicated towards more like strategic focus for us as a company, how our product evolved, how we think about our opportunity, strategic focus. And then company culture is actually second half of my onboarding where we talk exactly about this. We talk about how we think about company culture, why we think it’s important, and we talk about our values. And so that covers usually the last 50 or 40% of that hour. So I put a lot of emphasis on this in my session and I think hopefully it helps emphasize that it’s a very important topic for the company.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:39:30]:

Yeah. So this is super interesting, and it’s great to see how involved you are in the culture process, how important it is for people to get FaceTime with you and for you to emphasize the values and the things that make sense today. Vitaly, we’ve talked about a bunch of different topics. We’ve talked about your transition to the CEO, the job of a CEO, lessons learned there. We’ve talked about the onboarding, the mental models, and so much in between as we get closer to the end of the interview here. One thing that you do often is you write these blog posts. Sometimes on your birthdays, you do these reflection posts. And one of the things that I observed in one of your writings was this concept of really focusing on self awareness.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:40:16]:

And it seems like this is an area that you really care about and try to learn more about. If you were to give advice to other people who want to potentially get better at being just aware of themselves, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, are there things that you’ve done that you may recommend that other people also consider?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:40:36]:

I think for any leader, you have to spend a ton of time self reflecting. And I have a lot of people. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by a lot of people that help me. And whether it’s my wife or people at the company or advisors, all of this is really helpful. But one thing that I sort of discovered that works really well for me is maybe self reflection and staying humble. They’re interconnected because I think in the process of remaining humble, you naturally think of, you sort of acknowledge that there’s a lot of areas of growth. And two things that I do as a hobby is I do brazilian jiu jitsu and I study Mandarin, both of which I do a lot less now, now that I’m a father and with my new job. But in both of those activities, I get my butt absolutely kicked, because every time I leave, I’m just like, oh, my goodness, this was brutal.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:41:30]:

This was brutal. And it’s sort of reality check of that I’m just learning, right. And there’s a little bit in that defeat, I think. I feel there is almost sort of, like, this element of encouragement and that I’m able to foster within myself to kind of keep this learner’s attitude about, you know, things that are hobbies. But also I’m able to extrapolate this into my day to day work where I’m just, yes, I get my ass kicked some days or I get my butt kicks some days, and I’m going to use that as a learning opportunity. And I think just maybe soaking in this defeat a little bit helps you to kind of recognize that it can be overcome.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:42:18]:

Yeah, I totally understand what you’re saying. And sometimes I get excited about that stuff, and I’ll say, wow, I’m so bad at this that there must be so much low hanging fruit. It’s just, you know, sometimes when you get good at something, every incremental getting better actually becomes harder and harder. But in the beginning, you can get some quick wins that way. But you’re right, it’s a great reminder of staying humble. There’s a lot to learn. Everybody has a lot to learn. So, Vitaly, final question that we like to ask everybody who comes on the show is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft, are there any final tips, tricks, or words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:43:00]:

Recently, I read about this way of maybe thinking about the role of a manager. And since we’re talking about managers, I thought it would be relevant. It’s sort of a way to reframe the way a manager shows up to manager meetings or executive meetings or leadership meetings. It’s not to be there to represent your team. It’s there to understand how a company works so you can represent the company to your team. And I thought that was an interesting way of thinking about it because it sort of first and foremost positions the manager in a way that inherently puts the company first. Because if the company is successful, it’s natural to expect that the rest of the team will be successful, right? If one team is successful but the rest of the company is failing, that team is going to fail at some point too. So I think it’s really helpful way to reframe that.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:43:49]:

At the end of the day, manager is there to represent the company to their team. And if you have infighting between managers for resources when people cannot constructively align on what’s important for the company, that’s the recipe for disaster. And so I thought that was an interesting way of thinking about the way managers should show up to their team.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:44:10]:

Yeah, I love that. And it’s a really, really good framing and definitely the right audience to share that with. So, Vitaly, thank you so much for doing this. Thanks for coming on the show.

Vitaly Pecherskiy [00:44:20]:

Aydin, thanks so much.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:44:22]:

And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Super Managers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at www. Dot fellow dot app supermanagers.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:44:35]:

If you like the content, be sure.

Aydin Mirzaee [00:44:37]:

To rate, review and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you could help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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