An underappreciated, and sometimes unconsidered, part of a company’s growth is the development of the people on your team. As a founder, it’s easy to focus on adding more people to your team as a metric of growth, but too often we don’t consider how we could be helping existing employees become better, more assured and skilled versions of themselves.
When I spoke with David DeRam, the CEO of Greenlight Guru out of Indianapolis about the interesting work that his company is doing in helping to bring medical devices onto the market, I was particularly intrigued to learn more about the methods he’s used to foster growth within his team. Certainly the progress he notes from his team is enough to give the most ardent skeptic of mental training exercises pause and reasons to reconsider.
Mary Juetten: What problem are you solving?
David DeRam: We help medical device companies get products to market faster, at higher quality and with less risk, and keep those products in the market. Our team focuses on reaching these medical device industry professionals through thought leadership, organic outreach, partners and events.
Juetten: How did past projects and/or experience help with this new project?
DeRam: I’ve been in software for 30 years. All those experiences I’ve gained — successes, failures and everything in between — contribute to my leadership style today, which broadly centers on personal and professional growth through mindset training. Mindset training has greatly helped me and my team get in the right headspace to reach and exceed our goals.
Juetten: Who is on your team?
David DeRam: My team are superheroes — it’s the most remarkable group of people that I’ve seen assembled. We have people from all walks of life, with different experiences, expertise and strengths, yet we share a mission: to improve the quality of life for medical device patients. I believe that mission comes from how we built this company with a purpose of helping real people. My team is not limited to just Greenlight Guru employees; I consider our network of partners and outside players who share our vision to be just as crucial. If Greenlight Guru employees are the heart, our partners are the lifeblood. Together, we work to share our mission and products with those who need them most.
Mary Juetten: What exactly is mindset training, and how do you implement it with your team? And what kind of impact have you seen with those methods?
David DeRam: At its core, mindset training is a set of psychological techniques that condition the brain to believe that anything is possible. Growth starts within your mind, and once you believe you can accomplish anything, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. Some specific mindset training practices that my team and I practice are as-if journaling, breath work, gratitude practice, and auto-hypnosis. Lately, Greenlight Guru has been focusing on auto-hypnosis, which has been widely proven to deliver positive results, such as improving mental health conditions, overcoming addiction and even enhancing athletic performance. Auto-hypnosis helps you reprogram your thoughts through voice recordings of yourself talking about the feelings, thoughts, emotions, and outcomes that you want. You then playback the recordings as you fall asleep, when your mind is especially malleable and can absorb your words into your subconscious. Studies show that your subconscious mind is responsible for 95% of your thoughts and can be programmed to think using success and growth lenses. It’s a fascinating mindset practice, and we’ve seen its effectiveness with our company’s accelerated growth and innovation through consistent use.
Juetten: Startups are an adventure — what’s your favorite startup story?
DeRam: The Airbnb founder story is one of courage, fear, persistence, and a fierce battle to success. Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia sold election-themed cereal to stay afloat. They coined their first “funding round” as the “Visa Round” where they invested in their idea through their friends — Amex, Mastercard and Visa. But they knew their vision was one worth fighting for. Now, Airbnb is worth over $25 million, and it all started with two founders and a dream.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
DeRam: I measure success based on energy. My favorite success story is Equian. Equian is an under-told Indianapolis success story, but it’s a big one. They were acquired by UnitedHealthcare for $3.2B in 2019 and were instrumental in helping reduce overpayments for medical expenses. I like Equian because of the way they carry themselves. They are an excellent team with great leadership.
Juetten: Any tips to add for early-stage founders or CEOs in growth mode?
DeRam: My best tip for early-stage founders or CEOs is this: Whatever you’re feeling, you’re going to get more of that. The topic of “feelings” and “mindsets” often aren’t front page news or the topic of C-Suite meetings, but maybe they should be. I’ve been practicing mindset training like autohypnosis, as-if journaling, breath work, and gratitude practice. And I’ve made this a core practice for my team. Company-wide, we understand that what we feel, we are going to receive. We must learn from our feelings, thoughts, and emotions and train ourselves to envision our future through rose-colored lenses. If we feel it, think it and see it, what’s stopping us from achieving it? Mindset training helps us adjust our feelings to align with the desired outcome. I often wonder where I’d be career-wise if I’d practiced mindset training earlier. How much more would I have achieved? It’s a fascinating thought, and something I encourage early-stage founders or CEOs to think about as their companies grow.
Juetten: And of course, any challenges or horror stories to share?
DeRam: I have a million failures. Hiring the wrong fits for the company breeds horror stories. As a founder and CEO, it’s my responsibility to lead by example and hire a team that shares my vision. I’ve failed by not finding the best-fit employees, but from that, I discovered my vision and leadership style require a breed of their own. At Greenlight Guru, we only hire employees who embody an “alligator blood mentality.” Aside from being a poker term, it defines those who seem both resistant to endless psychological blows but also competitive enough to pound away on others when they’re ahead. Difficult to kill and relentless until the end. This team, full of alligator blood, fuels Greenlight Guru, keeping us ready to conquer what’s next.
Juetten: What’s the long-term vision for your company?
DeRam: To improve the quality of life for patients and end-users. We have hundreds of customers delivering life-saving, game-changing medical device products to their customers. Providing superior quality systems helps create superior medical devices and makes the difference in patient safety.
Thank you to David for an eye-opening leadership approach. I am heading off to investigate some of these methods because we’ve all been beset by doubts or fears in our work, so it certainly follows that removing hurdles allows people to achieve something closer to their full potential. #onwards.