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Smart Delegation: The Key to Organizational Growth and Innovation

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Show Notes

In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug spoke with Stacey Giulianti, the Chief Legal Officer at Florida Peninsula Insurance Company. Stacey shared his journey from a consumer attorney to leading a billion-dollar insurance company. They discussed the importance of strategic decision-making, effective delegation, and maintaining a customer-focused approach. Stacey also highlights the significance of building a strong team and empowering employees to take initiative, drawing on his extensive experience in the insurance industry.

Key Takeaways

0:00 – Introduction

1:56 – The Role of Luck and Hard Work in Success

  • Success involves a combination of hard work and a bit of luck; acknowledging both is crucial.
  • Surrounding oneself with knowledgeable people and knowing one’s limitations is essential for scaling a business.

4:03 – Understanding Customer Perspective

  • Starting from a consumer-facing role provides valuable insights into customer needs and expectations.
  • Balancing the needs of customers and employees is key to maintaining a successful business.

8:31 – Effective Delegation Strategies

  • Learning what and how to delegate tasks is vital for business owners to avoid burnout and focus on growth.
  • Outsourcing tasks that are not core competencies can be a practical approach in the early stages of a business.

13:45 – Balancing Speed and Quality in Service

  • Customers often prioritize quality over speed; it’s important to communicate this balance effectively.
  • Ensuring thoroughness in transactions and customer service builds trust and satisfaction among customers.

23:19 – Empowering and Supporting Team Members

  • Encouraging and supporting team members’ ideas fosters innovation and engagement.
  • Giving credit to team members for their contributions enhances their confidence and promotes a collaborative environment.

Guest Bio:

Stacey A. Giulianti, Esquire, is the Chief Legal Officer at Florida Peninsula Insurance Company/Windward Risk Managers, a Florida-based property insurance carrier group, where he oversees the Claims, Special Investigations, and Legal Departments. He founded the company with his partners in 2005, and has since helped it grow to become the 5th largest homeowners insurance company in Florida. As a licensed attorney, he has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1993 and The Maine Bar since 2018. He serves as a representative member of both the Florida Insurance Council and the Florida Property and Casualty Association. He has spoken on various insurance law subjects for the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, The Florida Bar, the National Business Institute, Professional Education Seminars, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the National Underwriter Company. From 1998 to 2006, Mr. Giulianti served as a member of the judiciary as a Traffic Magistrate in Broward County. He is the Author of numerous published works, including Florida Insurance Law, Thomson West Publishing, 2007-2024. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Law cum laude in 1993 (staff member, University of Miami Law Review). Mr. Giulianti has been an adjunct professor of business at Southern Maine Community College, and as an adjunct professor of business law at Florida International University, where he taught for more than 12 years. He is an Accredited Claims Adjuster and a licensed Florida Auctioneer.

Personal LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/stacey-giulianti-8a9241105

About Melissa Aarskaug:

I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space.

Transcript

Stacey Giulianti 00:00
As far as I’m concerned to learning how to delegate and what to delegate is probably the entrepreneur, the business owners, most important skill. doing it all yourself is recipe for failure. So I guess my advice is, if you can outsource, outsource, do that. When you have employees in the office for now we’re hybrid or remote or what have you, but in your organization, determine what tasks they’re best at what they’re better than you at, and keep those things that you’re better at.

Narrator 00:38
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast, a show for the new generation of leaders. Join Melissa Aarskaug as she speaks to a wide variety of guests that bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth. While no one has all the answers, by building a community of open minded and engaged leaders, we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.

Melissa Aarskaug 01:09
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast. Today I’m excited to speak with Stacey Giulianti, Chief Legal Officer at Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, to talk about his journey into a billion dollar business. Welcome, Stacey.

Stacey Giulianti 01:24
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be on your on your show. And I feel honored to be here. I know you get a lot of great guests. So maybe I’ll live up to the rest of them. We’ll find out at the end of this right.

Melissa Aarskaug 01:37
Absolutely. I and I’m like I normally do. I’m just gonna jump right in and, and ask you a few questions. So can you share with our listeners some key strategies and decisions that have helped you propel Florida Peninsula into a billion dollar enterprise?

Stacey Giulianti 01:56
Such an important question. And first of all, obviously, there is there’s a little bit of luck involved in everything right doesn’t mean you know, you can’t, you can’t prepare luck favors the prepared mind. But there is a little bit of luck in everything. It’s I don’t want to pat myself on the back too hard and hurt myself, you know, not limiting myself for all the hard work we’ve done, it has been a lot of hard work to go from a cocktail napkin to a billion dollars a year in revenue. But it is there is a little bit of kind of divine and or universal Providence, something that kind of helps you along the way. And add a little bit of luck, I would say and so we certainly have had our share of that. But But in that we’ve done a lot. One of the things that I think we’ve done is that we decided to make sure that we had people around it that knew what they were doing. Because I think a lot entrepreneurs try to do everything at once you think you could do everything because look, you know, I’m walking in, I’m the guy or I’m the woman, I can take care of everything, I don’t need any help. And to me, that’s the surest way of failure. If you can’t admit that you need help, if you can’t admit that you’re not great at everything, but you’re good at certain things, you’re not going to be able to build a business, you’re not going to be able to scale, you’re not going to get it off the ground. So that’s the most important rule is knowing what you’re good at what you’re not good at, and getting the help you need to take your business to each successive level.

Melissa Aarskaug 03:19
That’s fantastic. I think that philosophy is something that a lot of people should subscribe to. Because you are right entrepreneurs, we can do it all we’re scaling things from zero to something. And sometimes it’s easier for us just to do something than to to delegate. So I love that you that philosophy is fantastic. So you have such a phenomenal background. I love law, professor. And now in the insurance industry, how has these different industries taught you and pivoted you and your career? And really just how do you lead people based on that those different pivots in your career?

Stacey Giulianti 04:03
For me, I’ve been a lawyer for over 30 years and the first 12 years of my career. So I’m no mathematician, but let’s say 40% of my overall career, I actually represented policyholders I represented customers like you against insurance companies in disputes, lawsuits, disputes, mediation, arbitrations, appraisals. So for the first 12 years of my career, I represented the individual, the consumer, battling sometimes or negotiating with insurance companies to make sure my clients got what they needed. And since then, for the last 18 or 19 years, I’ve been on the other side of the insurance company that I helped co found. And so starting off in the consumer shoes, really gave me a perspective. I think a lot of people in big business at least maybe this is my prejudice, and I’ll admit that they come from big businesses and big insurance companies and big corporations. They don’t start off on their kitchen table. And I know people like Jeff Bezos did and Steve Jobs did. But a lot of people don’t they kind of come in as these heavy hitters already. And I didn’t, I came in as an individual corporate lawyer by myself, a consumer lawyer by myself, or with small firms before heading into the corporate side. And so I’m still to me, I’m still a person’s lawyer, when a customer calls and says they don’t understand why something was done, or why a bill or a claim was paid in a particular way, you know, I need to have my people or even myself sometimes explain, because I still feel like I’m that consumer or that consumer attorney. So having that perspective of what the customer wants, really takes you off on to the next level, my original business partner, the guy who came up with the initial idea, and I, he was an insurance agent for a national insurance company, he was an insurance agent, you know, one of those like local agents. And so he knew what the agents needed, because our customers in the insurance business are not just the the policyholders. They’re also the agents who sell our policy, we have almost two customer bases that we have to deal with, we want the customers happy. We also want the agents who sell our policy and recommend us happy. So he brought that perspective of being an agent and what agents want and what agents need in order to succeed. So again, we didn’t start off with some highfalutin presidents of some insurance company, we started off as two regular guys who, you know, came from, you know, normal middle class backgrounds. And but we decided we wanted something more. And we thought we could do it, we were crazy enough to think that we could start an insurance company. And then we got some people who actually had some money to join us and get that dream off the ground. So I think that’s the perspective that I bring.

Melissa Aarskaug 06:51
Which is fantastic. Just hearing your story, because Florida Peninsula is one of Florida’s top. It’s one of the largest homeowner insurance companies, isn’t it today?

Stacey Giulianti 07:03
It is it is. And we’ve we’re part of that will be called the Windward Risk Manager group. And we have Florida peninsula insurance company. It is an insurance company. And as of last week, we got approval to start ovate and home insurance exchange. So we have three insurance companies under our belt, along with the claims processing company, a concierge agency. We also have a reinsurance advisory and reinsurance company. So we have a bunch of companies under our kind of holding group. So we really grow beyond that. But yeah, we started off and we were Florida peninsula insurance. And since then, we’ve grown into those other areas. And we’re really kind of a full service property company. And when you add it all up, we’re definitely in the top, maybe four or five insurance carriers in terms of homeowners and property in the state of Florida, which is, you know, one of the biggest states in the in the country, especially for insurance.

Melissa Aarskaug 07:57
Congratulations on that and your team. And I, you know, you touched on it a little bit at the beginning delegation, I think that’s something a lot of people I interact with, or leaders I hear about have a hard time delegating. In cases where oh, I’ll just do it, it takes me five minutes or 10 minutes to explain. So I want to kind of jump into talking a little bit about delegation, and what, from your perspective are some key principles for effectively delegating any task? And how do you apply that to your team.

Stacey Giulianti 08:31
As far as I’m concerned, learning how to delegate and what to delegate is probably the entrepreneur, the business owners, most important skill, because again, as we talked about the beginning, doing it all yourself is a recipe for failure. And so for instance, in my personal life, I don’t write my own checks. I’m not good with the finances. I’m a lawyer. I’m an adjuster. I’m a coverage guy, I’m an operations business person, but I’m not a financial guy. So I have a bookkeeper for years, right, my checks and balance my checkbook, I’m not good at that. I delegated that to somebody. So I’m freed up to be a husband and a father and a business person and to run my business that way. But in the office, it’s important to delegate because until recently, when we started the company, we started this company in 2004, launched in 2005, we had eight employees, six of us were the founding partners, and we had two employees working for us. And now we have over 300 employees. At the beginning it was hard to delegate. But what we did before we had the employees is we outsourced, we delegated those functions that we didn’t know how to do or couldn’t do as well to outside people. So the stuff that we delegated were things like answering the phones, why hire 30 people to answer your phones, when you can hire a service that will do it professionally for you. You need licensed people, they’ll do it. You want it 24 hours, they’ll hire people in different parts of the world to answer your phones. So you have to decide what you need to take what is the best thing you know how to do what you’re not good at? And what do you just not want to deal with? Do I want to sit there answering phones? No. Do I want to make sure that do I want to sell my policy? Yes, I do. Do I want to market? Yes, I do. Do I want to deal with customer issues? That are large scale problems? If they arise? Yes. But answering phones, mailing, mailing out the policies receiving the money depositing it in the bank? No, I’m not doing that. And so we delegated to great outsource partners at the beginning that helped us grow. So that was the first type of delegation. But once you’re in the office, you have to make sure that you don’t, you don’t hold on, what does that spectral hold us on, hold on loosely, but don’t let go, don’t let go. But you do have to have other people doing the work. And so what you want to do is you want them to do the work, you do not want to micromanage because then you’re just doing the work yourself. That’s silly. But you also want to audit their work. I’m not saying that you should let people do something in your business and never look at it. Even if they’re super smart people, it has to be something that that goes for your values and your mission in the company. So you need to audit the work they’re doing, but you don’t have to do the work they’re doing. So I guess my advice is, if you can outsource, outsource, do that, when you have employees in the office or network, hybrid or remote or what have you, but in your organization, determine what tasks they’re best at what they’re better than you at, and keep those things that you’re better at, and make sure that you oversee them, but that you don’t get into the weeds because you’re wasting your time. And you’re frustrating people I don’t need a boss, or a partner telling me this is how you have to write that sentence. As long as there’s no spelling errors, you write the sentence the way you want, you format the letter the way you want, you handle it the way you want, as long as it gets done, and to the quality levels that we’ve set. So I think that’s what what I would say to most people in the business world.

Melissa Aarskaug 11:59
I love it, I think, you know, managing teams and delegation, you now that is key to be able to let people do things the way they do it. And I always say keeping them on the yellowbrickroad. So give them the autonomy to do their job, the best of their ability. And if there’s things in ways that they could do better, or they’re not doing, sharing that with them, and getting and really collaborating with people to service your customers, the way that’s your brand and is well received in the industry. So I’m gonna zoning in a little bit deeper, pulling that onion back a little bit more in the world where everybody wants everything and an hour or yesterday, and people are overloaded with technology and really cognitive overload, how do you, you know, maybe up and coming executives, how do you help them manage large teams of people and complex problems where it’s high stress? And so you have people that are delegating tasks, and you’re still overwhelmed with all of the things that are coming at you. So how do you manage? I guess the better question is, how do you manage large, complex companies and problems so you can delegate some of that, but at some point, a lot of times I hear from leaders that they’re constantly being bombarded, they delegate one thing and 12 more things happen, and they delegate something else. And they’re just constantly being pulled all day, every day. So they’re there are lists of things to do, you know, five things today, 10 things tomorrow, how do you manage that in high performing teams?

Stacey Giulianti 13:46
Well, the first thing I’m going to tell you is that there really is no absolutely easy solution, people are going to be overwhelmed in today’s day and age, people want it fast, they need it. Now, they’re not willing to be patient for the most part. And so you have to adapt to that you can train your customers in a way to say, Listen, you wouldn’t want to order a pasta dish, I’ll say, because I’m Italian, you wouldn’t want to order a pasta dish and it comes out 30 seconds after you ordered it. You’d be very suspicious of a dish that came out of the kitchen in 30 seconds, right? So sometimes speed isn’t always what the customer really want. What they want is quality. You know, we don’t they don’t want to wait 30 days for a claim to be processed, or they don’t want to wait 45 minutes for the phone to be answered. But when you do pick it up. They want to make sure that you answered the question correctly. So I don’t want to oversell the speed item. I think we need to train people that especially customer that if you want something good and something done right, it’s going to take time, whether that’s food or whether that’s insurance. If I come out and do your claim, and a day later, the claim is closed. You’re gonna think I didn’t look at everything. So I need to make sure that people spend time on claims or policies or marketing to make sure that you have exactly the highest level of quality before you put it out into the world. But I really think you said that yeah, no, I and I really feel like you’d like some people want everything so fast. And sometimes you gotta push back and say, No, I don’t want it so fast you want it done, right? If I can do it right and quicker, you know, what is it there, there’s, there’s, there’s, you want something cheap, you want something fast and you want something high quality, but you only get to pick two out of those three, right? There’s a triangle, you can’t have all three, you can pick, you know, cheap and fast. You could pick, you know, good and fast, you know that you but you can’t pick all three. And so what we’re trying to offer is the best of all worlds, but there’s going to be some time delay in that there always will be. And so you asked about managing teams. And I guess my first thought is you can’t do your normal, it’s normal to be overwhelmed. It’s normal to not to always have lots to do. And you’re not going to get away from that if you think there’s a product that will make this easy, you do not need to be in business. Everybody who’s in business, no matter what level you’re at, you already know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to be a lot of headaches. And you’re going to keep Advil and Motrin, and Tylenol and business, my friend, right, you know, welcome to adulthood, hope you like Advil. So that’s how it is. So what I would say is yes, look for products, and computerized items that will help you stay on task. Don’t waste your time with stupid meetings, but have a meeting when necessary to go over to make sure that everybody is doing what they have to do. And divide tasks up appropriately, once you divided up the tasks appropriately. So if you’re great at social media, I give you the social media part, when we launched this company we just did, we launched a Ovation Home Insurance Exchange. Now, obviously, it’s been years since we launched another company, the last time we launched Edison, after we bought it and re launched it was 2010. So we’re just, you know, it’s been a long time since we had launched something that large. And there were a ton of moving parts. We’re a regulated industry. And so it’s even harder to do that we can’t just start selling policies, we have to have state approval and regulatory approval and approved forms. And we have to run actuary numbers. And so what we did is we utilized once a week, not every single day, everybody had a certain task. And at the end of the week, we went through the list, we had a project manager, who asked everybody what they did, what needed to be done next, and what was stopping them from going forward. So in one instance, in order for us to get our be able to accept credit cards and certain things like that, and payments for our bank, we had to give them our insurance number, our NAIC which is kind of a it’s the number of your insurance company with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. But we were still waiting on that, because we had to get our actual certificate of authority from the state to request that to give it to the banks and the credit card companies. So we understood what we needed first to go next. And we heard that because every week, we didn’t keep asking why don’t we have this, we knew that we needed A to have B to have C, you’ve got to make sure that you have either a product or a way of tracking items. And then you delegate we talked about delegating those small tasks, to the individuals that have to do it. And then follow up, don’t have wasteful meetings if you don’t have any new information, but set a regular time and make sure that people have that info and find out what they need next, what’s on that shopping list next, in order to get to the end result. But if people think there’s some easy solution that hey, I manage huge projects, and I don’t know I’m waking up at three in the morning thinking I forgot something, that’s the way it is. And when I retire and I’ve got my fly fishing rod and playing the piano in the afternoons, then I’ll worry about it. But right now, I’m knee deep in it. And you know, in the heat of battle, you’re just gonna have to put up with the bullets flying over your head.

Melissa Aarskaug 18:48
I absolutely agree. I was just chuckling when you were saying that, you know, people I’ve gotten emails from people will send me an email it says 10 o’clock in the morning and five minutes later, they’re like, Did you read my email? I’m like, No, I didn’t read your email and I I laugh because this is the world we are in and so I use a lot of really like you mentioned, do we need to have a meeting are we just needing to meet do we need to waste that hour so really laying out your day at the beginning of the day and and we’ve become you know, a culture where every email needs to be responded to right away their problem if you’re in response mode all day, you’re not moving your business forward. So you know the tool that I use is turning my email off and really focusing on what are the things I need to get done oh, there’s seven meetings on my calendar four of which I’m not needed at because I can delegate to the people on that call three of which I am which frees up four hours so I think you you nailed it is it is a lot of hitting the ground running and and but really thinking where you need to be and if you don’t need to be somewhere don’t show up. Right?

Stacey Giulianti 19:58
I agree and I Oh, I’ll decline meetings or I’ll click on maybe, you know, and they’ll say, Oh, you you’re not going to show up. And I’m like, Look, you don’t need me, I’m Chief Legal Officer of the company. And you’re going to be going over individual files, unless there’s something really big. You don’t need me. And it’s sometimes I intimidate. You know, I’m funny. I don’t take myself that seriously. But you know, sometimes when people are the chief legal officers in this meeting, the whole meeting changes, I don’t want that. I want you to tell me what you need. And we’ll try to help you get it done. So I don’t need to be at a meeting, it will actually sometimes run smoother. You know, my business partner, Clint, he’s, he serves as the president of the company kind of runs the day to day operations, underwriting, sales, marketing, and if he walks into the room, even though he is the nicest teddy bear, sweet guy, hysterical, but he walks into a room and you know, the some of the employees, you don’t know him as well get very intimidated, and it shuts down the conversation. So if you don’t need to be there don’t but like you said, plan your day out in the morning or the day before, figure out where you have to be because you’ve actually got to not just be responding, there’s actual work to do to push the business forward, what our next plan? How are we getting to the next level? How are we serving our customers even better, and if all you’re doing is responding to emergencies, you’re not going to get to that level? And I think too many entrepreneurs, business owners, like you said, they try to respond too quickly. You know, what, send a quick email saying, I received your email. I’m going to be researching this. And I’ll get back to you as soon as my research complete is complete. That’s it. Now they know you got it. Right. And it’s not like what’s even worse, they email you. And then if they’re in the office, they walk into your office to ask you if you got the email, what isn’t the whole purpose of emails, you don’t walk into my office and ask me if I got it? No, don’t walk in my office. And I work a hybrid. I’m three days in the office two days remote or in meetings. And so when I’m in the office, sure people want to walk in, but don’t send me an email, just walk in and say, Hey, what do you think about the Jones deal? And we’ll talk about it, you know.

Melissa Aarskaug 22:01
Yeah, it’s funny I know I have all these things that keep popping into my head, you can’t make this stuff up. And I think, you know, I have a lot of friends that are entrepreneurs, and the ones that have been very successful, is they, they lead themselves. And they like you mentioned at the beginning, they delegate the things they don’t need to do, like, you know, billing or whatever it is that they’re not good at, and they really know themselves and what they’re good at, and what they’re not good at, and they delegate out. And they build teams of people around them where they’re weak. And I think you talked a little bit about letting your people lead. And I think that is something that, you know, a lot of, it’s hard for a lot of leaders that I’ve heard, in my time as a leader, oh, if I can’t, like let you know, a junior person sit in on senior meeting, because I’m the senior person. And so you know, talking a little bit about that, you know, you’re the senior, the chief legal officer, you have people below you, and how do you build trust in your people below you to empower them to make decisions where they don’t have to go back and say, okay, Stacey, here are these 20 things. Are you okay with this? And this and this? And this? And, you know, how do you empower your people to take action on things?

Stacey Giulianti 23:19
Well, first of all, you have to make sure you don’t, you’re not someone who fire hoses, their ideas, I don’t know if you’ve heard that term, we use that in our office, you come in with a great idea. And someone just just turns on the water and fire hoses you and says, now that I did terrible, it’ll never work. And you’re not going to bring up an idea later. So at our company, we don’t do that. And if we see that we’re doing it, we take a step back and say, Wait, I apologize, I might have been fire hosing you, I don’t mean to let’s discuss your idea. Because sometimes ideas not every idea is great, right? But there are seeds of greatness in almost every idea. And it’s important that we hear you out because at one point you will come up or someone will come up with an idea junior person that will change your company. It’s happened in our company, it’s happened at at law firms where I’ve worked at where they said we should go into a certain area of law. And we had never thought about it, we researched it and it became something that started generating at that time 30% of our law firm revenue. So my my, my real thought process is is to make sure that I am open minded to people. Number two, I also want to make sure that I support them, it’s been said that your success is really related to how often and how well you give away the credit. So if I take credit, and I’m Stacey G and um, you know, no, it’s not going to work. I give my junior people and people on my same quote level my partner’s credit. I will say that it was this person’s idea, even if it was, you know, 5050 it was the previous person whose idea they came up with and I give them a lot of credit because not only do they grow in their own eyes like wow, you know, he’s giving me credit. It also their abilities and their responsibility. And the confidence they have the confidence that the rest of the board or the other leaders have in that individual grows, because they’re like, Wow, he really he or she really came up with that idea. So you push your own people, so you’ve got to support them and support them publicly know, in that team’s meeting and that Zoom meeting in that physical meeting in the office, you have to say, Yeah, Jane, or Joe, they came up with this idea. And I was really impressed. And, you know, wow, Joe, and Jane came up with that idea. That’s terrific. You want to make credit you give away credit to people who have the credit, you know, those people, they’re the egocentric, they’re, I don’t like those people, I don’t want to work with those people. That doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of yourself, right? You graduate from medical school, you should be super proud of yourself, you start a business that gets to a billion dollars, I’m proud of myself and everybody that helped us get there. But to walk in and think that I’m the guy who did it all. That’s silly, it’s counterproductive, and it’s not true. So you’d let people know that could be again, with that kind of, of assistance, and backup and props. As we say, it can also be with bonuses, we give out bonuses. Again, we’re insurance company. So you know, we’re always careful about how we spend our money. But if people do a good job, you’re damn right, they’re entitled to some bonus, okay? And it’s gotta be reasonable, but you want people to know that we appreciate what you’ve done. And we’re also going to compensate you for it. And that goes a long, long way in today’s day.

Melissa Aarskaug 26:25
Yeah, I just heard something recently with a friend of mine who is a executive at a major hospital here. And they were talking about finding the lower, you know, the janitorial team and lower non executive people to come up with solution to their biggest problem. So some of the lowest tiered people in organizations are solving some of the largest problems for these mega businesses. And so I think, you nailed it is really getting, you know, “there’s seeds of greatness, I love that in every idea”, whether that’s today or tomorrow, it’s up to the leaders to make that decision. But I think, you know, making and creating an environment where no matter what your title is, you’re empowered to share it. And creating a culture like that will really drive businesses forward. Because a lot of times the the higher you get an organization’s the far, removed you are out of the actual business. And I think you touched on it a little bit at the beginning where you were bottom up, right, so you’ve seen all all layers, all things you can you instantly have that commonality with your staff, hey, yeah, back in the day, I was doing this, I was taking out the trash when I was, you know, the first 10 employees at our company. And so I think that that gives you more credibility with your people. And because sometimes I think executives are, you know, like, people see them as superheroes, right? I’m never going to be an executive and marketing. I’ve never liked that guy or that girl, I don’t have those skill sets. But I think you hit on it and touched on it a little bit at the beginning, it takes time. And to to learn these layers. I don’t know if you have any other thoughts on that?

Stacey Giulianti 28:10
You know I do, one of the one of the items that you started hinting at which I really want to point out to business leaders is to remember that it’s not just that you want to do the right thing, and you want to get people’s opinion, because you want to, you know, pump them up and you want to get their ideas. Yes, you do. But they’re also lower to the closer to the problem than you are. So I also have an Associates in risk management. We talked about risk centers. And so you have the guy at the top saying, Well, this is what’s dangerous in that area. This is what we should be looking for. No, you have the guy or the gal that’s actually doing the stamping on the, you know, on the press say, Look, we can this is dangerous. And here’s how to make it safer. You know, I’m the executive, I’ve never pressed metal, but you go down to the factory workers and they say this is what we need. They are in the line, stop asking the generals what they need, ask the private ask the infantry man or woman what they need in order to defend themselves, right? It’s the same thing. It’s not just that that we know a lot. And we do have a lot of knowledge from our level. And I’ve been through there, but you know, what, it’s changed in 20 years, had changed in 30 years. And so I need to know what’s going on. What are they seeing? What are people doing? And, you know, what can what can we say? Well, I would have said this two years ago, but I didn’t want to say anything. No, you are in the front of the action. You are there. Tell us what’s going on. I mean, take a look. I always say I don’t want to have the Nova moment the Chevy Nova. They went to go sell it in Latin America. And had they had anybody who spoke Spanish in their marketing team they would have realized that Nova means no law it means don’t go means doesn’t go they were trying to sell the Chevy doesn’t go in, in a culture that I mean, that’s the dumbest thing I and you don’t have somebody who speaks Spanish on there. I don’t want to speak Spanish. My wife’s Hispanic. And so you know, you have someone who understands that otherwise, you’ve just tried to sell something that can’t be sold. It’s, I don’t want that Nova moment, I want to make sure that I get the people who are quote, at that level in the trenches because I was there. But give me the information so I can solve the problem. If you do that, you’re going to be successful 99% of the time.

Melissa Aarskaug 30:18
Absolutely,I love it. I love your energy, Stacey, I love how passionate you are, and just on this area of delegation. So I want to just kind of enclosing one last question, any kind of final thoughts and delegating and leadership that you want to share with our executive listeners?

Stacey Giulianti 30:39
Well, number one, I would say try not to be a control freak. I think those of us that are business owners and entrepreneurs and those of us who are also parents, right, we want to control everything. And sometimes, right, you gotta let your kid pick what they want to eat. Listen, they don’t like the spinach. They don’t eat spinach, but maybe they like something that maybe they’re like corn, maybe they’re like broccoli, maybe like carrots, you don’t have to force them to eat spinach. It’s the same thing at work. We don’t have to force everything, every square peg into a round hole, or vice versa, we have to do let we have to let people figure out what works best for them. Some people like to work on an Apple computer. Some people like to work on a Windows computer, we have both in our office, because virtually all of our systems are in the cloud, so it doesn’t matter. The point is, why am I going to force everybody to use a system, they’re not that they’re not into it? I love Apple products. But I don’t understand Apple computers like Apple laptops, I don’t don’t understand the language, how it works. I clicked the wrong thing. I keep getting definitions coming up. I don’t understand it. I like Windows, some people hate windows. And they like why do we have to force people into one thing, figure out how they best work and let them do it that way. You’ve got to step back and say, okay, my life, my work, I’m not going to control everything. Because what I want to control really is the outcome, not the input, I want to control the fact that we’re going to make money serve our clients, well serve the customers, well, sure, my employees, well serve my agents well, and serve the community at large well, but I don’t need to tell them exactly how that has to get done. I have to hire smart people and let them do the job. And so that’s the last thing I would say to entrepreneurs, business owners and people out there that are on the way to becoming business owners or executives, it’s, it’s in everybody. They’ve just got to keep doing that. And you know, follow some of our bites, follow the advice to hear on your podcast, because there’s always a lot of good information coming out on the weeks.

Melissa Aarskaug 32:33
Yes, thank you for that Stacey. And I know one of the things I’ve always subscribed to and I love hearing what you just mentioned is find your gift and give it away. And I think you’re doing a tremendous job sharing your gifts and your energy with the world and it absolutely shows in your business. And so I just want to thank you. Thank you. You’re a busy man. I want to thank you for being here today on the Executive Connect Podcast.

Stacey Giulianti 32:57
Thank you so much for having me and I’m a huge fan. It’s terrific. Much appreciated.

Narrator 33:04
You’ve been listening to the Executive Connect Podcast. If you have questions or ideas on how to bring leadership to your next level, email us at executiveconnectpodcast@gmail.com And don’t forget to subscribe so you catch every new episode. Until next time.

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Bryan Hancock Headshot — Founder of Integrity Development

Bryan Hancock

Founder of Integrity Development

Integrity Development

Executive Biography

Bryan Hancock has been managing real estate investments—and overseeing development and construction projects—for nearly two decades. He has deep roots in Austin, Texas, and comprehensive knowledge of the opportunities and challenges in this fast-growing market.

Through his development and syndication companies, which he built from the ground up, Bryan has developed 50+ urban infill projects and managed $25M in real estate sales with approximately 35% return on investment at the project level. He also co-founded two private equity funds.

Bryan brings in-depth industry awareness, sharp business acumen, and extensive in-the-trenches experience to his work as co-founder and principal of Integrity Development. He partners with a team of professionals and industry experts (many have been involved in Austin real estate for 40+ years) to identify value-added and opportunistic investments that protect capital and reduce risk for lenders—while delivering outsized returns for investors.

Earlier, Bryan founded and directed Inner 10 Development, a residential development firm focused on Austin’s top zip codes and surrounding communities, and H2i, LLC, a real estate syndication company. He steered these organizations for 17+ years, overseeing the acquisition, buildout, and sale of single-family and multifamily properties, including a 350-unit urban infill joint-venture project.

Bryan was successful in delivering strong returns while minimizing risk for bankers and investors by taking a targeted, data-driven approach to opportunity analysis, due diligence, and strategic decision-making. He zeroed in on potential risks and developed proactive mitigation strategies to protect and grow investments.

Concurrent with his work at Inner 10 Development and H2i, Bryan established Gentry Lending Group, a private-equity debt fund. He also served on the board of Bullseye Capital Real Property Opportunity Fund. These experiences provided Bryan with a grasp of both investor and banker viewpoints, including an understanding of risk and liability on the lending side. This aspect of his background continues to shape his real estate decisions to this day.

There is another unique aspect to Bryan’s career—a corporate history that differentiates him from other investors and developers in this field. Bryan has built organizations, controlled multimillion-dollar projects, and supported billion-dollar programs for some of the world’s largest companies: Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Dell, CACI, and Charles Schwab. He managed teams and vendors in the US, China, France, and India, and often balanced up to 10 projects at a time. He was trusted with a Top Secret Security Clearance from the United States government.

A business-savvy leader and lifelong learner, Bryan holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Texas Christian University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bryan founded the Wealth Investment Network, co-founded RealStarter (a crowdfunding platform for real estate investors), and was a member of the Urban Land Institute and Central Texas Angel Network. He has been a guest speaker at 20+ national events, including conferences and meetups through the Information Management Network (IMN), SXSW, Rice University, Bay Area Real Estate Summit, Soho Loft Conference, Texas Entrepreneur Network, and many others.

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Melissa Aarskaug Headshot — Founder of Executive Connect

Melissa Aarskaug

Founder of Executive Connect

Senior Executive, Board Member & Advisor

Vice President of Business Development
Bulletproof, a GLI company

Executive Biography

Melissa Aarskaug is a global executive and business leader at the forefront of the technology/cybersecurity industry. She shapes strategy, leads teams, and partners with Fortune 500 companies and other enterprise clients to protect their organizations from risk and noncompliance—while improving operations and accelerating growth.

For 15+ years, Melissa has taken the reins to propel organizations to the next level of performance. By combining business acumen and revenue optimization with the sharp mind of an engineer, she uncovers and seizes opportunities for profitable growth in the US and around the world.

Melissa has established a distinguished career with Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), where she is a key member of the senior executive team. Throughout her tenure, she has assembled teams, developed new markets, and influenced P&L impact, ultimately positioning GLI as the #1 provider of testing, certification, and cybersecurity services to the global gaming and lottery space.

After achieving this feat—a big win for GLI and game-changer for clients worldwide—Melissa steered both GLI and Bulletproof (acquired by GLI in 2016) into untapped verticals: finance, government, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, and retail. An enthusiastic, knowledgeable growth driver who cultivates partnerships and rallies teams, she led GLI/Bulletproof to dominate these markets as well.

Before joining GLI, Melissa shaped and executed strategy as Vice President of Business Operations for LV Investments, where she built and optimized a portfolio of commercial and industrial properties. Earlier, in a very different role as Project Engineering Manager for Fisher Industries, she directed and mobilized a team of 550 employees and contractors to develop the world’s largest concrete bridge. Previously, she headed a major engineering project for Pacific Mechanical Corporation.

A curious, lifelong learner, Melissa holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering with minors including Business and Mathematics. She is a Karrass Master Negotiator and C4 Executive Coach who actively pursues ongoing education and inspiration as a member of Chief, Austin Technology Council, Austin Women in Technology, and Toastmasters International. In addition to her own personal and professional development, Melissa is committed to helping other people thrive both inside and outside of the workplace. She actively mentors and empowers team members at GLI/Bulletproof, and is an executive leader and coach for Global Gaming Women. She founded Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Austin and is a current or past board member of many organizations, including Emerging Leaders in Gaming, Ballet Austin, Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, the Society of Women Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She has been a Junior League volunteer in Austin, Las Vegas, and Reno for 15+ years.

Throughout her career, Melissa has inspired individuals, teams, and entire organizations to think differently about innovation, cybersecurity, leadership, and business development. She was honored as one of the “Emerging Leaders in Gaming: 40 Under 40” and she continues to share her ideas and expertise through publications, podcasts, webinars, and presentations.

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This is the Executive Connect

A show for the new generation of leaders. Join us as we discover unconventional leadership strategies not traditionally associated with executive roles. Our guests include upper-level C-Suite executives charting new ways to grow their organizations, successful entrepreneurs changing the way the world does business, and experts and thought leaders from fields outside of Corporate America that can bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth – all while connecting on a human level. No one has all the answers – but by building a community of open-minded and engaged leaders we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.