“Realize That When People Come To Work For You, They Are Choosing To Spend A Large Portion Of Their Lives With You (Away From Their Families). Respect That.”
6 Leadership Lessons with Michael Poutre, CEO and Founder of The Crypto Company
Michael Poutre is the CEO and founder of The Crypto Company with over 25 years of experience in public markets and the operations and management of publicly traded companies. In his tenure, he advised small-cap and micro-cap companies on how to be public, being good corporate citizens, financing concerns, expanding their shareholder base, shareholder issues, and all other matters relating to their public status. Michael serves as CEO of Redwood Fund LP, where he raised over $100M for venture and banking deals. His specialties included international business, corporate finance, negotiation, and crisis management.
What is your backstory?
I grew up in a small border town in Northern Vermont, alongside the Canadian Quebec border. When I was 17 I came out to California for undergrad and have been on my own since. Fast forward to today and I have spent the past 25 years as an entrepreneur in the fields of corporate finance and investment banking. Through that journey, I’ve figured out how to make the right moves by making all the wrong ones first.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company
It’s funny to say now but I didn’t have any intention of being CEO when we first began. Ultimately, with my experience in running multiple public companies and innate passion for leadership — I stepped into the role and haven’t looked back.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Without question, it is the quality, integrity, and passion of the people that work for us. A few weeks ago, our stock was temporarily suspended by the SEC, which shocked us given we have been fully reporting and transparent in all our actions. In an industry where some companies are using the ICO platform (of money raising) to circumvent securities laws and proper filings, we are committed to being the model corporate citizen and do everything according to the spirit and letter of the existing securities laws, and then the SEC halts us. For me, it was devastating. I walked out of my office like I had the life sucked out of me, and then I saw all the troops. No one skipped a beat or batted an eyelash. Their resolve was hardened and everyone was upbeat and enthusiastic about our mission as a company and about each of their respective roles with us. It literally brought tears to my eyes and inspired me. One of them recently presented me with an old proverb that summed up the experience perfectly, “They tried to bury us — they didn’t realize we were seeds”. I have never had the privilege of working with a finer bunch of people.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Never hire people that are ‘chasing a buck’. People who chase money will be chasing it forever and however much they get will never be enough. People that are following their passions will be there for you when you will need them the most, and they won’t watch the clock. The caveat is to make sure that YOU are always leading by philosophy and not by a bottom line (yes, companies make money, but they should serve a bigger cause than just making money).
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My first boss out of college was a young producer that had come over from England a few years before and had been in the clothing business. He started out by selling t-shirts on Venice beach and built himself up from nothing. After seeing a story about him in the news, I decided to show up at his tiny office and volunteer to work for him for free if he would teach me business. Which was good for both of us, because he couldn’t afford to pay me at the time. For nearly a year I sat next to him at his desk; he taught me everything he knew and I then did whatever needed doing. His name is Mark Burnett and he is now one of the most successful producers in Hollywood, and I can say this from the bottom of my heart — that man’s success is no mistake. I will always be grateful to him for that time.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The foundation of our company is built on the idea that the digital currency markets could represent the true global ‘democratization of capital’. Peer to peer transactions allow people that are ‘currency insecure’ to transact, do business and bootstrap themselves and their families to better lives and living conditions. As we help these markets mature, we hope to help people around the world have more say in their own destiny. Locally, one of the first things we intend to do is create a foundation such that we can address similar issues in and around the communities we live and work in. More than ever, companies need to focus on a triple bottom line (serving stockholders, stakeholders, and the communities they operate in).
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why? (Please share a story or example for each)
- Stress will kill you. Always make time to decompress.
- Always focus on what truly needs to be done, and do not get sidetracked by noise.
- The only thing more powerful than information is the control of it. Knowing when to play your cards is more important than having cards in the first place.
- Spend your efforts on the highest and best uses of your time. If you love what you do, then there is not enough time in the day, and if you spend time doing non-essential tasks, you are wasting an opportunity.
- Realize that when people come to work for you, they are choosing to spend a large portion of their lives with you (away from their families). Respect that.
- **Bonus 6. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him/Her your plans. (Plan to have things go wrong)
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
Right now, we are in the process of relisting our shares for trading again on the OTC Markets Pink (At present, we are in the Grey Markets). In December ’17, the OTC Markets placed the ‘caveat emptor’ designation on our stock, which created a difficult obstacle for us to get our stock trading again and even harder for brokerage firms to accept our shares on behalf of our shareholders. Our shareholders should be able to deposit and trade their stock in an effort to create an orderly and efficient market. So, to answer your question, with that top priority on my mind, I would like to have lunch with the CEO of the OTC Markets. The OTC should see our company, our people, and the good business we are doing.