Here is part two of the interview with Nate Baldasaro
What does being in your element mean to you? Elaborate on you personally
Nate: I think being in your element is doing stuff that you are truly a passionate about. It’s not necessarily easy. An example might be rock climbing. It doesn’t mean that its not nerve wracking or anxiety ridden, but it’s what they love to do. For some it’s being on the beach reading, we all have our moments being in our element. We have our personal, our exercise, our fun. Then there is our work element, so there isn’t just one.
For me personally, to obviously have this company, but my role is to go out and tell stories. To find opportunities and share ideas, and hopefully to get people excited about what could be. That’s where I feel most comfortable and can do that. So the idea and hope is that everyone that works here is doing something that they feel comfortable and in their element doing. There may be always pieces that take you out of your comfort zone, but you can still be in your element.
How do you apply that to your work?
Nate: Well, I’m in my element presenting, its motivating and gives me the opportunity to express any creative ideas. Now I don’t have the skills to produce them all, but I think my skill set is definitely brainstorming and collaborating. At the end of the day, it’s how can we wow people. We want people to recognize that while we are a fun loving group, we also mean business and do great work.
What was/is your motivation for creating and continuing TEG?
Nate: I think the initial motivation was thinking that we could do it better. There are other good companies out there that do their thing, but we wanted to do things the way we wanted to do them and felt that there would be plenty of customers that would like the way we do it. There are thousands upon thousands of banks and credit unions, but it only takes a few for us to be a successful company. The motivation going forward, is the affirmation from the customer that we are doing it right. The wow factor that keep the current people, but also bring in new customers and show them something that is beyond their wildest imagination. We always say that we aren’t inventing anything, rather we are re-inventing things that haven’t been done in financial services before.
Give me three words that best capture of the spirit of what you are trying to accomplish here at Element? Three adjectives, besides the tagline, but words that describe the people, the atmosphere, the work ethic?
Nate: Creative, Fun, and Inspiring/Inspirational. If we can inspire people to do things that they haven’t thought of before and have fun doing it, and execute it in creative ways. I would put Trustworthy in there as well as that is equally important. Those are a few good ones. If we can do those, we are in good shape.
Why does every bit truly matter?
Nate: I think there is a lot of averageness out there. There are so many good companies, people and the list goes on. However, if you want to be great at something, and really want to stand out, its all those little things. I used to go back to the idea of Michael Phelps winning all his gold medals. He’s won races by 1/100th of a second. A fingernail of a lead. When you are getting in with the big companies, it is the little pieces, not the big that truly matter. Hence the word bit came out of that. It’s the little bits, that if done well and consistently, people in the financial industry really pick up on. It also pushes us to do more next year and the year after. All the little things build up to big things and it’s what separates organizations.
It reminds me of a quote from Gandalf. To paraphrase, he says that it’s the small acts that keep the darkness at bay.
Nate: Absolutely, and everyone can do a little bit to help out. Just donating a dollar can make a difference. Most of us aren’t millionaires, but adding up all those dollars can really make a difference far greater than anything out there.
What are your hopes for the future?
Nate: We don’t talk about how big we want to go grow. The goal is to continue to do great work so people want to work with us. Again we don’t have to have tons of clients. Certainly we want to be profitable, we want our employees to enjoy where they work and make great livings for themselves. We want to make sure that we grow at a pace we can scale accordingly. Not that this has happened, but we don’t want to grow so fast that we end up hiring people that aren’t right for their jobs. So continuing to build relationships and do great work. Inevitably we make mistakes, and when that happens, it is important to be able to work with the customer to make it right by the end of the day. So that’s the goal.
So I’m sensing the theme of Quality over Quantity?
Well, thank you for taking the time to participate in this informative and interesting interview!
Interview conducted and written by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group