Facing uncertainty can be challenging – being a business owner facing uncertainty is tougher.
Red Direction helps you [fast track and] grow your business – authentically, pragmatically, and resiliently.
Starting the conversation:
It takes time to discover, learn, and most importantly know when to lean into the strengths of the team. High-performance teams know now to problem-solve and be flexible – yet they are high-performance because they understand how to use the combined skill sets at the right time. Learning and applying this helps to develop communication with customers, what expectations to set, and how to quickly assess and choose the right opportunities at the right time.
You will hear about the importance of taking time to build trusting relationships, the value of knowing what makes your company unique, and how structured growth allows for adapting to market changes. Jess Dewell talks with Kevin Kamali and Ali Meshksar, Owners and Co-Founders of EA Home Design about building a trust-based partnership.
What makes your company different is what will make your company last. From knowing the strengths and skills you and your partner(s) bring to the business with the product being provided, you are poised for creative problem-solving success. Kevin Kamali and Ali Meshksar, Owners and Co-Founders of EA Home Design, discuss communication and trust in business relationships.
Host: Jess Dewell
Guests: Kevin Kamali, Ali Meshksar
What You Will Hear:
Which elements of a partnership are the most important.
Seek to understand the strengths of yourself and your leadership team.
Knowing the collective team strengths is key to a high-performance and flexible team.
Time. It really takes time (and yes, you have more of it than you think).
Hiring: know the role you are filling, it is more than a function.
Each position impacts the ability to deliver, and must be tied to the mission.
We are different, and we seek to make sure we always know what makes us different.
Additionally, for the Fast Track Your Business Today Uncut conversation:
After setting expectations, continue active communication to maintain clarity through the process.
Make a plan, carefully consider how to word it, share it, and make sure it is tied to current objectives and goals.
With so many options we could consider…the importance of choosing just a few is amplified.
Stay in control of your company’s growth!
The guiding principle to build from: the way work is done in your company.
Learning that Kevin and Ali continue to use today.
It is BOLD to lean into your partner’s strengths to achieve success.
Find out more about how to Fast Track Your Business.
Kevin Kamali 00:00
We have to support, we have to support each other, we understand that doesn’t matter, we might even do it wrong, we might, let’s say lose money here and there a little bit, but we gotta support each other.
Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel. The one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place. Your unique True North. Now, here’s Jess.
Jess Dewell 01:01
Welcome back to the Bold Business Podcast where we are talking about what it means to grow companies to evolve companies to really stop and take a look and be bold in our action intentionally or accidentally because I’m not sure if it’s happened to you. But both have happened to me that way. And as we are having this conversation today, one of the things that I definitely want you to keep in mind is that rarely do I get to talk to a duo, a co-founding team. And boy do I like to do this because many of us out there are part of executive teams, we’re part of leadership teams, we’re part of founders that are figuring this stuff out together. And at each stage of our business, we have all kinds of new things and how we relate to each other, in addition to all of the things that we’re already doing that got us to where we are today. And so you’re going to hear all kinds of great information today, stories, examples, and most importantly, ideas and inspiration for what you can take back to grow your business the way that you like to the way that you have planned the way that you know you must flex and adapt, because everything is changing, sometimes faster than we’re ready for it. So I want to say hello, hello, Kevin and Ali. Welcome to the Bold Business Podcast.
Ali Meshksar 02:31
Thank you for joining us.
Jess Dewell 02:33
All right. So here’s what I want to do. First, I want to introduce everybody, I want everybody to be introduced to you. So will each of you introduce yourselves as individuals? And then, I want to, and then we’ll do a different kind of introduction and a diff in a second. Ali, will you introduce yourself?
Kevin Kamali 02:52
Ali, you can go first.
Ali Meshksar 02:54
Okay. You should start. Yeah, you’re, you’re older than me, definitely, you start. Go ahead.
Kevin Kamali 03:04
Well, I’m Kevin, you know, one of the co-founders of EA Home Design. Alia and I have been friends for a very long time before we when we started the business. But we get a lot of pretty well, we also friendship, we travel together, we, we run this business together we find solutions, you know, we make decisions together and all that it’s it’s a complete partnership that we have, and so far has been great experience.
Ali Meshksar 03:39
Hi, I’m Ali Meshksar. I’m a partner with I partner with Kevin on the home design. We, I started from civil engineering and civil engineer and after that I come to design and 2015 after long relationship with Kevin we’re starting the company together. The company is older than 2015. We started in 2009. But we had a partnership with Kevin on 2015 and I started designing and Kevin start project managing the company and right now we are multimillionaire companies, you know.
Jess Dewell 04:20
Okay, are you ready for the twist? I don’t get to do this very often. So I’m so excited. Ali pretend to be Kevin and tell me how he would introduce himself.
Ali Meshksar 04:35
Honestly, Kevin is the most patient man in the world. Okay. He’s very patient is always helpful for the customers because he’s answering the phone 7-11 Okay, and 24 hours, is loves speaking to the people. Okay, and he’s enjoying and the most important part is his manner. Honestly, he’s very has a very good manner and to the customer and people love it. People love him and enjoy speaking to him.
Jess Dewell 05:13
Okay, Kevin, it’s your turn, how would you introduce Ali?
Kevin Kamali 05:19
Ali has a great mind. He’s very creative, I should say, you know, there’s the kick, he comes up with ideas, he comes up with solutions sometimes that I could never think about, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s what actually gets people really fascinated when it comes out. And sometimes asking why did you come up with that event? You know, I could not even think about it. Which I mean, even though I’ve been business, I’m older than Ali. I mean, this, this business for longer, but his ideas are great is he has a passion for that he has an eye for new stuff, new ideas and all that, you know, well, as he said, I’m patient, but he’s impatient, I have to tell you that, you know, he wants things happen, bam, bam, bam, bam, right away, you know, I have to calm him down. Sometimes you know this, but it’s okay, we kind of complete each other, you know, in this business. But he’s very, he’s very nice. He’s very kind-hearted. His heart, he has a big heart, you know. But it’s just you know, is he’s a great person. And that’s why we could get along.
Jess Dewell 06:38
I totally put you on the spot doing that. And this is really good because it sets up the first area that I want to explore with you and to learn from you. Which is, what are the elements of having a partnership, being co-founders that you are, that you used to create the relationship that you have today when you’re talking about business and showing up to the business?
Kevin Kamali 07:12
You mean, what are the points of that brought us together to start this and get this business going?
Jess Dewell 07:18
Let’s start there. And I’m a, and I may jump in. It’s I’m thinking more pillars of your relationship. Right? What was important to you and a partnership?
Kevin Kamali 07:28
Well, listening, you know, we listen, we share ideas, and we listen to each other, we just don’t become defensive. We don’t argue there might be things, you know, I might have ideas, of 10 different new points that firemen might not be right. But you know, he listens to me, then we overthink it, we think it over I’m sorry. And then he talks to me about it, or the same vice-versa, you know, I do that with him. We just, we talk we have discussions with we don’t have arguments. That’s the thing, you know, we gotta listen to each other, we take a step back and think about who the other person is talking about and we think about it before we jump on it right and people make wrong decisions or say the wrong things. If you’re reactive, you shouldn’t react, you know, you have to think about it and then talk about it and then you can come up with reasons and logics why and why such and such idea might not be good, you know? It just how we communicate, communication is very important.
Jess Dewell 08:37
And yeah, yeah, yeah. What would you add to that? Ally?
Ali Meshksar 08:43
Honestly, that’s, that’s a, that’s a thing that we try to decide for everything together. Okay. And sometimes I’m always some argues happen even between wife and husband, you know what we try to always solve it okay. Easily we never thank God we never had any you know, difficulty. And always, you know, we I gave some idea Kevin, give me some idea and resolve it. The other thing is you should when you want to work with your partner, you should understand him too. You know what I mean? Kevin, you should know what you are good at it but your partner put on okay, I’m not good. Okay for reading a long email that customer wrote for me and you know wants lots of details. I can Hi Kevin. How are you? Can you answer this email please because he’s good I’m with you know, but sometimes you know is calling me earlier we had this problem on the kitchen, what should we do and I tell okay, this is the solution for it. You know, we know which one is better answer. I’m Paul, and we try to complete each other.
Jess Dewell 10:03
Okay, that you took my next question, right, you jumped right ahead, which I think is really great. Because it is part of partnership, it is part of making decisions together, it is part of not only growing together but also developing your business together, which is, how do I know what my own strengths are? So I could actually see the strengths and my partner.
Kevin Kamali 10:28
Yeah, well, we know that that’s why when we communicate certain things, you know, I call we admit our weaknesses, I think that’s very important. Even your daily everyday life, you admit, you see your weaknesses, you work on it, you know, you try to work on that to become stronger in it. But Valley is better than me in some stuff, I refer to him, I always go to him and he, to me, you know, that’s why. So you got to put your ego down, let me prove for the day, okay, if you both of us, we are going to have a big ego, it’s not going to work out, we’re going to kill each other at the end of the day, you know, that’s why you should right, that same thing. This is we have a business relationship, as Alice says it could be in a personal relationship to you be listening, listening, the same thing with our customers, you know, listen, who will when we listen, they like it, and we listened. And we go back the other ways, nicer way to tell them, Okay, you’re this idea this, and this might not be right, because of the sender. It’s just you got to be patient and thoughtful. Thank you for what you hear.
Jess Dewell 11:35
And do you always come to consensus when you’re talking through ideas and responding after listening to each other? Or do you lean into your strengths and go, Oh, that person knows more than I do here? I’ll defer.
Kevin Kamali 11:51
Yeah, honestly, 90% of the time. Yes. There is always a little bit here under you know, I will say 10%. Okay, man, we get distracted, but 90% of the time we, we refer to the other person. Okay. [Uh huh.] For what they are strong, and you know, that’s why we cover everything, you know, I have certain abilities earlier, certain abilities that we cover A-to-Z of this business altogether. There is no one person who can it’s a very, very mean, is too much the what we do design remodeling, it’s a lot of blood involved. It’s very difficult for one person to say, I know everything, I can handle everything, you know
Jess Dewell 12:36
Right. So you have very clear lanes. It sounds like, it sounds like this situation is most likely to fall into this skill that’s needed. And this person has that skill.
Kevin Kamali 12:50
Yeah, basically, it’s a system, you know, we can call it a system we have, but it’s like dividing, splitting, you know, organizing our responsibilities and who can do what, who can do best? Well, and just that person does that. You know, yeah, right assignment? Because he can do it better. Yes.
Ali Meshksar 13:13
Yeah. So I think that we didn’t have a system for it. But you know, after years and years, right now, without, without the decide for it, we know where we are, you know, I know, where I am, and Kevin knows very, you know, we try to do everything by consulting each other. And I’m not going you know, to the place that is telling this is the truth. And I will tell, I respect it. And if, if I’m telling something that, you know, it means good for him. He told me Oh, that’s true. And, you know, let’s go for it that way.
Jess Dewell 13:54
Oh, I like that. Let’s go for it. Let’s go for it. That sounds like hey, there’s opportunity here and we may not know it all, but we know enough.
Kevin Kamali 14:05
Yeah, I mean, we do make decisions on our own on certain things. And I’m involved in towards a project and Ali not even there, you know, I make decisions and make moves and do things or Ali, you know, handles marketing and stuff. He makes moves, and he comes does things that I will find out later. I don’t even know, but we never questioned each other.
Jess Dewell 14:26
That’s fantastic. How long did it take you to get there?
Kevin Kamali 14:29
We have to support, we have to support each other we understand that doesn’t matter. There are certain things we might even do it you know, wrong. We might, let’s say lose money here and there a little bit but we got to support each other.
Jess Dewell 14:42
How long did it take you to get there? That’s, that takes time.
Kevin Kamali 14:49
I know but I think you see Ali and I were friends close friends. Before we did this. We knew each other very well. We’re very close. Before we started this. We were familiar which either with each other, you know, yeah, let’s say behavior, attitude and all that we knew all about each other, when we started that, that’s why, but I think it took about a year, just the first year, kind of to adjust and get, you know, get a sense of each other, and how to work with each other. With after the we have been good.
Ali Meshksar 15:23
Yeah, the first year, Kevin, we were not that big to you know what I mean, we, both of us could handle everything, you know, but after that we getting bigger and bigger. And we see that if you want to do everything together, because we, I remember till I think three years ago, every appointment, we go together, okay, and right now, we don’t have time to do it. Okay, the designer goal having go, I am going to the appointment. And because if we don’t divide it, we cannot handle them. You know, and this is the reason that right now each one of us has a boundary. And we’re working on the boundary that, you know, we know, what’s the boundary on.
Jess Dewell 16:09
Yeah. And it sounds like even that startup stage, and then as you were bringing in your first employees outside of yourself, and to get to the growth, where you’re at today with all of the employees and the multiple teams that you have, there’s time that it takes to recognize, whoa, we need somebody else. And this is how, and taking the time to figure out how this person would plug in how this person adds value. How does, how do we know we’re hiring the right role at the right time. And so that makes me think about, you know, some of the things of first and foremost, most of the time, right and tell me if I’m wrong here for was it, was it this way for you, what I see most of the time is there’s a point in time where the founders need to get out of the center of the business. And it’s and you went through that we can’t do everything together anymore, we have to let somebody else do that for us. And so as you’re moving out of the, out of the center of the business, you get to then see more of the whole picture all of the time. And so what were some of the things as you started to expand when it comes to hiring and finding the right fit for people in talent for your company? What were you thinking about and what were some and this could just be a reflection looking back to? What did you rely on? What did you use as your framework to know you were going to hire the best person that you could find that fits what EA Home Design is all about?
Ali Meshksar 17:47
You know the there is no best person honestly no one, okay? If you wanted to, if you want to say this way, okay, no one can do the job from the first day you should be very patient, okay? You should treat them well be patient, okay. After one year, maybe they cannot be 90%. Okay, what you want, okay? If is exactly like marketing, okay, you should be patient with the marketing to hiring a person is exactly like marketing, if you invest on that person, okay? If you want to find the person that knows everything from the first Okay, at the first, you should pay lots of money. And the second may, you know, at the end of the day, that person come to your business and they should know, your business, your rules, you know, what you are doing? This is the reason that I really like to be patient and the person that we hire, okay, this is the most important thing, because they, for example, in our business, every company has different cabinet line, okay, when you hire the designer, the designer should come and design everything with new cabinet line, each cabinet line has a 2000 page books, you know, to order. It’s very hard is not easy to you know, isn’t easy to handle it. If you don’t if you’re not patient, if you don’t manage it, everym every people coming after two, three months, you should hire another person, you should hire another person. You’re losing money, you should invest on people, you should make people happy. They’re gonna save your company. Okay, they’re gonna work with you and after some time, okay, they’re gonna be at least 90% You know what you want and they’re not going to leave you easily. You know, they’re going to speak to you, they you, you try to have good you, good company for them, and they get right what’s the best best for your company? You know,
Jess Dewell 20:03
it is given a take, isn’t it? Yes. How do you know? Have you ever had somebody that you were patient with? You hired? You thought they had all the right qualities, you knew that they could be a good fit? You saw the potential you brought them in? And they didn’t fit?
Kevin Kamali 20:24
Of course, yes.
Jess Dewell 20:26
What do you do in those situations?
Kevin Kamali 20:29
Oh, we try. We try. Certainly, we are very patient. But you know, if you don’t see in, you know, the willingness in someone to change or try to adapt or listen, as we listen, we expect people to listen and try to learn, you know, if they’re not, it’s a, you know, you give them a couple of months and see if it works out or not, you know, if not, then sorry, you mean, you got to fit within our system, it’s, we have our, we have a different little bit of a different system, you know, we know about other companies, we have worked in the very past, for other companies, we are different. We have set up, you know, we try to avoid the mistakes that the other places we work in the very past, you know, not to repeat them, we created something new for us a different way of doing business, but whoever wants to work with us has to adapt has to learn, I think is the same for every company, every business, that’s their expectation. But we know some people we have, we’ve changed multiple designers, until we find the ones that they have same point of views, same kind of a close ideas, then we train them and they picked it up, you know, that that time, because then the very first person we hire, we didn’t work out the way we want, you know.
Ali Meshksar 21:58
You know, but I saw Kevin, I want to complete your year. But definitely, if someone wants to work, we worked with them. You know, this, this depends on them. Okay. We had, as Kevin mentioned it, okay, the first designer that we brought, okay, she didn’t do a great job on the designing. Okay, we tried to teach him, we told him all the details and new stuff, but at the end of the day, when we saw him, she cannot design, okay, we told her, Okay, go to our office, and we’ll do our office work, okay. And when someone see that we don’t usually we don’t fire someone directly. Me and Carrie, you know, very, we try to be very calm. And this is the you know, we don’t try to fire someone, but we tell okay, if you cannot do it, then go and do the other jobs, you know, like, take care of the office answering the phones, you know, or something like that. And they, they tell Oh, no, we want to design or something. And they go, you know, we don’t fire anyone, usually? Usually no.
Jess Dewell 23:10
Okay, there’s something to that. Because Have you ever heard the concept of the seats on the bus? Having the right people in the right seats on your bus? Sometimes people think they’re one thing, but it turns out, they’re another. And your approach allows people to find out, well, is this really what I’m good at? Or could I be good at something else? And then I’m gonna come back and say, it came up at the beginning. We got to let our egos stay out. We have to invite our egos to stay on that sideline. Right. I think you said that, Kevin. And when those two things come together, it’s interesting when people will self-select in or out.
Kevin Kamali 23:57
Yeah, it’s all depends on the person, right? If you want to train me to do your job, what you’re doing with would be, first of all I have, I should want it I have to, I mean, love to listen, I have to sit back and watch you get to see what you do and learn from you and ask you questions, and then try to do it, try to do it. But if I don’t want to listen to you, I want to do my own way. I’ve never learned, I never learned I cannot become like you. Right? You know, that means I am not going to make progress in what you’re doing. I’m not going to be successful in what you’re doing. Yeah, that’s some people are not willing to do that. You know, it just..
Jess Dewell 24:36
Yeah, they forget. There’s a whole element of curiosity in this. It makes me think of one of my favorite songs in the entire world. It’s called The Greatest. It’s by Kenny Rogers. Have you ever heard this song?
Kevin Kamali 24:49
I know Kenny Rogers but I have not heard this song.
Jess Dewell 24:53
Okay, so this song is about a little boy who’s playing baseball by himself in the field. And you go, go through. And you have, he’s he says he’s the greatest. He’s the best baseball player ever. And he pitches to himself by throwing the ball up. And he swings and misses. And this repeats, right? And he’s, he’s resetting the game is on the line. He’s the last batter. This is what it’s going to be. And he strikes out. And you know what he says to himself? He says, Hmm, I am the greatest baseball player. And I learned I can pitch. So, so, right industry, potentially wrong seat on the bus?
Kevin Kamali 25:37
Jess Dewell 25:39
Yeah, no, I like story songs. That’s one of those things. And music is a big part of my life. And I’m like, Oh, you are talking about all of these things. And it made me think of that I really liked Kenny Rogers, so and his stories, when you think about things, and you have to make decisions, what kind of data or inputs are you looking at to say, hey, we’re close to achieving our next goal. And that achieving that goal meant more headcount, or, you know, a new process or different kind of communication with the, with all the vendors that you have to get the kit, for example, cabinets in and all the lead times and stuff like that, what are the things that you’re looking at to know you’re on track for goals, and then being able to go, now it’s time to execute the infrastructure to support our next goals?
Kevin Kamali 26:40
Well, we do, I mean, we do research a lot. It’s real. We, of course, as we, you know, we write bullet points, we take notes, and then we research, it’s more of putting in a new process, a new process, right now, new communication, there is a lot of issues and example is, you know, the change, supply chain shortage and all that, you know, materially issues and all that we are trying to find different ways to approach this, we’re trying to make it and we have compensated for some of these issues in different ways. We had some bad experiences, because of this happens, you know, but it wasn’t our fault, either. It was all manufacturing. But people know us, you know, they deal with us stating I am, I don’t own this company, and that company, you know, it’s related to our work. But we found the fine we research, we find solution, they put in a new process, different something different to avoid that to try to go around to keep still keep the people happy, you know.
Jess Dewell 27:49
But you know, especially service-based businesses. Yeah, yeah.
Kevin Kamali 27:55
That’s, that’s upon us. You know, we have to be creative about it. And, and we did, we did adjust, we did make changes. After all this happened. You know, we learned it a little bit the hard way in the beginning, because we had never seen that before. Because it was new to everybody. And, but we did adjust. Now we got back on track, we got again, better to not try to avoid those bumps right now. Nowadays, you know, we have, but it’s all through talking. And, you know, you experience things and then we’ve got to come up with new ways, new ideas, avoid those issues.
Jess Dewell 28:34
All right. So I want, I want to dig into that. Before we do I have a little blurb, I have to, I choose to say there’s no half to here, it’s all choose. And this is a reminder, go to Red direction.com, to hear this amazing conversation that I’m having with Kevin and ally, on your preferred listening platform for the podcast. All right, so red direction.com, we have all the platforms that we distribute to and find yours, because here’s the deal. You don’t want to miss out anything that you’re hearing from Kevin and ally, you also, also you don’t want to miss who came before and who came after. Because the kind of conversation that we’re having here is about being bold, is about recognizing and understanding the right thing to do at the right time. Even when there’s doubt, even when the competition might be doing something else, even when it’s scary. And the thing is, regardless of all of those things, when you know what’s right, the next decision, get you just to the next to get more information. And we can actually do that with you and for you in our program, Fast Track Your Business. So also while you’re at the website, Red direction.com to follow our podcast, check out to that program and see if it’s something that would be beneficial to you
Thank you for tuning in and listening to the Bold Business Podcast. If you’ve learned something from this show that will help you and your business right now, consider what additional impact you can get by subscribing to the Fast Track Your Business program. You owe it to your business to seek out new ways to achieve more while building a resilient and profitable business. Subscribe now. Visit FastTrackYourBusinessToday.com. Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for technical production.