Prepared by Processes
Naval Academy graduate and former nuclear-trained naval officer Tom Schwab credits skills he learned while serving for his successful podcast marketing business, Interview Valet. The company introduces guests and podcasters to help clients tell their story and share their ideas with new audiences in a popular, high-converting medium. Their slogan is, “You are the guest, we take care of the rest.”
Lessons from the Navy
Schwab relied heavily on processes while serving as a Navy nuclear surface warfare officer and engineer. “Everything can be taught, and everything can be systematized. The military puts systems in place and culture in place. It seems ordinary to us, but it’s amazing to the outside world,” he said.
From Side Project to Full-Fledged Company
Although Interview Valet began as a side hustle, it now employees a team of 16, including a remote workforce. Schwab noted that veterans are especially skilled at bringing teams together. “Veterans find the common goal and drive it forward with meaningful objectives,” he said.
When it comes to hiring, Schwab keeps the future front and center. “I’m not hiring someone for the job that they start with. I’m hiring them for what they can grow into,” he said.
Systems and Culture
As in his Navy nuclear days, having systems and processes in place helped Interview Valet become a stronger company. “When scaling a business from 1 to 16 people, there’s no way to do that unless you have systems in place,” he said. “Everything is scalable once you get the systems down, and a remote workforce gives you the ability to hire based on skills versus zip code. It’s a huge force multiplier,” he said.
Culture is also an intentional part of Interview Valet’s success. “If everyone knows what they’re doing, they don’t have to be managed, but they do need to be led,” Schwab said. He recalled the first Skipper he worked with in the Navy. “He was always smiling, always over-communicated and was the biggest cheerleader. Once I asked him, ‘How come you’re always so happy?’ He replied, ‘If I don’t smile, nobody else does. If I act tired, everybody else will.’ I always remembered that.”
In forming a winning culture, Schwab connects often with his remote team to share wins. “I was afraid we wouldn’t feel like a team, that we’d be like cogs on a wheel, or that we’d be isolated,” he said. To alleviate any loneliness that comes from working remotely, Schwab intentionally implements frequent videos, calls and fun team activities. “Some of my team members I’ve never met in real life, but I consider them good friends,” he said.
In the digital age of automation, Schwab knows that the experience of being a customer is more important than ever, and that’s where the personal touch can make all the difference. “What will make people choose you is knowing there’s a face behind the company, not just a platform or a bot,” he said. “It’s based on relationship fundamentals: know, like, and trust.”
Listen here for the rest of the podcast.