As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ross Freedman.
Ross Freedman is co-founder & CEO at Rightpoint, a Genpact Company. Ross’ fundamental belief is that every company is either an experience company today or will need to reinvent themselves to become one. Rightpoint helps the most iconic brands in the world create digital experiences driven by insight, strategy, design and technology to transform the way they do business.
Ross’ responsibility at Rightpoint is to enable the company to achieve its shared vision and build a culture where teams can do career and industry-defining work. Under Ross’ leadership, Rightpoint has grown to become an award-winning digital consultancy with more than 800 people across 12 offices around the globe.
A pioneer and a visionary in creating breakthrough digital experiences, Ross continues to drive creativity and tech innovation with an eye towards the future of digital. In 2015, Ross was the winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Midwest region.
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?
Thanks for your time, as well! I started Rightpoint back in 2007 along with my co-founder Brad Schneider. Our business focuses on providing digital transformations driven by insight, strategy, technology, and design to evolve the way clients do business.
I received, what I refer to as my “big break,” back in 2009 when our company of just about 30 employees at the time, managed to win our first client — a medical devices and healthcare company — that put us on the map. Another milestone for me was in back 2015 when Brad and I were recipients of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Midwest region.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I recently read “Insanely Simple.” It’s about the obsession that drives Apple’s success. I learned that simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple — it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization and the obsession with simplicity is what separates Apple from other companies.
As Rightpoint has grown, the company has gotten more and more complex — our clients, the industry and market we serve are all more complex than ever. Our ability to reduce the complexity, boiling it down to the insanely simple has, become a core value at Rightpoint and a lens which we look at everything through. This concept of simplicity now permeates everything we do and a core part of how we work with clients.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I have a passion for marrying creativity and technology to solve business problems and transform brands. This passion is what I believe pushes the Rightpoint team to do great things and fuels our “intrapreneurial” spirit.
At Rightpoint we honor great experiences. We honor the PEOPLE who create them and the power they have to improve lives around the world….this is what we stand for.
We’re not about creating apps, commerce websites and portals, although we do those things really well, better than anyone in most cases. But that is not why we get out of bed in the morning. We’ve always been about making a bigger impact and improving lives in some way through the work that we do.
Our brand purpose… the reason why we exist is for the relentless pursuit of a world that works better for people. This is our shared north star. Our mission.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My fundamental belief is that every company is either an experience company today or will need to reinvent themselves to become one.
Experience companies curiously and courageously look at the world through the lens of one simple question, which, I believe, has become the foundation for how we define our purpose as an organization at Rightpoint: Why doesn’t everything just work better?
Building upon our shared core values, I believe this question truly defines us as individuals, and as an organization…
It defines our approach to how we solve really hard problems.
It defines why we keep pushing ourselves to do great work and create better experiences for our clients.
But most importantly, even … potentially without knowing it, subconsciously on some level it is the lens each and every one of us uses, to look at the world we live in, and define how we help people — every. single. day.
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?
One challenge we saw early on was the shift to remote work, and how that shift upended the way some businesses operated. I’m happy to share that at Rightpoint, we have been working remotely with some of our employees and teams for years, so we were prepared to shift away from the physical office.
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?
At Rightpoint, we believe that even prior to the pandemic, there was a shift happening in the way people interact with, and experience, brands. Every touchpoint with a person, both a customer, a potential customer, or employee, etc., is an opportunity for an experience. Brands that have this understanding are posited to have an easier transition back to what we may consider “normal” post-pandemic. However, these trends transcend this moment and time, and we anticipate that this will only continue as we get back to normal, collectively.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I don’t think that the COVID-19 pandemic particularly changed the way we behave, act, or live as it pertains to trends that we were already seeing pre-COVID. If anything, I believe what we are experiencing is an acceleration of trends. We are seeing brands accelerate to meet the needs of not only consumers, but their employees, and more. The brands that have learned how to create meaningful and engaging experiences across multiple areas of their business are best positioned to continue to be successful as we emerge out of the pandemic.
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?
We believe the single most important thing an organization can do today is to create and deliver remarkable customer and employee experiences that inspire joy in the post-covid world. The experiences Rightpoint creates are intimately and inseparably connected to the way we make people feel. When we do our best work, we enable people to experience a small dose of unexpected joy — beyond what would have normally been a routine digital transaction or brand touchpoint And by creating experiences that inspire joy, we help our fellow humans feel — even for a moment — that they matter and are heard. This is more important than ever in the post covid world we live in.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
How we make people feel is the final competitive advantage for any organization. So I would encourage people and companies to operate with the mindset that Experience is the product or service they are selling. And the best experiences are invisible — you don’t even notice them because they’re so seamless.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
LEAD WITH EMPATHY. “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” — Mohsin Hamid
Empathy is the foundation for connecting with others and connecting with others is an essential part of business and life. Empathy is a sustainability tool that can help us create a far better environment in which to live and work. Leading with empathy has helped me be a better parent to my kids a better husband to my wife and a better leader as the CEO of Rightpoint. This is because an empathetic leader (whether in business or in personal life) shows interest in the lives of the people around them, their thoughts and feelings, and the challenges they may be facing. After taking the time to listen to them and evaluate, a leader will think of ways of helping them fulfill their needs to create a sustainable positive relationship.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Readers can find out about me and Rightpoint via our website — rightpoint.com — as well as follow me on LinkedIn — at Ross Freedman: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rossfreedman.