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Feb 5, 2021

Plaid's COO on operational excellence

Eric Sager
COO at Plaid

Eric Sager is the COO of Plaid, the technology company powering the fintech ecosystem. At Plaid, Eric leads the company’s business strategy and operations as well as the go-to-market teams.

Prior to Plaid, Eric served as CRO of BlueVine, where he led all revenue-related teams across the company to ensure a consistent and positive end-to-end client experience. Before BlueVine, Eric held multiple positions at Square, including Head of Sales, helping sellers of all sizes leverage Square's products and services to improve their businesses. He also led Square’s efforts to optimize the end-to-end customer lifecycle experience as the Head of Growth and Retention.

Prior to Square, Eric was a Principal at Bain & Company, based in San Francisco, London, and Johannesburg focusing on companies in technology, private equity, and financial services. He began his career in financial services as a business analyst at Capital One.

Eric holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Mississippi College.

0:40   Who is Eric?

2:12   What drew Eric to fintech

4:19   How fintech can help people live better lives - information, recommendation, automation

5:45   Current fintech environment around actionable recommendations

6:44   How playing basketball in college help shape who Eric is today

8:46   What drew Eric to Plaid; Plaid's mission

10:55   The common building blocks of great organizations - mission and discipline to focus on cultural vs. short term results (such as hiring the wrong types of candidates)

13:38   What does being the COO of Plaid entail

14:22   Eric's definition of ops and ops at Plaid

16:04   Making sure the customers have the best experience

18:43   How to keep the team informed when processes change

20:27   Internal tools at Plaid

21:18   How Plaid uses checklists

22:14   Communicating with the team during COVID

25:46   Video that Plaid made to communicate Plaid's mission

25:53   Eric's career advice - work with great mentors and managers

29:17   Eric's funny story involving his son and Zach (Plaid's CEO)

32:22   How to reach Eric (LinkedIn)

[Apologies for spelling mistakes as the transcript is machine generated]

Derrick: [00:00:31] Hey Eric.

Eric: [00:00:33] Hey, how are you doing?

Derrick: [00:00:34] Doing great. How about yourself?

Eric: [00:00:36] Doing great.  

Derrick: [00:00:36] Well, thanks for joining us.

Eric: [00:00:38] Thank you for having me.

Derrick: [00:00:40] To kick things off. Just a very broad question that we ask all the guests, which is, who is Eric? What is your story?

Eric: [00:00:48] What is my story? I'll give you a short, kind of personal slash professional answer right on the professional side. I've been in financial services andFinTech for a long time. I started my career at Capital One. Then I went to business school. Then I joined Bain where I was heavily focused on financial services as well.

I was back in London for a while. I've worked down in SouthAfrica. I was back home in Germany and then London. And then I came back to theUnited States. I've met my now wife in business school. And she likes to the joke that like I tried to get as far away from her as possible. All right. So if we started in the same place, I went to London and then at some point she was in San Francisco and I was in South Africa, which is probably as far away as two points can possibly be. And so I ended up making my way back to the U S.back in 2010, 2011, still with Bain. And then I joined Square, helped build that business, which was a fantastic experience through the IPO.

And then subsequently joined a much smaller startup called divine. Again, fantastic team. Like the founder there, it's an amazing kind of individual. And so being able to work with him, for a number of years to help scale that business. And then two years ago I joined Plaid, as their COO.

And so very similar, having the conversations with William and Zach were the two co-founders, I'm talking a lot about the mission and the vision that they had for the company kind of long-term and have the opportunity to really democratize financial services to make sure that people, and companies can innovate right.

And ways to brand new financial solutions to bear was really appealing to me. And so it's been a great ride since then as well.

Derrick: [00:02:11] That sounds like a hell of a career so far. So what drew you to FinTech initially and why have you stayed in FinTech throughout your entire career?

Eric: [00:02:22] I think rightly or wrongly, my wife is in healthcare and I think there's two things that from many individuals, families, businesses, or most important one is health, obviously by particularly right now, like at the time of COVID, that's probably never been more clear to people.

And then the second is your kind of financial wellbeing as well. And for me, FinTech has always been the Avenue by which. I felt like I could make an impact on the world, by making it easier for people to manage their financial lives in a better fair, more effective way.

I didn't like some of that is personal. I remember the first time I came to the us, the very first credit card I got, I think was $150 credit limit and a 35% APR. And it wasn't because I had done anything or I defaulted on anything or anything like that. I simply didn't exist in the American system.

Like I didn't exist on TransUnion, Equifax that didn't exist. Unexperienced. And so for plat, for example, the ability to now look in to my bank accounts, or again, all within my permission.  I get to come in, I get the permission. the use of my bank accounts, I get the permission to use of my investment accounts of all other types of accounts.

Suddenly the types of solutions that folks can offer me is it's completely different, right? Like I don't get $150 at 35. I get, $2,000 at 10% and suddenly I'm often running. Like it sets me up down the road to be able to buy a car. It sets me up to buy a house. So my family, right?

Like all those things come back to an, a financial health and financial wellbeing. and so I've always been. I've always been pulled towards a gravitated towards, I think, missions and visions companies that are  trying to work helped work that on a much larger scale at square without really helping small businesses at Google.

And it was really about helping small businesses. I applied,I think it's more on the consumer side, but small businesses certainly factor in there as well.  a lot of the tools that we help build the infrastructure that we helped build, allows folks to build some real innovative solutions for small businesses for consumers,  as well.

Derrick: [00:04:13] So it sounds the ability to empower people through financial wellbeing and health.

Eric: [00:04:19] Yeah, exactly. How do you create a world, right? Where people can really manage their financial wellbeing much better both in terms of the products that they are able to get.

But also just in terms of the information and the actionability of that information that they have in front of them. helping me figure out that,  I should be, paying off this certain debt more than this other type of debt, or maybe not even going into debt in the first place.

and helping me manage my spending better. Those are all ,Really impactful things if done well, but they're just scratching the surface.The next step is giving the actual, giving me an actual recommendation of what to do about it. Not just giving me the information and saying, Hey, you're, you're running a hundred dollars in the red, but this is what you can do to fix it.

And then the final step will eventually be  a full automation of it, right? Where I trust you enough to make those trade-offs on my behalf. And so now though, I no longer have to do anything. I just signed up for it. And you automatically, rebalance and pay off my highest loans first.

Or you take out a new loan. if you see an opportunity that you can then use to pay off something else, all those kinds of things, yeah, obviously there's folks today that get that right. You can go hire if you can afford to write like a personal financial advisor and those types of things, but the technology is increasingly there to where everybody can have the same kind of benefits, that previously were reserved for, the 1% and suddenly more and more people can gain access to those types of actionable,  highly relevant  solutions. And that's fantastic because it puts many more people truly in control of their own financial lives and their own financial wellbeing.

And that has a massive impact on,  I said earlier themselves. And they're now.

Derrick: [00:05:44] You just  talks about three steps. If you will. The first step is where we are today. The second step is action. And the third step is automation. We're still in the first phase simply because right now it's the aggregation of data and trying to make a story out of the data.

Eric: [00:05:59] I think the initial phase  it was very difficult to get the data in the first place. Which is why, it was credit bureaus, but there was no such thing as. An easy way to access someone's checking account information. That just simply didn't exist. I think Plaid helped create that.

and as a result, you now in a world where it's much easier to use a variety of different solutions than it was before, I think many of them are moving into the second phase where they're making some very actionable recommendations and  two changes and daily habits, et cetera, that are very positive for the people taking advantage of them.

And then. The third phase is still to come, which is like true full end to end automation where I'm no longer just presenting you with a solution. I'm actually implementing the solution on your behalf without ever having to do anything else.

Derrick: [00:06:43] Yep.  you also played basketball in college, is that correct?

Eric: [00:06:47] I did. Yes.

Derrick: [00:06:48] What position? And it has,  played basketball in college, shaped you in terms of who you are today.

Eric: [00:06:54] I think it definitely has. look, I played, basketball for a year actually before coming to the U S as an exchange student. and I ended up going to Mississippi,Which is funny in the, that the exchange program that I was on.

They asked you where you want to go. and when I was very little, I actually spent second, third, fourth grade living in California. and then we've gone  to vacation inHawaii.  I'm ambitious. So I write down, where do you want to go? And I'm like, I want to go to California or Hawaii.

And they write me a letter back. And they're like, your three choices are in Mississippi. Idaho and Missouri, and I'm like, all right, that's not exactly California Hawaii. And you hear about the families, right?Like you've got to, you got to meet them. And so there was a fantastic family in Jackson, which is the capital of Mississippi.

And so I ended up going to Jackson. so I edited a year of high school there and then spend four years of college there as well. and just playing basketball there. I think it was an easy, the way to integrate into the school and the community, right? Like sports, particularly in the South and theWest, like really important.

Like I came from Germany where high schools don't have sports.  your high school doesn't really have a sports team. It's all cloud-based right. So you don't have the same level of  community support  , that you have in the U S and then it taught me a lot about, Going into a totally different environment, right?

understanding people who come from,  a very different kind of background and how that impacts their thinking. And I don't think it's carried over into the business world, right? Like where the reality of it isParticularly these days,  , you've got to make it work  across a very wide range of constituents, not just in terms of having a diverse employee base in order to be able to do that, but also just, there's so many people that come to financial tools with a very different set of experiences and backgrounds and.

comfort. and I think it's really helped me to put myself into those types of situations where  I was the outsider,  I came from Germany. I didn't the first timeI came to the us. I didn't speak the language at all. Even when I came back, I didn't really speak English that well. and so just being able to go through all of that, it makes a big difference.

Derrick: [00:08:46] And then talking a little bit more about plaid now, earlier you talked about, you were drawn to the mission of plaid. How'd you hear about the company and how did you meet the founders?

Eric: [00:08:56] So I'd already, I don't remember exactly how I heard about it in the first place. I certainly, I had talked to a lot of folks  across the ecosystem who were using them as a means to bring in these new, amazing products to market.

And so they definitely were on my radar screen from that perspective at the time also we were, we were Yodlee customers and we weren't particularly happy with the author. there was already a lot of chatter of kind of us that you using plat. and then I initially, met Zach and William, I think, through friends from my square days actually.

and it was just very informal, right? I love spending time with folks like that by just seeing if there's anything at all that I can do to be helpful. So something that I spent a lot of time on today, right? Like it's not even it's not like in any official capacity.

It's just I love seeing folks who  are bringing new stuff to market and helping them in any way that I can. And so that was the initial mindset. and then eventually that led to, a conversation around potentially joining. and I was excited about a lot of those things where I haven't continued to be really excited about the platform that plot is built and the things that I can enable.

I really love the team. and it's not just sack unwilling. It was, Baker who leads our product organization and John Denise, who leads our engineering team, a whole host of people, that just every person you meet, you're like, wow, this is  somebody who's  really talented, who's sex seems like they're going to be fun to be around. Who's somebody that I can learn a lot from. and that is just really unique. And I was in a great situation at Bluevine. I really love the team there as well. I think if anything, at the end of the day,  we hired some great people at Bluevine that made me feel like if I were to leave,  I wouldn't be leading people in those.

it always happens in situations like this where you're successful, you ended up convincing, a lot of people to join your effort. And the last thing I want to do is be the one that convinced, hundreds of people that joined the place. And then I'm not there to see it through with them, unless I really think they're set up for success.

And so the biggest thing was actually. Putting BlueVine in a position where I felt like they were going to be successful without me, no matter what. and then I was really excited about what Platt had potentially on offer. And so I decided to join them in a little about two years ago now.

Derrick: [00:10:55] Talking about leadership, some more, both, square BlueVine and plaid have all been places with great concentration of talent.

what is the common thread there in terms of why they're able to attract such great talent beyond  the mission?

Eric: [00:11:08] So I think one area is you can't fulfill that. Like I do think the mission really matters. Not to everybody, but certainly to the vast majority of  really great people that I've worked with, I think they generally cared about the mission at square.

We cared about the mission of BlueVine and we deeply care about the mission and plan. I think beyond that, it's about joining a team where the things I just mentioned are true, right? Where like you just select for humility, you select for. People who want to learn, who want to teach, who  we're going to be fun to be around and people are trustworthy.

And those sound like generic things. But I think if people are honest with themselves, you can go through the people you've met and you can quickly tell, does somebody have that or not? And I think the best cultures are the ones that are.  absolutely rigorous about not compromising on any of those dimensions.

So even if you have somebody who's like the best backend security engineer ever in the history of backend security engineers, but they just fail on one of those four things, or the best enterprise sales person you could ever have. They're going to get you all these big deals, but you know what, they're not really that fun to be around.

It's easy to take shortcuts. It's easy to talk yourself into. You know what, just this one time, let me go make an exception. Even though in my heart of hearts, I don't quite think that's the case. and just make one exception and then you go from there and then by the time you're done, you've made one exception, two exceptions, three exceptions, and suddenly you have a 500 person team and you've made 300 exceptions and you don't really knowhow you got there.

And so I think the discipline to select on those. Cultural kind of aspects I think is really crucial. and then from there, I think like-minded folks are going to be attracted to those types.

Derrick: [00:12:44] The ability to go these short term potential upsides. So you can have a much bigger long-term upside.

Eric: [00:12:51] Yeah. it's always difficult, right?  I've been in that situation many times myself, where you look at it and you're like, that person would view it really help our business right now. but are they really the right fit for us culturally and like making that decision, over and over again, where like you favor like really what it means from a cultural perspective?

it takes a lot. and that is true in the best of times, but it's certainly true. when you're struggling and when  things aren't going quite your way, and you think that person could really help you turn things around, it becomes an even harder decision. but I think where  folks like jock or AI or announced Zack and William and others deserve a lot of credit is that, they really held the line there and they really made those tough decisions over and over again to optimize for culture.

Derrick: [00:13:38] Talking a little bit more about your current role, what exactly does being the COO applied entail?

Eric: [00:13:46] So I spent most of my time working with, any of the teams that focus on our customers. and on the front end, that's marketing, partnerships and sales on the backend. It's a team we call growth.

and then it's also, still like some of our international kind of go to market efforts. and then in addition to that, I also have a business operations and strategy as well as our people team. and so it's a really nice well-rounded, set of responsibilities.

Derrick: [00:14:11] And then operations is such a broad, name, and ops at various companies are so different. So what exactly do you think operations means when you hear that word operations?

Eric: [00:14:22] Definitely means a lot of different things that a lot of different companies, there's certainly some operate some teams that are far more quote, unquote, operational intensive, where they have a lot of, non-customer facing operations.

I think. For us, it's a plan. It really is focused on the operations as they pertain to like how our customers see us and how we interact with our customers. So that is what I spend almost all my time on is how do we make sure that not just through the product, right? But through every single touch point  we have with the customer, we create the best possible experience for that customer that we can.

and that means you have to have all the teams really aligned to. how does that work? what do you see in a lot of companies is like those teams end up breaking into silos and you have, your sales team is focused on one thing, getting that deal to be signed, but then they don't really communicate very well to your backend support our account management teams.

And so those are not, it's not like those issues are not never issues that we still face at plod, but I think we've done a really good job of really putting ourselves in our customer's shoes and trying to create  a continuous experience from an operations perspective so that customers are as rarely as we can possibly make it be.

So that they're rarely in a situation where they go, wait, didn't I already tell you that. I just told her to a different person, it's almost like the same experience you or I would have as a consumer. Nothing frustrates me more than when I have to dial in somewhere. Like I'm talking to the seventh person at ATT and even the seventh person is still asking me the exact same questions as the first person.

that to me is like totally broken operations. It's just unnecessary frustration and effort on everyone's part. and so making sure that you designed that into the process in such a way that customers really right, have the most seamless kind of flows through the entire life cycle experience as possible.

Derrick: [00:16:04] How do you ensure that the customers have the best experience beyond just having a good process?

Eric: [00:16:08] Process matters, right? Like culture, like we said earlier matters. Like having investing in those teams, matters. some of it is like building our own internal  tooling as well. To make sure that to support those processes and to support like that the free flow of information that needs to happen to make sure that I don't have to ask you the same question seven times in a row.

No part it's obviously in some cases it's a, it's an even more complex use case with many different. individuals. Like at a particular customer. Like when we're working with a large customer, a Venmo or someone like that, there's many different stakeholders on the Venmo side that will always trying to collaborate with.

And so just maintaining visibility into that actually is more challenging than the at and T example I gave you there. You really only need to capture  information on what interactions have you had with me or my wife, if she's on my account, but you don't have to do it across 13 or 14 people.

And so we've certainly tried to invest in again, to in process hiring the right people, investing in the kind of the teams, et cetera, to make sure that is like a seamless experience.

Derrick: [00:17:08] And in terms of, talking, more about the Venmo example. So it sounds like in terms of Plaid and operations have Plaid things really break down when they're a bunch of stakeholders on the customer side, and there might not be  a cohesive story about what the customer wants, what they've already said they want.

so being able to gather that information as centralized location, And sharing it for context across the team internally applied. that's the ultimate goal ] that becomes very important.

Eric: [00:17:34] Exactly. Look like what you want to avoid. It's a situation where, you know, Venmo or any customer, has to tell us the same thing, five different times, right? that's frustrating for them. That's not what we're trying to do. and so there ought to be processes on our end and tools on our end to make sure that if they tell us to us once. we listen. And then we'd incorporate that into kind of how we help serve them better in the future kind of across the board, as opposed to us repeatedly going back to them saying, can you can say that again, that I think it was just, that's just natural, right?

that's just a frustrating and experienced at the end. And so our goal at all times, is to create the best possible  customer experience. It's just. It's not that people set out to do anything else. I think a lot of companies would say the same thing. But they, then they don't quite invest in it and permit to it in the same way.

And that's how you end up with the more personal experienceI gave you earlier, right? Where, I have to repeat something seven times to seven different people that all work for the same company. When you should have a fair expectation that, you know, anybody that works for. Plaid . Has context into anything else that you've ever shared with plot as an entity, not even just as an individual, but as an entity.

Derrick: [00:18:43] When processes changed, how do you make sure the entire team is up to date in terms of these changes and that going forward, when dealing with customers, they're asking the new information or a new step or things of that nature.

Eric: [00:18:56] We don't get it right all the time. that's the first thing. this is complex, right? We've done a number of things there, ? for any of our customers, there's ultimately one and only one person internally applied who at any one point in the life cycle is primarily responsible for them.

So in the early days, that means there's a salesperson. in the latter days, it means that it's somebody from our growth team and that applies to everybody from, our startup customers. So you could be. It could belike two or three people starting a business for the first time.

They would still have very likely somebody on our startup account management team, like dedicated to just them individually. Not like in the abstract, but like that person we care about like making every single one of the customers that we have on file ultimately as successful as we can possibly make them.

And and dedicated person there it's incredibly expensive, frankly, but it's. It's something that's totally worth it from the perspective of it creates this connection, it also helps set us up to really help that customer, but even more broadly help helps us help the ecosystem right. In away that, but without that level of dedication probably wouldn't be possible.

So at any one point in time, there's really always one person internally at bod who's responsible for that relationship. And I think we've through tools through process. Through a variety of events have found away to make sure that nothing really ever happens on the account without that person being involved.

And so you always have one person, right? Who's putting all the pieces together, who maintains that visibility over time. And as a result of  access,  more institutional, memory, but also  our institutional means of prioritizing all the various inputs that come from our customers every single day.

Derrick: [00:20:27] And in terms of tools that you mentioned, especially for these, for the growth folks, that you were describing, what types of tools that they use?

Eric: [00:20:34] We certainly spent a lot of time in Salesforce, being the most prominent example.but then we've also built a lot of our own kind of internal kind of platforms and tools to be able to allow them to get access to the information that they need to be able to do that job on a day-to-day basis.

Derrick: [00:20:49] Are any of these tools that whether it's internal or out of the box from a third party vendor, are any of them in the form of a checklist of sorts?

Eric: [00:20:58] We do have some checklists, right? I think there's probably an opportunity to make that even more sophisticated, but for a lot of things around like how we launched help and how we help launch customers, for example, That's much more checklist driven now.

and so we'll work through that list of things like absolutely make sure that people are, have implemented everything correctly.

Derrick: [00:21:18] And that's when we're mostly just like a documentation tool in terms of when you onboard a new customer, here are the things you have to go through unless I Salesforce or this internal tool, or here are the things you're supposed to say to them.

And then they're just supposed to memorize  this checklist as a thing to do.

Eric: [00:21:33] I don't know about memorizing. It's more it's in front of you. Like the other thing that I think was really important, it's it's I spend a lot of time, obviously on the sales and kind of the growth side, is you want to make sure that Alrighty right in our AMS, right?

Have the information they need at their fingertips. They don't have to memorize it at all.  To be like, as you're going through that flow, as you're having the conversation with the customer, you can pull that stuff up in front of you and then you can dynamically work through it with them as opposed to.

you're just like robotic, like going back to something that somebody taught you in training  six months ago, and you barely can remember the seven things on the list. that's, I don't think a recipe for success. I think you have to make a real for people.You have to give them the information and the context that they need at the point of contact to really shine and be as effective as they can be.

Derrick: [00:22:14] And in terms of communicating with the overall organization, as the COO, like how does all hands come into play? Especially in the age of COVID. Where we're not meeting face-to-face a lot of them are happening over zoom. How do you make sure everyone's on the same page and has all hands changed during COVID?

Eric: [00:22:29] It's certainly changed since then, but instead of us having hundreds of people together and the close proximity, now we're all scattered, around the U S or even the world.  I think Zach and  our overall kind of team have done a really nice job with like our overall company, all hands.

and I think they're part of the PD,  and I think McKenna who leads our people team and then Heather who leads our comms team and their respective teams. I've done a really wonderful job of making sure that we're constantly bringing things back to the mission and the vision and the broader why.

which. If you're doing an in person and you have all those touch points, I think that's a little bit easier to bring across then if you're entirely remote, particularly given just how many people, for example, we've hired since COVID started at you,  forget sometimes  those like audibly, easily, fifth of the company maybe, that . Has joined since COVID began. And so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but there's, a hundred people plus that have joined since it began. And so they've never actually experienced  a physical all-hands with everybody there, for example. And so you definitely have to adjust to that.

I think for me personally, I've not just started doing it through all hands. I've also tried to just spend a lot more time in smaller groups. I think it's just harder. To get the same, level of kind of depth and engagement at an all hands. Generally. That's true. even in a pre COVID world, if there's hundreds of people at an all hands, the odds of me being brave enough to go ask a question, it's just goes down, right?

Like I'm nervous. what are the other 500 people suddenly going to think about me? If I ask a question, that's not that smart versus. If it's a group of, 10 people, 15 people suddenly, you've got a lot more back and forth. And I think you've got a lot deeper dialogue. And so I spent a lot of my time, not just with all hands, but with team meetings of all kinds of shapes and sizes, across the entire kind of organization.

Derrick: [00:24:15] In terms of just making sure everyone gets reminded about the mission of Plaid, does that come in the form of storytelling about a problem that a customer face and how plaid was able to solve that and how that ties to the broader mission and vision.

Eric: [00:24:30] One of the things that we've done more of, and I think it's been, I can share the video actually with you, if you want, w in a version that's like publicly shareable as well. It's I think just putting my real stories to that, but really showing  the use cases and stuff, what that we power sometimes if you work in tech and this was true, even at square to some extent, right?

You can get a little bit disconnected from like the actual day to day impact and experience that you have. And so what we spend a lot of time on and more recently, it's just putting some of our customers on video,?  really showcasing those use cases,  really helping tell the story of all the infrastructure that we've built has allowed other people to innovate who then in turn build these amazing solutions that have these  really.

Fundamental  positive changes to, people's financial wellbeing. To close that loop end to end, I think is really important, but it's sometimes hard to do, right? If you hear financial API APIs, your eyes kind of start glazing over.  but just make the use cases real and make that make people really see including all employees.

Like what the impact can be from the tools and so forth that we put into the world and the kinds of innovations that can happen as a result of that, I think is incredibly inspiring. heather McKenna, other folks on the team has done a wonderful job,  bringing those things to life.

Derrick: [00:25:46] Got it. Yeah. I'd love to see that video of possible. And then we can also link it in the chair, in the show notes as well.

Eric: [00:25:51] Yeah. I'll be happy to share it with you.

Derrick: [00:25:53] Awesome. in closing, are there any just general with stories about, scaling ops or at your earlier career opportunities at capital one or being, or square orBlueVine that you want to share?

Eric: [00:26:08] Look,I think the one question I oftentimes get is what kind of career advice do you have for me?  people ask me this. I don't know why, like, why? I feel like so much of my career path, and almost life, frankly. I think a lot of it, I attribute to luck, right? Like I was just  in the right place at the right time.

And then the second thing is I always had just amazing  managers and mentors. and I think where people maybe don't always optimize enough is they don't think enough about who specifically am I going to work for? They think about the business. They think about the title they think about comm.

They think about a bunch of things. I think for me, it's always come back to. who's the specific person. And in my Capital One days I was lucky to work for Sandeep Bhandari.  He had an amazing career at capital one. And then he went on to be, the chief risk officer at LendingClub.

And now he's, the chief risk officer at Affirm. then at Bain, I had an opportunity to work with, Michael Mankins and many other  fantastic partners. And then at Square, I got to work for Brower, which has taught me so much.  I forgot like easily, half the things she tried to teach me.

And I'm still so much better off for finding her in my life. And how do you her as a mentor,  even to this day, but there was also other people at Square, right? So it wasn't even just my direct manager. It was , Sarah Friar and Jack, and., Gokul and so many others, that kind of helped make an impact. And then at BlueVine, it was AI.All right. and some of the, even some of the board members that just taught me a lot. And then, I applied, right? it's been Zach, it's been, Jean-Deniz, it's been like a bunch of the folks across the company, like that never really stops.

And as long as you really are thoughtful about picking,  who you work for, There is no bad outcome, right?  the worst case, even if the whole thing fell apart from a business perspective, I would still learn so much from the people that I've had the good privilege of what, before that, I would be okay with that.

But it's because I spent a lot of time in making sure that the person I'm going to work for is the right person. Like with stock, I probably easily spend. 20, maybe 30 hours with him, right before ultimately deciding like it's just a very different motion and you can't do that for every role.

But I think sometimes people don't think enough about both good and bad. I think enough about the person that they're going to be working with. and they think too much about some of these other things. And then as a result, they don't really set themselves up for the same level of success.

But I couldn't imagine where I would be from a career perspective if it wasn't for all those folks. like just everything, I know, everything I've been able to come together as a learn, as a, as an executive around has been focused on what those people taught me. And, and so that would, that's always my biggest advice.

it's really double down on Not just the company and the prospects, but like the specific people and the specific person you're going to be working with the most. Because if that relationship is good and if that's somebody you look up to and that's something you're gonna learn from a lot, is that somebody who's going to have fun with it.

That's somebody you can trust. You're going to end up in a really good situation. The vast majority of the time.

Derrick: [00:29:05] Yeah, then tourism and people. I think it goes back to what you said at the start of the show, which is, about culture and what type of people to look out for. And, and I think that's true across the board.

here's one last fun question. Before we close it out. What are you most excited by in the world at this moment?

Eric: [00:29:25] What am I most excited by in the world at this moment? the, not so high points, so I'm still pretty freaking excited about my kids. I think I didn't even go into spend even more time with them.

Like see them grow up in front of your eyes, I think has just been an amazing, experience. given that this is getting recorded,  my wife's not going to love this. there were the one where I was  probably skeptical.and like suddenly like the first, like six months of us having our first kid, I was like, this was a really bad idea.

Yeah. Oh, you're in a situation where it's just just the way they see things. And like the joy with which they look at stuff. It's just incredible.  we have our staff meeting every Monday. And so we had a staff meeting. this morning, I'm like, my son is just like, comes into here and he's he sees Zach on the screen.

And so he loves. Loves Zach that if I ever leave Plaid,  he's going to be so disappointed in me, won't be a Zach anymore, but always sings this little song, right? Like where it's Zach's the boss, Zach's the boss of Plaid. Zach's the boss of the world. Zach's the boss of you.

Zach can tell you what to do. And so I'm like, that's hurtful, right? Don't trash talk me like that you're six. but he also just involves in all these things. And so that definitely is the one thing that like, I've, I've enjoyed the most and I've learned the most strong and it just that's more like a funny story, but they also just see all these other things,  in a way that is it's really powerful. And I think opens. Your eyes again, as a parent, right? To show things that maybe you ended up taking for granted, or no longer being as odd by, or as inspired by us as maybe we should all be at times.

Derrick: [00:31:00] That's amazing. Thank you for sharing that story.

Eric: [00:31:04] No, of course.

Derrick: [00:31:05] And for folks who have remaining questions, I want to reach out via the internet. Do you have a Twitter or where can they find you online?

Eric: [00:31:13] See now you're going to really embarrass me. I actually, I shouldn't even say this. Like I, once I once got invited to speak at Twitter and I didn't actually have a Twitter, I'm very bad.

the best path is probably, this is like super boring as well, but  connect to me on LinkedIn. That's probably the easiest path. I don't have a Twitter. I don't have a tick tock.  I don't have any of those things. People are constantly trying to get me to join one or the other, but  I had none of them.

And so basically on this, you write me an email or you call me on the phone, which I know is now totally out of fashion. or you reach out to me on LinkedIn. That's probably the only way you're going to get in touch with me.

Derrick: [00:31:51]It's probably better for your sanity and concentrations to not have a TikTok or a Twitter, though.

Eric: [00:31:58] I literally, I can go so liberal about those forums. I wouldn't know.  I definitely see people spending a lot of time with it, but I never really used any of it, very much. and yeah, I'm definitely not the, I'm not the one to speak there. but if people want to reach out to me yes.

LinkedIn, email, right? Like those are the ways. And I generally tend to be pretty good about getting back to people. Awesome.

Derrick: [00:32:22] We'll have those, the LinkedIn as well as email in the show notes. Eric, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story and lessons.

Eric: [00:32:30] All right. Awesome. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

Derrick: [00:32:33] Thank you.