#23 – Mobilizing “Sweaty Change Makers” for Global Impact
with AtlasGO Co-Founder & CEO Thomas Querton
Thomas Querton is the co-founder and CEO of atlasGO, a company that allows sweaty change makers to use fitness to raise funds and awareness for causes they care about. With over 1 million kilometers and $600,000 raised since its launch in 2017, it’s fair to say atlasGO is off to a running start, amiright?
Thomas himself is social entrepreneur from Belgium who relocated to San Francisco three and a half years ago to embark on the atlasGO adventure. AltasGO’s rapid progress has given Thomas valuable insight into finding a healthy balance in his personally and within the company.
In this episode, Thomas talks about the balance between pushing further for continued growth, while also taking a moment to enjoy achievements. He also shares his experience developing his own measurement for success despite external pressures and his thoughts on the benefits of mentorships.
Thomas (right) with his AtlasGo Co-founders Oliver Kaeser (left) & Magali Mathieu (middle)
A few takeaways from our conversation:
- The importance of defining your own measurements for success and how that plays into the continued development of atlasGO
- How altasGO cultivates a healthy and fun work environment and the strengths of working on a team
- How to seek out mentors, what steps to take in creating those relationships, and how mentorships have helped Thomas in his growth with atlasGO
00:07 (Cory) — Hey y’all. It’s Cory here with the Grow Ensemble podcasts and on today’s episode I speak with Thomas Querton, the co-founder and CEO of atlasGO. We chat about plenty in our conversation. A few things specifically. First, we dive into the importance of developing your own personal measurement of success as a socially minded entrepreneur and Thomas shares, how that applies to him and the atlasGO team. Personally, we dive into how him and his team have been able to, with great enthusiasm, already raised over $600,000 for nonprofit partners since their launch in 2017. As well we dive into the topic of mentorship. Thomas shares his perspective on seeking out and cultivating relationships with mentors in your industry.
01:02 (Cory) — Really some wonderful insights, useful insights there. I know you’ll enjoy this conversation with Thomas. I surely did, but before we dive in and I let him introduce himself in wet him, an atlasGO are up to, I do have to ask if you like this podcast, if you like the Grow Ensemble podcast in general, then please go to iTunes or wherever it is that you get your podcasts and leave us a review. It really helps folks find the show. So without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into our conversation with Thomas Querton.
01:40 (Thomas) — So my name is Thomas. I’m 26 years old. I am from Belgium originally and I came here to San Francisco around three years and a half ago to start a company called atlasGO. And atlasGO is a company that helps nonprofits raise money and awareness for their mission. It helps companies engage their employees around philanthropy and helps people around the world sweat for good. So get fit and do good. So they can use-one of our products is-they can use our application and convert their everyday workouts-it can be walking, running, biking, but now we’ve introduced swimming, yoga, meditation, all of the sports that you can imagine-and they can convert their sports for charity, so for our charity partners. the thing I got cut out yeah.
02:26 (Cory) — The thing I got caught up on there is that you’re 26 years old and doing my due diligence beforehand, it seems like you’ve already been involved with a lot of different businesses and endeavors. So I’m curious man, what’s fueled the appetite seems like some sort of sense of urgency going on.
02:43 (Thomas) — Yeah, I, guess, I don’t know. The sense of urgency I guess is that is that I’m going to die, but I’ve always been excited about getting shit done and doing things, getting my hands dirty, and starting early I’d say. And I started my first company when I was 18. That is over now and I’ve been doing Atlas now for three years and I now just started a Kombucha company as well. I’m always excited to start new things, get excited into, into projects. And I think that starting early allows me to maybe I’ll be a good entrepreneur like 10 years and so I’ll be 36 and I’ll have a lot of experience and I’ve tried a lot of things and I failed a lot of places which allows me to, you know, as I grow and am successful or as I grow network to be able to really have a true impact.
03:34 (Thomas) — And I think that starting early just gives me that much experience or that much space to fail or to try things, I guess.
03:43 (Cory) — So starting another company, a kombucha company, how are you balancing all these different endeavors?
03:49 (Thomas) — The way I balance is I’m very focused on atlasGO. AltasGO’s my number one thing. I see atlasGO as we started it was really much we want to create a social media of sweaty change makers, and we want to create a social media where people can understand what causes are around them, how they can get involved and at first through sports And then in atlasGO. And now I really see atlasGO as atlasGO group where we have different parts of it. We’re starting a merch store for example, we’re doing a festival here in San Francisco, we’ll be doing fundraisers where we organize virtual fundraisers to raise money for nonprofits, but everything virtually. So inside atlasGO, there’s a lot of places also to be creative with the same idea of getting people engaged around philanthropy. And really that engagement part is an important rake. How can we have more people involved? And it’s not just about raising more funds or raising more money, but having people involved and actually care. And so inside that group I see a lot of places to get excited and to develop myself and grow.
04:51 (Thomas) — That’s really my number one. And then on the side, I’m excited to be part of a Kombucha company that I’ve just started now- we’re a team of four, but I’m more on the passive side, investor side and being able to bring- it’s Belgium, very Belgian-focused- and so it’s kind of bringing the Kombucha industry that you know about and that’s really big here in the U.S. and California and wanting to bring that to the Belgian people.
05:19 (Cory) — So with atlasGO specifically what appealed to you about a sport? Bringing people’s awareness to important causes to philanthropy, what about sport had that combination make sense.
05:33 (Thomas) — I think sport is like the good gateway towards it. I think sports speak to everyone brings people together. It brings people from every background together, right? Like people around the world, wherever you go are doing sports and whatever it is. And soccer, football, tennis, cricket, and whatever that sport is. And then running was for us, the first one running is such an accessible sport. Right? What’s cool with running I think is that anybody can really just go do it. You would just put some shoes on and you go for it. And what’s, what I also like is that you can also share it with different kinds of different groups. I run with my little sister, I run it with my mom. I don’t want to play soccer with my mom. She’s not good enough. And so it’s not fun. But, running, you can really share that, so that’s how we started with running.
06:25 (Thomas) — And for me, the catalyst idea was five years ago running a big race in Brussels. So you have 40,000 people come together. And for me that is difficult to do. You can do that with maybe with music, with festivals, people kind of get connected with that. I think sport is a specific place where you’re taking care of yourself, and you’re coming together and you’re all sweating and it kind of like breaks a lot of barriers and filters. Whatever background or however rich you can be or whatever, nobody cares. It’s like we’re sweating together and we’re doing this thing. And I think that brings people together like very few things can bring people together. And so I see it as a gateway to get people together. And then using that for philanthropy is kind of that interesting gateway. And I think that’s why a lot of these races raise money for philanthropies and cause you have that sense of community of people coming together and caring for each other. And yeah, that’s really why I think sports is a tremendous place, a tremendous tool to bring people together.
07:25 (Cory) — I undoubtedly agree. I feel for a while I had some resistance to my own like fandom in sports. I’m a big basketball fan, I’m a soccer fan and for awhile I was like, I don’t know if this is worth my time in some respect. But then I really like took note of that I think in the last couple of years, once again and be like, wow, it’s just so cool that so many people can come together around this thing, whatever. , like basketball, you’re watching these people throw this ball and this hoop. Like it’s really weird kind of obscure thing. But it’s just, it’s so connecting and so community focused. So that’s, it’s interesting that y’all brought that together.
08:03 (Thomas) — I love that you mentioned also fandom, right? Like watching sports because I’m talking about participating and doing races and doing your own, and then sometimes I feel like watching sports can sometimes get some bad credit because it’s like you’re just watching, like you say, is this worth my time? But I think it brings people together. I mean for me in Belgium it’s more around soccer, but like, yeah, bringing people together and you’re like chanting and that’s important. That’s community.
08:31 (Cory) — So you and your co-founders, y’all are all located in San Francisco. That’s right?
08:36 (Thomas) — That is right. We’re three co-founders and we’re based here. We travel to Europe. We’re all European, but we’re based here, but we traveled to Europe because we have 50% of our business is out there and so we’re going kind of around.
08:49 (Cory) — And so what’s appealed to you originally about San Francisco as the hub for where are y’all wanted to work together?
08:56 (Thomas) — I mean, we met here in San Francisco. So for me personally, why I came to San Francisco I think is kind of naive, or- I’m from Belgium, it’s a small country, population, 10 million. And when I started my first company in Belgium my ambition was like, I’m going to go to north Belgium and south Belgium and get excited about that. But I think naively thinking, this is where it happens. Reading all the books about the Steve Jobs biography, all of that stuff. As a kid, I think it influences you. And I think a lot of people look towards this place as a special place. And I think people are not smarter here, but they’re just I think more driven or maybe they just don’t care too much about what other people think.
09:41 (Thomas) — And so they’re ready to fail and they’re just excited about doing things, right? And that’s really my vibe. And I wanted to surround myself and I thought, not knowing too much, I thought like I want to be surrounded by people who want to do things and who are excited about making things happen and want to help out each other. But I think a lot of that I’ve learned by being here. I think in the beginning it was very naive, let’s just go to San Francisco because that’s where it’s happening. That simply. And I knew I wanted to be involved in tech and I knew I wanted to be involved with philanthropy. I know that in the United States philanthropy is really growing and a really interesting space. It is also in Europe, but I just thought that this would propose me in a way and looking back, besides the high rents, I think this is just an amazing place to be. And looking back, I think in the partnerships that we’ve created with some largest companies in the world, we work with salesforce, Google, Facebook, we’ve partnered with Garmin. now, we’re integrating with Strava, with Fitbit, like all these big names because they’re here because they’re close by and because we can reach out to them and I think that’s really something that would have been difficult to grasp or to build from Belgium.
10:49 (Cory) — So it seems like some of that expectation, although naive as to San Francisco being a hub of where things happen, it seems as if that’s, you found some validity to that. And so, you make mention of some of those really key partnerships that you’ve made. And in atlasGO, y’all launched in 2017. It’s 2019 right now. That’s not that long of a time. And I also noticed on your site that you surpassed recently $600,000 raised for nonprofit partners through the use of y’alls platforms. So congrats on that. But that’s some insane progress. Kind of curious, first off, how does that feel in such a kind of like short amount of time to have made such a dent?
11:34 (Thomas) — It’s just saying I think it’s always cool to look back and, kind of we’re always feeling like we should do more, we should grow more. And then I think that’s a lot about the place we’re sitting and we’re hungry and to be what we did yesterday and then it feels good. We do an atlasGO summit every year, so this is the third year we do it where we have our investors, advisors, and the team. We have some people, someone working in Kenya and Spain, Paris, they all fly in and they come in together and then you get to look back. The first day is looking back and then it’s looking forward. But it’s good to look back sometimes because we’re hungry and we’re sometimes hard on ourselves and like these are the things we need to achieve and , let’s go, let’s go.
12:18 (Thomas) — And then sometimes it feels good to sit down and be like, wow, there’s a million kilometers that have been ran on the app and there’s all these partnerships that we’ve created and we have this cool team. And, and for me that’s the part that blows me the most away is the team that we have just to look around and see people working and building this and being like, this is cool. They’re doing this. It’s become their life too. Right? And I think that’s what blows me the most, to see that we can, we really create a company and having people build that and develop that with us every day. And then the partnerships is, is also awesome to look back and be like, this is exactly what we wanted.
12:58 (Thomas) — This is exactly what we envisioned. These companies, these names and who we want to work with. And then it’s now it’s to see like what’s the next step and how can we translate into different products that help more our nonprofit partners that allow us to work with local nonprofits, local charities, and get more and more people engaged. Yeah, it’s exciting, I think, to see all the places we can develop and really important also to be able to celebrate. That’s something that we’re working on also in being able to look back and sometimes it’d be like, guys, this is cool what we’ve done. And then being able to congratulate yourself sometimes is important too.
13:35 (Cory) — Yeah, I mean that’s a super important point. I think especially being someone with tenacity and an ambition to constantly look forward to the future. It’s sometimes difficult, one to even be very present minded. But, to as well take a look back and appreciate that. But you mentioned a couple things there. Particularly, the team being one. You mentioned this vision, as well as, things manifesting in such a way that you had previously imagined. I’m interested to know, what do you feel like has contributed to this acceleration and this growth in such a short amount of time? Maybe it’s some of those features. Is there, are there other things that feel like have really brought y’all to where you’re at now?
14:16 (Thomas) — You mentioned a couple things I want it to stop on, but I think that one, what has really helped us to grow: I think it’s because we’re hungry and we are just excited about building things and developing things and we see the things that we can push and we’re about seeing opportunities that we can seize and being like, let’s do it. Let’s push forward. I think because we’re just really excited about what we’re doing. I think that helps. Yeah. It helps to move faster I think. And to spend weekends working.
14:59 (Thomas) — Like I realized that being here I haven’t seen Yosemite yet. And , and I’m like fuck, I need to. I mean now I’m learning a little bit more to take those weekends off and just to enjoy. And I think also a lot of creativity comes. Our new model, the virtual fundraisers and I’m talking about, came from also stepping back and taking a breath and being present. But I think the excitement of putting that time and working hard is from what we’re doing, having all these people, what we call the sweaty change makers part of the app and that’s just so exciting for me. Watching the feed or you see people from around the world sharing sweating selfies and, running for different causes and motivating each other. That’s super, super cool. You see people from Switzerland congratulating someone from California because they did their first marathon and they don’t know each other and then they push each other because also it’s around a cause. And so it brings a lot of these people that care about the world or the communities they live in. That’s super exciting.
15:49 (Thomas) — And then I would say that hard work is a big part of acceleration. And then having a team that understands your values and understands what we’re doing is one of my main jobs I think to really inflate that in them and get them excited about what we’re doing. So they also feel hungry to develop and build those partnerships and grow those products and grow the business in the way that we have.
16:14 (Cory) — You mentioned a couple of things, the vision, the, the enthusiasm, and the team that’s attached to all that. How does that then, I guess maybe more specifically manifest into the execution? Maybe it is all coming down to just working on the weekends and now skipping out on trips to Yosemite. But are there other things that specifically have helped drive y’all’s execution as a team?
16:38 (Thomas) — Yeah, I mean having a clear strategy. We learned so much about how to create that strategy and how to analyze things month to month, quarter to quarter. That is huge, I think, to have a really clear idea. And I’m here sitting in our office where you have all of our goals everywhere around. You don’t see the numbers because they’re hidden behind the camera. But you really have our clear goals of where we want to be. And I think that is huge too for execution of understanding. And also it’s a challenge because some of our products like are new or some of our products we didn’t think about before. And so you have to shift that, right? It’s not what you have going to have a strategy for the next three years and then it’s not going to change.
17:21 (Thomas) — And so you have to evolve all the time. I think almost month to month, especially in the beginning, but then really sitting down every month or every quarter and being like, okay, what’s working? What’s not? What have we learned? And then what’s next for the next three months? Right? And always having a clear objectives, clear goals of where we want to go, what kind of partnerships do we want to develop? What geographies do we want to develop? Why? And that’s huge.
17:46 (Thomas) — And then a second thing I want to add, which I think is really important as a founder and especially if you read Steve Jobs’ biography and you’re kind of naive and stupid like I am, you think that you need the answers to everything, right? You think you need to have like the vision, right? People talk about like this vision that you have to have. And that puts so much pressure on you. You’re just a kid and you’re just, you don’t know too much. And so, allowing yourself to surround yourself and understanding that you don’t need to have the answers to everything, but you really need to ask good questions. And then, and then that ability to ask, and it’s really simple, right? Asking your users what they want, asking your clients what they want and really paying attention to what they want and continuously asking questions and they have the answers so it makes everything easier. Right? And then surrounding yourself with a great team.
18:37 (Thomas) — And then I’m going to add advisors and mentors and trying to build those relationships. And I’m still learning to do that and I’m fortunate that I have some great people around me, but I had to really build that. And we can maybe touch about how to find the right mentors, but surrounding yourself by people who’ve done it, who know how to grow a company or because you don’t know how to do it. And accepting I think, the first step is accepting that you don’t know. And then like, okay, who knows? And who can I ask and surround yourself with people who can help you to execute that plan.
19:10 (Cory) — So I guess along those lines, or as well, touching on the fact that it seems y’all do this as a team, the analysis: well what didn’t work, and therefore what can we do next as a product of that. What is that looking like for yourself personally, evolving as an entrepreneur? Is it the subject or the theme perhaps of accepting that you don’t have the answers? Is that one of the present lessons for you right now or is there something else kind of at the forefront as you think about your own kind of evolution as an entrepreneur?
19:39 (Thomas) — I want to touch on that. So I was just writing it down. But I think one of the things is as a team is really important. It’s tougher because I mean it’s always better to work with other people, but sometimes it’s tougher because you have an idea and you kind of be like, this is what we’re going to do. And then someone else’s going to be like, maybe we shouldn’t do exactly that. And then so you need to put your ego on the side really as much as possible. I think that facilitates everything like in so many really in every relationship, right? To be able to put your ego a little bit on the side. I think with the team and the founding team of advisors and the investors and the strategic team for us to be able to, we listen to each other because we’ve built a team that’s very diverse and very complimentary, which is the challenge that we’re not always on the same page. Like I made like, atlasGO socks, right? And that’s, I’m passionate about that, but nobody else in the team would want to do that. And that’s good. , and other people are passionate about other things and they bring their own ideas and to be really able to mix those ideas and understand, listen to each other and growing like that.
20:42 (Thomas) — One of the things that we do, I think it was really important is that we do, what we call courageous conversations and we do this every month with the three co-founders. And we sit down and we just are really real to each other like what’s going on, frustrations, or ask them questions. Trying to understand each other’s point of view is very personal and deep and we’ve cried sometimes, but I think it’s really important to build that. And I think that level of kind of vulnerability, transparency for the founding team, but also trying to instill that in the team. We’re a small team right now, but as we grow to really build a place where people can do that because if you’re vulnerable you can do I think amazing things and you’re really not hiding yourself and you can really show your true self and that’s where you do your best work.
21:25 (Cory) — Has been expressing that, that vulnerability or that comfort to go there with your team, is that something that’s been intuitive and perhaps what drew y’all together in some way or is it more of a, I guess a conscious implementation of being able to kind of create that space with each other?
21:42 (Thomas) — Yeah, I don’t know where it started. I guess it’s influenced by San Francisco and I started meditating, and doing all the San Francisco stuff, growing my own Kombucha and doing yoga. But I’ve learned, I think it’s a thing you hear because it’s useful. It’s really peaceful. I think that peace of mind and I’ve gone to a lot of conferences around that. And so personally I’ve been really excited about it. And so trying to share that with the team and everybody really enjoying it too. So for example, our Monday meetings, we start with a five minute meditation to kind of bring us- we mentioned the beginning before we started recording about, you need a shift from the weekend, it’s very different to the weekend and kind of grounding yourself. And I think for a lot of things trying to be as present as possible.
22:30 (Thomas) — And for some people with the team, they’ve never done it before, but they usually really like it, enjoy that space. And I think from what I hear, they really appreciate that transparency and candor, that realness that we have. And no bullshit kind of attitude of like, this is what’s up and trying to also not show yourself like, you have the answers to everything and I think that that’s also kind of refreshing I guess for some people to be able to be in a team like that where it’s really real. I think that’s important and it’s been doing really, really good for the team, depending on how use to it they were. But feedback has been pretty positive around that
23:11 (Cory) — I guess thinking yourself, maybe as a leader or manager within your own organization, how has that been for you with maybe the, at 26, inevitable lack of experience in some respect. How has that been for you to be in a position to lead and work with others?
23:30 (Thomas) — Yeah, I mean it’s interesting. There’s some moments where you feel like, especially in the beginning I was kind of afraid of like also how if this works out, is this really like, do I want to bring these people in? And it’s because this becomes their life, right? Your job is a big part of your life. And so I think there’s a little part of, am I the right person to do this? There’s definitely some times where you doubt and you’re wondering like, should I be leading this ship? Or kind of that feeling of sometimes you feel like you’re a fraud, but I think it’s been a really interesting, and it’s put a responsibility on myself and I think it’s grown, I’ve grown and understand, what does that mean to be a leader? What do I need to learn?
24:14 (Thomas) — And then, and then it’s exciting to be like, okay, I have this responsibility and this privilege. I think really this privilege. That’s really how I wake up I think almost every day and definitely every week, to be able to be privileged and that privilege allows me to grow and trying to learn about what it means, how can I be a better leader? And through podcasts, reading books about it and things like that. And then I think one thing about being in that position is to try to understand who you are, right? And what do you want to achieve. And I think this is really something that I’ve, that’s been really important for me in the last couple of months, is to not live someone else’s success. And I think it can be really enticing to see someone in a newspaper or you see like Elon Musk or Zuckerberg or like these big names or Jeff Bezos, these big founders, right?
25:06 (Thomas) — As, as a founder of tech founders, like you see these other tech founders and you’re kind of like looking up and you’re kind of seeing, is that who I want to be? And I think when you see them in a magazine or in a podcast or whatever on TV, and I think you can mistake and be and think, that’s where I need to go. That’s my trajectory. I’m this tech founder, so I need to be Zuckerberg and I think because it can represent some kind of success and I think understanding truly who you are and what is your success and what do you want, I think makes a huge difference in kind of what kind of money you’re going to raise, what kind of team you’re going to build, and how fast you’re going to grow. And, and for me to really understand, well that’s, this is what is success to me is very liberating I think. And, and taking the time to write it down and to share it with your team and to explain like this is how fast we want to grow. This is the company that we want to build and this is truly who we are. And it helps to have that vision and that understanding of like, okay, this is the company I’m working with. This is what we’re growing.
26:03 (Thomas) — And it’s you, right? You can’t, you can’t be anybody else. So you have to, you have to understand who you are and that shifts and grows also in that regard. And where you want to be. But I think having that, that understanding that introspection has been huge for like when you talk about like leadership, that kind of understanding who I am more because you have to be authentic. You can’t really, it’s hard to really lie in front of your team. Like as you grow and like when I’m talking to you, like I have to be raw and authentic because it’s, it’s hard to do. Like if you need to lie or pretend to be someone else’s so hard. You need to remember like who and, and it’s way easier to just be just be raw and authentic. It helps you. And I think people like that and I think people are attracted to that and then want to follow someone just more authentic and true and because it just feels right.
26:52 (Cory) — Yeah. You’re your own measuring stick of success is, is really paramount to building a vision that will continually be sustainable to you and the team that you build around yourself. And so you mentioned it, introspection, that reflection. Could you share a little bit more about what is your working definition of success right now and how it relates to your pursuits with atlasGO and maybe even your pursuits with the other ventures you’re involved in?
27:22 (Thomas) — Yeah, that’s cool. For me it’s about really building a sustainable company that’ll last for a long period of time. And I’m not excited, for example, about trying to, a lot of people talk about “the unicorn” here and the unicorn is often defined as trying to achieve $100 million annual recurring revenue in five years. And that’s really what typically you’ll hear. And I think that it comes to a certain cost. And you really need to break things in a certain way. And I think your culture, your team, your products, and there’s good things that come from that. But I really want to think in a way of how about if we do that in 10 years, right? Or like in 15 years. That’s okay. It takes time to build sustainable, long lasting companies that have an impact on the people that work there, on the clients that we work with, on our nonprofit partners, on our users, and really respecting them from the beginning and really understanding. And there’s really ways to build companies like that. And I look up to a lot of founders are, I’ve tried to learn about these other companies that maybe you hear a little bit less than the newspaper, but to try to learn how they did it and there’s ways to sustain that.
28:26 (Thomas) — And so for me it’s really about creating something long lasting and trying to take, I mean for me the base of it is that it needs to be impactful. So in the merch that we do, in the festival that we do, in the app that we have, the different drinks, it’s really about, it needs to have an impact and creating value for the end customer to really for them to generate value from you and from you. That takes time to understand what that means, what that is exactly.
28:52 (Thomas) — And I think there’s definitely a space to do that the right way and it’s just maybe takes a little bit more time. But like you say, like we’re still hungry and it doesn’t mean that we’re less ambitious, we’re just ambitious in a more long term way. And we’re really driven and we really understand the financials of it. And for us it’s crucial to make also to be a great financial success because we understand that that is needed to create a long lasting impact. But I think that time I think is a big one. And that what is, what is success?
29:23 (Thomas) — And then one thing that I’ve, that I think is crucial is to be able to have fun. To be able to really instill the company and our culture where people were having a good time. And I think sometimes we forget that in building a company and building and growing fast and the hustle, you hear a lot about the hustle and work hard, don’t go see Yosemite and things. And I think that’s bad. I think it’s important that people can, you can definitely be part of a company and have fun and develop products that make people laugh. People have a good time and I want to be part of that company where I’m having fun too. So I don’t want to build a company where we’re growing so fast in a way that doesn’t, where I don’t feel like this is this fun anymore. That’s a big part of I think of- If you want to keep people also, if you want to keep people excited, they need to feel like they’re doing something that’s useful. They need to feel like they’re doing something that has a purpose. They need to feel like they have autonomy, they need to feel like they’re growing and they need to feel like they’re having a good time.
30:22 (Cory) — And so how are y’all having a good time? What does that look like for atlasGO?
30:27 (Thomas) — Well I think it’s good because I had a question like that a couple months ago and it was like, when did you guys have the most fun? And I think, and I didn’t know and I was like, we’ve been really hard on ourselves I think. And growing the company and being like you need to get those partners, you need to grow, you get those numbers. And of course we have fun. Right? But it was hard to see like when, when is something that is like weekly and I think there’s that enjoyable.
30:50 (Thomas) — Like I’m enjoying building this. Like it’s really exciting but understandingly really when are you having fun? And I think, I mean for me one of the best moments is when we’re launching new you apps, new updates and we’re testing it and we’re running around with this, we’re testing the GPS tracking. That’s a fun aspect of it. We organized fun runs on Tuesdays, so that has to be fun, right, because it’s in the name. So on Tuesday we, like we have around 30 ambassadors around the world that represents our brand and they do fun runs in the cities they are in and one of them is in San Francisco and, it’s Tuesday fun run and we run together. And I think it’s important to let loose. I think the events are always a good place to have fun.
31:32 (Thomas) — I try to have as much costumes as possible, but I don’t know, not always our whole team is involved in that idea. But I like to wear Tutus and things like that and just see if I can make a fool of myself. It’s always good to get a good laugh. Yeah. And I think of the different products that we’re developing now, more and more we’re feeling like we’re trying to have fun with them and really instill features also in the app and in our products that are fun. We even had a comment from one of our clients that said that our app was too fun because they were kind of a more conservative investment bank. And we do employee engagement campaigns and so it’s internally for the company and it’s really just for the employees and we have some emojis and stuff like that.
32:16 (Thomas) — And they really had said that it was too fun and so we have to tone down a little, or shift some stuff for them specifically. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s, that’s a huge part. That’s really important. And then also understanding like, like your clients and what they want and if they want it to be a little different then they don’t have to wear Tutus and do all the things that you do. It’s understanding what is, what is fun for them and what brings them alive and what excites them. And then being able to offer that too.
32:45 (Cory) — I want to touch back, I guess on the influences on your thoughts on mentorship perhaps, finding and cultivating those relationships with mentors to I guess help see the success that you want to yourself.
32:59 (Thomas) — That’s something that people talk a lot about and I’ve read and listened to a lot to try to understand how to best do it. I think one of the things is like there’s a ton of mentors that are available, like if you read books or listen to podcasts. So those are your mentors and they can become your mentors. I would say like really choose wisely. You don’t try to listen to the people that are the loudest, because a lot of people that are allowed and , trying to tell you how to do business and stuff like that and sometimes they’re not the best people to listen to and then be diverse as well as much as possible. I try to do that because you fall into these places where when you’re too much, like everybody’s thinking the same way.
33:38 (Thomas) — I think that that means that you’re in the wrong room and you need to kind of ask people that are challenging. What’s, what’s up. So having diverse kind of teachers. So those are the people that are hard to attain. I’d say there’s are some- I’m a big fan of Richard Branson and the way that he’s developed businesses and especially the way that he is able to have fun and it has been really diverse. So for example, he’s tough to get right. I can’t have him as a mentor. So I read his books and I tried to listen to him.
34:03 (Thomas) — And then one of, lately I’ve been really privileged to be in touch with Adam Garone, which is the founder of Movember Foundation. You might be familiar with Movember foundation in November, everybody started in Australia. Everybody grows a mustache to raise funds and awareness against different diseases that affect men, specifically, and then they’ve also diversified into, for women as well. But it was very focused in the beginning on acting on testicular cancer. So he’s built a massive movements around this and it’s a fun movement as well, but it’s an impactful movement. And so he’s been we’re starting a relationship now for a couple of months where we go back and forth and I’m going to actually to LA to work with him deeply on the vision. And so that’s really like a close mentor that really is representative of my brand. And I think to get him, it was really tough and I think it was understanding like it was really someone that I aspired to that I feel like in a not a ways does something that is interesting to me in my company and has done something that’s similar to me. And it’s also like to try to reach out to them by understanding that they’re really busy and trying to offer something to them.
35:17 (Thomas) — Trying to create a value to them, show them that you’re- Often, if they’re a successful entrepreneur, if that’s what you’re looking for, what they’ve been kind of in your shoes, right? They were not as successful entrepreneurs when they were young. And you need to respect that and they like to talk about that? And so to be able to say like you’ve done your research, I think that’s super important. Not to just, I don’t know, like to reach out to the top influencer in whatever field you’re interested in being like, okay, this is what I want to talk to and send them a DM on Instagram and hope that he’s going to respond. Really look into it. Like read their books. Really able to really understand who they are and then, and then tailor a message explaining that you’ve done a lot of work in the field that is similar to theirs. And then try to see if maybe if they can answer a couple questions, but also if they can’t, that’s totally okay and I’ll leave you alone, right? Give them a place to kind of step out and be like, Hey, I can’t do it right now. Really respecting their time I think is really important. And then showing that you’re able to move. Like, for example, Adam, he’s in LA and I was like, if you give me five minutes of your time I’ll fly and come meet you and I’ve been growing a mustache for the last months, I want to show you my mustache, like kind of something funky and kind of showing that you care. That you’re really not reaching out to every entrepreneur in this kind of like a non personal message. So being able to do that.
36:34 (Thomas) — And then there’s also mentors that are maybe not, you know it doesn’t have to be the biggest name. I think there’s a lot of mentors around you and they’ll be happy to, that are maybe more approachable that are happy to help. And being like, I have a lot of parents of friends that are entrepreneurs and I’ve drank coffee or kombucha or beers with them and being able to be like, hey, can I chat with you? And those who are more approachable or really happy to talk to you and maybe, and they have a lot of good advice. And I think being able to really spread kind of showing that you’re a good listener, I think a lot of people appreciate that. And so being able to say like, Hey, I want to hear about you and I want to, if you have time and then, and asking questions that are really personal and then questions that are really deep in thought, thought through I think helps. And for you it’s as beneficial to listen and open your ears and being able to surround yourself with as much people as you can.
37:28 (Cory) — I mean, I think that’s a wonderful point, which makes me think as well of the importance of not underestimating yourself personally as a mentor. I think that mentorship is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that you can extend to someone else. If you remember yourself at a younger age thinking how impactful it was for someone older, of any level of success, whatever it may have been to take an invested interest in you. You know, if I think back to my coaches or professors or teachers who took an invested interest in myself, it was such an important relationship that I derived a lot of value from. So many important things you mentioned there. Playing the long game. Being patient to do that due diligence, that research. Really show that attentiveness. You actually care. You’re very interested in their thoughts as well as just utilizing a lot of the, looking around and where are all the existing resources in your life at this point in time. So very, very useful thoughts.
38:34 (Cory) — And so Thomas, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I appreciate you sharing so many valuable insights. Before we wrap up, I’m curious to know what’s most exciting for you and atlasGO looking forward and that the rest of 2019 and, and maybe if you want to plug anything else. Where specifically should we keep up with y’all?
38:52 (Thomas) — Nice. Well thank you. Thanks for your great questions too. And so it’s awesome to be connected with you. The plug. Let’s start with that. I mean we’re on atlasGO.org. You have all our products there. If you’re a company and you want to engage your employees or if or if you are part of a company, you want your company to do something impactful, do a challenge that helps the employees get fit and do some good. Reach out.
39:14 (Thomas) — All our products are there. If you just want to download the app, you can download the app. It’s for free and you can raise money for nonprofits with every sport that you do. And again, we’re launching meditation, yoga, basketball, soccer, walking, running, all sports. So we’d be happy to have you. And then one of the things that I’m in, if you want to reach out to me directly you can as well. It’s [email protected] And if you want to follow some more personal stuff on Instagram, Thomas Querton.
39:41 (Thomas) — And then I think the thing I’m the most excited about is virtual fundraisers. We’re really developing them more and more. We see a lot of interests. We’re going to do something in Nigeria or they’re going to do the first marathon in Nigeria in Ekiti, and we’re going to be part of that. They’re expecting around 50,000 people. And so being able to develop virtual fundraisers, so it’s really virtual events to raise money for nonprofits and focus very much on the virtual. Some of them work with a physical events as well, but I’m really excited about that because I think it’s a huge potential to touch people from around the world to really be able to, as a nonprofit, set up a challenge, set up an event, but without all the operational costs of actually building an events. And so being able to do it virtually with, there’s virtual metals, but there’s also a real physical have metals that we can post out to the people who participate. And so we create these virtual events where people participate in, let’s say like Ocean Day events and on Ocean Day in June you can participate in this event and wherever you are in the world you’re participating in, you can run with your buddies or whatever and raise money for nonprofits. I think that’s something that I’m, I’m really excited about and I will be also creating content around all of these and trying to travel for example, to Nigeria and really try to get content from these places and show how people are engaged around sport and philanthropy. And I’ll be sharing all of that on the different channels also. So that’s what I’m most excited about. But I’m excited about a lot of things.
41:11 (Cory) — And hopefully with some unique costumes as well. Without a doubt have everything linked up in the show notes at growensemble.com so folks can keep up with you, Thomas and reference everything that you just mentioned. So once again, really appreciate you taking the time here with the Grow Ensemble podcast.
41:30 (Thomas) — Thanks, Cory. Awesome. Thanks for providing this platform. It’s really nice. I appreciate it.
41:36 (Cory) — Hey y’all, that’s a wrap. I really hope you enjoyed this episode of the Grow Ensemble podcast. And as a reminder, if you are a fan of the podcast, please let us know. Hitting subscribe and leaving a review in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts greatly influences other folks finding our show as well. Don’t forget we have full show notes over at growensemble.com where I’d also advise you sign up for our newsletter. There you will be able to keep up with new releases, giveaways that we launch, and any events we host. Thanks again for listening in.