David Galownia excels at propelling Slingshot towards their goals and oversees the strategic direction of the company. He’s been described as ‘intense, driven, caring, and passionate’ both at work and play.
At work, he enjoys watching his team explore, imagine, and reinvent to do the best by their clients. At play, he drives Karts at insanely high speeds and scares his wife half to death. It’s all or nothing. Which means he gives it all.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Please introduce yourself to our readers by sharing your story.
David Galownia: Sure! My name is David and I’m the founder and CEO of Slingshot. I took a bit of an odd path to get to opening a custom app development firm. When I was young, the career paths that interested me were race car driver, Navy Seal, Fighter jet pilot, or Architect.
A far cry from a tech company owner but not as far as you might think. For me, it was important that I could do something that required a bit of daring, allowed me to be creative, and offered independence. Being a business owner had all three of those things.
I came about tech when I was pursuing a career in earnest driving race cars. Long story short I did not make it but I had to create a website for my sponsors along the way. I learned to do this by myself and really enjoyed the process.
At this point I had dropped out of college to pursue racing full time but decided to go back, this time fully focused on learning software. When I graduated, I immediately started Slingshot and here we are today, 15 years later.
2020-2021 was unlike any other year. What is your favorite item you’ve bought in the past months and why?
David Galownia: I bought myself some cooking classes. It’s a fun activity my family can do together. I love to cook and am always looking to learn more!
Life is like a box of chocolates…What unexpected surprises did life grant you that contributed to your success?
David Galownia: When my company was early in its consultancy there were just two of us, both owning half the business. We were doing work with a client and got a huge opportunity. It was too big for us. The client wanted us to do the work but we couldn’t in good conscience take the work at our current size and finish in time.
The client was insistent so we found a way where we could do a small part of the work and do that very well. They weren’t interested but still wanted us to do all of it! Finally we surmised there was a way to do it but we needed 2 other individuals who we knew well and together all four of us could execute at the level we’d feel good about it. The only problem was that these individuals were working jobs and we’d need to hire them. We decided we couldn’t risk their livelihood unless we could at least pay them for a full year after the job.
We went back to that client with an outrageous price but with a straight face. We told them the situation and said this was the ONLY way in which we would do that work. They pushed us hard to negotiate, to use contractors we didn’t know. We did not budge an inch and in the end they said yes.
I believe to this day they said yes because of the lengths we went through to get that deal. They knew we could be counted on to deliver and the price we were asking was worth that. From that day forward I realized there is no such thing as a crazy offer and that I didn’t need to compromise my own values to succeed in business. In fact quite the opposite, it would be a differentiator
Tell us about the job. Is there any exciting project you’re currently working on?
David Galownia: Yes of course! Slingshot is a custom software and app development company that specializes in taking ideas from vision to launch. We have a mix of designers, developers, product owner, and QA analysts. We have several enterprise level clients about to launch very important and visible initiatives.
One is a telemedicine platform for the state of Illinois. Another is a global marketplace for alternative energy sources. On the flip side we also have several startups on the venture side of our business launching brand new products with two of them recently landing the first paying customers.
Sir Richard Branson famously stated that “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” As a CEO/leader how do you feel about this philosophy and if you agree with it, how do you implement that in your company? Conversely, if you disagree, explain why and how do you do things differently?
David Galownia: I agree that it’s a great start, but it has to go beyond that; there has to be clear expectations, vision, and consistency. But ultimately he’s right, the first best thing you can do in any business is have great people. I would take great people and little process over great process, structure, discipline, etc and average people anyday.
However, the best results come when you can combine the two. Great people with clear expectations, support they need, and enough process that helps execution but doesn’t box them in.
Burnout is a key indicator that you’re not taking care of your employees. We’ve handled burnout by allowing for mental health days and a personal weekly round-up. The mental health days are just like paid sick leave: if you need a day to de-stress, you can take it. You can only do your best work when you feel your best, and this includes not just physical but also mental health.
In our weekly round-up, we take a bit to discuss (if they’re comfortable) what’s going on in our personal lives. This allows people to get things off their chest and talk about them should they need to.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, in many cases, it pushed the employees and the consumers to critical stress points. How did you lead your team through these difficult times and maintain a good reputation?
David Galownia: With COVID, the first thing was assurances: remain calm and make sure you have different plans and obstacles handled well. If you’re going remote, do you have a plan you’ve thought through? That will help assure your employees and customers.
After that, it’s about adapting: how will you adapt to the new world? Are you going to change policies, or stay where you are? Think if there’s a new way of doing things.
Lastly, be cognisant of things you’re losing or have lost due to COVID. An example is in-person office culture. Be aware of the positives and negatives in this, and deal with it through a plan: elevate the positives, and mitigate the negatives.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank David Galownia for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with David Galownia or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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