Sept. 1, 2023

Building a Healthy, High-Performing Organization

Recently on, hosts ,Jose Leal and Matt Perez enjoyed a sit down with Greg Harmeyer, CEO of Impact, to explore the many reasons why a better business implies a better world.

Greg is passionate about unlocking the potential in people, teams, and ideas. During his leadership, TiER1 has become a multi-year Best Places to Work recipient and fifteen-time honoree of the Inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest-growing privately held companies. Over the course of twenty years, Greg has led TiER1 to serve hundreds of the world’s best organizations and, in the process, developed an award-winning culture that has positively impacted thousands of lives. He recently released his first book, Impact with Love: Building Business for a Better World, published by Inc. magazine.

Listen in and comment away!

#highperformingteams #betterbusiness #corporateculture


Jose Leal (00:05):

Welcome to I'm Jose Leal with my partner Matt Perez. And today we've got Greg Harmeyer from TiER1. And we're going to be talking about “Building a healthy and high-performing organization”. Greg, welcome.

Greg Harmeyer (00:24):

Thanks. good to be with you guys today.

Jose Leal (00:27):

Nice to have you. So, tell us a little bit about you. Where are you, what do you, how did you get to TiER1? You know how, I mean, you're not a young kid, so obviously you've done something in your life. What does that what does that look like? How did you get here?

Greg Harmeyer (00:46):

I'm not a young kid anymore. Yeah. So, I am in Cincinnati, Ohio. And that is home for me. And the headquarters for our company is Covington, Kentucky which is on the border of Cincinnati. But how'd I get here? I so background is I started out my career out of the University of Dayton with a degree in MS in economics, and joined what's now Accenture time was Anderson Consulting, which is a long time ago. Spent about six years in the consulting industry with them doing a large scale… doing large-scale technology consulting work for them. In the process, I really kind of came to realize in what way important the focus on people was in making these large-scale initiatives work. And so I got a real interest in that, joined a startup consultancy for a couple of years in this area, and that was around the original dot com boom. And we, and I was asked to help build this to build an e-learning business for them. Because e-learning was really hot at that time. Again, still had a big passion for people. And so worked with a couple of other guys in that organization to expand that focus on kind of enterprise learning and how people learn and do their best work, and I learned a lot about that. Took a leave of absence, went to grad school, and when it came out, that company was being sold. And so, the two individuals I started tier one, and that was 21 years ago. And so, you know, in the broadest sense, we started TiER1 to focus on helping organizations help their people do their best work. We talk about improving organizations through the performance of people, in order to build a better world. And we started it was, it's been a long journey as every entrepreneurial venture, I suppose is, and I'm happy to talk about the details of that. But some foundational ideas when we started were we wanted to help large organizations help their people, but we also wanted to create a company that had a positive impact on people's lives, whoever they were, whether they were our customers, our employees, our contractors, the communities we worked in. We wanted to build something that made a difference in people's lives. We didn't always know what that meant, but for us at the time, the simple version of it was we wanted to work with people who were passionate about doing great work and cared about each other and create an organization that supported that and allowed for that. And it's been a, you know, 21-year journey. We are today about 340 people or so, scattered across, you know, probably about eight or nine cities in the US primarily, and a lot of virtual work with global organizations. Most of our clients you would know, Proctor and Gamble, Delta Airlines, Google, and all kinds of big organizations, Eli Lilly, Federal Government. But still with a focus on people, still with a focus on how we help people do their best work on much more strategic initiatives than we did back then. Fortunately, we're a lot more stable and successful than we were when we were a young startup. But I'm still very passionate about creating an organization that has a positive impact on people's lives. And so those have carried through. It's been a long journey, and a lot of changes. But that's, kind of the short story of who I am and where I came from.

Jose Leal (04:14):

So, one of the things, whenever talking to consultants, the first thing that comes to my mind is what are you being hired for? What, what's the expectation from the client's perspective? And who's hiring you? We're talking executives, we're talking HR, what’s the engagement look like?

Greg Harmeyer (04:31):

Yeah, so we are, I would say a large niche consultancy that focuses on people. And in the most general sense, what we're hired to do is bring strategic initiatives to life. So, a company puts in a new system, they do a new product launch, they do an acquisition, they do they're scaling up talent. All of these initiatives require that people know more, do more, get more aligned on something new. And so, the front end of our work, I would say kind of 20% is like classic consulting where we're working with senior leaders, and who hires us might be a business unit leader, it might be a CHRO or head of talent, it might be a CIO. And we're facilitating alignment across that group to get really clear about how this strategic initiative affects people. Why are you doing it? What's the journey map? What's the visualization? What's the story? What's the measurement? And then the rest of our work is building all the assets that support people and aligning with that. So, we're building learning and development programs. We're building onboarding systems. We're building technologies that support people's work. We're building, we're doing all the communications and organizational change management. So those are the things that we're doing in a very tangible way.

Jose Leal (05:45):

You just took the words I was about to say. So, change management really is sort of the, at the heart of what you're doing from a human perspective,

Greg Harmeyer (05:52):

For sure. Facilitating change in organizations in its most general sense. Sometimes it's very classic change management kind of cutter stuff or, you know, Prosci kind of models. But more often it's changed in the most general sense, we're facilitating helping leaders drive change in an organization.

Jose Leal (06:10):

Now, the reason I think we're talking to you is not only because of what you do, but because you're focused on people. And I think so are we, that that's the core of, of what Radical's about. The reason we call it Radical, the root of work is really people, right? If you don't deal with the people, you're not dealing with the work, you're missing it, right? But in reality, it's how you guys have organized your organization internally. That's a little bit more interesting. So, tell us about that. Maybe not more interesting, but at least, more unique than the average organization.

Greg Harmeyer (06:52):

Yeah. well, that's a passion area for me, so it is a little bit more interesting. But yeah, I mean, we are, we're passionate about the desire to create healthy cultures that have a positive impact on people's lives. And for us, that started with, you know, that you have to start with yourself, right? Like you, we can't do that for others if we don't do it for ourselves. And what we found was like, when you're a small organization, you know, 10 people, 20 people whatever, it’s easier to operate in a high trust kind of model where everybody knows each other, and you don't have a lot of the traditional hierarchy and bureaucracy that kind of weights organizations down. And as you get bigger, it’s harder. And mostly because people don't know a lot of different models to deal with that. And so, a lot of institutional hierarchy and structure comes into place as organizations. We wanted to resist that. We wanted to figure out how to scale an organization that still held at its center, the ideals of high trust and belief in people and autonomy, and the ability to innovate and, and work in a very agile fashion where people were really empowered to do great work. And so, for, so for the past 20 years, we've been working on how do you do that? And I don't think we have all the definitive final answers, but we've got certainly some insights and experiences and we do have a different model for how we've gone about it.

Jose Leal (08:20):

It's interesting. So, what would you say is the biggest thing about what you've done that's different?

Greg Harmeyer (08:26):

Well, I mean, I start with the central objective and in my mind that is trust. We talk a lot about the, I would say that the, the most valuable asset an organization has perhaps aside from capital and, and, and that's even debatable, is trust. And I think it's taken for granted a lot of organizations, when you have high volumes of trust, you, you innovate more, you have people more engaged, you have people working in a more fluid way, you have people focused on the right things people collaborate better, all kinds of positive outcomes. And what we worked on is how do you structurally build something that fosters trust, and how do you remove inhibitors to it? So, our operating model what we call our operating model, something we call "Dynamically Distributed Authority”, DDA, and it's a system that's built on a number of pillars. One is the idea of we are a role-based organization, so we have very few titles or levels. It's much more defined on an agile role-based kind of model, where the work I step into has a role definition to it, and I have responsibilities and authorities that go with that. And if I step into a different project or a different client or a different initiative, I have a different role with different, with different authorities, and it allows us to have a lot more agile responsibility and freedom and a dynamic structure. And so that's one of the pillars. The second pillar is what we would call principle driven. So, we have a handful of operating principles. We work by, and it's in an attempt to not have a lot of policies. And so, to me, I would say policies try to give you the answer to every situation. Principals try to give you more insight into how to think about the question. And I think they're a lot more flexible, malleable, they give people a lot more growth space. So those are a couple of the pillars. There's effectively you know, five pillars to DDA. And it is a, it's a model that's at the end of the day focused on clients and focused on distributing authority out towards our clients, where we want people empowered to make decisions.

Jose Leal (10:40):

So, with Radical, what we've kind of come to the realization is that the way we built organizations, the way we've designed organization historically, and I don't just mean companies, we don't just mean companies. We mean organizations of all sizes. It's essentially authoritarian, right? Even, you know, when you think about our government, we have individuals in the government such as the, the leader of the house who can decide what makes it to the floor as far as whether a specific bill can even make it to the floor. So even though we have a voting system, there is an individual who has an authoritarian like rights abilities to control things. And so, for the most part, we call that system, the system that we live in right now, a fiat system one that individuals are empowered by the rest of us to tell us what to do. You know? And in, in organizations, that's the boss, that's the owner, that's the leadership. And so that's one of the things… We, we talk about it as a lens. We've seen, we grow up with this lens of this is the way organizations work, and therefore you know, as you said, you start up one way and then you start to grow and you realize, well, we can't scale at by doing what we used to do. And so, we end up having to build these structures, these fiat structures, these hierarchies, where people have these rights and these abilities to, to dictate what needs to happen. And so, our objective has been to understand what creates those both systematically, but also personally as individuals, right? We as individuals understand this to be the way things work. And so, we tend to just do it, right? And so, the question, the reason for this long explanation is to sort of give you a sense of what we've been grappling with at Radical, which is how we take that ability for people to apply force on others. And understand what that force does to people? Because you talk about trust. Well, trust exists in a safe environment. Trust isn't something you can make. Trust isn't something you could build something. Trust isn't something that you can engineer. Trust emerges from people in a safe environment. And so, if we have a safe environment and we have people that are collaborating, then trust emerges. It's the fact that we create structures that impose that break trust, right? I can't trust you because you're imposing on me. Even if you're a benevolent leader, even if you're really nice, I still walk in, and my body changes. And we have evidence of this, right? My heart rate changes, my palms get sweaty, my this and that and the other. All of these things happen to employees when they walk into the boss's office, right? Even though he's a nice guy or a nice woman. So, the question then is, is this something that you guys discuss? And does it make sense to map what you guys have done for the last 20 years to this understanding that we have at Radical?

Greg Harmeyer (14:32):

Yeah. It makes sense for sure. We do talk about a lot of those same things. And I think there is a, our experience is that there is a balancing of, of how far we need to go to address those things. So, I think that that's absolutely real. The neuroscience says like, you know, it doesn't matter what the if somebody's meeting with their boss, they're going to change. That's not all inherently bad, you know, some level of stress and challenge in, in work and life is not inherently bad, and there's a risk of thinking an or in a world of resisting that too much. And you get a world where people don't start having almost a learned helplessness and a lack of resilience. And I think that's a concern as well. At the same time, like we, I would agree with many of those things. People, especially growing organizations, tend to go to the models that they know, and they put traditional hierarchies in place with traditional kinds of reporting relationships. And people in that management or, you know, rising management roles feel this pressure of, my boss expects this out of me, and so I've got to expect this out of the people underneath me. And that's not a very healthy dynamic for anybody involved. The people who are the reporting and the people who are in the leadership roles. What we've tried to do, we, we did not embrace a full you know, self-management model. Some of what, what you know, reinventing organizations, you know, Frederick Lou talks about team organizations. We studied a lot of that stuff. And, and I think there are some really thought-provoking, inspiring ideas there for a number of reasons. We kind of went our own path. And we talk about dynamic hierarchies. So, it's not that there are no structures, it's that they are formed around context. And most of it, for us being a professional services organization is around the context of a client. But I could be on one client working for you and on another client, you could be working for me. And we, so some things that I would lift up, like we don't have static bosses, right? And we don't have static structures. And that creates a totally different dynamic. It forces people to engage in a very different way, sometimes in ways they don't want to. Sometimes it can be frustrating, right? Like, I just want to tell people what to do. You know, it would be a life would be a lot easier if I could just get people to do what I want them to do. I know what they're supposed to do. And because I don't have a, you know, direct authority or static authority over someone, I can't solve this. It also forces a lot of growth in people as leaders to have to figure out how to influence without direct authority how to really guide and develop trust through relationships and how to be able to influence in different ways. And similarly, the people who are traditionally more used to reporting relationships. So, we've done a number of acquisitions over the years, so we're bringing people into this. And some people are used to working in an environment where they're told what to do and the answers aren't there for them to effectively be told. There are no policies that can be like, too. And I would take the view that forcing people to process why things should be done a certain way versus just giving them the answer is a growth opportunity itself. So, we help people grow through that. Again, some people would prefer it just to be, they'd say it'd be a lot simpler, more efficient if we just gave everybody the answers on what, how much they're allowed to spend on this hotel or whatever, you know? We don't do that. So, I don't know if there's a one place to land on that…I think these are just some of the ways we've processed it and they're still learning.

Jose Leal (18:05):

But I think what you just said, you know, teach people to fish rather than giving them a fish. Right? and that's what we do in most organizations, is there's a line we draw where we say, well, here's the fish. And that was one of the things that, another thing that we came up with from our experience is that this idea of, you still, even in many organizations that are self-managed, when the owners are still present even if you're self-managed, you still have a boss, right? And, and Matt for many years ran a company that was self-managed from the start into hundreds of people. And what he realized with the sale, and I'm telling his story because he's being a bit quiet today but I'm going to explain one of the things that we've learned is when there is a relationship between owners and employees…that level of trust is diminished as well, right? because At any point a decision could be made to sell, to change the model, to change how we treat each other, to you know, lay people off to, you know, close down shop, whatever it is, those individuals have all the power. And so, do you guys deal with that issue in the sense of not just how we manage and organize internally but the structure of the organization from an ownership perspective?

Matt Perez (19:56):

Let me jump in. I've been quiet because this has been going very well. So, there's no point in me just shining in. But I want the word fiat has been thrown around a couple of times, and we get a lot of, what does it mean I have to go to a dictionary? It's really simple. Fiat means because I said so. Okay. Move that thing from there, from the left to the right, because I say so, okay. That, that's what fiat means. And fiat hierarchies are just imposing hierarchies because I say so and like that. So, I just wanted to clarify that. Go ahead.

Greg Harmeyer (20:39):

No, it's good. I, the question about ownership and how that factors into all this is an interesting one.  I you know, you can take some of these discussions to their extreme and to their limit. And, and I think there's a lot of insights to be gained in any situation, right? When you take things to their extreme and see kind of where does that go? And, it also sometimes strains kind of practical solutions. And so, I think there's always a tension there. We are a hundred percent employee-owned company and did that about seven years ago as an ESOP structure. And that eliminates some tensions. It doesn't solve everything by any means. No tension, that I, a couple of tensions that I wanted to address with it that I was hap really happy with. One is when, when owners, when there's one owner or a few owners and, and you start to grow and have success, 'cause you know, our first seven years or so, we weren't, we weren't even making money. We're basically breaking, even trying to build a company. But once you start to have financial success, you inherently create some natural tension or competition between employees and ownership. And if I give more to employees, then there's less for ownership or vice versa. And as an owner at the in those years, I was like, I just don't have interest in that dynamic. I'd rather us all be driving towards the same outcome and benefit from that. So, ESOP was attractive in that regard. And that's hard to avoid. If you don't, if everybody doesn't at least have something invested, you there's a real tension there. It's not necessarily a terrible thing, because you can treat employees well and give them good benefits and compensation, all that kind of stuff. And plenty of good companies do that. But for us, it was something I wanted to avoid. The other is, you know, growing companies that are privately held… always have this pressure on owners of like, what are you going to do with it in the overtime? And the more success you have, almost the more the pressure mounts. And I was always worried about, okay, where's it going to go and what are we going to do with it? The ESOP gives a long-term ownership model whereby people can leave, and they can be bought out, and you can continue to cycle through. That doesn't mean we'll be in ESOP forever, but it does address that long-term. And I just, there's too many structures in our systems that are very short-term thinking and they create a lot of distrust because exactly the things you already cited. So, I like those. It doesn't solve everything. We still have a board of directors. That board of directors still makes the decision, still can decide to lay people off, still can sell the company, can do all the things that traditional companies can do. So, but it does right? Having employee ownership.

Jose Leal (23:29):

And so many people don't know about ESOPs. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what they are and why you chose that option?

Greg Harmeyer (23:38):

Yeah, sure. I will do my best. So, an ESOP is a league in the US that is a legal structure defined by the “Eris Act”, I believe. But it's, it is a, it is a retirement plan effectively much like a 41 K or a pension. It's a qualified retirement plan. And the, generic way an ESOP typically works is you generally have private owners who want to transition the ownership of the company to employees. And it's an interesting model because in most cases, employees don't put their own money up to buy it. So, there's no buyer on the other end. There's basically a seller without a buyer. And the main reason the financial structure works is there are a lot of tax advantages to an ESOP. If you are an S-corps ESOP, you effectively be, can become a tax-deferred or tax-free entity not paying federal income tax because it's a qualified retirement account. Just like you don't pay income tax in your 41 K or your pensions. And that allows the facilitation of a transfer of ownership from the sellers who generally take on debt on the business or seller notes and are paid back over time to the employees. And then in the way it works on the employee side is essentially the company puts a contribution each year into the employee's account, much like it might contribute to a 41 K account. And that contribution is used to buy stock. So, they buy stock through that contribution each year into the employee's account, and it is invested over time. And then when the employees retire, the company buys their shares back. So that's, the simplest explanation I can give of it.

Jose Leal (25:24):

That's a really good one. You know, I've read a lot about AOPs and that's probably the clearest and simplest explanation.

Greg Harmeyer (25:32):

Good. Well, the interesting thing is they can be very complex transactions, which is not a bad thing. It actually is what makes it attractive to owners. because a lot of owners don't want to do it. It's like, well, can I really get the financial value out of this that I built? And what happens to the company? I lose all control and all, all things that are like fear-driven. But the reality is, it's a really compelling structure, and if you're willing to wade into it.

Jose Leal (25:57):

And you said that you may not stay in that structure forever.

Greg Harmeyer (26:02):

We don't have any intention of leaving it. I just hold out the reality that you don't know. And I will say, so we did this seven years ago, two years ago, we did an exploration into the private equity world and I did it not thinking we would actually go that route but did it because we had a lot of preconceived notions of why we didn't think it was a fit for us. But I felt obligated to everybody to make sure that we were right about those. And we told the whole company we were doing that, which made people nervous as you would expect. We really believe in transparency as an element of building trust. We didn't… we had interest from several PE firms. We evaluated them, we decided the ESOP was still the best path for us, and I don't see us doing that evaluation again anytime in the near future. I think the ESOP's a great model, but it isn't the only model. And so, it's worth knowing what else is there.

Jose Leal (26:57):

So, a question, you just mentioned transparency, which is a critical aspect of trust, right? Back to your point on trust. How transparent are you guys? You talked about your board meetings. Are the minutes of the board meetings available to the owners?

Greg Harmeyer (27:17):

That's a great question. We have not published them to the owners. I don't know that we would, not we, that we, we wouldn't be open to that. And all from, for the vast majority of the board meetings, we have other employees in them. So, it's not too big of a deal. In general, we share everything with the company short of individual compensation. Some companies do that. We don't. We do share compensation models and how we think about it and all that, but we don't share personal compensation with people. But everything else, we do share. We share all our financials, all our metrics, all our, and we have for almost 20 years. So, we're pretty transparent. You know, I think there are some things like why wouldn't we maybe share some of the board discussions? There, I believe there are some things that require sufficient context to know how to process them. So,  which is like, it's not to say you shouldn't share them, but you better be prepared to give all the context then, right? Exactly. And so, it's a commitment to an investment of time on everything there. Like we just did a transition of my role. So, we talk about TiER1's impact and term performance. You've seen both those names. Tier and Impact is the parent company where the ESOP lives. TiER1 performance is our largest, is the primary operating entity, but it won't always be the only one. We just literally at, well, literally as of tomorrow, transitioning out of the president of TiER1 performance to Katie Fry, who was our COO and will now be the president of term performance. That was a long time of discussion in board meetings to figure that path out. And I don't know that it would've been healthy for everyone to be guessing what's going on there without us being able to explain more. Right. So, I'm just using that as an example of something that I don't know that it would've been in everybody's best interest to have the full conversation recorded for two years as we thought through it, you know.

Jose Leal (29:14):

So am I to am I correct that, there are some congratulations in order for you?

Greg Harmeyer (29:21):

I, yes. Thank you. Yes. It is a step for me that it's kind of a big step. So, I appreciate the recognition of that and big step for Katie, and she will be exceptional in this role.

Jose Leal (29:33):

And so, your role will be.

Greg Harmeyer (29:35):

So, I will continue as CEO and Chair of TiER1 Impact, but it's less of an operational management role now. It's more of the holding company, so kind of directing and stewarding the long-term resources of the organization. The way the ESOP works, to get a little bit more specific on that is as the companies generate financial success and generate profits, those… you're paying off debt from the original owners and all that kind of thing, but eventually you accumulate capital and that will be used to buy people out from when they retire. And then in between there's an opportunity to invest. And so that's the stage we're kind of in, where a lot of ESOPs do acquisitions. For that reason. We've done several acquisitions and you can invest in other types of things. And so, I'll spend time on that, and I'll spend time also with like, we are really passionate about the things we've learned about building healthy, high-performing organizations. And so, I'll spend more time kind of externally, you know, working with others on those ideas, trying to share more of that.

Jose Leal (30:44):

That sounds awesome. Sounds like you guys are doing radical work, if I may say so internally within your organization. But, but for your clients, there's a bit of a gap between who they are and who you are. That should really, I mean, and it really informs how you approach them with a different lens. How much of your client’s approach to running their organization and their awareness of the difference in how you run yours?

Greg Harmeyer (31:22):

Yeah, it's a great question. I say and very appropriate one. Here's what I would say. I think our clients see the outcome of the way we run ours. So that's a I think that there's a bit of, kind of a magnetic force about it. We have really strong, healthy relationships with our clients. They're drawn in a lot because they see the way our people collaborate, how much they enjoy working together, how much they enjoy working, and the trust they have with each other and with our clients. So, these are byproducts. So, that has an impact. You're absolutely right that most of this, virtually all of our clients, or virtually no of our clients, none of our clients are really hiring us to take what we've learned and implement it in their places. At the same time, many of them are in pursuit of healthier cultures and better ways of working. And it's a more complex challenge at scale. There's no question about it. When you're a 50,000-person organization, it's a more complex challenge. And many of the things that we've learned and insights we've gotten, we're able to bring into our work. We're creating leadership programs for organizations or we're helping them with some kind of cultural transformation or digital transformation, even just, they want to be more agile, they want to be more innovative. What these concepts apply and we're able to bring them in and really shape the way they think about their own work. We can't completely change their organizational structure to mirror ours, nor would that necessarily be the right answer. But we are able to bring a lot of what we've learned about healthier, high-performing organizations into the work we do.

Matt Perez (32:59):

I curious about how you do things and the way you organize yourself and that kind of thing.

Greg Harmeyer (33:08):

Are our clients curious about that? Is that what you asked?

Matt Perez (33:12):

Do they ask you questions?

Greg Harmeyer (33:13):

It varies. Varies, but for the most part, yes. I'd say increasingly so, you know when we were 20, 30 people with ideas was kind of like, you know, it's a nice idea, but it's not real applicable because it's so small. At the size we're at, we're at a big enough point where yes, we get a lot of leaders of very large organizations who would think about us as kind of thought partners, to think about how, where they might go with things. For sure. There's definitely interest in that. And it, and they do recognize that we're doing things differently.

Matt Perez (33:45):

They do recognize, okay, yeah.

Greg Harmeyer (33:47):

Yeah. Might not know the specifics that we're talking about here. Right. But they definitely recognize our approach to work, our approach to structures is very different than the kind of traditional models.

Matt Perez (33:59):


Jose Leal (34:01):

I don't know if Matt wants to keep going here, and we've already passed our 30 minutes, but I have one more question for you. I do have one more question for you. So, if you'll indulge me. At the beginning of this conversation, which I've really enjoyed, so thank you. We, you talked about people and focusing on people, and of course, that's a huge topic. Everybody's talking about, people-centric, everything, right? All too often none of the real people-centric stuff is applied. And I'm, it sounds like you guys really are within your organization, and I'm sure you are with your clients. But I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about what does that mean to you? Like what does focus on people mean in relationship to the work that you do and in relationship to the organization that you've created?

Greg Harmeyer (35:04):

So, I think we see work, as a positive force in people's lives done, right? In the most general sense, not, not like work in the United States, but like work over the history of time, right? Work is a good thing. We're given talents and the ability to create value for ourselves and for others through work. And we see organizations as a structure to serve people and to positively impact their lives. And I think some, somewhere along the way we've kind of lost sight of that, that organizations, the, we say people don't exist to serve organizations, organizations exist for people. And so we start there. And then I would say, you know, we believe when we help people do their best work and we help create organizations that provide space for people to do great work, we positively impact their lives. We make them better human beings. We really help them realize their potential. We help send them home, less stressed, more fulfilled, better community members, better family members, better… all those kinds of things. And so, for us, that's like a central driving idea every day. How it manifests is the reality that people are all really messy, right? And there are all kinds of dynamics that are tough and, and super difficult. And I will absolutely be the first to say like, that we don't get it right all the time, or even when we are getting it right for any individual, they might not see us as having a positive impact on their lives. We know that for a fact. That's a messy, difficult tension to wrestle with. Just 'cause you, like, you have the perfect model, which we don't, but even if you did, you still aren't going to get, there's, there's too many dynamics at play that you can't control. And so, for us, it's showing up with the purpose, the intention of we want to make a better world by creating organizations that serve people's lives. And we want to do it every day, as best we can. Knowing that, you know, we're going to come up short at times and, there's just a lot of messiness in the process. So, I'm not sure if that answers your question, but that.

Jose Leal (37:06):

Absolutely does. And it does so beautifully. I appreciate that. because there's some real, I mean, the clarity with which you answer that I think is really important because we use a lot of the same language. But our… your focus on the fact that people are there not to serve the organization, but that the organization is there to serve people in doing and making the impact that they can do. That's the reality of what's important. And I think all too often what we see is, and we fall prey to it as entrepreneurs, as founders, we fall prey to the, well, the company needs me to do this, right? The organization needs this. And we need to really look at, our needs and those of our colleagues and those of the people we're impacting ahead of any organizational objectives for the organization itself.

Greg Harmeyer (38:06):

It's tough, right? We can have the ideals, the right ideals, and I think we hopefully collectively all do. And we're also people, also working through this stuff, trying to do the best we can. And I think if you let the shortcomings of an ideal hold you back, that's a mistake. You just got to keep trying your best every day as an organization and try to keep pursuing something that has a positive effect.

Jose Leal (38:30):

Well, thank you for the work you guys are doing, because that sounds like beautiful work. And …thank you for creating the work that you and your colleagues are doing within the organization. I think that's even more beautiful from the standpoint of the fact that you and your team have been able to create an organization of trust that obviously is flourishing. So, kudos to you and your team for that.

Greg Harmeyer (38:57):

Well, thank you both. I appreciate those kind words and appreciate what you guys are doing. I mean, I just think it's super important that there's just more energy and time and, and just thought partnership and inspiration in these spaces that people can draw off to continue to the pursuit of doing something good.

Jose Leal (39:15):

Yeah. And, and I just want to say this from a standpoint. I mean, we spend this time talking to people like yourself to bring together these ideas, yours, ours, and everyone else's, so that we can start to see the opportunity for a new way of organizing, right? This way, too many organizations are stuck in that fiat system. Way too many people are comfortable with that system. They're not happy, but they're comfortable because it's much harder to do something that they don't know how to do. And, and I know you know that. So, Matt, we've got some.

Matt Perez (39:56):

So, so much so that he wrote a book about it.

Jose Leal (39:59):


Matt Perez (40:00):

It's called Impact with love and love is for letter word by the way. But yeah, I read it, and a good book. I recommend it. And next week we have David… Pachkosfky. Founder of Dapper Care, a category finding healthcare technology that puts consumers back in the driver's seat. I have no idea what that means, but we're going to find out. And that'll be next week.

Jose Leal (40:41):

Greg, a real pleasure. Thank you so much for your time today and for the work you guys are doing.

Greg Harmeyer (40:46):

Thank you.

Jose Leal (40:47):

Alright. Till next time.


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Greg Harmeyer


Greg Harmeyer is the CEO of TiER1 Performance Solutions, a company focused on strategy activation through people. TiER1 has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of the country's fastest-growing privately held companies for fifteen straight years and has been recognized as a Best Place to Work by Inc. Magazine as well as numerous regional publications.