April 7, 2023

Episode 230: Jeff Fernandez, CEO & Co-founder Dandi

Jeff Fernandez is dedicated to building businesses that help people.

He is the CEO and co-founder of Dandi, the analytics platform for advancing DEI. Launched in stealth mode in 2018, Dandi’s customers today include Oscar Health, Braze, Care/Of, Teachable, Rhino, and Blue Shield of California.

As an advisor, Jeff works with socially-conscious companies including Sealed. He is a seed investor in Hone and a limited partner at Combine, a design-led venture capital firm.

Prior to Dandi, Jeff led Grovo, the enterprise learning company that he co-founded in 2010. Built with a mission to remake employee training, Grovo was used in 190 countries around the world and named by Fortune the second-best workplace in the US. Grovo was acquired in 2018 by Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD).

Originally from Dumont, NJ, Jeff graduated with the highest honors from Harvard, where he wrote his thesis on maximizing human performance. Jeff has spoken at events including TEDx, SXSW, Internet Week, and ASU+GSV, and has contributed to Inc., Fast Company, Forbes, and more.

Jeff lives in New Jersey with his wife Cori and their two kids Remi and Rafael.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thankyou so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have JeffFernandez, CEO and co-founder of Dandi. Dandi is the analytics platform foradvancing DEI. Jeff, I'm so excited to chat with you. Not only you know, tochat about your background and your experience, but also where kind of theindustry going in terms of DEI.

I think not only. Well, first of all,tech companies, I think popularize the whole focus and focal point arounddiversity and, and inclusion. But it's expanded and I think a lot of companiesare seeing the benefits. So obviously we'll dive into what those benefits areand, and how, we can kind of better as companies understand our own di and, andalso lead programs and lead movements within our organizations to improve thosemetrics as well.

But before we get into all that, whatwere you doing before you started the company?

Jeff: Yeah. So first andforemost, Julian, thanks so much for having me on. Excited to be here. Thanksso much. What was I doing before Dandi? So before Dandi, I had started acompany back in 2010 called Grovo, where we were pioneers in online microlearning, where we created short videos covering, providing training andlearning.

For digital software and skills, wecreated thousands of them and housed them in a software. And so we sold thatsoftware and content to large, larger organizations, mid-market andenterprises. And so we ran that for about seven or eight years and grew to acouple hundred employees, and eventually it was acquired by Cornerstone onDemand, which was then a publicly traded learning company.

So the inspiration for. Actuallyhappened back in 20 14, 20 15. Yeah. When we would export the data from our HRsystems and then up, put it into a spreadsheet and we'd pivot table it, andwe'd eyeball for parity. And we'd look at things like promotion rates andattrition rates and comp gaps. And we'd take a look at, the employee base andsee if folks were potentially being treated unfairly or differently.

And so when we saw that, we'd step inand we'd fix it. But there wasn't, it was hard. It was. It was manual. Yeah. Itwas really time consuming. So a handful of us got together and said, let's gocreate an API first software, right? Built in the cloud that does this forfolks off the shelf. And that was how Dandi born.

Julian: It's so fascinating.Did, was that kind of a function of the business at the time, or did you kindof think about, oh, all this data we're collecting, there might be somethinginterested in it and then just kind of keyed in on, on being able to try to seetrends. What was, was it part of the business model at the time or, or was itkind of an auxiliary thing that you were collecting and, and trying tounderstand a little bit more?

Jeff: I mean, we werealways, we were always using a lot of the best in class tools for h r s. At thetime we used Bamboo for applicant tracking system. We used Greenhouse, whichagain, we were a couple hundred employees. But we wanted to build a great placeto work. And part of how we wanted to do so was to be quantitative about it.

So that was really the inspiration. Andthis was before DEI think, had become popularized, which sadly came after themurders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020. But this was well beforethat. It was just, Hey, let's take a quantitative look at the folks that weemploy and the folks that we might employ, and how could we potentially do abetter job to create a better workplace.

Julian: Yeah. And, and whatwas the, I don't wanna say inspiration, but why, why was it such a focal pointto you as, as, as an individual? I, I think like you said, there was a fewdifferent catalysts for creating a company and for it to be a little bit morefocused on internally, broadly. But for you in particular as an individual, wasthere an experience or was there anything in particular that you were like, Ithink things need to be a better working environment and we need to have a lotmore diverse individuals on our team.

Jeff: Yeah, well, for me, so,so first and foremost, I have to recognize my privilege. Privilege, right? Iget to walk around effective as a white. Right ci white man in the world. So myexperience of this is certainly different than other folks, right? But I, Ijust walked around the world in my own observations, right?

I'd walk into having meetings and andsystem would come out looking for Jeff Fernandez and, oftentimes expectedsomeone to look differently than I do. And so that's a really small,inconsequential example of what folks right along the lines of what folksexperience every day. So, we wanted to try to recognize what.

Looked like and, and the manifestationof that potentially in the workplace, and knowing full well that we probablycould do a much better job than we were doing. Yeah. And, and I think we, wediscovered that and we just continued to try to do better and better on, on itevery day. Yeah. So really it was just, it felt like, not only the right thingto do, but also, a, a good business choice.

Folks really wanted to join and be apart of the company because of it. Even though we had our problems that we wereworking out every day as well but we made it relatively central to how we triedto operate.  

Julian: Yeah. And, and what,when you were going through this discovery process, what were some interestingfindings or even alarming findings that you were seeing, whether it was at yourcompany or the, or the clients that you were servicing that, that showed thedisparity between either, whether it's cultural background, gender, experie.

What were you seeing? What outcomes wereyou like? Things need to change, things need to shift. Companies need to startfocusing on the impact of this in particular. Anything come to mind?  

Jeff: Yeah, I, so, so it's Ilike to think about this as parts of the employee lifecycle because all partsof the employee lifecycle interact, and as we think about it at Dandi, we thinkabout diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Right. And diversity's up at the top ofthe funnel. So this is really your recruiting and your hiring mm-hmm. And yourworkforce, represe. All right, so you think about the disparities that happenedthere, and we just rolled out a new recruit part of our software for recruitingthat does this really well.

It shows the, the likelihood of aparticular group of people from being passed from, let's say, from the phonescreen stage of recruiting to an in-person interview. So you could see, let'ssay how black women compared to white men, as an example, are experiencingdifferent pass through. Okay. Yeah. And so, you oftentimes see disparitiesthere.

Same thing with hiring. Same thing,right? Then with your workforce representation more broadly. Next is equity,and equity is how you treat people. Okay? So sure. This is, you think aboutmore traditional compensation bias, right? And it's not just base salaries,it's also equity and commissions and bonuses in total.

Then promotion rates as well. Yeah. Andyou have to think about metrics. How do you define this stuff? How do youdefine a promotion? Which we do for, for, for customers in the platform andthen also career mobility. Yeah. So this is really how you treat people. And soa lot of stories, my, my experience of working with organizations, when you docompensation and promotion rate analysis, what you're gonna see is that therecan be a pretty stark set of differences, and there's no other.

Sometimes to, to identify the root causeand folks will say, what about performance? And that's the last part of equity.So when you look at performance scores, this is where you'll oftentimes seerelatively large disparities as well, where, underrepresented groups are infact receiving lower performance scores.

And yeah, I mean, I'm sure there's somecases where that's merited, but blanket across the board, it certainly isn't.And so, we're able to take a look at that first before taking a look at therest of compensation and promotions, because that gives you a lot more nuanceand sophistication to understand what's happening at the organization.

And the final piece is inclusion. Andinclusion is how people feel and when they vote with their feet, in otherwords, it's sentiment. All the surveys that folks collect, how do you feelabout the organization? Do you think you'll be here in two years? Do you likeyour manager? Things of that variety or sentiment?

Yeah. Next is attrition and retention,right? What is the likelihood that you are gonna be at the organization? Haveyou left the company, et cetera? Ultimately that is the final test. And so allparts of this work together in one big system, right? Because yeah, if youdon't do performance scores, Then ultimately there's bias there that impactsyour promotion rates, that impacts your, your compensation gaps.

That then impacts attrition. Mm-hmm. Andattrition then comes back and makes it hard to recruit folks and keep folks atthe organization. So it's all one big system.

Julian: Yeah. And how do youkind of balance the, the, the line between, when you're thinking about 1, 1, 1piece that was interesting is like performance scores, right?

And a lot of that is, can be subjectiveand objective, depending on how you collect data, depending on how youinterpret it. How do you balance between the. Kind of going all in on data andjust kind of measuring outcomes and measuring employees between those versushaving more subjective kind of measures how this employee interacts with theirteam, how this employee makes other employees feel.

How do you kind of balance those tworeally kind of get a holistic view? And is there anything broken in that systemto, to then kind of be alarmed by, by this, this signal of a disparity betweenthese two groups of people being, underrepresented and  

Jeff: Yeah, so you make agreat point and one that we are, we encourage our customers always to, topursue a dual pronged approach, one of which is very much focused on jobperformance, right?

Yeah. Are you achieving the statedoutcomes right. At the same time, the other half of that, to your point, ismore. And how are you interacting with your team, et cetera. And in oftentimesyou will judge these in the same ways and ideally use the same the same measuringstick. So let's say a one to five measuring score, right?

Mm-hmm. Having both of these together.Enlightens what's happening for different employees in a really meaningful way.Because what you're able to do then is take a look at, in, at distributiongraphs and see what the distribution looks like across the underrepresentedgroups, but then also mm-hmm.

Run regression analysis to see if, ifthe difference is in the performance scores, either by job performance Yeah. Orby cultural performance or interac. Are different and should they be different.And oftentimes what you see in those cases is that's just not the case. Andit's, and sometimes it's widespread.

Other times it's really localized indifferent parts of the organization. And we take a very, like a, a very a trainfirst sort of mentality. Right. Assume that folks don't mean to do thisintentionally if they are sure. Right. Provide the training and the coaching tomake sure that they, that they know to do it differently.

Right. Yeah. So that's how we approachit. Both are really important.  

Julian: Yeah, and thinkingabout that, that piece, which is, rather than thinking about, what, what's,what's wrong or what's broken to the system, or, or who are the bad actors? I,I think, I think the assumption that people are mean, well, it, it gives you alittle bit more freedom to find solutions.

And I'm curious, when you kind of gothrough this, What are the high performers doing that you know are, are maybedisjointed or disconnected from the lower performers regardless of theirbackground? And how can we get everyone to a certain level? Is it bettermeasurable? Is it better management kind of structure?

What can we, what can we do as companiesto be able to train up our employees to, that's right. That's right. Wean outAny kind of thought of bad actors or anything like that?  

Jeff: Yeah, that's right.It's, it's meant to be a it, it's meant to shine a light on what's going on inthe organization in a really positive way because it benefits all people whendone properly.

And so that's the approach that we take.And, I, I think our, our customers certainly appreciate that as well.  

Julian: Yeah. And I heard oneone, one of a few actually. The guests that've been on the show, they havereally high success rates in terms of the, the adversity of their, their teamand, and, diversive skillset and regions and things like that.

And, and they kind of set thatexpectation on a foundational level from the start of their, their business andmaking sure that that's a very clear focal point of theirs. But you don't seec. All doing that because everyone has a different problem set. Whether it'strying to find your product market fit, trying to, address, address youroverall market or maybe it's a, a a, it's a go-to market strategy, but what inparticular have you seen other companies that maybe don't set thoseexpectations?

How do they then kind of reinvest andrestructure diversity and inclusion so that equity inclusion so that they canactually have higher performing outcomes would've been some, some successfulstrategies.  

Jeff: Yeah. So I, I thinkthat's a, that's a great question because the answer to that is there's nobetter day than today, right?

So it doesn't matter whether you got startedon day one or it's year 10, right? Get started today. Right? And, and so Ithink the playbook looks something like first, right? Understand, like youwould for any business function. Ultimately, let's start with the data. What'sactually happening at the organization with our people.

When we look at it through the lens ofde. Right. And that's just a more a more intersectional view of peopleanalytics, right? Yeah. So first and foremost, let's establish what's happeningquantitatively by the data. One, two, then let's identify where we're doingwell and where we're not doing. Well do a proper SWAT analysis.

The same thing that we do of this. Werea marketing organization. Or if this was a sales organization, we would, wewould do it the same way, right? Treat it like a business function number. Oncewe understand where we're doing well and where we're not. Number three is setgoals, right? Where do we want to improve and let's do so in a quarterly andannual format.

And also be reasonable about what we canachieve over that time increment. Right? Yeah. If you say, let's get to, for80% men and 20% women and you're, you're saying that that's a priority for youto. Hire more women, let's say you're not gonna be a parody by the end of theyear. You will not be 50 50 mathematically.

It's entirely unlikely that that's gonnahappen, right? But how do we set a goal that's reasonable and when we do theintersectional work there? When we say hire women, do we mean. Women fromunderrepresented groups as well. Let's go make sure that it's scaffoldedproperly. And then I think one of the most important things is, is number four,number five, which is a be transparent.

Let's put the dashboards out in front ofthe organization at a level of level to which leadership's comfortable. Andlet's do that every quarter and track the progress. Again, no different thanyou would any other business.

Julian: Right, right. Andthinking about, one, one thing that kind of, I think, companies who reflect onthe systems in place and thinking about the talent pool.

One, one interesting stereotype thatI've seen is that, or I've heard, is that, people come from underrepresentedbackgrounds, let's say traditional backgrounds. And for example, if you are,say, a software engineer you can maybe see somebody from an underrepresentedbackground coming from boot camps kind of doing.

Doing personal projects, kind ofbuilding up the skillset that way. And then others who come from say, higherlevel institutions, maybe had an internship and then go into whatever position,two very different backgrounds and distinct. But do, is it actually that, arewe seeing that, people from underrepresented groups are coming from lessstructured backgrounds or less traditional backgrounds and that creates kind ofa, a more sophisticated way to evaluate talent or is that just not thecase?  

Jeff: I think that's, that'stough to say. I, I, I think ultimately we're moving to a more skills basedyeah. A skills based, climate and economy for job seekers and employers. And soI think over time you're gonna see a trend in that direction. Versus degrees,four year degrees.

I think that provide blanketcredibility. I think you're gonna see much more focused skill basedaccreditation. I don't spend my time working on solving that problem. So thereare folks who could certainly answer the question better than I can, I think, butsure. But I think that's the.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah.

And just give us, for the audience, say,give us a little bit of insight, what kind of traction have you seen in thelast few years? What, what's gotten you excited about that? Yeah. But what inparticular are you excited about? And then in terms of the next wave ofDandi.  

Jeff: Yeah, so thank Iappreciate that.

So we got started in, in early 2018 andwe decided based off the inspiration from our last company to take our time andbuild software that we thought customers would love. And so we were stealth andbootstrapped for four years last year, an institution around a seed financing.Led by Springbank and Ali Corp.

Here in New York City. And so, but forfour years we were bootstrapped noses down and got to a few dozen customers.And we, we said to ourselves internally, we have six co-founders at Dandi,which is not, not exactly traditional but we each bring something reallydifferent to the table and we were bootstrapping them and we want, we wanted toconstruct the organization that way.

But we always said, if you got to a fewdozen customers, some of which were Companies that, consumers would recognizethat we would then raise capital and get out to the world. So now for us it's,as we look at 2023, it's focused on two primary things. One, as always, buildsoftware that customers love and.

That includes, we just released goals,which is super exciting. We've got new roles and permissions coming, newtracking with alerts, a lot of really new, exciting. And then number two isgrow, right? And serve more employees and more customers, more employees, andget to, servicing a couple million employees by the end of this year.

Because ultimately one of the mostimportant metrics for us internally is what we like to call PI, is positivelyimpacted employees. So for. Means we're helping knock on wood, right? We are,we are helping the World War.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And whomanages the, say the technology? If I'm a, if I'm a client or potential customerand I wanna bring in a solution like this, it's a whole nother platform.

And obviously without, interpreting dataand creating actions and having somebody kind of accountable for that, then,then things don't move forward. Who is that individual at companies who's notonly a champion, maybe, but also a major stakeholder? And who cares enoughabout these outcomes?

Create changes in the organization to dosomething about it. Yeah.  

Jeff: But yeah, so the, theperson responsible at every organization is an HR person who does D or the Dleader. And ideally there's a dedicated D leader. It's smaller organization,sometimes it's a blend, right. Invariably, DEI partners with the HR team.

And so you typically have your VP of HRand your chief people officer in partnership then with other functional groupswithin the HR team, the performance team, the compensation team, therecruiting, and. Teams. Now they all have different dashboards and differentviews because they're looking at different metrics in different parts of theemployee life cycle.

But they all have their own dashboardswith their own points of view and different reports that appear in thosesections. From there, we get the broader executive team involved, and justrecently, in the last six to nine months, we've actually had a handful oforganizations create dashboards for the entire company.

All employees get a view of really highlevel kpi. So that's how we think about the rollout. It kind of goes in thosephases. And the larger the organization the more likely they are to have all ofthose different constituencies represented and with dashboards inside ofDandi.  

Julian: Yeah. And thinkingabout the outcomes a little bit more.

You say you have Dandi, you have thisperson who's responsible for these outcomes, and then you start to makechanges. If I'm a company that, that say doesn't buy or hesitates or isn'tfocusing, What are some ways that my company will be impacted negatively by notfocusing on having a, a, I guess, more representative working organization andteams to the world?

I, I kind of view diversity, equity, andinclusion in that respect. It's just a representation of, of the world, andhaving that in your, your company is just more beneficial, but, What are someof the negative outcomes and what are some of the positive outcomes that comeout of focusing on this?

Jeff: Yeah, so I, I mean, I,I think, I think organizations like McKenzie, the Boston Consultant Group andand Deloitte have done research for a couple of decades now that have confirmedquantitatively that doing DEI, well, for the largest organizations in theworld. Delivers meaningfully improved revenue outcomes.

Mm-hmm. Profitability, outcomes, andalso employee productivity outcomes, all of which, right. Change the way theorganization does business. Right. So it's better for business to do DEI. Well,And I think it's hard to say specifically why, without very specific examples,but as we think about why that might be the case, having different points of viewin the room helps us get to better solutions more quickly.

Yeah. And you consider more, youconsider more when folks, when different kinds of folks are in the room andeveryone has a voice that feels comfortable speaking openly and so. You seethat that was true back when, if you were, if you were to group projects as akid, it was the case then.

Yeah. It's the case today too.  

Julian: Yeah. And, and justthinking about companies who, who are focusing on it and who aren't, who, whostill has, ground to make, how many companies are, say not focusing on, ondiversity, equity, and inclusion? Who should be and, and, and what are thedifferences Obvious.

Successful business outcomes. But interms of maybe attraction of talent, what are some differences that you seebetween companies who aren't and who are outside of, what you just said?  

Jeff: Well, certainly Ithink everyone should be right. I think the ones that are, the number oneoutcome that we're seeing is the companies today who are focused on dei areattracting Gen X talent.

Mm-hmm. Or I'm sorry. Gen Z Talent, genZ. Yeah. At an un incomparable rate compared to those that aren't. Gen Z caresdeeply about d i and they want to see your d i programs and your outcomes. Andyour annual reporting front and center on your website. And so if you're, ifyou're not doing the work and you're not communicating the results of the work,it's becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to compete for talent,especially Gen Z talent.

So I'd say that right now is probablythe biggest fork of the road that we're seeing outside of the obvious businessoutcomes.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah. Andwhether you think about it, internally or externally, what are some of thebiggest challenge. Dandi faces today?  

Jeff: Well, I, I, I thinkright now, diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging, it's going through atransformative moment.

The murders of George Floyd and BreonnaTaylor. And, the events of 2020, what we saw as an explosion of d ipractitioners. Is there. Chief diversity officers today than there ever werebefore. Yeah. However, the turnover turnover's also the highest is what we'reseeing, and I think that's in large part because the function isn't necessarilyas defined as it should be.

In other words. Yeah. What is themission and what are the KPIs, what are the metrics and how was that executivemeant? Interact with other executives at the organization. And, and so without,without the foundation of that, without that definitional foundation, I thinkit becomes pretty challenging to state what the business function is meant toachieve.

Yeah. And so that right now is one ofthe toughest things, but it's also one of the most exciting things for us.We're helping chief diversity. And DI managers, et cetera, navigate what thatlandscape looks like and help to create what the role should be or what itcould be. And so I think that that's, that's really exciting.

It's this fork in the road moment wherethe community of practitioners are pulling together at the same time. Right. DIbudgets are being, In a lot of organizations that said, at many organizations,they're not being cut and they're actually being expanded because, yeah,because some organizations realize that this is the opportunity, right?

Again, from a business perspective, toget really good at DEI, to compete for the Gen Z talent. So we're parsingthrough what that looks like so we can help those organizations and those DEIleaders achieve the best results.  

Julian: Yeah, and if you thinkabout just, if everything goes well, what's the long term for Dandi?  

Jeff: Yeah, so, so I thinkwhat we really want to do over time is, to your point earlier is DI is abusiness function and how can we connect di quantitatively? To the businessresults. Yeah. And said crassly almost as roi. Right. Is how do we know thatwhen you, when you've done X, y, and Z DI programs or you've taken certainactions, what has that translated to for the company?

For the business, right. Yeah. And howis and how are people's experiences improved that much and over time? How arewe contributing to folks careers, right? Companies that are doing DEI well forindividuals over 10, 15, 20 years of their careers, how has that affected thetrajectory of their careers? And I think that's really interesting.

Julian: It's so fascinating tosee that the overall impact that, and also that the numbers support a lot ofthe, the reasons for wanting to invest in, in DI and, and a lot of themotivations behind it. Not only. Retention and, and, and, and gaining talent,but also business outcomes and what it means for your customer base and, andthe clients and, and those revenue targets that you want to hit.

I mean, I've heard time and time again,and obviously my own experience is so much more expensive to hire than firesomebody versus hire somebody that you totally like and, and you really want onthe team, and then train them and create an environment for them to stay and,and improve and progress in their career because, you know it, it's almost.

Way more cost, it's way more costeffective in a lot of different ways. So getting that part is, is so important.I always like this next section. I call it my founder faq. So I'm gonna hit youwith some rapid fire questions and, and we'll see what we get. Right. But firfirst just to open it up outside of prioritization, because a lot of founderssay this, but what's particularly hard about your job?

Jeff: Particularly hardabout my job today. We're, we're a seed funded company and this is one of thosemoments I joke around with the team where my job as CEO of the company, right?It's always, it's always kind of around the same pillars, right? Focus on,financing the company, making sure we're capitalized, right?

Strategy, the core strategy of thebusiness, recruiting, getting great people, the culture of the business. Andthen pick one of the function areas that I spend time. I like to spend timewith the go to market, right? So that's my. But right now, this is one of thosemoments in company building where I, as ceo, I'm doing many jobs, right?

I am an HR person, I do payroll and Iclean the office. And not to say that I mind doing any of those things, Idon't, but it's one of those moments where I'm doing a lot of stuff at once,right? That are very, very dispar. So, it's I have two young kids, my daughterRemy, and my son Rafa, my wife Cory.

Trying to balance being a really gooddad and a good husband and all of that with the requirements of the job meansthat I need to be very focused whenever I'm doing any one of those things. So,yeah. Yeah, that's usually how, how it feels is do this thing intensely wellfor now. And before I transition my focus to the next thing.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And, andthinking about, you mentioned Bootstrap for four years and a lot of founderstalk about that kind of experience or that time. Versus, going out and justgaining new customers and trying to prime product market fit. What were youdoing during that boost tracking time?

And for other founders who findthemselves in the midst of it? Obviously it's challenging, right? You, youmight not be making as much revenue or you might not, have the projections orhave the team, or maybe you have to do a lot of different things that. And,and, and maybe looking in slow growth down, but maybe looking out, you're,you're, you're defining a strong product, market fit or defining technology.

What were you doing during that time?And for other founders in the midst of it, how do I not go crazy? And andmaintain that level of motivation and energy to continue improving my productfor when it's time to kind of launch Yeah. Into other markets or, orupstream.  

Jeff: Yeah. So I'll startwith the, the, the second question is I, because I think it fuels the first, sothe, I think the way that you maintain your motivation, which for me has neverbeen necessarily that hard.

I've, I've always been I think prettymotivated and work oriented. I'm over oriented towards. That said, I don'tthink I could do it if I didn't have my co-founders and the people that arevery much in our corner. So, my, our co-founders, cto, mom do and sag, ourco-founder, VP Engineering and Ryan, shell are VP of revenue.

And so our co-founder, VP of Revenue. Soif these people around the table that for me, right, sometimes I need to liftup and sometimes. Me up, but we keep each other going. It's okay to have a badday sometimes, but we keep each other going at the same time. We're reallyfortunate to have our partners in our lives because they are also enormouslysupportive.

So I think advice to founders would beit's kind of cliche, but, but find the people that you care about, right? Andfind the people that care about you. That, that's really what matters. I, Ithink in the early days, to answer your question specifically about what wewere doing I think, there's r and d side of, of the business and then there'sthe go-to-market side of the business and the r and d side of the business wasreally small team that built a lot of software.

So they spent more time probably behindtheir screens or in front of their screens, if you will. Then they, they probablywould've, would've liked they were building a lot quickly. Sure. Whereas go tomarket folks, we were out and. Having conversations with folks and ourco-founder Elise James Cruz, introduced us very early on to a handful of dileaders that were enormously Yeah.

Influential and helpful for us. Mm-hmm.Elise introduced us to folks like Elise Leary and Carol Watson, and those folksreally shaped how we thought about. The problems you were solving and thesolutions that we needed to create. And so for us it was about gaining clarity,right? About what the, what the function needed and how we could build softwarethat would be really scalable as we were learning.

Julian: Yeah. You mentionedyou earlier a little bit about, certain things in companies are, seeing budgetcuts and others are not, and, and thinking. Just overall kind of, we talkedabout the markets leaning towards the skills based kind of, evaluation or, orkind of measuring those as, as the level of importance when looking at talent.

In regards to companies who are kind ofdeveloping or building their, their strategies, what are some ways that theycan evaluate skills and more efficiently, more effectively, and more accurate?For their job function rather than, if I'm looking for a React developer, forinstance, and I wanna see some projects, some, some webpages that they'vebuilt, and that's a little bit more cut and dry, but for other job functionsthat are, that are less.

So, what are some ways companies canmeasure those skills and in comparison to what they need internally, ratherthan, what's qualified in the market?  

Jeff: You know what, I atour last company, I interacted with some folks who were trying to solve thatproblem. And I don't have a, I, I'm not, I'm not sure how you do it.

Sure. And how you do it really well. Ithink folks are still working on solving that problem now. And so I thinkLinkedIn is working on it. I think Degre is working on it and many others areworking on it. Yeah, so I'm not sure. I think maybe we should get them on thenext.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Hundredpercent.

What, what are some ways that, I knowyou're building a lot of tools to, to uncover the analytics behind, companiesand, and kind of see not only their outcomes, but, know, find ways to improve.What are some ways that companies can better track outside of Dan d to, to,whether support the product better?

What's some. Companies can starttracking their diversity, equity, and inclusion so that when they do get asolution like Dandi, it could be that much more effective for their, for theirgoals.

Jeff: I, I think one of themost important things, Julian, is think about the data that you have and thedata that you want to have.

For example, right, in today'senvironment, a lot of folks are working from home. Or you might have some folksthat are work hybrid. You might have other folks that are working in the officeevery day, all day. Maybe you want to collect that information, right? Andstore that in your hrs, right? Or in a data lake if you have Snowflake orsomething else, right?

So that when you start doing DI work, ifyou're not already doing it, you can take a look at how you are hiring or yourattrition or your promotion rates, especially promotion probably on that one.Compensation rates might be different for those different categories of worker,right? And then if you break it down intersectionally and take a look atunderrepresented groups who are remote, perhaps you're just gonna see a prettymeaningful disparity.

Yeah. So I always like to think aboutwhat are the data fields that we should be collecting based on what's. Todayand how do we go get them?  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And, andwhat, just outta curiosity, what would be those data sets that, that you wouldfind important? If, if you're working with, if you're, if you're managing ateam that's remote and thinking about their personal circumstances and how theyaffect.

Their, the outcomes and productivity.  

Jeff: So I, again, I thinkworking status, right? Like, is are you remote, are you hybrid? I think thatone matters quite a bit. I think in that context too. We've seen a lot ofcompanies want to collect parental status. Mm-hmm. Caregiver status, right?Mm-hmm. Those two, because they've coupled really nicely right?

With the working status scenario. Right?So folks want to collect those as well right now. Yes. Gives them, I think,insight into, into productivity and how they can better compensate those folksand make sure there's no disparities there.

Julian: Yeah, yeah, yeah.Outside of, of say, roles that, that are performance based, say, obviouslysales roles can kind of equalize in terms of, not only salary but commissionsand compensation and things like that.

I, I think there's a little bit morefreedom to identify. Ways that you can support better performers, but alsoevaluate lower performers. But outside of those roles that are performancebased, say whether it's engineering or someone where it's product design thatyou know has less consistent measurable outcomes, what are some ways thatcompanies can, compensate equally and meaning that, as, as we, we said in inthe top of the funnel in the recruiting process and also in the equity process,like you mentioned, it's not only the people you're attracting and who passesthrough, but.

Then the contracts, right? Who, what,what you are agreed to paying them versus the level of service that you'rerequiring from them. But then there's some, inequity there. How can companiesbetter compensate and how can people better advocate for themselves so thatwhether to close that gap in disparity?

Jeff: Yeah, so I I, I thinkit comes down to, first of all, as an organization, be clear about your compensationphilosophy. What do you care about, right? Is it department, job level, jobtitle, right? Tenure. What, what are the inputs into your compensationphilosophy? And number one. Number two, are you collecting those?

Number three, are they up to date?Right? And then, and then number four is like, Hey, let's go run a linearaggression analysis and see if our compensation philosophy is holding true. Andif there are gaps for how we're paying folks, right? And so if there are gaps,then we should probably, aim to address them.

And so that's usually be a. Approach andit's not a set and forget it ultimately, right? Sure. Anytime one person comesinto the company or another person leaves the company actually all the numbersmove around a little bit, right? So mm-hmm. Our suggestion is right, this iswhy you have a software like Dandi, is that it's running the analytics for you,right?

All the time, so that you can main, youcan track it and understand exactly where the gaps are, not just for comp, butfor everything else in the employee life sync as well. So, yeah. Yeah,  

Julian: yeah, yeah. And I knowif you. You last minute questions here, but I always like to think about howfounders and, and ask questions around how founders extract knowledge out ofanything that they ingest.

I always think it's so unique and sointeresting to see the anecdotes that they come up with, but whether it wasearly in your career or now, what books or people have been. The mostinfluential, most impactful for you?  

Jeff: Oh, lot, lot, lot ofpeople were, were, and are super impactful for me. I think I'll give you a bookthat I, I like quite a bit that I encourage folks to read.

It's called The Scorer Takes Care ofitself and Bill Walsh was the story coach, the San Francisco 49ers, where theeffort precedes the results and a bunch of ways in which he liked his team tobehave. And so, that one always. Me in a re, in a really meaningful way becausethe standard of performance as he called it, was so clear.

And yeah, I felt like it wasaspirational in ways and he even described it as such. So that one has alwaysreally stuck with me in a really meaningful way.  

Julian: Yeah. Any individuals,That, that you wanna highlight just outta curiosity?  

Jeff: Any individuals. Imean, this is gonna sound cliche about, about my mom.

She passed away two days. Two days fromnow, a year ago for pancreatic cancer. Yeah. And, and so, she was always verymuch in my, very much in my corner. And she encouraged. To do all of the thingsthat were relatively, high risk. She says, you could do it, you'll figure itout. And so she was a big impetus for me doing what it is I do today.

And so I miss her a lot.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And it'sso important to have the people who, who give you the, the support to be, to,to have that philosophy that I'll figure it out. Speed, jump into whateverproblem, figure it out. Get whatever resources, whatever people you need, and,and identify ways that you do and accomplish it.

And yeah, path A might not be right, andthen you might get to Path a G's, right? But along the way, you've learned alot to, to know the direction you want to go and, and, and what you've learnedfrom it. So I'd love to hear that and you, I'd love to ask that question, likeI said, to, to highlight those individuals or highlight the, the key thingsthat motivate you and, and kind of influenced you.

But last question is, I don't like toleave anything on the table. Is there anything I didn't ask you that I shouldhave or that you would have liked to answer? Anything come to mind? Hmm.

Jeff: Probably not. I don'tthink so. Maybe. Did I put this shirt on specifically for this? I did. Yes, Idid.  

Julian: I love that. Jeff,it's been such a pleasure chatting with you and learning not only about yourcareer and your insight into what companies and programs that they're runningand how they could be better, not only in diversity, equity, and inclusion, butalso how those metrics are so important.

For overall business outcomes and, andreally thinking about an organization holistically. And, not only in, in,capturing new business or, and, hiring new people, but also retaining peopleand keeping a cohesive and, and attractive environment. Last little bit iswhere can we support you and find you as a founder?

Give us your plugs. What are yourwebsites, your LinkedIns your Twitters? Where can we find you to be a bigsupporter? Not only Dandi, but you, Jeff Fernandez.  

Jeff: I appreciate itJulian. Thanks for having me. Take, find me on LinkedIn, find Dandi onLinkedIn. Our website is, itsdandi.com, I T S D a, Dandi d a n d i.com.

So, reach out, follow, follow us onLinkedIn and check out our newsletter. I appreciate it.  

Julian: Amazing. Amazing.Jeff, I hope you enjoyed yourself and thank you again for being on theshow  


Jeff: Likewise. Thanks forhaving me folks. Julian. Cheers.  

Julian: Of course.

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