Key Takeaways from High Alpha’s Fireside Chat with Scott Burns

by Srikar Kalvakolanu

Last month, we hosted Scott Burns as our featured guest for our monthly Speaker Series. Scott joined the High Alpha family earlier this year, as CEO and co-founder of Structural while previously leading GovDelivery to merger with Granicus. Scott is highly passionate about the new dynamics of the workforce and how we can shift employee engagement to the new paradigm of employee success management.

Here are some of the key takeaways from our fireside chat with Scott:

1. Don’t Shy Away from Tough Markets

When thinking about correspondence solutions, government is probably the place that most people would avoid. Government is stodgy and often doesn’t move very quickly. Everyone in the correspondence solutions space was avoiding this segment of the market, but there were significant problems and the pain was being felt. Scott took the technology solutions that were being developed and went directly to government, starting with small local problems with local governemnt and eventually moving on to the larger ones like social security on a federal level. Scott found a ton of success just by going to the one market that most people avoided and performing at a high level compared to some of his competitors.

2. Organizational Speed is Directly Linked to Organizational Connectivity

Having the right people with the right skills helps organizations to be more connected on an individual and functional level. Scott co-founded Structural with this in mind. We all understand the slowness of some more bureaucratic organizations — which often leads them to be less competitive in the market. Scott argues that this is a direct function of the range of personal agencies in the organization. People want different things and that is what causes disfunction.

Small companies don’t have as much trouble with this due to their ability to easily get everyone on the same page which increases their speed for unified decision making. Scaling this premise of hyper-connectivity can allow even the larger organizations to be quick and decisive.

As Scott puts it:

Real connected organizations solve problems faster, which is basically the reason why everyone thinks small companies move faster.

3. Surround Yourself with Great Mentors

Scott discussed how ideas and working hard aren’t enough to succeed in business. Young people can have great ideas and want nonstop drive, but at the end of the day it boils down to learning from people who are experienced and understand the problem you are trying to solve. As a 24 year old CEO, Scott had just left McKinsey and Company and found mentors like Scott Dorsey and other ExactTarget leaders that helped propel his success over the course of his journey as a leader through guidance, advice, and consultation.

As Scott put it:

You see successful people and think you can emulate their success, but then you start to realize that its not about intellect and ideas. I sought out mentors and people who were further along.

Scott had a ton of great information to share about Structural and his leadership style. To view his whole talk, I highly recommend checking out the video below.