Kevin Lee, co-founder of immi, comes from a background in VC and product management, and brought his learnings from those experiences to guide his success as a founder. In this episode he shares his insights on making the most of every hire, delegation, and creating processes and culture that allow the whole business to grow and thrive.
In this episode Jason was curious about how Kevin Lee and his partner developed immi, the world’s first high-protein plant-based instant ramen, but more than the product, he wanted to focus on the people. Kevin is known for being a leader, and as a young founder himself, Jason was curious, how was Kevin able to go from working with money to managing a business and scaling up to having a thriving staff in such a short time? Kevin shares candidly about what he had to unlearn to become a good delegator, the team-wide written exercises that took his team to the next level, and his standards for hiring and setting expectations in a way that makes the most out of each person’s time at his company. Going it alone will only get a company so far and Kevin’s vision for growing the entire immi team will be inspiring and helpful in pragmatic ways to any entrepreneur at the beginning of their hiring journey.
Books recommended in this episode:
The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building by Matt Mochary
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Kevin’s company: https://immieats.com/
Kevin’s twitter: https://twitter.com/kevinleeme
➡️ Building Blocks website: bbclass.co
🍍Jason’s twitter: https://twitter.com/EggrolI
Kevin is an angel investor and entrepreneur who founded immi eats as part of his mission to improve people's health by democratizing access to nutritious and delicious food.
[00:00:00] Kevin Lee: I have this bad habit, like most first-time founders of, you know, when we don't know something, we feel this need to go learn it ourselves and do it ourselves.
[00:00:07] Jason Wong: One thing that I always tell people is that like, if you want to be a founder, try working for someone else first, like learn what's broken and what's working.
[00:00:14] Jason Wong: Don't just drop out of high school and go become a founder. Like. I don't think you've ever encouraged someone to do that.
[00:00:32] Jason Wong: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the building blocks podcast. I'm super excited to invite Kevin Lee, who is a co-founder immi. His co-founder is also called Kevin, which gets me confused sometimes. The two Kevin's build immi which is a better for you Asian-American food brand that invented the world's first, low carb, high protein, and a hundred percent plant-based instant ramen.
[00:00:55] Jason Wong: And as someone who's tried their ramen from the first inception, I [00:01:00] can say you guys came a long way and still have done an exceptional job at keeping it taste so good yet so healthy.
[00:01:08] Jason Wong: Welcome.
[00:01:09] Kevin Lee: Well, thanks so much for having me on, and then I'm so glad that you like the new version of immi. Yeah, we're just happy to be here.
[00:01:17] Jason Wong: It's, it's definitely challenging to make a food item because like a good food item that's healthy. That's traditionally so unhealthy. So the fact that you're able to do it, I'm just impressed by it. For the purpose of like today, I really want to go over things that you haven't really talked about. I know you talked about a lot about the products, by why don't dive into running the business, because I previously was a VC. And this is your first time founding a CPG company. There's definitely a lot of learnings that you had over the past couple of years. And I really want dive deep into it and there's, there's definitely a lot of things that I look up to you for in how you run your business. Out of curiosity, we'll, we'll ask some of those [00:02:00] questions. So like before I get into that, just one question on a product, how, like, what was that like? What was that one thing that almost made you give up on making immi? Like when, when you were making the product?
[00:02:13] Kevin Lee: Oh, man. So many, yeah, I think the first time we tried to manufacture it, immi, we wanted to go international and this was in the start of the pandemic. So there were a couple of things that went wrong. The first thing was we shipped like a huge inventory shipment over to this Asian country, thinking that we would be able to manufacture there and their FDA had special laws that blocked one of our core ingredients.
[00:02:43] Kevin Lee: So our entire shipment just got stuck at customs, and then they eventually burned the entire shipment because they didn't want to allow it into the country. So that was a huge, that was just like six months of wasted work, because we had already talked with this manufacturer there. We had built this relationship and we [00:03:00] just didn't read the fine print on the FDA rules.
[00:03:03] Kevin Lee: So that was like a massive tragedy for us. And then following that, basically the pandemic started and the borders shut down, so we couldn't go international at all. So we had to bring everything back state side, try to find a local manufacturer who had zero experience producing. And we had to try to teach them how to make what we wanted to make.
[00:03:25] Kevin Lee: And that led to honestly, a very subpar version of what we really wanted to produce as the final end state. So that was probably the first version that you, I know we've talked about. You would still have one packet in your home, but it took us another year of R and D to get to where we are today.
[00:03:42] Jason Wong: That's impressive.
[00:03:43] Jason Wong: I was talking to another founder, Nick. He founded Midday Squares, exceptional chocolate company. And he ran into the same thing because no one was really able to make what he was trying to make. And that goes to show like you guys are truly trailblazers and creating [00:04:00] something in that category that you just cannot get it off the shelf and brand as your own, like you're building something unique.
[00:04:07] Jason Wong: And he also went through that process of actually I just take production inside our garage because no one else could do it the way that they want to do. So I just loved hearing these stories because this is the side that people don't see about being a founder is that you're gonna have to roll up your sleeves, get dirty and like really figure it out when no one else wants to.
[00:04:28] Kevin Lee: Totally.
[00:04:29] Kevin Lee: And you've been through this, I mean, since a very young age, from what I've read and I know you've, you've gone through tons of tribulations, yourselves starting all sorts of products. So I know, you know exactly how this feels.
[00:04:40] Jason Wong: I think fulfillment was probably the worst. I've never like manufactured products ourselves, but fulfillment was the biggest headache,
[00:04:46] Jason Wong: like I literally had to do all the carrier settings, like picking and packing, barcoding, like inventory. It was a crash course at like 16. But I want to get [00:05:00] into the team side. This is something that I never really get to talk about with founders. And I think you bring a very fresh perspective because you didn't have management skills that you today, like you came from finance background at a VC firm and jumping into a founder. What was that biggest thing that you learned once you start growing your team instead of being yourself, you now have people under you?
[00:05:24] Kevin Lee: Yeah, I think so I guess the one thing that caveat is before venture, I did work as a product manager in the tech industry and there I did manage teams, but the funny thing is, as a product manager, you don't, you're not actually like managing in the sense of no one's really directly reporting to you. So you kind of have to earn your reputation even as a product manager. So I think there were some transferable skillsets in that as a founder.
[00:05:48] Kevin Lee: I'm still trying to earn the respect of my team in a way where you can't just demand people do things. I guess you can, but it's not the best way to lead. I think more [00:06:00] importantly though, is that you definitely called out I did not have like founder experience before. And I think when it came to managing a team, there were a couple of things that I really had to almost unlearn.
[00:06:10] Kevin Lee: So one of these is, I have this bad habit, like most first-time founders of, you know, when we don't know something, we feel this need to go learn it ourselves and do it ourselves. And you learn very quickly that if you really want to scale quickly, Trying to spend six months learning a brand new skillset, doing it yourself it's just not necessarily the best use of time, nor are you the best person to do it. So, the biggest thing I had to unlearn was just to learn how to hire experts and have them take over responsibilities as quickly as possible, and just trust them to do the work and not feel the sense of ego or entitlement where, you know, I had to be controlling over any certain work functions or workflows, because I know it's very tempting as a founder to do that.
[00:06:56] Jason Wong: That is honestly the one thing that I wish I [00:07:00] could tell the 16 year old self is that a s soon as you can hire, hire at least like a freelance freelancer or like a part-time person. Like I, I got this habit of trying to do everything myself because this pride of Hey, I can do it. So I'm just going to do it.
[00:07:18] Jason Wong: And no one else can do it better without understanding that it's actually making me do worse because I'm overloading my plate with trying to learn everything. You know? I mean like the silver lining is that like now I know how to do a lot of. But the trajectory of my career could have been a lot higher and further if I hired a lot faster, like just hiring the right people and let them do their job.
[00:07:43] Jason Wong: But I didn't learn that until. I didn't learn that until like two, three years ago. And I've been in this industry for eight years, like I literally did for five, six years. And it's just horrible looking back. I'm like, damn, so much wasted potential. I guess
[00:07:58] Kevin Lee: You're a unicorn now, though, [00:08:00] that's a good thing.
[00:08:03] Jason Wong: Like if I ever like go out on a job market, I think it will be easy to like find a job, but like as a founder, like I'm stuck with the reality that I could have been in a much better position if I hired a lot sooner. And so like that makes the question of like, how do you properly delegate? Because let's just say that there is a new project. Webflow is something that we recently got into like a year or so to build landing pages. And I was like, you know what, I'll just go on and learn what flow. But then I stopped myself. Actually let's not. We'll bring on someone who knows, like has technical background, but doesn't know Webflow. But I still found myself trying to be very involved in it because I was worried about the outcome. And I think looking back, I could have done a better job at setting expectations, setting up a better outline of the brief of what to do, and then just let them do maybe 80% of where you want it to be, and then just work with them for the last 20%.
[00:08:57] Jason Wong: So that's kind of like what I'm doing right now. And I'm curious to hear, [00:09:00] like, how do you delegate to your team members who may not be professional at it already, but you want them to learn?
[00:09:06] Kevin Lee: So one thing, that the tech industry has historically referenced a lot is this idea of task -like it's basically like task level maturity, where, you know, obviously if someone doesn't have maturity around a specific task, then you need to micromanage a little bit more and if they have more maturity than you can kind of be a little bit more hands-off and completely delegate, I think it's a very basic concept. But once you hear it, you're like, yeah, of course.
[00:09:32] Kevin Lee: That makes sense. So the tasks that I delegate or the projects that I delegate, it really depends on the scope. If we're talking very simple tasks, like $10 per hour work, I think you and I have used virtual assistants a lot in the past. And that's, you know, you can basically write like a standard operating procedure an SOP.
[00:09:52] Kevin Lee: I have, for example, like a task board with my VA, and there's a bunch of recurring SOPs that she can literally follow step-by-step and [00:10:00] complete. And then on the other end of that it's like you mentioned, right? It's you know what inputs you have, which are basically what resources, how much budget you can allocate and then, you know, the output, which is what the desired outcome is. Maybe you need to have a fully scoped out landing page. Maybe you need like a specific asset that needs to be created for paid ads, everything from, you know, everything in between, how you manage that process in between depends on the maturity level of the person you're delegating to.
[00:10:32] Kevin Lee: And I think. Like providing what is called. Like, I think you called, I forgot what you called it, but, we call it scaffolding, where it's like the constraints or it's the guideline, or it's the spec. In product management, we usually always had like a product requirements document a PRD for any feature we would build. And they required a lot of documentation to think through, Hey, what are, you know, what exactly do we want to build here? And then you would hand that spec off and work with designers and engineers to get [00:11:00] it built. So I don't think it's, it's, it's pretty similar in that sense where whenever we have projects, we usually spec them or scope them.
[00:11:07] Kevin Lee: We, we know what inputs and outputs are required. And then we kind of try to be as hands-off as possible and not micromanage the process.
[00:11:13] Jason Wong: Yeah. I, man, I just wish I had like this podcasts years ago, it would have taught me so much stuff. It's just, you know, as founders, it's so scary to let things go because you're like, this is my baby. This is my vision. And like, I know you could probably do it, but I know I could do it better. And that's probably the mentality that will keep you back. Like it is the wanting that have held me back. So. And in your right, like as long as she set up very clear outline of what you're expecting, what you think are the necessary input and you find the right person to delegate to.
[00:11:46] Jason Wong: That's a very important point. If you do all the, all the above, but then don't give it to the right person, it's still not going to work out properly. So I think all these have to work together in order for you to actually delegate.
[00:11:59] Jason Wong: One thing [00:12:00] that I read about you on how you manage your team is you emphasize a lot on written communication.
[00:12:05] Jason Wong: And that's also another thing that I noticed w hen I was consulting for a larger tech company, like the founder was very very, big on write everything out, like write out your thought process and do X, Y, and Z. But I personally found that kind of difficult to like ask my employees to do, mindful with are all on the younger side.
[00:12:25] Jason Wong: They're like 22 and 25. So like, like they're, they're not the type to really write out their thoughts. Whereas I like, I will write out an entire brief of everything that I want and like map out my thought process. Ideally, I would like the same to be done to you because I want to understand what they're thinking when I give them a problem.
[00:12:43] Jason Wong: How did you first ask your team to get into this habit and what are some of the things that you're seeing after they start doing this? And are they happy that they're doing it?
[00:12:52] Kevin Lee: These are, yeah. Great question. I think the first thing that caveat is written documentation as part of our core culture. Was [00:13:00] actually more emphasized by my co-founder in the early days.
[00:13:03] Kevin Lee: So my co-founder he's also called Kevin. So we call him K-Chan, from his last name. K-Chan came purely from the product management world. And his last role was the lead PM for the social video team at Facebook. Facebook is a very documentation heavy culture. So when he came into immi, he really brought a set of best practices.
[00:13:22] Kevin Lee: One of them, for example, is a weekly email update that we call HPM, which stands for highlights, progress and me. Every week, this is actually something that both me and him actually used to do a decade ago. When we worked as PMs at a mobile gaming company called Kabam we would manage these games and management with -.
[00:13:42] Kevin Lee: They would always require that every week we would have to write these mini email updates on what was accomplished the current week, what were the results, and then what was coming up. So HPM is a variation of that. It did come from Facebook. And basically every Sunday or Monday every single team [00:14:00] member,
[00:14:00] Kevin Lee: it doesn't matter what function you are, whether you're customer experience, you're a graphic designer or you're a marketer, everyone has to write this email update. The first section is highlights and a lowlights. And then there's progress, which is progress against your goals. So it can be a quick update on like what's been going on against your OKRs.
[00:14:17] Kevin Lee: And then me is a personal section that talks about what you did that weekend. And we found that this system has been a great way for each individual to report on their specific job function and responsibility as well as allowing other team members that have context around other parts of the organization.
[00:14:35] Kevin Lee: So it started I think top-down where, of course, both co-founders myself and K-Chan we had to lead by example. So we were very consistent with sending out weekly HPMS. We don't miss an HPM. And then every time we onboard a new employee into our organization in their onboarding guide is a section on HPMs where we will show them examples of previous HPMs.
[00:14:58] Kevin Lee: And then we'll tell them, Hey, [00:15:00] You have a month when you first onboard into immi where you don't have to write HPMs, but you have to read everyone's HPMs every week. And then after the month timeline, you're then required from that point on to start writing your own HPMs. I think in the beginning, a lot of when we first rolled this out, there were a few team members who were already in the organization. And so they were a little resistant or they thought, oh man, this is a lot of writing. Like on top of our normal workload. Now we've got to dedicate a few hours on a Sunday or Monday morning to write this recap. Like that's a lot, but over time it almost became this habit where now our team members say, oh man, it's actually really fun to like, sit down and do a retrospective of the week. And it actually helps me with planning for upcoming weeks because it forces clarity and thought where as I was writing something, I realized, wait, this isn't the right prioritization or wait, the results here are not as great as I thought, therefore, how do I adjust for the upcoming week?
[00:15:53] Kevin Lee: I think the second thing. A lot of team members have found from reading each other's HPMs that having that extra [00:16:00] context has been super valuable even for their own functions. So for example, the CX team might read an update from the operations team on a shipment. That's going to be delayed based on, you know, delays at the ports that then allows the CX team to quickly adjust to where they'll say our CX lead can say, Hey, I noticed from K-Chan's update, this might be a delay in the, in a month.
[00:16:22] Kevin Lee: Should I proactively start to queue up some email campaigns so that, you know, as soon as the delays happen, we can reach out to back ordered customers and let them know what's going on. So it almost provides like a crystal ball in a way where people can kind of have like a foresight into what they should be doing going forward.
[00:16:38] Kevin Lee: And so it's, it's just been really awesome, I think, to, to have that kind of culture and have people excited about writing.
[00:16:45] Jason Wong: Kevin, I'm going to put this podcast in my onboarding checklist for all new new employees to listen to, and I'm actually going to like send this to my entire team to watch through. Because you know, when people think [00:17:00] about like, Hey, I want you to write something on a Sunday night or early Monday morning.
[00:17:03] Jason Wong: They're like, why the heck would I do it? And you explain it so well. It's that it is actually productive to them if they start writing and if they start reading other team members. One of the, one of the challenges that we're facing right now is so we don't have an office. So like we're all remote and a way for us to stay together is to have one-on-ones and then we'll do Monday, standup and Thursday stand-ups to wrap up the week.
[00:17:28] Jason Wong: I just feel like those are not conclusive enough on like what's actually going on across the board. Like our standup are just saying this today, and this week we're going to be working on this. And then Thursday, we're like, this is all we have done. This is what we didn't accomplish. And then we have a policy and it says, if you finish early and you got all your things done by Thursday, just take Friday off.
[00:17:46] Jason Wong: But I feel like that it's only scratching the surface of improving productivity. Like increasing productivity on the organization as a whole is really, really beneficial because it means everyone else [00:18:00] can actually stress less on figuring out what they need to do and like actually prioritizing on what they have to do.
[00:18:06] Jason Wong: So that was really good learning I got from you. I have always wanted to implement writing in my team. And I've been so worried about pitching the idea, because I don't want to be that guy- that a-hole right. But if I'm able to come to them now with this podcast, if you guys are listening hi guys. And hopefully I can convince everyone to take, take some time to write.
[00:18:31] Jason Wong: I want to ask a little bit more about your hiring thesis, because you're, you're funded, but you're, I think you're, you're very scrappy in the way that you want to think outside the box and be creative of how you spend. And I wanted to think, talk more about like, how do you determine. How to hire, what's this person's position with you and how do you make sure that you're getting the most out of each hire that you bring on?
[00:18:54] Kevin Lee: That is a great question. Like most early stage companies, especially in the [00:19:00] CPG space, I would think very, very carefully before you bring on anyone full-time hiring. Of course, as, as everyone listening knows it's an important responsibility, right? You're now, basically responsible for someone's life, right?
[00:19:13] Kevin Lee: It's like their means of survival and before you hire someone, you really want to make sure that this is a coordinated within the company, and it's going to stay a need, ideally, you know, over the next few quarters or so of course, things change rapidly in a startup. So for us, usually whenever we're trying to prove out a particular thesis, we will usually hire a freelancer or an agency first. A prime example is for example, even today on the operations side, we still work with an operations agency vs like hiring a director of ops or a VP of ops. On the marketing side for paid paid spend. We work with an agency and only when we feel like a certain function has been proven out to work for us will we then write up a spec for hiring that particular [00:20:00] need. And before any hire we have a document. We actually learned this from the Mud/Water team. But, and I think the Mud/Water team learned it from a book called The Great CEO Within. Very, very excellent book for anyone listening. Yes. Yeah, there's a, there's a hiring document, which basically it's almost like what I said.
[00:20:19] Kevin Lee: It's like a scaffolding for a role where you want to list out like the role description, a summary, and then basically a few sets of criteria around like, Hey, what are the top three to five accomplishments that this person would need to hit to be successful in this role. And it basically gives you this guideline of and actually it's a forcing function because if you, as a hiring manager, write this and you realize, while you're writing this, that you don't actually need this role, you just saved yourself a bunch of time and money and headache.
[00:20:49] Kevin Lee: Right. Because there are, I think there are actually are a lot of times where, you know, I'm thinking about something like community management and I'm like, oh crap. I think, I really think we need a community manager. You start writing this [00:21:00] document and then halfway through, you're like, wait a second, like half of this stuff I could get away with with like a VA or working with some freelancers, do I really need a full-time role?
[00:21:09] Kevin Lee: So I think that, again, it goes back to that written documentation. Like a lot of times you can just write something out before you make the decision to hire.
[00:21:17] Jason Wong: How do you approach like roles at a fairly early startup where you're like, I don't know, two to 10 employees where there are some roles that have to be hybrid..
[00:21:27] Jason Wong: How do you tell that person that this is going to be a hybrid role, or maybe they start at one thing, and then they eventually have to take on more responsibility. Like, what is the communication from a leadership perspective on how do you communicate, Hey, we need you to do two things at once, or we're hiring you for two things at once.
[00:21:44] Kevin Lee: That is an excellent question. So whenever we hire anyone at immi, especially if they're in, well, actually I won't even go into management, but we usually always ask them are you prepared to own this function [00:22:00] for the next year? And when we say own, that means that you're going to be responsible for both like high-level strategy, as well as IC level work, individual contributor level work, which means you need to get into the weeds and do the grunt work yourself.
[00:22:13] Kevin Lee: And it's all about expectations setting, right? That's most of life, if you set the expectation up front for the candidate, then you can pretty quickly filter out any candidate who's unprepared or not willing to do like wear multiple hats. But the flip side of that is even though your funnel will shrink, you're going to be left with candidates who are actually excited about this idea of working at a startup where they can touch multiple things.
[00:22:36] Kevin Lee: So for example, like the first marketer we hired, who is actually our first team member, he reached out to us and he came from a UX background, which is actually very different. And he really wanted to work on certain like product and UX related problems in the business. But that wasn't what we needed at the time.
[00:22:52] Kevin Lee: So I just set expectations with him and I said, look, this is exactly what we need in the company right now. We need someone who can manage our affiliate [00:23:00] program. And from there, if you can prove that you can lock down affiliate programming, you can automate it. You can scale it. Maybe you can even hire someone under you we'll give you additional responsibilities. But know that at a startup, everything is like, from a founder. Like if you put yourself in the founder's shoes, everything is a cost right now. And we need to figure out how to turn that cost into a profit center as quickly as possible in order to justify maintaining that cost.
[00:23:25] Kevin Lee: For that team member, he came on board knowing this expectation. He knew that he would have to prove out the value and then we were able to then give them additional responsibilities. And so now he owns multiple tasks and responsibilities.
[00:23:37] Jason Wong: That's wonderful. Honestly like Kevin there, I talked to a lot of people and there's not a lot of people where I'm like, man, I really want to keep hearing him talk and just hang out, like you're so insightful.
[00:23:50] Jason Wong: And I think that's why like we vibe so well online.
[00:23:53] Kevin Lee: For sure.
[00:23:54] Jason Wong: I think it's a mutual understanding of like what we're building and like the hardship that goes [00:24:00] through. It's truly, truly impressive that you're able to build something so incredible in a competitive category with such a clear thesis. And, and I, and I actually like from talking to you, I'm seeing that you took so much from what you learned as a PM and from what you're seeing on the investment side of these brands into building immi, like the way that you talk, the way that you articulate your thoughts and the way that you approach the situation and the way that, K Chan does as well. Like I see all of that coming into immi and I always say like, that's such a super power.
[00:24:35] Jason Wong: Like you didn't start, you didn't start from scratch, scratch. Like, even though you didn't have a founder experience, I think working as a PM and having that, like all those background that you had, it was really, really helpful. Like I saw it just from the past 20
[00:24:50] Jason Wong: minutes.
[00:24:51] Kevin Lee: Thank you, man. I appreciate
[00:24:52] Kevin Lee: that. I'm very lucky.
[00:24:54] Kevin Lee: Yeah.
[00:24:55] Jason Wong: Yeah, no, of course I that's... one thing that I always tell people is that if you want to be a [00:25:00] founder, try working for someone else first. Learn on their dime, learn what's broken and what's working. And then like take it from there, like don't just drop out of high school and go become a founder. Like, I, I don't think you've ever encouraged them to do that.
[00:25:13] Jason Wong: Like I didn't drop out until I was making some good money on my own store. Nothing is, nothing is ever safe. It's not ever like sustainable and you know, e-commerce being so volatile now. Yeah. You have to be safe and safe is to learn from others who are doing it or doing it under someone's roof. I think we're almost at time now because I want to keep these chats short, but I will love to have you on a second podcast down the line once you're- once you have some new launches to talk about, or like some, maybe some just evolution in the way that you think, like once you hit that point, hit me up and be like, yo, I got some like new thoughts. You know, this [00:26:00] is like the conversation that interests me the most. Like, I don't want to talk about how to scale Facebook ads or like what kind of creatives to test like, this is the backbone to build a company without any of this it doesn't matter that you have a 3x ROAS right? Like...
[00:26:14] Kevin Lee: Exactly. There's like a, I mean, I think a lot of people know this book, but like E-Myth Revisted is an excellent book around this. Because in the book, the author talks about how to treat your business as the product. It's not the products that your business produces.
[00:26:28] Kevin Lee: It's the business itself that you need to be evaluating. And he uses an example of like franchises. Like McDonald's is one of the best businesses because they figured out how to turn their core business into a product. And then they franchise the crap out of it where anyone can basically pick up the business and run it super smoothly without any reinvention.
[00:26:46] Kevin Lee: So I think we try K-Chan and I try to apply a lot of our previous experience to think about, Hey, if, if we died tomorrow and someone had to take our place, could they effectively run immi in the same way? Because we had the right processes and culture in [00:27:00] place. And it's a very hard question, but it's not something we're perfect at and we're working on it every day, but it's a good goal.
[00:27:06] Jason Wong: I love that. What are some, like other things that you and your team work towards? Like, do you set like a north star vision and be like, Hey guys, we want to be the best at X or like, what is that thing that you always tell your team to make sure that they're aligned on a single goal? Cause I feel like a thing that I've struggled with is I like to do a lot things. You could tell from online.
[00:27:26] Jason Wong: I like to be at a hundred places at once, but that doesn't really work well when we're trying to translate that into a leadership position, because my team expects me to give them a clear direction, a clear vision, and a clear roadmap on what, where to go. And so like, I guess my question to you is like, how do you approach that as a leader?
[00:27:44] Jason Wong: Do you set like certain guidelines or like, Hey, we need to do this by this day. Here's the goal. How do you break down?
[00:27:50] Kevin Lee: It's actually a little bit more formal than I would recommend for most startups. We use the traditional like OKR process, which is objectives and key results. First [00:28:00] created at Google and adopted by a bunch of companies everywhere.
[00:28:03] Kevin Lee: It is honestly very much overkill for a lot of companies. We didn't adopt this until recently as we expanded the team, but K-Chan and I, because we cover separate functions, like I cover sales and marketing. He covers product ops and finance. We have OKR as far our respective functions and then each team member in the respective umbrella has their own OKRs that feeds into the company-wide OKRs. We do this planning two times a year, each half of the year. And it really helps align everyone towards the same direction and make sure that everyone knows what they have to work towards. And then separate of OKRs, which are kind of boring to talk about, I would say immi's mission at the end of the day is to create foods that embolden people to play by their own rules in life. Now I know that's a bit of a mouthful. A big reason of that is because K-Chan and I, we want to make sure that we're having fun as we build this company and we want to play by our own rules.
[00:28:53] Kevin Lee: Like we don't wanna play by anyone else's rules. That's why immi as a product, we had to invent it from scratch. And so when [00:29:00] we talk with team members, and even when we do one-on-ones with them every week, we ask them, how did you play by your own rules? Like this week? Basically, it was like, how did you do like very unique thinking that didn't follow what everyone else in the industry is doing, or like, how did you think of creativity with constraints? And I think it's a good exercise just to get people to always think like, Hey, how can I do something better in a way that hasn't been done before? So it's more of a mindset that we try to align
[00:29:26] Kevin Lee: everyone towards.
[00:29:27] Jason Wong: I love that in and it's so exemplified by your website where you go onto it, immi's website. I'm looking at it right now. This is awesome. Yellow background gigantic font. It's bold. It's not the traditional CPG pastel colors with like a fancier font, which is exactly what we do.
[00:29:48] Kevin Lee: It makes sense for your category.
[00:29:50] Jason Wong: Yeah. We're working on it. Like we're, we're going through a rebrand as well, but like, like my first step into your website, I was like, okay. I get it. Like you are [00:30:00] not trying to be another pack of ramen on a shelf. You're trying to be the ramen in this category. And I respect that so much. To wrap it up, I would love to ask you what would be like one thing that you will tell yourself from like, from, to yourself that, you wish you knew when you first started?
[00:30:21] Kevin Lee: Hmm, great question. It goes back to prioritization. So one of my friends, his name is K he he's like a productivity guru and he's just, I don't even know how to describe him, but, you can find him on Twitter. He taught me the importance of segmenting my work into $10 per hour work, a hundred dollars, a thousand and then $10,000 per hour work.
[00:30:43] Kevin Lee: $10,000 per hour work is usually very strategic. Pretty game-changing if you dedicate the deep work time to doing it, $10 per hour work is like shipping out like a sample to a journalist. And I think that as a founder, you have very limited time in your day. [00:31:00] It becomes even more apparent as you start to get direct reports, your team grows and you just don't have time to be doing everything.
[00:31:05] Kevin Lee: So you have to get really good at prioritizing how you allocate your time. For me, when I first started this company, I didn't think about my work in the context of dollars per hour, but I think now every time I add something to my task list, I usually I have a column where I have to add how many dollars per hour, like, is this task worth.
[00:31:26] Kevin Lee: And then every Saturday I do weekly reflections in the morning where I kind of like, it's almost like journaling for me, where all review all of my completed tasks and I'll look at their ratio of $10,000 per hour work relative to every other hour work. And if that week I haven't done any like thousand or $10,000 per work -This is getting a mouthful- then I know that I haven't prioritized properly. And I've really just filled my week with busy work, not smart, productive work. So that's what I would recommend for every founder. It's a very simple framework, right? Just like simply labeling each task with a dollar per hour, but it completely changes your [00:32:00] perspective and on how you spend your time.
[00:32:02] Jason Wong: I going to start doing that like, right, right now on my task list, I just put how much time I think I will need to do it. And like, I just grind through it. But I never really think about like the type of work that I'm doing. Like as even like, is it a good use of my time? And that really opened my eyes on, you know how I should be prioritizing my work. So, thank you, Kevin. This is an insightful show. Where can we find you Twitter?
[00:32:27] Kevin Lee: @kevinleeme or you can go to our website at immieats. We're just called immi, but we couldn't buy it immi.com. So where immi eats.com. And you can check out our ramen product
[00:32:37] Kevin Lee: there.
[00:32:38] Jason Wong: Yes. And Kevin is also building in public. So follow him on Twitter, follow his journey. I just love all the stuff that you share and how vulnerable you are to the ups and downs. I respect that. Thank you so much for coming.
[00:32:52] Kevin Lee: Thanks so much, man.
[00:32:54] Jason Wong: You just heard an episode of the building blocks podcast. If you liked what you heard, subscribe below to keep hearing [00:33:00] conversations that I have with brilliant founders, marketers, and innovators on how they built their best ideas.
[00:33:05] Jason Wong: Now, if you want to learn how you can turn your best ideas and build something massive out of it Visit my website bbclass.co or follow my Twitter @eggroli.
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