Ben Wright is CEO of Velocity Global, the leading provider of global employment solutions. The company is the first in the industry to provide end-to-end services that help companies expand globally using just one partner. Today, Velocity Global has more than 100 employees in 10 international offices and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. In 2018, Wright was named Entrepreneur of the Year for the Mountain Desert Region by EY and his company ranked number 4 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I was working at a company that primarily did global entity setup and compliance for U.S.-based companies. Our clients continued to say, “I don’t want to set up a company; I just need to employ this person. Can’t you just employ this person for me?” Long story short, my employer wasn’t interested in pursuing this business line, so I resigned and launched Velocity Global after my non-compete expired.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start off with either a run or a bike ride at 4:30 a.m. to get my brain and muscles firing. These days, I’m really focused on clearing my plate of unnecessary meetings and calls in order to focus more on strategy and growth opportunities for the business. This also allows time to connect with various co-workers on the front lines and not just my executive team. My day typically entails a couple of interviews and/or thought leadership pieces as well. Then it’s home by 6:00 p.m. for dinner with the family (purposefully off phone and email), and I wrap up the day’s to-dos from 9:00-10:30 p.m.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Clearing my days from back-to-back meetings has been the most important change to bring ideas to life. Having to shift gears every hour of the day with no time in between doesn’t allow you to fully think through the big picture opportunities. I also find that travel helps this process tremendously. As a company with capabilities in over 185 countries, the travel demands are frequent, though I try to keep it to a reasonable cadence. Getting out of the office for extended periods and spending meaningful time with our colleagues across the world always results in major breakthroughs. This is a result of not only the brilliant ideas my colleagues bring to life, but also the abundance of unstructured time on flights and evenings on the road.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am fascinated with the transformative possibilities of blockchain technology. So much so that I am currently enrolled in an MIT course on blockchain applications for businesses.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Fitness. I’m simply a better person to be around when I can incorporate some level of exercise into my day. About 6 months into Velocity Global, I was working around the clock and there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to get a workout in. As a result, I was mentally and emotionally “off the beam.” So, I committed to biking to and from the office every day—even if I pedaled slowly—at least I was getting some exercise. Sure enough that one small thing gave me more energy throughout the day, cleared my head for the office, and put a smile on my face every time I took to the road.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There are two things you can control: how hard you work and whether you will be mindfully present when opportunities present themselves. Everything else is up to the universe.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Notre Dame football will win a National Championship again some day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Know why you do what you do, and take the time every day to ensure alignment. Each morning, I review my top three goals in life and ask myself whether the day’s activities are in line with those goals.Then, every evening I reflect on whether my actions and thoughts followed.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Only hiring 10s and then getting out of their way once you’ve taught them the basics. We don’t hire just to fill a position purely based on relevant experience. We’ll hold out on a hire until we find that perfect 10, and if they happen to have domain expertise then we’ll take that, too! The thing about 10s is that they are motivated to succeed and grow. So, if you micro-manage them or pigeon-hole them into certain positions, then you are not going to experience the miracle that they can bring to the table. There is no way we could have grown at the speed we have without empowering our team of 10s to break through barriers every step along the way.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I don’t know whether it’s a failure or a shortcoming, but as a first-time entrepreneur, and the son of a nuclear physicist and health educator, I was relatively clueless on how to start and run a company. To overcome this serious deficiency, I created an Advisory Board in the very early days of the company and stacked the board with incredibly successful business leaders who had areas of expertise that complimented my shortcomings.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The world needs a high touch, client-first global recruiting firm. We offer recruiting as a service,we are really good at it, and it complements our core offerings perfectly. But it’s not our primary focus, and that space is dying for someone to come in and own it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought several tickets to a fundraiser for The Cristina M. Weir Foundation. Cristina was a colleague of ours who suddenly passed away a couple of years ago. This foundation was established to support individuals who are faced with circumstances that are out of their control, which make it difficult to thrive in school. It gives me great pleasure to give back to the organizations that I believe in and I still think about Cristina every day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Slack really helps keep us up-to-date internally. We try to keep internal communications off email so that our inboxes are reserved for all client and external communication.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. You should read it because you’ll realize you’ve been doing the dishes all wrong.
What is your favorite quote?
“Remember that there is only one important time and that is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future? The most important pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
● Take time for mindfulness, fitness, and leaving your calendar less structured actually produces better results.
● Hire 10s and empower them to shine.
● Whether you are an entrepreneur, a professional fresh out of school, or a stay-at-home parent, create an Advisory Board for yourself to help you mind your blind spots.
● Find creative ways to build fitness into your life such as biking or running to work.
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