Dan Waldschmidt is a best selling author, ultra-runner, and has been the personal business strategist for some of the most outstanding business leaders of our time. And, he's the 10th person on the planet to run Mt Everest.
We sat down with Dan for 5 minutes of radical candor to find out what makes Panzura's new Chief Revenue Officer tick.
Q: Dan - tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Panzura.
A: I sold one of my first companies in 2008 and then I spent the next 10 years helping companies solve big challenges. Everything from designing new coffee cup lids, helping the largest international airlines increase ticket sales, to marketing toughbooks for Chilean miners.
I always look for companies that have a great technology but need help sharing their story with the world - and Panzura is just that.
Q: What sets Panzura apart from its competitors?
A: With 34 patents and 17 more under review, what sets Panzura apart from its competitors is its raw technology over achievement. I have helped companies sell products that didn’t really work, or solutions that were sub par, or products and ideas that were definitely not the best in their industry.
It’s nice when you have the opportunity to take a product and a solution, like Panzura, that is clearly its best in its vertical and share its story with the world.
Q: You say that you are ‘obsessed with leveling up’. What does that look like for Panzura?
A: You are going to see Panzura achieve greatness in thousands of tiny ways. Some of them you won’t even notice. They will be just things that make you smile and wonder if it was an accident or if we did it on purpose.
Behind the scenes, we’re obsessed with showing surprise and delight, and that will show up in our marketing, our PR, our blog posts. Any time that we touch the industry, or the community as a whole, we are trying to find ways to get better, be better, and help you do better.
What our customers can find and will experience, is the product will be easier to use. The pricing will be clear and easy to budget for. Interactions with our team will be more streamlined and as a whole you’re going to find happiness in dealing with us. If you have had ten customer service calls in one day, you will find us by far the best experience.
Q: Is there such a thing as a typical day and if so, what does that look like?
A: I take my first calls somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 AM and usually go until 11:00 or 11:30 PM. Usually somewhere in the middle I go for a run for about 90 minutes. Throughout the day, I am focused on two categories: my people and their people.
My first priority is my people. It’s not just the leadership that reports up to me, but the team that’s in the field talking to customers and clients everyday. It is important that I get a piece of what the industry says and opportunities for us to provide more surprise and delight. That might be a discount, that might be sending a personalized video, that might be any number of things that allow our field reps to produce a higher level of satisfaction in the industry.
The second thing is getting to know their customers by spending time listening to the pain points of the industry, listening to their dissatisfaction with other competitors and problems that they have experienced that we can help them with. So, most of my day is spent with these sorts of conversations. There is a bit of administrative work and catching up and preparing, but usually that is during non core working hours.
I have to make priority adjustments. There is a lot of shuffling throughout the day. I am like a service provider, like a nurse to my team. I have to make sure my team is healthy, happy, and motivated, and then they’re going to be motivated, happy, and healthy to our end consumers. So, that is my priority - my team first and then their team.
Q: How much time do you typically spend on calls during the week?
A: I actually track my hours - I know it's nerdy AF!
So far, from Sunday to Thursday I have logged 96 hours and 30 minutes . Today alone, I’ve spent 6 hours and 36 minutes on my phone. I have 58 hours and 42 minutes logged during 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM and 37 hours logged during what is considered ‘after hours’.
I am really big on refining how I work and how I spend my time. Everything revolves around my priorities and my priority right now, for Panzura, is winning. So what that means is a lot of focus on details, on making sure we get it right in all the thousands of tiny ways that sometimes people don’t even notice until they miss it - and they’re like, oh that was kind of cute, I miss that.
Q: What is your guiding philosophy for you and your team to achieve outrageous success?
A: I have three things that are my screensaver on my phone. The first phrase says “Go be f😲king awesome.” The wallpaper behind it says, “Be honest. Ask questions. Do things that matter.”
What that means is to be honest to my team, be honest to my clients, be honest to everyone. That rapidly accelerates your communication BS.
Ask questions - sometimes it’s easy to jump into a situation, and you are all hot headed or you're bent out of shape, and it’s just a matter of you having the full perspective - so ask questions.
Do things that matter - this is why I log my time, so that I can do things that matter. If you are looking at your time and you're like, “oh yeah, I spent 50 hours watching Dancing With the Stars, well you know, maybe that’s a sign you shouldn’t.” So, those are the three things that I hold myself to, and my team.
Our team has risen to the occasion and has been doing quite well at that.
Q: You're a champion ultra marathon runner, tell us more about this and how it levels up your mindset?
A: So, ultra running - at the time I started, it was the scariest thing I could think of. It was the most audacious. To run 100 plus miles was just so inconceivable to me that I was like, if I could do that, I would be somebody. Despite making millions of dollars, I lacked a lot of self confidence, I didn’t have a lot of self worth, and I thought if I could do that crazy ass thing, I would be somebody.
And then, when I did it, and I did it again, and again, and again. I actually didn’t learn confidence as much as I learned the power of tenacity and resilience in sticking with things. I went in thinking I would magically become a badass if I accomplished this goal, but I came away actually a lot more humble realizing that I probably would never be a badass, but I can, despite not being a badass, achieve some pretty badass things - by simply persisting.
Q: What is your superpower?
A: I learned early on that I can out work anybody else. I just put in the time and it pays off. The people you attract are hard workers, it is just a good investment.
Q: Tell us a bit about Dan Waldschmidt the person.
A: I’ve been married to Sara for 17 years. I have a 16 year old son, 13 year old son, and an 8 year old daughter.
I am a big runner. I dropped out of college twice. I consider myself to be introverted. I am either on or off. On Saturday I might get 10 hours of sleep, get coffee, sit around, and do absolutely nothing. For me, that’s refreshing, that’s like charging up the battery, before going back into war.
I usually find some time to run. On Sunday, I’ll get ready again and start answering emails. Sometimes I'll go out on the boat and chill around and have fun.