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Nov. 21, 2021

Deepak Chopra Global COO, Rich Wallach, on synchrodestiny, managing through uncertainty, and remote operations

Deepak Chopra Global COO, Rich Wallach, on synchrodestiny, managing through uncertainty, and remote operations

Rich Wallach, COO and CFO of Deepak Chopra's Chopra Global, joins us to discuss creating happiness and security for employees, maintaining focus on the long-term strategy, and remote operations. Rich was previously Chief Operating Officer at Credit Suisse in the technology investment banking division before he rediscovered his mission to connect the mind and body and joined Deepak Chopra.


Rich Wallach, COO, and CFO of Deepak Chopra's Chopra Global, joins us to discuss:

  • How a philosophy degree prepared him for everything and nothing at the same time
  • Credit Suisse's attempt to crush the humanity out of him
  • Creating security, safety, and certainty for employees
  • Over-communicating without stressing people out
  • How processes can improve people
  • Getting rid of the office and going fully remote
  • And lemurs. Yes, lemurs, the animals.

Chopra Global: https://chopra.com

Chopra Global's Brand New Mobile App: https://chopra.com/app

Chopra Global's Upcoming Events: https://chopra.com/retreats

Rich Wallach on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wallachr

Episode website: https://www.betweentwocoos.com/deepak-chopra-global-coo-rich-wallach

Between Two COO's: https://www.linkedin.com/company/betweentwocoos

Michael Koenig: https://linkedin.com/in/mkoenig514

Running Remote: https://runningremote.com

Running Remote 30% Coupon Code: betweentwocoos

Transcript

Rich Wallach Transcript

Michael Koenig: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to between two COO's. I'm your host, Michael Koenig, and I'm excited to welcome our guest Rich Wallach, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Chopra Global, the company behind Deepak Chopra's initiatives. Welcome Rich, thanks for being here. Very excited to have you on.

Rich Wallach: Happy to be here.

Michael Koenig: So, first off, got to ask, Go Blue, Michigan football 5 and 0. Do you think this is the year we go the distance and beat Ohio State or another year of getting crushed by hope. 

Rich Wallach: Oh, man. Get through this weekend. There's a buzzsaw at the end of the year. If you make it there, all I'm saying is don't punch your your Orange Bowl tickets yet.

Michael Koenig: Got it. Well, look, you're a three time COO, first at Credit Suisse, then it Go Watch It, a [00:01:00] SaaS company, and now at Chopra Global, where you're also the CFO. How'd you end up here? What was your path? 

Rich Wallach: To my current role? Yeah, look, I had a little bit of a circuitous pathway. I don’t know how far you want to go back, but I think it is relevant because in a lot of ways I actually have come home, really from when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, despite how I couched the likelihood of the end of their season. 

 

I was a philosophy major and I was pre-med. And so I had planned to go to medical school and to really dedicate my life to the intersection of the mind and the body. And then I realized I didn't want to be a doctor. And I realized that a philosophy degree prepared me for pretty much everything and actually nothing. And so I decided ultimately that I really needed to get a business education and I was blissfully unaware of how impossible it would be for someone with that background to get a job in investment banking.

Rich Wallach: So I didn't join investment banking because I was one of these people who always wanted to be an investment banker. I did it because I just felt, look, it's two years of, of hell, frankly, and I'll get a great education. So I ended up getting really lucky. I spent two years at a boutique M&A firm. Moved to a bigger firm, then went and got my MBA and said, look, I don't know what I want to do when I get out of school. I know I just don't want to be a banker ever again. But then the money came knocking. It was like the tech boom. And I said, okay, I'll do this for a couple of years, but what I really want to do is operate companies. And so I'll get more experience being in boardrooms, talking to executives, helping to think through strategy.

And then when the time is right, I'll be able to jump over to one of my clients and, and find myself in the role that I really wanted, but with even more experience. And that was a great plan. But then the bottom fell out of the tech market and, you know, I was on a team with 27 dedicated verticals and technology became six.

Rich Wallach: And. Pretty soon. Honestly, it was likeStockholm syndrome kicked in. I had been like the old, I came up with 14 associates. I was the only one that hadn't been fired in in 18 months. And then I kind of looked up 10 years later and I said, what am I doing? This is just not what I was meant to do. And so I actually told them and there was a fantastic story of, of how I ended up leaving, which if we have time I'll go back and tell you about it was one of those “I wish I had the nerve to do X,” but at the end I was just kind of at my wit's end. And I said, look, I'm, I'm done. And they really wanted to keep me in the company. And there was a group that was going through a lot of changes, about 150 people. And they asked me if I would be the COO and run that group with the head of the group for a little while and he told me all things I would be doing. It sounded really interesting. It was a good kind of step back from, from the rigors of banking for a little while, as I thought about what I would do next.

And so I actually did that for about a year and a half. I will say I learned a lot. [00:04:00] It was a pretty mindless. You know, we'll talk about this, right? Every COO role is created very differently. It's a function of, who else is at the table, what the, what the business does, how the organization is structured.

But I was effectively the COO for about 150 - 200 people within a 70,000 person organization. So my day to day was really about managing tasks, right? We'd have HR matters. We'd have financial matters. We'd have insurance matters, travel. I would bring in resources from throughout the organization and I would basically tick off box.

It was pretty mindless. It was not what I really wanted to be doing, but again, I, I learned a lot. But, and those were skills that I took with me, but it was time for me to move on. So after about two years, I left I was thinking about starting my own business. I met the person who became my partner in my next venture, and we created a startup, which at the time was pretty [00:05:00] revolutionary.

It was a tool that would help people find content across any streaming service. But what it was really for us was a vehicle to collect really interesting data about consumer interests and behaviors and where they're discovering content with the idea that eventually will create really intelligent and actionable data for film marketers to be able to leverage and use in their marketing campaigns.

Rich Wallach: So look in a lot of ways we were early and the business performed okay. We ended up selling in 2017. You know, look, some sales are better than other sales, right? It was a sale and it afforded me now at, at the age of 44, 45, at the time to sit back and say, okay, look, you know, I've done okay.

I've learned a tremendous amount. I was a COO and CFO now for two different companies and the company that acquired it really wanted me to take on a [00:06:00] big role on the digital marketing side to basically run entire business as a public company and that pitch was what you can. This company can go from X to Y you're the growth driver in market like you will see a direct correlation between what you do and the value of the company. It sounded amazing except there was just one small problem, which is at that point in my life, at this point in my life to wake up every day for me to sell more digital ads is not something that's getting me out of bed.

I wanted to go back to. Being involved in something that I'm curious about that I'm passionate about. And most importantly, that I think truly adds value to the planet that we live on. I needed that. And so I got really lucky actually, because [Chopra Global] was going through a great deal of change and it's not really a startup. The company has been around for over 20 years, but it was off, it was always [00:07:00] kind of operated in a manner as if it was, but a startup not planning on growing. And I think they had a vision to bring in professional management and the requisite capital to take all of these things that the company had done for 20 years and really capitalize on it.

Rich Wallach: Now that the market they served actually became a mass market while they were kind of focused on other things. So essentially the puck moved to where the company had skated a long time before. And so it was just a perfect match for me right back home mind, body interaction 

Michael Koenig: Talk about that full circle.

Rich Wallach: full circle.

Rich Wallach: But as we say, it's synchrodestiny, it was actually always meant to me, 

Michael Koenig: Synchrodestiny. Okay. I got that. So very interesting. A very interesting pattern match here. I was actually philosophy in undergrad. And so many of the other COOs that I talk with [00:08:00] tend to come from those more humanity driven majors, whether it's English Lit, philosophy, sociology. Is there something, do you think there's something there? What is it that we're all kind of, you know, a little floaty perhaps in college? 

Rich Wallach: Yeah, it's interesting. I think I'm going to keep going back to this, which is every company, every COO role is different and what a company needs in their COO is, is going to be different from company to company.

And by the way someone who is a great COO in one circumstance is just not going to work in another it's an enigma, right? But in certain companies and I found where I thrive is where a big part of the role is being able to provide security and safety to the employees. Right. And there is, when you run a business, [00:09:00] there's always uncertainty.

You know, you, especially in early stage business, you hear an announcement about a new competitor and they do a big deal with, you know, some celebrity or there's a new product coming out. And it's so easy to get distracted and to get worried and to operate at a fever. But the reality is 95% of that never goes anywhere.

First of all, and you have to stick to what makes you unique and what makes you, you, and not worry about trying to do what someone else is doing, or get worried about what someone else is doing. The same thing goes for people's daily operations, right? There's a lot of change in a smaller organization.

People are often at a position. People are often uncomfortable when they're out of position. So they need to know that they've got support. They need to know that the company is on strong footing. They need to know that someone is paying attention to them and [00:10:00] is thinking about their career path.

Rich Wallach: Like all things, these things are really important in order to make people. Happy and secure because it's only when they're happy and secure that they're actually going to be able to do the best job possible. And so, you know, I think that that philosophy background going all the way back to where we got here, to be able to see everyone that you work with just fundamentally as a human being.

Right. I mean, I think to me that is one of the most important things and it manifests itself in so many ways in running a business, right. It means that when someone wants advice on something, you know, give them advice without making them feel foolish for needing the advice. And when you give them the advice, don't just tell them what you think, share with them, your perspectives, which ultimately will help them make their own decision. So ultimately it's their decision and they feel like they've owned it and [00:11:00] they'll continue to own it. And pretty soon, they're not going to be coming back to you because they've developed the confidence in their own ability to do that. So the people part is, is really for me, one half of the most critical piece of it all.

Rich Wallach: And I actually do think it stems from that more humanities based background. Believe me, Michael. They tried to squash the hell out of it when I worked at an investment bank, but I held strong. 

Michael Koenig: I don't doubt it. So it's interesting. You talk about safety and security. I mean, that crosses the bridge to any leadership position, not necessarily just being a COO.

Michael Koenig: And part of that, that you mentioned is around focus so that when people do see a new competitor or a new competitor launches a new feature, and start to question where the company's at, it’s so much about the long-term strategy is kind of what I heard and maintaining [00:12:00] focus. How do you do that within a company of 250 people?

Rich Wallach: Yes, it's funny because that actually. I don't know if I said two, but to me, when I think about the two areas where my speciality, it's almost like I gave you notes ahead of time. Like, we didn't talk about this, but, but I will tell you the other area where I think it, I personally excel is being able to understand corporate strategy, like what we're doing, like right on as a COO I'm in the room, but I've also seen like we mentioned, time in fortune 500 boardrooms advising boards on strategy. So I've seen a decent amount, right? I dive deep into what our strategy is, not just today, but what it is three, five years. And because in a lot of ways I'm helping craft what those strategies are. I'm more intimately familiar with those strategies than anybody else, right?

Rich Wallach: Because I'm also the one building the financial plan. So the CEO wants to know and wants to buy in [00:13:00] and wants to advise. But no one actually knows the micro levers the way I do and how to achieve the longer term strategy. That's one piece of it, but then having familiarity with all of the various parts of the business and being able then to make sure that all of those parts of the business are making decisions and taking actions that are aligned with what that longer-term strategy is.

Rich Wallach: It's always a balance, right? On the one hand, I'm a big fan of providing a lot of transparency. Right. So that maybe individuals will be able to make a lot of those decisions on their own because you're providing them with enough information, but they're never, always going to have perfect clarity on strategy.

Rich Wallach: And by the way, that's not even because maybe you don't want to provide it, but that stuff changed. It does change from week to week, from month to month, as new things arise, new [00:14:00] ideas and what you don't want to do, what is always the problem. And I, I've told this to people internally when they've suggested, “Hey, I think you should share this with the team.”

Rich Wallach: And I say, I don't want to share this with the team because it may change soon. And the problem with radical transparency, if you're telling everyone everything and every step of the way. You're going to end up confusing people. And remember, we just talked about uncertainty. You're gonna make people really uncertain about what they're doing today, if that's still going to be, what's gonna be required in, in a week or two. And the vast majority of the time, their jobs aren't affected by these things, but they still have that insecurity. So. It's always a balance for me, it's always a balance of wanting to communicate as much as possible and empower people to know how to make the right decisions with also wanting to create an environment where they feel that there's security.

Rich Wallach: We [00:15:00] have a consistency of vision that we're working towards and that's my job. And so therefore it's my job to nudge and to be subtle about pushing where I can in any area of the business, right. It could be something like a decision around a warehouse, or it could be decision on, you know, a specific legal agreement with an individual partner, right? I'm going to get involved, not drafting this stuff. I can't, but you know, the teams need support and, you know, I can provide that because I have a better macro perspective for all of this. 

Michael Koenig: That makes a lot of sense. And talking about stability, some of the best leaders that I've worked with, they are able to project this confidence where as a team member, you have faith that no matter what happens, if the ship is on fire, these guys are going to be able to put it out and steer you to safety and keep you going.

Michael Koenig: And you talk about that balance [00:16:00] though, of communicating the longer-term strategy with just the hectic chaos that is day to day of building a business. Now, how do you manage the changes that happen day in and day out and how they might affect the strategy where you might have to say “you know the market, the canvas everything's changed and we got to reevaluate our strategy now.”

Rich Wallach: Yeah. So it's a good question. Right? I am in my interpersonal relations I am very honest with my team and I couldn't mean it any more, when I say that they're not employees, they're human beings. Right. And they all have their hopes and dreams. Like I'll give you a perfect example of that. I lost as of earlier this week, a really key member of my team and, you know, it was painful.

Rich Wallach: And [00:17:00] I said to her, I said, look, you know, I, I think you should stay. I think it's the right, the right answer for you. All I can do is tell you all the things I know about Chopra and where we're going and what I think about what your priorities are. And tell you why I think it's the right move. Now, having said that, I don't know you in your head.

Rich Wallach: I don't know what your hopes and dreams are. I don't know what you need, what your goals are really. What's important to you over the next three weeks or six months or what you're going through personally only, you know that. So I'm never going to try and talk you into staying because I don't, I don't have enough information to do that based on what I know.

Rich Wallach: You should be staying and I'm going to give you all the reasons, but if it doesn't line up, God, I wish you nothing, but the best of luck because it's the right thing. And I, and I ended with [00:18:00] the one thing I will ask you is, do not, because she's a phenomenal person, since the only thing I'm going to ask you is for you not to choose to stay here because you feel an obligation to the company or to the people, because that's not a reason to stay.

Rich Wallach: Because at the end of the day, her happiness is more important than, you know, some small period of avoiding some small, particular potential period of dislocation. Right? I also think we'll be able to replace, her maybe not as well, we'll be able to train other people. But at the end of the day, she's a human being.

Rich Wallach: Her life is more important. The odds of she and I working together in 20 years are pretty slim. And so she needs to be focused on her life, not making my life easier. So look that that's, that's an example of another example is, you know, I worked for a big company. I got a lot of people under me. I take the view every day.

Rich Wallach: That pretty much everyone in that company can do their job better than I can do their [00:19:00] job. Okay. They I'm just, I, I, they just do their job better than me and. And as a result, they're all really important in the role that they are performing. And so we want to make sure that we're challenging them, that they're getting what they want from the company that it's ticking, all the boxes for them and in the today.

Rich Wallach: And there's a development plan that's being put in place to help them grow, because if they're not, then they're probably going to leave and. Again, if they leave, it's fine. But my first priority would be to keep great people, but to make sure that we're putting in place the infrastructure to allow them to thrive and to take all of their boxes.

Michael Koenig: Right. And that makes so much sense. I mean, at the end of the day, what our companies, people and processes. So if you don't have the proper focus on the people, the processes don't matter. Yes. 

Rich Wallach: I think they're both important obviously, but. I processes can actually help people [00:20:00] find more certainty in certain areas and stop worrying about certain things, because they know that there's a predictable time and a place when they can allocate mind, share to certain things it's framed in a weird way, rigorous processes can sometimes be very freeing. 

Michael Koenig: Again, helping with that stability and that consistency. So let me ask, it's a pretty large company, and you've talked a lot about how you focus on the people. How do you communicate regularly with the entire team you have? Obviously there are layers in the company, but also we're remote. You're working from your house. You got an awesome picture of a zebra behind you. And so how do you manage that? When you got a couple hundred people under you, how do you manage to keep everyone. 

Rich Wallach: Yeah, it is really tough. So we do that in a, in a couple of really easy ways, [00:21:00] right? I mean, we have every Monday we have an all group call.

Remember we're at the end of the day or a meditation mindfulness, a whole health company. We start with a 20 minute meditation. And then we go around to the various businesses and celebrate wins and losses. We actually used to do that on a daily basis, but frankly it became way too much and fatigue set in really quickly.

So I feel like that's an important step. We have a great culture team. So, you know, we actually delayed last night, we had a trivia night to celebrate October Fest, Happy hour, we try and do events a couple of times a week, whether it's a happy hour with drinks or it's an afternoon yoga or meditation.

Unfortunately last nights was pushed off. I think people wanted six more days to think that someone else might win besides me, but I'll take my rightful [00:22:00] title on Wednesday, evidently, but I actually think that, and so we have no physical office space anymore. We used to, or at least in California. It was end of lease in April of 2020.

We had shared space in New York, which we vacated. And when I came into the company a little over two years ago, there was actually an amazing stat. We had about 80 people in California. Now we only have 28 people in California and we have people in 17 states. That's a function of two things. It's a function of people having moved out of California now that they feel they can.

And then as we've been hiring new people, we've been pretty geographically agnostic, much to the sugar and of my accounting team, but it is what it is. And that that is going to continue. We have 15 or 16 open jobs on our website right now. All's being equal. I'd love them to be in California or [00:23:00] New York, but we are truly looking just for the best people, wherever they may be.

Rich Wallach: But having said that, I do think that not being co-located, especially for a company like our sizeI is taking a toll. And I do think that to some degree, people would never be able to put their finger on any level of dissatisfaction to it being a function of not being in an office, because everyone comes up with obvious reasons why not working in an office is actually the good thing, but I've always felt that being with other people, the energy that you feel, the body language that you encounter, it is so, so important to the creative process. And I think it is really important to the human connections and to feeling like you are part of something together that I wish that there was a way for us to be together more now. 

 

One of the things we are doing is we have one of our big customer [00:24:00] events is in LA at the end of October, it's a three-day event. We do a bunch of these a year. We actually hadn't done any of them for 19 months, which was a big problem for our business, but we're restarting. And following that we're actually going to be flying out all the employees for an employee offsite. For two days, people can come in early, they can go to the event, which is a great event.

And then we'll put them up for the two nights after the event and have a bunch of activities really was going to start off as more of a developmental type of itinerary. I think we've evolved it, and it's really just going to be more of a celebration of all the amazing things that we've accomplished against these headwinds over the past two years, 

Michael Koenig: That's phenomenal. We used to do something very similar at Automattic, which is an entirely distributed company across the world. And once a quarter, our teams would just pick a place in the [00:25:00] world and they'd go meet up. And then once a year, the entire company would get together, which logistically is quite a feat.

One of the things that we learned after a couple of years, we would always have these big, ambitious projects that we would try to accomplish and, and work together side by side. But as we went on more and more, we started to realize that we can work together online, we don't have to be side by side, but we can't relax together, have fun together, have shared experiences.

And so for you all to kind of realize that right upfront, I mean, that must speak to the mindfulness that you all are bringing to the table.

Rich Wallach: Yeah. I mean, we, we are going to be in a conference room for a little while, but there's some fun activities planned for sure. Yeah, 

Michael Koenig: that's fantastic. So we've all [00:26:00] had those moments where you have a new problem and you thought, “well, never thought I'd see that.” Does one come to mind that you can share?

Rich Wallach: oh my God, the nature, the nature of my job and the companies I work for. The things come up all the time. I mean, there, there's not a day that it's not, I can't shock that this is something I have to be dealing with. Now most of them, I'm not, I'm not going to get into right. I'll go back to some of that. Some of this. So nothing, nothing for my current role. There's never a problem.

Michael Koenig: It's always smooth sailing.

Rich Wallach: Well, yeah, but look, I mean, I worked in an investment bank and the, in 2000 to 2010 and just, that was a different world. So you would mention that to me, that, and I started thinking. And I actually, my first reaction was to [00:27:00] Google, whether one of the crazy things that I had to deal with was actually still on the internet.

And lo and behold, I found it, it was, it was a picture of what one of my analysts had done to his. Area when he had decided that he kind of had enough, you know, I went out in the not so spectacular way. He went out in a, in a very spectacular way, but in that environment, there were a lot of unfortunate, ugly matters that I had to deal with.

A lot of the best of people, but a lot of frankly, you know, the not so great with people. I mean, I had, you know, I had an employee who got really sick. I think they were sick, but this was after they had asked really hard to take a third year offer. And as an analyst, you do two years and then maybe you're invited to stay a third year. This person wanted to stay third [00:28:00] year. I was on the fence about it, but she was really committed. So I said, you know what? This there'll be a big year for you. Fine. She was thrilled. About two weeks later, she stopped coming into the office all day. There were some health issues I didn't push.

HR was handling it. I was just doing my job, but then it was told to me that she was out at recruiting events and participating in all of the festivities on those recruiting events. Then I got word that this person had actually accepted a job in San Francisco, had an apartment lease starting in like three weeks.

Rich Wallach: And the only reason I wasn't told was because she was hoping I would find out so that I would then fire them so that they could collect severance. And [00:29:00] I mean, to me, that's, that's crazy, right? Because that is so, so an anathema to who I am and how I operate. Like I almost can't process how someone would actually think like that.

And then of course, you know, I had to handle that situation. Things get twisted around and it was not fun, but hey look, all of these things, you know, you, you put in your little quiver and you know, you remember what to do better, what to do worse next time. But the, the, the personnel issues are typically you know, 30 to 40% of the thorny issues that you face.

And I, at least that I faced in my career as a COO. Then you've always got similar stuff with partners, right. That stuff always comes up. And then, you know, you've always got to deal with governments that come in and throw a bomb on what you're doing and, you know, product recalls and data breaches.

Rich Wallach: And it's never a dull moment that [00:30:00] all goes right to the desk of the COO. Well, in a small, in like a growing startup company, particularly like pieces of that, when you're in a much bigger company, you have the ability to hire people who are experts in these areas. But you know, it's really hard to have a set of tasks that you're going to the office every day and that you do, you know, this, you put together a to-do list and you'll get through the day and you look at your to do list and you haven't even ticked off a single one of them. Cause nine other things have come up and usually those nine things come up because they're important to somebody else in your organization. And your natural tendency is to want to make those people happy so that they can do their job. Understanding that you'll find time to do your job whenever you can.

Michael Koenig: When everyone else is sleeping pretty much. Right?

 

Rich Wallach: Exactly. 

 

Michael Koenig: Yeah. I'm LinkedIn. I think I have a [00:31:00] aspiring sleeper as my description. 

 

Rich Wallach: You wouldn't be able to do the, the problems are interesting, right? It's fun. I mean, at the end of the day, it's it's fun. Otherwise you wouldn't do it.

Michael Koenig: So, well, let me ask you, a lot of our listeners are, of course, COO's, they're going into new roles. Maybe they're a new COO. Maybe they're a veteran one. What advice would you give them going into a new company?  

Rich Wallach: I think the, the it's slightly different, but not too much different, whether it's their first time or it's a new company.

I think it's really important at the outset. To get a feel for what the CEO wants and wants from you, what they want to be involved in and what they don't. You're going to have CEO's who really just wants someone to take a bunch of stuff off their plate. You're going to have other CEOs that are going to want someone to partner with [00:32:00] them, but ultimately to come to them for anything meaningful. And that's just not scalable in a lot of ways. So you need to be really clear with them. Well, what are the matters that you just want me taking care of to really free you up and where you want me. So making sure that the expectations are set between the CEO and the COO is, is probably the most critical piece to get right up front.

And then an understanding obviously of where you're fitting into the organization structurally. So what are the various business processes that are reporting into you and who those people are? That's critical because when you first come in that's table stakes, right, you've got to be able to perform those roles, or you're just going to flat out fail.

Now that doesn't mean that six to nine months down the road, that's still what you're going to be doing. Right? Because the real important part of it to me is to look around the organization, to learn about the company, learn how things are [00:33:00] working and see where other people actually can use more.

Rich Wallach: That could be human, right? You're just, your involvement can mean capital community development, but are maybe not confident enough to ask for it or don't fully appreciate going back to the strategy piece. Why asking for that will move the needle in other areas of the company and also areas where there needs to be changed, but inertia as hard to overcome. So being able to come around and go around and see where can I create more impact, and then trying to build the consensus around. Doing that with both the CEO and the people in those other departments is really important because ultimately you don't want to just come in and do the job, you want to come in and make maximum impact.

And so, you know, the third piece of that, which is really important is, is to at the same time, not [00:34:00] feel pressure to try and do any of that too, because that number one runs the risk of rubbing people the wrong way. You may not still yet have all the information that you need. Right. And these things are processes, right?

Especially if a company has been doing something a certain way for so long, you want to be respectful always to the history that was there or you will lose trust of the people. What was it, “win the crowd, win you’re freedom,” Gladiator? Yeah, no, I mean, but it's true. You really, you really do need to, if the people don't trust you and that means trust your skills, but also trust your intentions, you're going to fail completely.

Michael Koenig: Yeah. And so that trust comes from learning and respecting what's been done. And also there's that change management sometimes where the way things have been done can't necessarily continue on. And [00:35:00] that's often the case with companies that bring in a COO. How do you manage and balance introducing that change while still respecting and not upsetting the apple cart too much?

Rich Wallach: Yeah. Look, I mean, it's always, it's always balance, right? Balances is a critical. Good word. And so much of what's required. You know, I had a COO once when I worked at the bank and she, she was just unbelievable and she worked for the the head of investment bank. And he was a tough guy, but brilliant guy.

So she, and she once said to me, and she wasn't bragging. She just told this to me in confidence. She said, “my goal is to, if I have an idea is to make Jim at the end of the day, think it's his [00:36:00] idea.” And that means a bunch of things, right. That doesn't mean like, you know, Jedi mind tricks. It means presenting it in the right way so that it can go through his own filter.

So he truly owns it, but by the time it gets fully, you know, processed, he's so committed to it that he doesn't even remember that it didn't come from him. And then at that point, it's more likely to get an act in and have a lot of energy behind it. And I said, but my concern, cause I was 20, sorry, I was 30 something at the time.

I couldn't believe this. I said, well then you don't get any credit for it. And she said, “I don’t. That's correct, but we get to the right outcome and that's better for everybody.” And that is something that I've been working hard on for like 15 years. I'm not there yet. Right. The ego is a really hard thing to [00:37:00] check sometimes, but you know, we're all works in process.

Michael, I'm working on that one personally. 

Michael Koenig: So Rich, I've got to ask and it's likely the most important question that I'm going to ask. Perhaps the hardest. What animal do you think best represents you, Rich Wallach? 

Rich Wallach: I'm going to go with the lemur. I like lemurs, man. They're small and unobtrusive. They kind of go about doing their business. You know, they're thoughtful. They're not eternal. I think. Yeah, there you go. Sense of humor. That's me to a “T” right?

Michael Koenig: To a “T.” Thoughtful and humorous that's how we'll remember the lemur. Perfect. Well that just about, does it Rich, thanks so much for really dropping some knowledge on us, sharing your experience, sharing the advice.

And so I [00:38:00] understand Deepak Chopra, you have a new iOS app. You want to give it a little plug?

Rich Wallach: Yeah. So we launched our first subscription app about a year ago. We've got over 700,000 installs without actually having gone out and done any paid marketing. So that will change soon. But look, it's all about creating a personalized set of practices, not just around meditation, but around all of the pillars of wellbeing. 

 

So that's nutrition and movement and purpose and relationships which is really hard to do by the way, to try and give that much information to people in a personalized manner. But fortunately for us, we are through 20 years of work, the experts in Ayurvedic, which is an ancient healing system that stipulates, that we all have certain base natures. We all believe this, right? You take [00:39:00] Myers-Briggs you do, you know, GallupStrengthsFinder, we're all wired a certain way. And then in daily life, we come in and out of balance with our true nature. Once you look at it that way, there's clear empirically proven practices across all of these pillars that can bring you personally back into balance with your true nature based on how you're feeling now at this point in time. It works and it”s elegant by the way, to be able to provide a lot of personalized content at scale. And so we've been doing that for decades and now we're bringing that to the masses. 

Michael Koenig: That's awesome. And I think every COO needs, otherwise, you just get eaten alive by all of the different problems. 

Rich Wallach: Well, yeah. Remember we believe, we believe in what we do. I'm going to tell you one last story. Cause you asked me to plug my company. So I want to tell you one last story. You know, I've [00:40:00] met with a couple of companies, nominally speaking in our space, right. And they've always described to me the way they ended up in this market. Well, they saw a white space, big opportunity for meditation or yoga, and no company was doing it this way and they want to do it this way. 

 

And I'm always amazed because I looked at them and I say, well, that's, that's really interesting. Like, that's not how we came to this. We came to it because Deepak Chopra brought these teachings over the west, lived it, started providing these too the few people on the planet, on the east coast who were willing to, and had the money, frankly, to, to explore these practices that truly transformed their lives.

And then the market became a mainstream market. We never had products and services to scale to that, even though we were the authority in the area. And so now all we're doing is making those tools that we've already had these 20, 30 years of knowledge of [00:41:00] hundreds of books, of Deepak, of content, of courses that we provide to people, the events that we bring to people to now help the vast amounts of people who are now ready to hear this, to actually hear it from this source rather than from some marketing organization. So it's an exciting time and that's what we're calling. 

Michael Koenig: Yeah. It's a digitization and doing something at scale. So if that's something that excites you, gets you up Chopper Global. They're hiring. Go check it out. Deepak Chopra.com. 

Rich Wallach: We are growing rapidly now. 

Michael Koenig: Well, awesome. You'll have to come back. We'll do it again in six months and that'll do it. So thanks everyone for listening to between two COO's I'm your host, Michael Koenig, and a very special guest and a special thank you to our special guests.

Michael Koenig: Rich Wallach for [00:42:00] joining us. Tune in next time for our next COO chat on between two COO's and be sure to subscribe on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. So you never miss an episode just visit between two COO's dot com for more. And if you have a minute, please leave us a review on apple podcasts and tell others about the show so they can get great advice from phenomenal COOs.

Michael Koenig: Thanks for listening to this week's episode of between two COO's until next time.[00:43:00] 

Rich Wallach Profile Photo

Rich Wallach

COO & CFO

Rich Wallach is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Chopra Global, the company behind Deepak Chopra's initiatives. Prior to Chopra, Rich founded and exited GoWatchIt, a content marketing analytics SaaS, and before that served as COO of the M&A group at Credit Suisse.

Dharma (your purpose in life)
To facilitate understanding

Happy place
On a lake in the Adirondack Mountains

Favorite self-care practice
Walking meditation