Leadership + People:
Episode 01 - John Pestana - Part 1 of 2
John Pestana, Co-Founder of ObservePoint, shares his wisdom by walking us through how he sold his previous company, Omniture to tech giant, Adobe, for $1.8 billion.
- A brief history of Omniture [0:56]
- Why trusting data is so important [4:33]
- Lessons Learned: from Omniture to ObservePoint [6:52]
- Find your basketball and spend a lot of time doubling down on it. [17:41]
- My parents helped me learn a lot of patience and empathy for people. [24:22]
- People aren’t trying to piss you off [27:50]
- The problem with airports [31:01]
This episode of Leadership and People
was originally released on:
September 06, 2017
Welcome to Leadership and People. This is a series that pulls back the curtain on leadership by interviewing CEOs, senior executives and entrepreneurs who had large exits. We ask these experts about how they built trusted networks to rapidly grow their companies, and what device they wish they knew if they could do it all again.
HOST – JESS LARSEN: Today on the show we got John Pestana, he is very well known here for being a co-founder of Omniture who was sold to Adobe.
GUEST – JOHN PESTANA: Lots of times people are high performers because they’re also dishonest people, which then can bite you in the end, so, you know, we before we’ve had salespeople who, who really sold a lot, but they did it by like, you know, kind of selling future product a little too much, right? Which then, kinda makes them harder for customer service people to support.
A Brief History of Omniture
00:56 JL: John, for people who are familiar with that, before we talk about ObservePoint, can you give people some of the metrics or why that was such a landmark deal?
JOHN PESTANA: Sure, you know, so my first software company was called Omniture and I co-founded that with a gentleman by the name of Josh James. And we started in 1996, ended up taking it public in 2006, and then sold it to Adobe in 2009. And at that time, we were the largest, I believe, software sale in the history of Utah, which we sold to them for $1.8 billion.
01:36 JL: Well, I mean, it’s been such a landmark deal that’s constantly referred to in this market years and years later. I mean, I just read a Forbes article week before last about some of the big companies in Utah today and they’re referencing, you know, back to the Omniture deal of really putting Utah on the market map
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah. That probably was that, that article with Josh’s company, I think was featured in that one that mentioned Domo, which is Josh, my old partner’s, new company called Domo.
02:03 JL: Yeah, I think it was Josh and Aaron Skonnard at Pluralsight, and I think Ryan Smith at Qualtrics.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah, Dave ______ I believe.
02:13 JL: Ok. Ok, I bet you’re right. So talk about what happened next? You, so, have this landmark exit and then you recognized that there were still some problems to be solved in the world.
How ObservePoint Came to Be
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah. Well, actually, I mean, immediately what happened next was that I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be, like, I think a lot of people go through when they have a major exit, and you know, I was honestly trying to just even diversify some money, things like that. Did some real estate. While I was doing that, I was also thinking about ok, what could I be doing next.
And that’s where another friend of mine who had an exit in a company name Rob Seolas, he was looking for his next gig and so we came up with the new idea of ObservePoint. And, what ObservePoint is is we’re a data governance platform that, that basically helps people make sure all the online marketing technologies on their website are actually functioning and collecting data properly.
And, and I realize, for a lot of listeners, that probably doesn’t mean much of anything. But, in my previous company, we were the largest web analytics tracking system online. We tracked trillions of pageviews. I mean, so much data; that’s mind-boggling. And there’s literally no person who’s ever been on the internet who has not interacted with my old technology that I implemented.
And then, obviously, with the team. And so. In, in that process of tracking, when you have a website that has millions of pages and you’re trying to put, what they’re called, little tags on these pages, it’s really hard to keep track of that, it’s being implemented across an entire website and so at ObservePoint, we’ve developed an automated system that validates that the tags are properly placed on the website, that they’re implemented and collecting data that people can trust, you know.
‘Cause if you’re an online marketer and you’re spending millions of dollars on keywords, you need to make sure that they’re collecting the information properly so that when you see, you know, one keyword’s performing better than another, you know that you can trust all that information you’re looking at. So that was kinda, we decided to get together and, and do it again, and, you know, not be, honestly, a little bored, is what I was becoming.
Why Trusting Data is So Important
04:33 JL: [laughs] and so, just for people to maybe, if they’re thinking, you know, why do I want to go to ObservePoint.com and look into this, help give the listeners just a little bit of context of, once you have that data and you can have trust in that kind of data, what’s an example of a decision you might make different as a leader of an organization or leading a marketing company or something like this?
JOHN PESTANA: Sure, well, in the online marketing world, it’s really notorious for people who present data in board meetings and places like that, and they’ll have little asterisks with excuses on why they aren’t completely confident in this data and normally those are implementation problems that, or like the code got completely taken off the website for a little while. I mean, it happens with all the biggest companies.
And so, what happens is, every time things like that start happening, you start degrading the trust in the data you’re presenting to where you get to a point where nobody in the organization trusts anything that anybody is looking at. But you want to be able to be responsive, right? You want to be able to, when you look at information and there’s good information there, you want to say, you know what, we can make quick decisions with this information because we trust it.
A good example of that would be, you know, if you did see that like a certain word was converting better than another keyword that you could say, “Oh, let’s buy more of that.” But right now, most people will see, like if a word is converting at two or three times better than other things, they’ll think, “Oh, I wonder what’s wrong there. We must have accidentally tagged that” or, you know, something’s going off. They will not trust that. They’ll instantly go into a “Let’s QA that and figure out what went wrong.”
06:08 JL: Interesting. Do you ever, I know you’re really into books. Did you ever read the classic the “Good to Great” Jim Collins book?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
06:18 JL: He just makes me think of that Churchill reference of the office of statistics, right?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
06:21 JL: Where he wanted the real numbers not—anyways.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah, I always, I always thought it was funny ’cause at Omniture, one of the big things that was different about us, like when we looked at website traffic, we were actually tracking every single page view that was happening on the website, and I, I would laugh every time when somebody would be like, “But, ComScore says this.” And I’m like, well yeah, that’s all sample data. We literally track every single person. This is not, this is not statistics, this is just data collection. [laughs]
Lessons Learned: From Omniture to ObservePoint
06:52 JL: Hm well, when you think about lessons that you learned from, from the roller coaster Omniture, how has that turned into, specifically as we’re talking about leadership and people, what are things that you’re able to do better at ObservePoint because of your Omniture experience?
JOHN PESTANA: You know, I was excited to start ObservePoint just from the basis of having learned a lot and hopefully not make so many mistakes, which is still depressing when I think about how many mistakes I make at ObservePoint. You’d think I’d learn by now. But, you know, I definitely have learned a lot on patience, which is a good thing. I was actually pretty bad at, at Omniture where, you know, we’d be working 24/7, and I used to always joke that the reason why we would beat our competitors is because they were sleeping.
Lesson 1: It’s Ok to Go at a Reasonable Pace
JOHN PESTANA: And I’ve learned a lot, especially with family and things like that, is like, you know sometimes, it’s ok to go at it at a reasonable pace, even though I could still like push people hard, but I think I’ve learned a little bit that, hey, it’s ok. We can sometimes wait till tomorrow and I don’t have to stay up till three o’clock in the morning to get this done, you know. And I think that comes with time and learning that sometimes, you know, it’s not as important as you think it is sometimes. And that definitely, I think, helps with relationships with family and kids and wife and all that.
8:31 JL: So, thinking about the wild ride of Omniture and now, hopefully, the wiser, more experienced version of you at the new company here, ObservePoint, what do you feel like is one of the best lessons you learned at Omniture that you’ve been able to implement now at ObservePoint?
Lesson 2: The Little Things
JOHN PESTANA: You know, it’s, it’s, I think it’s a hard question, actually. I think of lots of things, you know, that’s I’ve learned. I’ve changed a lot about myself, how I approach things. I’ve meant—definitely have a little more patience and how I look at things. I’ve definitely learned, you know, about how to listen to customers a lot better. How to, even simple things like how to price a product, you know. How do you determine if there’s a market for something? All those things are things that I had to learn the really hard way, before that, I understand a lot better now. The surprising thing is even with all of that information, it’s just still just as hard, right?
It’s amazing how hard it is to start a company, to get customers on-boarded, to deal with, you know, the interactions of customers, with employees, with just everybody involved and keeping everybody happy. I, I joke a lot that it’s like trying to keep a rock band together, you know? [laughs] Here, you’re just trying to keep everybody moving the ship forward, just keep the band together. And that’s one of the keys to success.
Lesson 3: Don’t Tolerate Jerks at Work
JOHN PESTANA: But, you know, I definitely like where we’re at. I like the people that I’m working with, and that’s, you know, the key, honestly, to any company. And, and one of the things that I did learn, you know, at Omniture was, to not tolerate jerks at companies.
10:20 JL: Hmm.
JOHN PESTANA: And, and no matter how much value they bring to the company, you know, maybe, let’s say, a sales guy or something like that. If somebody’s a jerk, they’re just poison to a company and just get rid of them. Because, it’s funny, it’s like a breath of fresh air when you get rid of people who are toxic. Everybody in the company will literally come up to you and say, “Thank you, oh my gosh. Everything feels so much better now that that negative, you know, the negative person is gone.”
10:49 JL: Yeah, it’s, you know. I want to talk about the sales book that you turned me onto here. But I’ve heard something about that, of like, toxic numbers, you know, where you’ve got this high performer so people don’t get rid of them, but they’re not taking into consideration how much everybody else’s numbers are going down because you got somebody like that contaminating things, huh?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s not worth it. And lots of times people are high performers because they’re also dishonest people, which then can, can bite you in the end, so, you know, we before we’ve had salespeople who, who really sold a lot, but they did it by like, you know, kind of selling future product a little too much, right? Which then, kinda makes it then harder for customer service people to support that sale, because, you know, they, they sold the version that’s three versions away, right? And then the software, we’re all just like, “look, sell what we have and you can tell them we have some stuff coming, but don’t, don’t sell them on things that we don’t completely have.”
I mean, I think it’s great to actually inform people of hey, here’s our roadmap and these are the things we’re coming out with, but be patient and come with us. But, sometimes, I think, sales guys get a little zealous and they’ll, they’ll sell a little too much vaporware sometimes, which then gets the whole company in trouble, right? And everybody wants to make those people happy, so we work our best to make sure that, you know, that it does become reality, but it can cause a lot of stress in the company.
12:21 JL: Yeah. So, let’s, let’s talk about this for one second. You know, sales is exceedingly people-centric. This book, “How to Become a Rainmaker” by Jeffrey Fox, that you guys made mandatory reading [laughs] to sell at Omniture. What is about that book?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah, you know, that was definitely a great book and we, you know, we recommend that to our sales guys at Omniture. I, I’ve loved the book because it’s so simple and I’m a simple person and so I’ve, you know, one of the things I really like in the book, it talks about everybody’s somebody’s somebody. And I’ve always been a, even though I’m more of a product person, I’ve, I’ve also always been a salesperson too. And, I like to treat everybody like they’re my friend and family. And when you treat everybody like they’re somebody’s somebody, you’re treating them like they’re important, whether they’re the waiter at your table or whether the CEO of Apple, you know.
I, I honestly wouldn’t treat my waiter any differently than I would the CEO of Apple. And, and I think that, you know, it brings a positive energy to the company, you know, everybody knows that they’re important, everybody knows that you care about them. And it makes it so that, just the, I think overall people are just very positive in the business and it makes you want to work hard for you. And then obviously your customers know that you actually care about them too and that, you know, you’re doing things for the right reasons.
I, it’s funny, I, even though I charge a lot of money for a lot of my products, I, I never put that first. I, I just know that if I can make a customer happy and bring them tremendous value, they, they will want to pay me a lot of money for what I’m doing. And the same, you know, and I think that same principle in that book applies too, that you know, when you’re treating them well, treating them like they’re family and you’re just over delivering for them, that ends up with great results.
Building Professional Relationships
14:27 JL: Yeah, well, and it seems like it would apply anywhere in your life. I mean, you and I are both members of the Corporate Alliance group, the C4 group. Have you seen anybody there that you feel like, by being that way, it was able to build a friendship that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah, I met a lot of great people through the C4 group. And some super, some now my super close friends. You know I’ve always been impressed with almost everybody there on how they always so friendly and treat people. I think sometimes that’s probably, I don’t know if they’re like that to everybody, you know, ’cause lots of times I do realize that because of who I am in the community, lots of times people are just nice to me no matter what. But, but I, I definitely, I think most of them are actually pretty decent people.
One of my really good friends that I’ve made out of it is James Bollington. And you know, just such a genuine person and, and I’ve enjoyed, even though, getting to know him, even though he’s actually in real estate, right, and where I’m in software, there’s still been a lot of things that I have learned from him because as I see how he, he has a great networker and he cares and gets to know people, right? And have watched, he holds a golf tournament for a lot of his friends each year and, and, and so I’ve been inspired by watching people like that.
16:01 JL: When you think about his approach, I mean, it seems like almost anybody in real estate would claim to be a people person.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
16:11 JL: And would claim that I wouldn’t treat the CEO of Apple different, right?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
16:14 JL: What do you think it is, in his case, that he’s able to deliver on that ideal?
JOHN PESTANA: Well, I do think that it comes very naturally for him. And that is, I think an important thing in life to understand your personality trait and what comes naturally to you. I, I don’t know you if you’ve ever read the book “Strengths Finder”?
16:29 JL: Love it.
Don’t Worry About Your Weaknesses; Understand Your Strengths
JOHN PESTANA: I, I’m a huge believer in that, that, don’t worry about your weaknesses. Understand your strengths and how you can contribute. So, I do own quite a bit of real estate and some apartment complexes and we actually use StrengthsFinder tests to, when we hire our managers, because we determined what skill sets a successful manager have and we make sure that any of our managers that we’re hiring have the necessary people skills to be in an apartment complex manager ’cause you can imagine that can be a hard task, right? ‘Cause you’re dealing with a lot of emotional people when it’s their living situation, right?
And, and so I do think, you know, someone like a James Bollington who does great at real estate, a lot of those characteristics of being a networker for him come very naturally.
17:31 JL: You know, I when I’m pitching that book to people or clients that I”m trying to get to read it, right? I talk about Michael Jordan didn’t make much money playing baseball.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
17:41 JL: Why don’t we help you find out where your basketball is so we can you have you spend a lot of time doubling down on your basketball. Right?
JOHN PESTANA: No and it’s, it’s so true and so many people, it’s like our society doesn’t do that for some reason. Society is all about, understand your weaknesses and work on them. It’s like so crazy and backward. If everybody just really focused on what they’re great at, somebody else will fill in your weaknesses. It’s actually how I hired my entire company.
Find Your Complementary Personalities
JOHN PESTANA: So my business partner Rob Seolas, is a wonderful individual and he is a great organizer in keeping, and, you know, he’s kind of the captain of the ship, right? And, I’m totally ADD. I’m like all over the place but I come up with ideas faster than most people and I have tons of empathy and that helps me see situations that people, other people can’t see. But there’s been many times in my career where I’ve come into a meeting and people have been discussing things for thirty minutes and can’t find an answer, and I walk in and I give them an answer, in like, two seconds. Then, and they’re like, wow, how did we not see that? You know?
And so I have my strengths, but the same time, then you ask me the really, execute that, for like, a week, and I’m going to struggle because that’s just not my forte, but that’s where I, I learned to have people that complement my skills so that I can turn it over to Rob and he can just keep the ship moving in the direction it needs to go. But if you ask Rob to come up with crazy ideas as fast as I do, it would take him 10 times as long, right? And so just so like understanding those strengths.
And, you know, actually, an interesting side note. Another great book, [laughs] if you want to listen to another good book, because, there’s a, for a lot of us, like, entrepreneurial types, you know, a lot of us are ADD. And there’s a great book by Mark Patey, called “Addicts are Millionaires” and it just talks about people who are ADD and how they either basically become an addict, or they become a millionaire because of the way that we get so intense into things, but, it was a great book that helped my wife understand me.
19:56 JL: K, I’m literally searching it on Audible.com right now, ’cause hopefully I don’t have to read it and I can just listen to it, but that book sounds awesome [JP laughs].
JOHN PESTANA: What’s funny is Mark Patey, I, I know him personally and he always jokes that there’s no ADD person who’s ever read his book. [laughs]
20:15 JL: [laughs] Ok, so I didn’t know this was where you were going to go with this, I, you know, I’m on, I don’t know, business number fourteen, and right, ’cause I got four going right now, and…
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
20:28 JL: You know, the previous ten, I’m kinda two for ten, right? And so.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
20:34 JL: And the two, you know, more than made up for the other ten, blah blah blah, but I still am not super stoked about that ratio, k?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
20:43 JL: I am, I am really interested in, ’cause I made a lot of mistakes in, whether it’s co-founders or just support staff or different people. I’m interested in how, you know, that self-awareness for yourself, what you have done, like, what, what is that process look like for you, or what advice would you have for someone like me who wants to find that complementary personality type there?
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah, I mean, you need, I mean, you just need, the more you understand yourself, the easier it is to look and find your, your equal opposite, right?
21:11 JL: Mhmm.
JOHN PESTANA: The person who’s going to offset you. And, so that will be different for everybody, you know. I, I am, I love researching stuff, so like, you know, whether it’s Myer-Briggs or the StrengthsFinders or any of these things, I like understanding personalities and finding a complementary personality. But, you know, like, Rob, my current partner, I’ve known him for, geez, 18 years. And so I, I had a lot of experience in watching him do his business over a long period of time and I thought to myself, you know, this would make a good partner for me.
Same thing, on that note, if you’re hiring a technologist, right? I mean, I say that’s probably one of the hardest things for a company is to hire the technologist because, like, when I think about most CEOs, they can do pretty much everything else in the company, you know, if they needed to step in and do the accounting, they might not do it perfectly, but they could do it. They could step in and do the sales, they can step in and do the marketing. But they can’t step in and code the product, if they’re a software company, and that’s, that’s definitely probably one of the hardest things to fill in a company.
Luckily, because of, you know, my previous life, I had a friend who had worked with me at Omniture and he had actually moved on and became the CIO of Larry H. Miller Group and then the head of software engineering for Vivint. And then I was finally able to convince him to come onboard, actually, with us, just, only last year.
But, you know, even, even that situation he has a counterpart in our organization because he is very introverted and he is an incredible software architect. Well, we have another gentleman who works side-by-side with him who is more of the extrovert, loves talking about the product and he had software engineering.
And, you know, just finding those complementary people for each other, so that, ’cause we couldn’t expect Dave, who’s our CTO, to, to do all those same things ’cause it’s just not in his, in his, wheel—well, he probably could even do it fairly successfully, but he prefers not to, right? And just like, I’m good at a lot of things, but I just don’t really want to do ’em.
23:35 JL: Yeah, you know it’s interesting to think about, like, you look at what you’re doing now with ObservePoint, right? And these online marketing folks who need to have better data to base decisions on, or when they go to a board meeting at their big giant company, corporate America, they want to take them serious because, you know, it’s data that people can actually have trust in.
As you think about that relationship, there of, who’s doing the presenting and who’s doing the gathering and who’s doing these things, it, it really feels like the principle that applies kinda no matter the project, you know, getting the data together for the board meeting, or like you said, starting an entire company.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah. Yeah. It’s totally true.
Lessons Learned: The People Around Me
24:22 JL: Well, listen, I know, one of the other people that we were talking about before the show has had a big impact on you and the way you think about others is your own parents, can you, do you have any examples of stories of them setting the example for you?
JOHN PESTANA: Sure, you know, I, I have grown up with very fortunately, I have wonderful parents, and I know a lot of people love their parents, but like, for example, I, I think back on my life. I’m a pretty mellow person, and not that I don’t have a lot of energy and I get excited about things, but it’s very rare that I would ever raise my voice or do things like that and a lot of that I learned from my parents. I mean, in my whole life growing up, I think I can only even remember my parents raising their voice once or twice at me. And, and I think that’s helped me, you know, learn a lot of patience and empathy for people.
Lesson 1: Patience with and Empathy for People
JOHN PESTANA: You know, I’ve had, I’ve had people crash high-end sports cars that I’ve loaned them [laughs] and I’m just like, oh well, I know you didn’t mean to do it, you know? It’s just, life’s short to ever lose your temper or I just know people never do things really on purpose. Now, they might be an idiot and they just, they should’ve known better ’cause they were doing something stupid, but as I, I always use the analogy saying like nobody ever tries to get in an accident, right? And, I really definitely learned that a lot from my parents. I, I actually learned quite a bit of that even from, I, I had served a mission from my church and my mission president had taught me a lot of, of that too, of patience.
Lesson 2: Play Your Role
JOHN PESTANA: You know, enough, and of ‘course I’ve had tons of mentors in my life from, you know whether it was some of the teachers we had at BYU to one of our other great mentors that we had actually, it was Fraiser Bullock—I don’t know if you know Fraiser—and he helped us a ton at Omniture. A lot of our even board member, you know, were great mentors for us. Every, everybody played their role, you know, from like my parents kinda helping shape me.
Lesson 3: Explore Ways to Solve Problems
JOHN PESTANA: My dad even teaching me how to sell, my dad was a salesman for a mortgage company, so, you know, I spent summers out with him, helping him sell. And actually one of the very first things that where I learned how to program, my dad had a financial HP calculator— this was back in the ’90s, early ’90s—and, I guess, it was like 1990, and I, I would program his calculator for him so that he could just put in like their ratios and stuff to find out how much money somebody could afford to spend on a home. And it’s funny, it was like a big hit in his office. And he, everybody else in the office ended up having me program their HP calculators to do it. [laughs].
27:13 JL: That’s hilarious.
JOHN PESTANA: But, yeah. So, it started, I guess, young, doing some basic programming stuff. Although I do do it very long, you know, where at Omniture we hired a, a great gentleman by the name of Brett Error who was our CTO at Omniture. And, it’s just, Brett’s just a genius and he, you know, led us to all of our technology life cycle there, with an incredible team under him too. I mean, I don’t mean to be, mean that not everybody else was contributing, we just had an awesome, awesome team. So.
People Aren’t Trying to Piss You Off
27:50 JL: You know I feel like there’s like a number of directions I want to talk about that, but the first one is, for somebody who has a desire to become more patient, do you have any exercises that you think we could try, or are there any things that you tell yourself to, to help, you know, conquer yourself and, and maybe temptations to not be patient?
JOHN PESTANA: To be patient?
28:14 JL: I’m saying, if, if someone wants to become a more patient person.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
28:20 JL: Do you have any ideas on things they can tell themselves or little things they can do to help, you know, conquer the temptations to be impatient?
JOHN PESTANA: That, that’s a hard thing for me because it really does come so naturally for me.
28:25 JL: Yeah
JOHN PESTANA: But I would think just, you know, again, realizing that people aren’t trying to piss you off [laughs] you know? That they’re, they’re working, that they’re try, they’re trying to help you, which I, I realize sometimes doesn’t feel like.
Probably the place I get the least patient is probably at the airport [laughs]. I just cannot stand TSA and waiting and I’m just like, oh my gosh, we do not deserve to be treated like cattle, you know?
29:02 JL: [laughs]
JOHN PESTANA: That’s the, that’s the one place, that like, pushes my patience to the limit.
29:11 JL: Yeah. You know. I actually feel like, I know you feel like you didn’t really answer the question, but I think you did. I think that you think about that viewpoint of assuming malicious intent.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
29:20 JL: As such a trigger of anger. You know, my hero in life is a guy, I, I, actually quit being an entrepreneur just to go apprentice under his company in the consulting world teams, Terry Warner wrote this incredible book called “Bonds That Make Us Free” and, and started a company called The Arbinger Institute. He wrote this book called “The Oxford (papers)”—it’s a collection of his papers when he was at Oxford and his paper’s called “The Delusions of Anger”, something, “Anger and Similar Delusions,” I think it’s called. And he talks about…
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
29:50 JL: Why is it when somebody smashes into us, you know, in a, in a lineup or something, they bump, they bump into us too hard and we look at them just glaring, we’re just ticked, right? And we assume that they made us angry. And then soon as we find out that they were pushed into us, all of sudden, our anger towards them evaporates and the guy who did the pushing is now the one who’s the focus of all our anger.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
30:15 JL: And it’s like, it’s like, it’s not the act itself, it’s our decision that we have decided they harmed us when they could’ve chosen not to out of like, malice or contempt or something. And, having that viewpoint, like you said, like, nobody’s trying to get in an accident.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
30:31 JL: All of sudden, like, our, our blaming of them as the fuel for our anger and impatience is all seems [JP interrupts] like it would go down.
The Problem with Airports
JOHN PESTANA: I think a lot of it stems from, we all have that friend who drives like an idiot all the time, right?
30:47 JL: Mhmm.
JOHN PESTANA: And we’ve told him a million times to like, hey, you should probably drive a little less recklessly. It, sometimes, those are the people who get into accidents and we think, oh my gosh, I’ve told you a million times to like, not be such an idiot, you know? And I think that makes it difficult for some people.
31:01 JL: Mhmm!
JOHN PESTANA: But actually, this, this reminds me of something like, when I think about what I hate about, like, an airport and how they treat you there, it all stems from fear. It stems from those employees at that airport have fear that if they don’t do the things the specific way that some rulebook mandated, they’re going to lose their jobs. And when I…
31:25 JL: Mhmm.
JOHN PESTANA: When I try and run my companies, I try and make sure my employees know that they are completely empowered to make decisions to make things right. So, if, remember, we, we all heard about the story about the, the Delta, er, the United passenger, right? Who…
31:42 JL: Mhmm.
JOHN PESTANA: Who got kicked off the plane, drug off the plane, and of course, we all think that was horrible. And, again, the reason why a lot of that was horrible was because they weren’t empowered to just, you know, keep offering somebody an amount of money to get off the plane, right? We all know that, if they even probably doubled it, they would’ve had six more people volunteer to get off the plane, right?
32:07 JL: And it’s, and instead, their market cap lost a billion dollars.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah…but then I think it regained it all back anyway, it doesn’t…
32:12 JL: Right, right, right.
JOHN PESTANA: But, but that being said, it still wasn’t the right…
32:18 JL: Well, it’s still, it’s still a fi—I mean, for me, leave emotional and moral part out of it, it’s a five mill—or si, five or six million dollar settlement, right there…
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
32:27 JL: For, you know, saving a thousand bucks on a ticket.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah.
32:32 JL: And then the human aspect, what’s the human cost of what it feels like to tell all your family you work at United? And, in a…
JOHN PESTANA: Well, so I actually, I had a, a situation where I was running to get a flight, a Delta flight, and I could see the gate and the gate agent looked at me and it was me and three of my friends. We were—this is back in the Omniture day—we were running as fast as we could to the gate, she looked at us, wagged her finger, saying “no,” and closed the door to the plane. [pause] Like, who does that? Right?
Now, it’s because she’s been told we have to have on-time departures, we have to, it’s like, seriously, we’re talking about waiting thirty seconds for us to, like, oh, and then, maybe she had to re-fill out one little piece of paper, you know, and kind of a thing. It’s…
33:18 JL: But, eh, she probably had this initial desire to do you guys a solid, and…
JOHN PESTANA: I don’t know…
33:29 JL: Out of fear for…
JOHN PESTANA: The wagging the finger was what was so weird.
33:27 JL: Yeah, out of, like, fear for her job, like you’re talking about, and the rules, then she needs to double down on why she’s like ignoring you as a human and…
JOHN PESTANA: Well, I actually think…
33:43 JL: Going for the rules, and wagging, and wags her finger to let you know that you’re the one who messed up. It’s not her shutting the door.
JOHN PESTANA: Yeah. While I do think that they think that, I think what goes through her head is like “oh, these are, these people who can just show up so late,” you know, which little does she know I’m actually normally that guy who shows up two hours early ’cause it just gives me anxiety to not be there on time, you know?
33:58 JL: [laughs]
JOHN PESTANA: So anyway, I literally could go on for this entire podcast
34:01 JL: [laughs] Flights.
JOHN PESTANA: Airports.
34:05 JL: [laughs] Ok, so, as a recap here ’cause I think this is a great place to end, episode one and we’ll, we’ll break, have everybody invite back here everybody for, for part two, the episode. If you were gonna sum up the, all this stuff we’ve been talking about for twenty minutes about, kind of the, if people only remember one thing from this episode about how they’re going to be with their staff and their coworkers and clients, whatever, what, what is that piece of advice? How, how is that, how would you wrap it up succinctly?
JOHN PESTANA: Well, I think I’d wrap it up and say, remember it’s not just business, it’s all personal.
34:36 JL: Love it. Ok, please, everyone, tune into, part two of the episode, with John that, that, will be coming up next, and, John, thanks for making time.
JOHN PESTANA: No problem.