Phillip Strazzulla started his career as a VC at Bessemer Venture Partners before getting his MBA at Harvard Business School. He’s a self-taught programmer who runs SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping businesses find and buy the right tools.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Phillip Strazzulla: I run a website called SSR where we write extensively about business software. We do our best to research what the best tools are, how to vet them for your business, how much to pay for them, and anything else related to buying software. I’m a bit of a business nerd and have been investing since I was 12. I’m a self-taught programmer, and generally love to learn about anything business-related.
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Phillip Strazzulla: My Mom is the most influential person in my life. She helped shape who I am through mentorship, advice, and pushing me when I needed to be pushed. A great example of this was my wrestling career. I was a shy middle schooler and my Mom thought I should go out for the wrestling team as a way to build confidence (and physical strength, something else I was lacking in!). Six years later I won the state championship, and I think that was a very formative experience for me.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Phillip Strazzulla: The biggest challenge for me was staying productive despite the many distractions of working from home, and current events. I was lucky to have a gym in my building, and exercising daily became an essential part of making progress in my business. Meditation also played a big role and I was able to find a lot of headspace through the app with the same name.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Phillip Strazzulla: The great resignation has impacted me as our site has a ton of resources for HR teams, and has been used extensively by companies looking to re-staff. It’s also impacted several of the businesses that I am an investor in. Unfortunately, it’s just tough to retain talent with record household savings, a high stock market, and increasing inflation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Phillip Strazzulla: I think a lot of people left the workforce for good through early retirement during the pandemic. Strong capital markets and a renewed focus on “what’s important” were the two catalysts here. The bottom line though is that many people will rejoin the workforce in 2022 as savings run out and the world either fully adapts to the new normal, or goes back to the way it was previously.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Phillip Strazzulla: Companies can leverage technology that improves the employee experience to adapt here. For example, many businesses help companies deal with mental health (Lyra, Spring, Ginger, Modern, and others). Many recognition companies help build a culture (Bonsuly, Kazoo, Kudos, Blueboard, RewardGateway, and others). Companies need to realize they are fighting against other jobs from international organizations through remote work too. If you don’t have a strong employee value proposition, it’s time to change!
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Phillip Strazzulla: I think most of this feeling is due to a lack of deep work that gets done in today’s organizations. A lot of time is splintered by emails, slack, texts, meetings, etc. You can go months just treading water and not making real progress. Read Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” – and then carve out time for your employees to take advantage of the techniques in this book.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Phillip Strazzulla: Employers who can offer differentiated and impactful value propositions to employees will win, and will not have to worry about employee churn. This can come from compensation, unique cultures, company values. However, the most impactful now comes from how work gets done. Is it remote, flexible, OKR focused, and light on facetime? If so, you have a great opportunity to attract and retain talent.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Phillip Strazzulla: Right now we want to make sure we are serving our users the best we possibly can. That means continuing to do in-depth research into everything that’s happening in the world of business software.
Before we finish things off, we do have one last question. If you had 10 Million Dollars to spend in one day, what would you spend it on?
Phillip Strazzulla: Wow, what a question! I would give most of it to a charity where I could see the impacts of the money in people’s lives immediately – maybe a food bank or something else that helped families who are just down on their luck.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Phillip Strazzulla 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 Phillip Strazzulla or his company, you can do it through his – Twitter
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.