What do I do with a $50+ Million asset if I think the upside could turn me into an out-of-touch ass?
Part 1 if you are interested.
What sparked this post is the pure amount of calls I am getting for people interested in acquiring Seer. While I want to understand the value of my asset in the marketplace, I’m not in a rush to sell. I’ve been through this process once before.
It was the kick in the ass I needed to realize how big Seer has gotten and how it’s time to start implementing my new playbook.
The New Playbook
Who wrote the business playbook anyway?
- The one that says winner takes all.
- The one that encourages entrepreneurs to set up and sell, then do it all over again?
- The one that rewards execs with out of touch salaries, saying they “deserve it”
Let’s rip this shit up.
This isn’t an epiphany for me. I’ve been writing my own playbook based on my values, since day 1.
What I Needed My Playbook to Enable
Taking care of my Day 1’s
I get chills thinking about the impact on my Day 1’s.
If I’m BIGGIE, I’m always trying to put on “Junior Mafia” — my love of rap has a consistent theme…when one guy makes it out, he brings up those who were with him, his “Day 1’s.”
I got a lot of Day 1's.
The idea is that your Day 1’s push to get you straight. Everyone focuses on making “Big Poppa” successful on the assumption that he won’t forget his Day 1’s. The ones who had a lot of other options along the way but they kept on believing.
I guess you could say Sky’s The Limit for my Day 1’s, because I’m capping my upside, then the minute I hit my enough number, I’m eliminating my upside (read on about that later).
Defining Day 1’s
Show don’t tell. As I built my list of Day 1’s, I noticed a trend. None asked to be Day 1’s. Most didn’t ever press for bigger bonuses, raises, etc which made me want to give more than they would have ever asked for. More of the ups and downs of this program in Part III.
Phantom equity (video explaining it) holders are my Day 1’s (which I hope to add more and more folks to over time).
Day 1’s are about tenacity, not tenure.
Day 1’s IMPACT profits. They go above and beyond “doing the job.”
Day 1’s IMPACT CULTURE.
Tenacity vs Tenure
One member of our office cleaning crew has done a lot of small things to have my back. When my dog stopped coming into the office because she couldn’t walk anymore, Ana brought me doggie aspirin and other medicines to ease her pain (and mine, watching my dog break down was painful). When my dog passed she removed the bed, so I wouldn’t have to (it’s painful getting rid of your doggies last memories).
This is having my back and creating culture in a real way that someone who cleans our offices just might end up in our phantom equity someday, even though she’s been employed full time for less than 1 year.
The role of tenure is just consistency, were you able to do those things year in and year out over multiple years?
Saying “I take care of my clients” is a lot like the Chris Rock Skit when people say “I take care of my kids,” and he’s like “You’re supposed to, you low expectation having MF’er.”
You get paid and bonused to do your job. Phantom creates a second track for those who choose to take a path where they do the extras outside of the job description even when time is tight, someday when / if this business is sold they get a piece of that long term upside. People can choose which path they take.
My Hope for My Day 1’s
Now I hope to live long enough to see my Day 1’s kids go to college, get married, have their own kids. Maybe sit at a graduation or two. Maybe sit at a wedding or two. Sit in the back and know that their parents paid for that shit in cash in part because I hit my enough point, which expedited them to get closer to their enough point.
I know someday I’ll go to a house warming of someone that dropped 60% of the down payment in cash. Someone who will never ever again have to take a job for money to pay the mortgage, unless they start going crazy and going past their enough point.
That is what I want to happen.
Could I have used that money for a down payment on a second home or something else, which is flashy, gets likes and makes people think I’m successful, Yeah. But that isn’t fucking success, success is pulling up your team with an aggressive profit share for all, and a super aggressive share. None of that shit would add up to the joy I’d get from that wedding, house warming, or graduation.
I get fucking chills just thinking about this. It makes me wanna GRIND, not for me, but for them — my Day 1’s. I want to be a part of making as many of those stories that I can, for as many impact players at Seer as possible. That will keep me working my 50–55 hours weeks, no days off for me.
I’ll dilute myself to zero (well almost zero) to get the chance to take care of the people who took care of me at this level.
Not having to think twice about doing the right thing
Why is it so hard to do the right thing in business?
Profit over people is often the culprit.
Could you imagine how you would run a company if you owned 100% of it and didn’t want the profits or upside if it sold?
For one — you’d not put up with bullshit.
Your whole mental state is like, I’m giving out all the upside of this business, so I’m not here for money. Meaning I’m playing with the house’s money at this point, let’s go try to do some GREAT things for our people and our business :).
But even better, you get to invest in things that can help your team, not just money…instantly.
Like what if I hired a bunch of full time people to cover PTO asks so people could take more advantage of our PTO without having to always find help? I could.
What if I wanted to drop $50K to pilot a mental health app for our team? I could, so I did.
What if I wanted to drop $150K to help people’s parents/significant others who were laid off during the pandemic? I could, so I did. And it paid for a few of our teams mom’s and dad’s mortgages that month.
Build a fun house for parents on our 7th floor? Yup, did that too.
I think of the innovations in our culture but also the investments I can make in R&D and innovation for our clients — Sky’s The Limit.
Implementing the Playbook
The first calls you make are to a wealth management team
When I told my wealth team that I wanted to cap my net worth, they were like…here we go.
I’m a difficult client:
- I am afraid of having too much
- I get most of my joy from enabling others to feel less financial stress
- I don’t want to leave money to my kids
Meaning the typical playbook wasn’t going to work:
- Preserve my wealth
- Maximize my wealth
- Build my wealth for future generations
None of that applied to me and the typical playbook had to be thrown out on day 1. We were going to play by our own rules up in here.
Instead of “take care of Wil and the family”, the approach to managing my wealth is take care of Wil and get him to “enough” fast. Once we do that, help him take care of 50–100 of his Day 1’s.
It’s crazy to LOVE your job so much, that you are willing to come and work every day, when there is no upside for you personally. That is how good my Day 1’s are and how much I want to help put them on their own paths to enough.
I have now diluted myself significantly
As you may know, phantom equity is only for a change in control. But as my wealth management team and I read from our new playbook — I will now use it as a mechanism to deploy more profits back to the team and community, ONLY. None for me.
So, what are we going to do with our profits?
1 — Protect the house
I always want to have 2.5 months of payroll in the bank. Enough profits tucked away enough to make sure we are safe.
That is where the first [10–30%] of Seer’s profits will go, back to the company — this first year we’re at about 15%. We will evaluate annually based on needs for R&D, Innovation, Risk, etc.
2 — Treat phantom equity holders like equity holders
After we take care of the business, my Day 1’s will take their percent ownership and get a distribution every 6 months of the profits after the company is taken care of.
2a — Aggressive dilution
Now that I am at my enough point, I have diluted myself down significantly. The cool part is I have another 15-20% seeking a home, people who build us up to share with. 20% of a company worth ~50 Million is legit $$ to want to give back to the team.
3 — Non-phantom equity holders (The day 2’s, so to speak)
After the phantom people are paid out, we’ll still have CHUNKY bonuses left for the non-phantom equity holders.
4 — I eat last
Only after everyone else is paid out, do I get whatever “scraps” are left.
If you are thinking, I thought you said you have enough Wil. You would be right….
5 — Everything over my enough, must go to help others
Once my enough number is hit (which it is super close), everything that comes to me will be restricted in a vehicle (Likely a combination of Trusts and other financial vehicles) that must go into improving the world somehow via charitable donations.
Seer started when I quit a job that wouldn’t let me shift my schedule around to volunteer. Wouldn’t let me live out my values. Now I’m living out those values bigger than I could’ve imagined.
If I still have too much, then I’m pouring it back into R&D, making our company better, growing it’s value, of which I will see none of, weird huh?
This is how I’ll never be taking the advantage of the upside of Seer again…since I’m close enough to that number I’m executing on this approach now.
My Next Step
I’ll keep sharing my story along the way, so check back if you want to see how this new playbook plays out. Part III is already in the works, and its the downsides of doing something like this, I fully expect blowback, stay tuned.