As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Gusz.
Dan grew up in the Midwest before going to college on the East Coast. Now the CEO of a career navigation startup named Lloyd (www.withlloyd.com), Dan previously worked in consulting and then at an early-stage medical device startup. Dan and his sister recently co-founded Lloyd to bring clarity to the careers of millions of individuals around the world. Their company works one-on-one with each member, aiming to bring this high-value service to members at a reasonable price. Outside of work, Dan lives in Harlem, New York with his wife and enjoys golfing, running, and Cleveland sports.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in the Midwest before going to college on the East Coast. My career started in consulting, working on strategy and M&A engagements across many industries. After a few years, while in my mid-20s, I wanted to take a risk and joined a very early stage medical device startup. It was a phenomenal experience for me, personally and professionally, as I helped grow the business over four and a half years. Earlier this year, I felt the urge again to jump into a new adventure and co-founded Lloyd (www.withlloyd.com) with my older, (and wiser) sister Nikki Gusz.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I think we probably made a lot of the classic mistakes when getting Lloyd off the ground. Most are fairly mundane so no necessary funny mistakes, but certainly good learning lessons for both of us as co-founders.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The book that continues to impact me the most is “Delivering Happiness” by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. There are other books that may provide savvier business advice or that are used to teach an MBA class, but this book taught me just how important it is to go above and beyond for your customers. Now we try to do this every day at Lloyd.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Our purpose is to bring clarity to careers. Both Nikki and I felt that there is a need for stronger, more affordable, and long-term support structure for people to navigate their careers. We felt this ourselves, personally, which is what drove us to start Lloyd. We are truly inspired everyday by the goals and aspirations of each one of our members, despite the challenges of navigating one’s career, and we are honored to continue to work with our members each and every day.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Probably not a number one principle, but the stories and difficulties that many individuals face in their careers keeps me going, even when things are tough. Many of our members have been laid off recently, and others have difficult work situations that they are navigating. Even in the tough times, that is our mission and why we keep going.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
My wife is a physician in the Bronx, and during this time we also had another physician staying in our apartment who came back to NYC to help treat patients during the pandemic. Seeing both of these women go into their hospitals each day during the pandemic was inspiring. The 7pm cheers in New York City for essential workers have been a very special time of day for me. Our family has been incredibly lucky to be mostly safe and healthy during the pandemic, with a huge thank you going to the front line heroes.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Nikki and I are incredibly lucky and fortunate during this time. Compared to the challenges faced by front line healthcare and essential workers, or the challenges faced by those that have been laid off, we feel fortunate right now. We wish all the best to those individuals that are facing challenges during this time.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I think we are probably experimenting with a lot of the same things as others, like frequent video calls with family and friends to stay connected. In New York, most businesses are still closed as of right now, so we have tried to get creative with how we see others. For instance, socially-distanced picnics in a backyard have become a new tradition as a way to see others while also staying safe. We have been trying activities like the picnic just to try to bring some normalcy to these times.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Lloyd is in the career co-pilot, helping members navigate each phase of their career with one-on-one support. We started Lloyd before the COVID-19 era but have adapted our business due to the career uncertainties being felt by individuals across most sectors today. With unemployment rates approaching Great Depression levels, many members are joining Lloyd to help navigate these uncertain times. While this is an area of growth for us, we also recognize that we need to adopt our business to further meet the needs of our membership. We are seeing growth, but want to grow in a responsible way for our membership.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
The short answer is in most ways. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely going to fast-track many trends that would have otherwise played out over decades: a transition to more remote-education, telehealth, creative communication methods, and so much more. Even if / when there is a vaccine, these new trends will already be in motion. The cat will already be out of the bag. While I personally am very excited about these trends as they generally increase access, I hope that the quality doesn’t in return diminish. For instance, will a telehealth visit be the same as in-person? Will working remotely be as productive as working with colleagues in an office? Will trust be created in the same way? There are tradeoffs, so time will tell.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
As a baseline, we are a remote-first career navigation business that provides an offering to our members remotely. Our service aims to bring a higher-quality, longer-term product to our members at a far more reasonable cost than alternatives in the market today. We are continuing to build this business to be flexible and nimble, as we know that we will need to react quickly to the changing needs of our membership.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Be flexible. The world around us continues to change each day. I have found that flexibility goes a long way right now, both for your teams internally and when working externally with customers and partners.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A previous boss of mine taught me a lesson that stuck with me ever since. We were working on a tough consulting project: long hours, high stress, upcoming deadlines. Some of our work lacked detail, and we were having trouble accessing the information we needed. The lesson he taught was a simple phrase: “Boots on the ground always win.” It is more of a philosophy that if you need information, or want to learn something, go directly to the source. Don’t wait for them to come to you, or for something magically to happen. If you need something, go get it yourself!
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