From Consulting to Search Fund CEO

Beyond Consulting with Nicolas Contag and Katharine Hill Contag


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Ken Kanara: Hello, and welcome to beyond consulting brought to you by ECA partners. The only podcast dedicated to helping our listeners navigate the wide variety of options they have after a career in consulting. I’m Ken Kanara host of beyond consulting and CEO of ECA partners, a specialized project staffing, an executive search firm focused on former management consultants and private.

Each week I host guests that have spent time in consulting and made some sort of pivot or career change. The goal is to help our audience understand all the options that they have available to them. And ideally learn from our guests, both in terms of what they did right. And things they wished they would have done before.

Today is our first episode with not one, but two guests. We have Nick and Kat Contag in the studio today. They’re both serial entrepreneurs and I’m going to actually have them introduce themselves because they’ve done a lot cooler things than I have.

Nicolas Contag: All right. Thanks Ken. Thanks for having us. We’re super excited to be here.

I saw a cat and I just pointed at each other. So I guess that means. The rule is that I introduced myself first. So, so here it goes. Yeah, I guess to start I am originally from from Ecuador, so that’s where I was born and raised. I’ve been in the states now for about 20 years. So since you know, we moved when I was in high school.

So I’ve been in the states for college and grad school and basically ever everything ever since high school. Professionally, I’ve been a lot of different things. After college. I was fortunate enough to work on wall street for a couple of years. I picked a great time to be there. It was 2008 through 2010.

That as I say that I realize how long ago that was, but basically that was the financial crisis at that time. And so I was really lucky to keep my head down, keep working. I was at Goldman Sachs at the time and basically completed the two year program there and went off to to business school.

And that’s where actually I met my wife Kat, who is sitting right here next to me. After business school, I worked as a consultant for a couple of years. I was a. With McKinsey out of the Miami office I worked on a bunch of different kinds of projects, but primarily in healthcare and in construction.

And after two years there, I paid off my student loans and decided that it was time to be a, an entrepreneur. That’s something I always wanted to do. Ever since I moved to the states, I always felt like. You know, coming from Ecuador, the states had all this amazing availability of resources, capital, you know, investors other forms of support and enormous market that, you know, regardless of almost any industry you want it to go into.

And so I thought, yeah, I it’s time to be an entrepreneur. And so. I decided on a search fund. So I ended up actually buying for those who are not familiar with a search fund potentially. I raised a small fund with the sole purpose of buying a single business. So we bought a business based in Tampa, Florida that did of all things, acoustical ceilings.

And I ran that for about five years as a CEO exited the business in 2020. And at that year became a father of our first our son Leo. And so that, that’s where I’ll conclude my, my intro by saying that, you know, that’s, I’ve talked a little about the professional side on the personal side.

Again, you know, I’m a dad, a father of Leo and one black lab named Oscar, and super excited to talk about. Everything they can come after consulting and anything you want to dish our awakened. Yeah,

Ken Kanara: no. And and as is true in most things in life, we saved the best for less. So, so cat

Katharine Contag: I’m Katherine contact.

Sometimes I go by Katherine Hill, which is my maiden name. But yeah, I’m, I’m originally from Palo Alto, California. So I grew up in Silicon valley. I am also a serial entrepreneur. I grew up. Knowing that that was exactly what I wanted to do in life. And I started by selling plums in front of our house and then graduated to a lemonade stand where my parents are both business school people.

And so they they actually taught me how to keep a profit and loss statement for my eliminates, Dan. So I’m clearly a early nerd, but anyways went to school out in California as well and started working for So my, my idea. You know, I want to go work for a large company and really kind of understand like the building blocks of that business so that hopefully one day I can run my own business.

And so start off in their finance division and then moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, which was a whole nother podcast in and of itself. But that’s where I became an internal consultant, if you will. So I worked in their corporate strategy division. Preparing a different, you know, presentations and deliverables for the CFO of Walmart.

So an incredible experience they’ll have really good friends from that to this day. But actually being an internal consultant solidified that I want to be an operator. And so, you know, I loved providing them. And, and giving that guidance. But I, I, you know, I was this 24 year old who wanted to make the decisions.

And I was very adamant about that. So I then went on to business school, which again, the best part of business school was, was meeting Nick. Cheesy, but it’s true. And yeah, and, and from there I had a brief stint. I did an internship in investment banking at JP Morgan and their tech media telecom group.

Because I knew I wanted to go into. Tech direction. And I thought, oh, I have a finance and strategy, background and investment banking. That’ll be great. And then the first night I worked till, or first morning I worked till 5:00 AM and got all these kudos from everyone on the team. Like, you know, I don’t think that’s what we should be championing.

So it was, it was not a good fit for me. But but then went to a startup called bulbar in New York. Where I manage their their wholesale and retail partnerships. And I joined them when they were about 20 people. And really, you know, saw what it took to start a company and how messy it is quite honestly.

But how it’s a ton of fun. And I just loved it. And ever since then, I, I sort of caught the entrepreneur entrepreneurial bug and went on to, to create a. Consumer product, but I sold through the container store and Amazon. And then we’re nearing the end of my bio, I promise. But but then once I sold through that inventory Nick and I sort of paused and we had to make a decision, you know, do we want to go out and get funding for this, this business?

Or do we want to double down with the search fund? And, and I decided to go join Nick. But I went and joined Nick to really help with the company was based in Tampa, Florida. It was doing a lot of work within that region. But we had big plans to grow outside of the region and grow across the state. And so that’s what I joined to help do from a marketing and sales perspective.

So yeah, it’s, it was, it was an experiment in the sense of, we were like, Should we work together? Is this a good idea? And you know, we had been been business advisors for awhile to one another on our businesses. And we just said, you know what, like, we’re, we’re just, we’re kind of falling over each other, trying to give each other advice.

Like let’s just take the plunge and work together. And it turned out to be a, a really wonderful experience. And, and we are now running our own business together to the.

Ken Kanara: No. That’s awesome. And for our listeners, they failed to mention they’re basically entrepreneurial power, couple. They, they also both went to Harvard business school.

So they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re quite intelligent as, as, as they are kind of stunning. So we, we all first met in Miami of all places, I think, because we are living there and we met you guys, and this is, I think, cat, when you were. You are, you had just successfully launched your first company and remind me it was co color clutch, right?

Katharine Contag: Oh, there’s much. Yes. It was a patented product. Totally random, but a patented product to store nail Polish in a very compact way.

Ken Kanara: That’s right. I remember, I remember cause I, we, we, we, we bought one as well direct to consumer the no, it was it’s really cool. It’s really great to have you guys on the show.

I was, I’m really excited for two reasons. One, because one you’re the first. Couple that we’ve, that we’ve had on the show. You’re also the first couple that I know that can actually work together, which is kind of crazy. Maybe it’s just because cat’s the real boss and Nick’s very submissive, but that’s another, that’s a whole nother podcast.

But, but now, okay. So, so let, let’s kinda like back it up. So today, so, so, so, okay. So entrepreneur search funded business, but today, like, so right now I want to hear about what you guys are doing now with Clara, because I think this is really interesting.

Katharine Contag: Sure. Yeah. So I think that the, a little bit of a backstory is important.

So we sold our portion of the business and 2020, our son was three months old. It was the middle of COVID. Just a crazy time. And we decided that we needed to go live closer to family for a variety of reasons. And so we moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is where next parents and sister live now.

And so we moved and we also. COVID was raging. We hadn’t, there were not vaccines yet. And so we were all quarantine. We were staying at home. We didn’t have, we didn’t feel comfortable you know, with the daycare options. So we were we were co-parenting full time and we decided, you know what?

Let’s let’s. Pause and take a year off. We are very stressed out. Let’s pause and and figure out what’s next. We know we want to start another company. We love working together, but let’s take a breath. And. You know, it sounds wonderful and you know, beautiful to be able to take care of your son and have that.

It is a privilege. I acknowledge that, but but it’s hard.

Nicolas Contag: It’s not an easy decision because we’re so used to, especially coming from these career tracks that Kat and I had early on. We’re just so used to always having our foot on the gas. And never taking a break, you know, you might take a vacation maybe, but even that has become really rare.

And so COVID really forced us to just take the time and find a way to get comfortable with that. Yeah.

Katharine Contag: So, so all of that is to say we, we had some time to pause and to think about, okay, you know, what do we want to do next? What’s needed out there based on our experience. And like any good entrepreneur, we tried a few different ideas, but the one that we came back to was, was in the financial strategy space.

So in, in the businesses that we’ve run previously you know, I have a corporate finance background. Nick has private equity, investment banking background. We were both spending a lot of our time managing the financials of the business and specifically the strategic financials, right? So not just the accounting and bookkeeping.

But you know, what is the five-year plan? What’s our cashflow looking like, you know, when are we going to bring investors on. All those really important questions that you need to think about as a business owner. And yet it was hard to find someone who we could even talk to about this, you know, and get advice from.

And I, and also, you know, there were recurring processes that we were doing monthly to manage that side of the. And yet it was very hard to find someone that we could hire to, to bring on for an affordable price. So so we kept coming back to the idea and, and that’s where we landed with Clara CFO.

So our website is Clara, That’s with a K. So it’s K L a R O CFO. And it’s a spin on the Spanish word plateau for clarity.

Ken Kanara: Oh, oh, okay. So I was always wondering this. Okay. That’s very helpful.

Katharine Contag: Yeah. So it’s a spin on that sense of clarity. And what we do right now is we work with pre-revenue companies.

We work with small and medium businesses all the way up to about 30 million in revenue. But we help them with those strategic. Financial pieces of the business. So you know, the, the term a fractional CFO is used a lot. So, so we’re basically a fractional CFO for a variety of different

Ken Kanara: projects.

That’s really interesting. And so is it, is it primarily, so you said it’s primarily smaller businesses and I guess, so did you discover this kind of. Call it like space in the market when you were running a running Hanlon. Is that right?

Nicolas Contag: Yeah. That’s, I’ll, I’ll a bit for that. Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Because as Kat mentioned, we just found that running a, you know, a small business, small slash medium business, however you characterize. You know, and so in handling, just for reference right at the time that we bought it, we had about and throughout the time that we ran it, we had about 50 employees and between about five and $10 million in revenue.

And so even at that size, it was very difficult to hire someone to you know, to, to, to come in and, and provide those CFO services. And so as we took the year off during COVID to reflect on what would be helpful, we thought, man, I mean, we really would have used these services when we were operators in, in this business.

And, and maybe there are people out there that, you know, that feel the same way. So it turns out there’s actually. You know, a big pent up demand for it is what we’re finding. And so now the challenge for us has gone from getting our initial clients that we help with. You know, the, the services that Kat described, things like valuations and projections for their financials, and even up to things like cell side negotiations.

How we can take that model and and scale it. And we have a lot of ideas about how we want to do that. But that’s really where our attention is focused on now.

Ken Kanara: That’s great. The no, we definitely see a lot of this. So we work with a lot of lower middle market clients and usually the first thing after acquisition is like, oh shit.

We need to figure something out with finance or, oh, gee was there, there is no finance function, right? It’s it’s, you know, it’s someone sitting in a room in, in the middle of nowhere, kind of taking the controller, CFO, accountant, like all, all, all in one kind of thing and, and just. You know, I’d say take taking a little bit of a swing at the books versus strategically.

So I guess what are, what are some of like that kind of, I guess, big use cases that you’re seeing with your.

Nicolas Contag: We’ve seen a few different sort of flavors of services, if you will. I always think of any business that we’ve been in almost as an ice cream parlor, maybe it’s really like ice cream.

Ken Kanara: You haven’t graduated to lemonade yet.

Nick haven’t yet haven’t

Nicolas Contag: gotten that far, but yeah. So the first thing. That really is a lot of business owners are interested in is the valuation side of the business. And so, especially, you know, when you’re not in sort of the range of a private equity firm that may be looking to buy you out there aren’t that many buyers for your, you know, 40 or 50.

Maybe your plan is, is to sell it to an employee or to leave it to a family member at some indefinite point in the future. But the opportunities tend to come. You know, they tend to be few and far between. And so the valuation side is important to people because they want to figure out, Hey, where do I fall in this spectrum?

Right. What is my business potentially worth today? And if I do want to, you know, exit and have a sale to something like a private equity forum firm, or a large. You know, competitor brands like a publicly traded competitor of ours. How do I get there? Where am I today? And what does the path look like to get there?

So that, that is one of the big areas that we help companies with. And to your point about, you know, the, the finances a lot of times, I mean, really we’re talking about the accounting, right? Like the QuickBooks file or whatever, you know, accounting software they use. You know, being in a little bit of a, of disarray at times we run into that a lot and so we’ll help them get a clean view of their business and put together an evaluation that’s intuitive to them that they can understand.

And they can see what the assumptions are that are built into it, about things like revenue, growth and expenses, and ultimately, you know, the profit profitability of the business. The other major area that we’ve seen interest in is in in basically managing or preparing rather for an investment. Or for a sale.

So, you know, often that’ll come after the evaluation stage, but a company may say, Hey, look, I’m really looking to, to raise some debt because I just need the money to buy some equipment or to hire a bunch of people and start a new service, whatever the case is, or I’m looking for an equity investor or potentially I’m looking to sell the entire business.

And so we’ll jump in on that side of it as well, because that’s a process that we went through. At many points in our careers, but we got real firsthand experience doing that through the search fund where, you know, we went through the process of speaking with a business owner, buying their business.

And then on the other side of it exiting our stake of the business, which is essentially your, your sale of, of the. So so those are the two areas that we’ve seen. And then the last, the third flavor, if you will that is, is that tends to be at this point much more ad hoc. And so we found situations where people may need evaluation because they’re looking to issue some shares, some equity to key employees, and they’re, they’re trying to, they don’t, they don’t know where to start with that.

And so we can advise them on that part of it, or they may have some. Work that still relies on the financial forecast, but it might be specific to something like, you know, their pricing strategy. So they’re saying, Hey, I don’t know if I’m pricing my products, whatever they are, my services, whatever they are, the right way.

How do I think about that? And tie that back to the financial projection that we made and, and how would that projection and the valuation for my business changed if we, if we price things different, And how do I test this and how to actually do this? That’s just one example of sort of the ad hoc stuff that we do.

So it’d be basically those three flavors of, of services that we offer. No, that

Ken Kanara: that’s, that’s really great. And is it for now, is it primarily services led? Is it, is there a technology component, I guess, how are you thinking about now in the future?

Katharine Contag: Yeah. So I think it’s important to mention we started in October, 2021.

So it’s right now, April 20, 22. So we’ve been around for about six months. So, you know, I love that. We act like, okay, we’ve got this well oiled machine, right. Cause we’re entrepreneurs. But but yeah, I mean, every day we’re, we’re learning more about what are our client’s needs. So. All of that is to say we have gotten some really positive feedback that that folks want to work with us on a more regular basis.

And so we are looking at, you know, migrating something. You like a SAS platform where they can have, you know, a dashboard that they can log into and, and sort of keep their, their polls on those important KPIs for the business. And then also, and then deep dive with us on specific, you know negotiation strategy or you know, whatever might come up in their business at the time.

So the short answer is yes, we would like to get some tech involved with it. And we’re sort of navigating that right.

Ken Kanara: That’s awesome. No, I, and for what it’s worth from what I’ve seen work the best at least in lower middle market is, is services led and then kind of developing the technology around that.

Right. Because a lot of the companies I’m guessing that you’re dealing with, it’s not just like, kind of like rinse and repeat or boiler plate. Right. It’s all very different.

Nicolas Contag: Right. And, and the trip, at least the challenge for us right now is trying to find the, kind of the activities within the different needs that companies have that potentially are boiler plate, right.

That you can you can scale with some sort of software and then you can provide more custom services and, and frankly, better customized services to them because you have things like, you know, their financial. Forecast, not just historicals in QuickBooks, you have access to their forecast and in a, in a very regular, in a very granular level you know, on, on a cloud-based platform.

Right. And you can perform your analysis and give you recommendations based on that information, right. That, that would be. I would be the goal for us in the long-term at least for now. Yeah,

Ken Kanara: no, that’s awesome. I think you guys are hitting on a real, a real pain point from, from what we’ve seen as well.

Okay. So the, so the, the real question that people are wondering is. Hi, cat. How do you, how do you, how do you work with him? What’s your secret?

Katharine Contag: No, I mean, we mixed Labrie and we’re robot. Cause we it’s funny, like almost every on every, you know, we call them discovery calls, right? Every time we meet a potential new client, they’re like, wait, you guys.

How does that work? And it’s like, kind of like, Ooh, it felt like but also like, I think they’re coming from, from the standpoint of like, I don’t know that I could work, you know, and, and we get that. I guess so the simple answer is like I grew up, my parents worked together. So I saw that dynamic and it was very normal, like And worked out well.

They had the, you know, complimentary skillsets and I think this is kind of the same with, with Nick and I. So we do, you know, there are certain things that I like to focus on, like the sales and marketing. And so I kinda, that’s my lane that I kind of run in. And, and. Has a lot of other strengths lab.

He really, for this specific business, he focuses on those valuations and building the deliverables for the clients. And, and, you know, it was a little bit of a different mix at Hamlin, but, but similar, you know, and I think that allows us to work together easily. Cause it’s nice. Like I, I, 110% trust everything that Nick is working on.

And like, I know he’ll do it better than I would. So it’s kind of like great to work with

Nicolas Contag: someone. I would say. I mean, from my side, I feel exactly the same way. Right. It’s it’s just really cool to feel that you’re working with someone that you, you obviously trust a hundred percent, right. In every single regard.

Right. Sort of professionally, personally, however you want to think about. And do you feel like they will do it as cat said, like frankly better than, than you would. And that’s a cool feeling to have, especially when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re trying to hold yourself to a really high standard, you’re trying to do everything to the best of your ability a lot of times.

So it’s, it’s, that’s, that’s part of what makes it so so fun. It just, it felt like. You know, we, we obviously love each other and we have a great home and working together kind of just felt like an extension of that. It came kind of naturally really it wasn’t ever something that we really sat down to sort of weigh the pros and cons and talk about, you know, really deliberately, we just started doing it and then realized that it, it seemed really natural to us.

And so we figured, well,

Ken Kanara: Yeah. And joking aside, I think like part of the reason, you know, it can be an issue like, oh, like is mainly cause like, if we think about like, oh, you know, okay. If we are working at separate jobs, right. Hearing like that advice from someone without all the context is like, Are you serious?

Like, yeah. Right. Which is like, admittedly, I hope my wife doesn’t listen to this podcast, but but sometimes she’ll like, you know, she’ll give unsolicited advice and I’m just like, I kind of roll my eyes. I’m like, okay, whatever. But you know, again, you guys are in the trenches together. Right. So I I, I think that has a big part of it and that started at Hanlon.

Right? I mean, so talk, talk to us about, I guess, Nick, really how that whole kind of like. Process happened from the beginning and then how you two started working together.

Nicolas Contag: Yeah. So, so really high level. As I mentioned earlier, right? Since my family moved to the states, I always felt that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

I felt like, Hey, if there’s, if there’s a place on planet earth, where you can be your own boss and you have a shot at it it’s not a guarantee, but at least you have a very good shot at doing it and being successful at it. It’s it’s in the states. And so I always aspire to that. And so so for me, I kind of stumbled on search funds.

I learned about them in grad school. And I remember the, the, the day that I learned what they were, I was really just shocked to me. It seemed ridiculous to me that you could be the. You know, 20 to 30 year old that goes and raises millions of dollars without ever running. Having run a business before buying a business right after looking for one and in buying it and then taking over the business and leading.

And hopefully growing the business and then potentially, you know, selling that business. It, it, it just, it, it, I couldn’t imagine a bigger challenge for me when I, when I learned about it, it kind of felt like someone had painted Mount Everest in front of me. And I just thought, man, I really want to go climb that, like, that just seems really like a lot of fun in a perfect.

Way to use a lot of the things that I’m interested in. And so so I was down for it and, and during business school, I was, I was frankly, a little bit, I felt a little scared to even try it. I felt worried to try it out of the gates because I had my student loans and. I just felt like, man, you know, if this, if this doesn’t work out, at least financially, then, you know, I could be in pretty bad shape, you know, five or 10 years from now.

And those at least were the thoughts that were running through my mind. And so so I thought, you know, I want to take a little bit of a safer route and first do a couple of years of consulting because you know, it was sort of a typical. Rationale that you hear from people that, oh, you know, it will keep your doors open and you don’t become a specialist in anything.

So you kind of remain a generalist. Also, the pay is not that bad and you can, you know, you could potentially pay off your student loans, all that stuff. Great. So so that’s, you know, I, I had that detour between business school and starting the search fund to work in consulting for a bit, but I’d say, I mean, consulting really kind of cemented that choice to become a search fund.

You know, entrepreneur even just broadly an entrepreneur. One of the things that I, I observed while working as a consultant is that it seemed like, you know, from day one, you were always, you were consistently praised for. Being really, you know, really smart. You were told that, which is kind of a weird thing, right?

I mean, especially now as a parent of a toddler, right. I, I, I would imagine that, you know, it’s, it just, it still strikes me a little bit odd today that there was so much emphasis on that one dimension of a person. And so people wouldn’t start to even talk about it during like informal, like teams. Time together, right?

Like things try to give examples of things that they’d accomplished in their life that demonstrated and proved that they were really, really smart and worthy of being there. Right. And worthy of the things that they were being told by recruiters and by other people in charge of people development at the, at the firm.

And I couldn’t help, but think, man, I mean, if you’re, if you think, if you’re that smart, Then maybe you can go try, like actually apply the stuff, the recommendations that you’re giving businesses and put them into practice. And and what did that be? A test? Right? What did that be? A test of the conviction that you have behind your recommendations and the rigor that you’ve, that you’ve put into.

So that I always had that feeling. And that was a big part of what drove me to make the decision to leave consulting and become an entrepreneur. The decision specifically to do, to, to raise a search fund was what really felt to me like at the time kind of a lack of creativity and that I would look at Kat and I thought, man, she, she is the kind of person that.

Kind of come up with an idea from, from thin air. It felt like, and I felt like I could just bang my head against the wall for hours. And I, I couldn’t come up with a, a service that I felt like anyone would want to, or a product, but I felt like anyone would really want to pay for. And so, you know, the search fund was kind of a, a way to get around that problem because you’re buying a business that already exists.

That’s proven that, you know, there’s a demand for that service and product. So you’re kind of bypassing that whole stage of pay is this idea that, you know, Good or not. I have different thoughts today about, you know, the, the implications of bypassing that stage and, and, and what it’s like to live through that startup phase.

But at the time that was really my thinking. And so so those things, you know, I guess to summarize it, one, it was just the general idea of. Everything involved in a search was amazing to me by professional experiences and right out of business school, really kind of cemented that, that that belief in that, Hey, this is really something I want to do.

And then finally, right. I think just as importantly, not knowing what, not having like a business in mind, that I would start from scratch. All of those things came together and, and really made the search fund an obvious option for.

Ken Kanara: That’s I guess two observations. One is McKinsey’s vetting processes clearly work because I didn’t get past the first round.

So, so they must be doing something smart to make sure that they indeed find smart people. And then two I, you know, it’s funny, I’ve never thought about the search fund path that way. And. Yes, it is an entrepreneurial path and it is a risky path and it is something that, you know, can obviously, you know, put you in the deep end.

But like you said, there, there is kind of like a playbook or a path where it was like, you know, Kat could just start a business, literally, probably like on this podcast, like she might’ve started a company. Just that, that is like a perfect way to describe her, by the way. That’s pretty awesome. Okay, so, so you start the search for.

You were in Miami at the time you start looking for businesses and then what?

Nicolas Contag: So, I mean, that’s when the fun really begins, right? Cause you basically you’ve, you, you quit your job one day. You’re like, you know, what we did was we looked at each other, we both quit our jobs around the same time. And we said, okay, we’ve got, you know, six months of runway, roughly.

Right. And runway means after these six months, like we’re out of money, we’re going to start going hungry. Right? Like, it’s that simple. So in six months time, we either have made our ideas start to take off and it looks like we can make a living off of them. Or we’ve got a. And you have to latest at that point, go back and maybe go begging back for our old jobs or something like that.

But, but, you know, that’s, that’s sort of what’s what the options are. And so so when, so you, you leave your job and now you’re you kind of in this, this, this free moment of like now, what do I do? And, and my first kind of step was. To well, to start finding businesses because I figured look even before getting you know, raising money or finding investors.

I need to, I want to feel comfortable that there are businesses around the place that, that we wanted to live at the time, which was Miami or Florida more broadly. I want it to feel like I could point to actual companies that. Potentially sell to me right. Under the right circumstances. And that I could see myself, you know, as crazy as it seemed running one day.

And so so I can set up down that path. And so that was a lot of, you know at the beginning, networking with. Anybody that would, you know, heads of like a boutique M and a firms and law firms and consultancies and accounting firms, everyone in Miami that I felt would potentially be able to connect me to small and medium business owners because of the work that they did on a day-to-day basis.

So it was a lot of cold emails, a lot of really. Bizarre meetings have to be at the beginning. When I go to peoples, I’ve been walking up and down Brickell, the main drag in Miami and like 90 degrees with a hundred percent humidity and a wool suit, like a total idiot sledding. And I’ve gone to these, into these buildings and meet with these, with these people.

And, you know, they would usually bring a small army of people with them. I thought it was because they were just, they were AA was like their security detail. They’re like this guy is either really crazy, right. Referring to me. Or maybe there’s something kind of interesting here that like, you know, other people may want to listen to.

And then participant, I tend to think they thought I was crazy and this was a security detail that were coming in with them. But we would, you know, I would pitch to them what I was trying to do, buy a business. And so they would, they would provide some leads and I could learn about some businesses that way.

I also went on to start recruiting people, to help me students from local community colleges and universities. Both, you know, in Miami and, and in the outskirts of Miami to help me to help me search for companies doing the unglamorous work of going online and like going into Google or using databases that we had access to through, you know, like university in networks that kind of.

To learn about businesses and start assembling a huge database, like amassing a huge database of companies and all the details that we could learn about those companies so that we could start to reach out to them via email, via letters, via, you know, in-person whatever, whatever work to. Basically gauge whether they would be up for sale or not.

And after that point, you know, w I was probably about two, almost three months into, into that when I really started to talking with perspective, you know, investors or partners, because then I felt like, okay, I can go into these conversations. And I already complained to some businesses that, you know, like, I feel like, you know, in my mind I felt like, Hey, we could potentially buy a business tomorrow.

Right. If one of these one of these owners decided to sell, that’s not how it actually happened, but I just wanted to have that level of comfort. So I, I felt like I had a little bit more than. Smoke and mirrors, you know, behind me,

Ken Kanara: one of the things I’ve always admired about you and cat, and I’ve told this to before is you guys just have this kind of unique ability to pull up and shoot.

So yeah. Talked about generating these meetings with these random people when things weren’t perfect and you’re sweating in your world. So, and, and it’s, it’s, it’s interesting because you kind of glazed over it. Like it was a small point, like not that big of a deal, but it’s something that people I see struggle with all the time.

It’s like, we want to get it perfect. We want to get it perfect. I guess, has that always come natural to you? Or like has cat helped you with that? Cause I I’ve, I’ve noticed. Yeah. It seems like second nature to cat, I guess, but actually

Nicolas Contag: cat or cat is way cooler than I am, but yeah, it’s actually a really good point.

I mean, I, I, so the, the, the, you know, the tendency to want to do things like perfectly right at the first try is definitely something that I I’ve struggled with. And I think I stuck with definitely, definitely still struggle with today. The only difference with maybe 10 years ago is that I’m I’m, I think I’m much more aware of it and I’ve definitely done things like for instance, you know, therapy, right.

To, to talk about those with someone to help me you know, be at least aware of when I’m, when I’m doing that. So the short of it is that yes. I think that many people with like, with a consulting background or similar to. Tend to have that, that, you know, inclination to try to be perfect. But if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to get comfortable breaking stuff.

Right. And you, and you’ve got to just be comfortable with things not being perfect. And you fix it along the way, because there’s a, there’s a trade off between getting your business going and starting to generate some revenue and showing that, showing yourself that it’s a viable business and. Designing a perfect product.

That’s going to blow customer’s socks off, you know, the first minute that they, that they see it, you do need something that’s kind of viable. Right. But it doesn’t by any means have to be perfect. And that’s just the name of the game when you’re, when you’re an entrepreneur. So totally. Yes. And, and, and I talked to Kat about that still all the time, right?

Like you know are we, am I overthinking something? Am I going too far in the weeds or. You know, have we answered the mail with what we have so far and you know, is it, is it time to move on? So just broadly speaking, I think if you, if you’re, if you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur and you do observe that in yourself, you know, any many partner advisors that you surround yourself by.

I w it would be helpful to you if they, you know, if you found someone that you think can help pull you out of that, you know, that rut potentially. Right. So that, as you were saying, you can just, you can just pull up and shoot and then just have a good sense of humor about it. Like you try something, it goes horribly wrong.

That’s okay. Right? Like that doesn’t say anything.

Ken Kanara: Yeah. Your, your book, when you, when you guys retire, it’s going to be awesome. Like, I think the title is like w how not to plan it. Yeah,

Nicolas Contag: exactly. Don’t plan it.

Ken Kanara: No, that is awesome. Okay, cool. So, all right. So you’re attending a lot of these meetings you’re looking for businesses was handling the first kind of big transaction that came across the board or, or was it like, talk, talk to me about that.

I guess the transaction.

Nicolas Contag: There were a few different businesses that came close. So just like, you know, in broad brush strokes, we, we being that, that team of, you know, students from community colleges and local universities and recent grads that was working with me, they were about 10 10 to 15 of those students over the course of a year.

So I ended up, you know, from the time that I. That I, I partnered with you know, with my sponsors and basically received, you know, a wire transfer from them to conduct a search to the time that we closed on a business. It was about a year, you know, sort of door to door. And so over the course of that year, there were about 10 or 15 people working with me to look at the businesses we looked at about 2000.

Companies. So that means we like, we researched them father, you know, a lot of information about them so that we could reach out to them. We obviously reached out to every single one of them, but of those, you know, the it’s a very narrow funnel of those. We only, I only sent out, I think somewhere between 10 and 20 of what, you know, a lot of people call indications of interest.

So think of it as just like a one. Piece of paper that goes to a business owner and says, Hey, you know, I’m interested in buying your company and you only get there. If you know, you’ve had some dialogue with them and you, and you can actually talk about terms under which you would buy the business. So it’s not a, it’s not a formal offer.

It’s just outlining the terms under which a formal offer would be extended. And it hopefully, you know, it’s there, it’s your chance to get in writing, whether you’re in the ballpark. With them about general terms, prices, et cetera, or, or not. And it’s, you know, potentially kind of board and move on. And of those 20, right.

I only ended up you know giving out one letter of intent, which was for handling, which was the business that we bought. And so so, you know, roughly of those 2000, roughly like 20 of them, Came to that point where I knew enough about the business, that I was extending terms and, and was really thinking about myself, you know, as, as the new owner or part owner of the business.

Yeah. So it was, it was a Hamlin. Definitely. Wasn’t the only one, but it was one of, I think very, very few right out of a massive what felt like a massive funnel.

Ken Kanara: Okay. And then the transaction process, right. That was a new experiences.

Nicolas Contag: That was, yeah, that was, but I think you’d be amazed what you can do with adrenaline.

You know, it’s like, you knew you as a consultant. Sometimes you work on like a due diligence project. Right. And those are always, I think those are due diligence is synonymous with nightmare, right? It’s like, don’t get asked on a due diligence project unless you’re a total masochist and and the truth is it, you know, this was a very different.

Here, the due diligence it’s for you, right? Like you’re doing due diligence on the stuff that you think is potentially an issue when you start leading that business. So it’s, you know, you start getting really practical really quickly about, Hey, what stuff really matters here? And what’s just sort of, you know, analysis paralysis, nice to have scenarios, you know, you really narrow in on the stuff that can, that you feel.

Almost literally kill you right on day one. Right. And yeah. You know, it’s, it’s so, so there’s a lot, I think of just thinking that goes into place and it’s very practical thinking. It’s, you know, you want to stay away in my opinion, from any kind of. Academic notions of due diligence that you think you may have, or, you know, templates of due diligence or checklists, you want to make it from scratch.

So you make sure you’re nailing down the things that you know, that are really going to matter on day one.

Ken Kanara: That makes a ton of sense, right? I mean, cause we’ve all done those due diligence projects where it’s like, you know, you’re exploring hypothesis. Eight nine and 10. And like, in the, in reality, they don’t really actually matter.

Right. And, and I mean, okay. So you’re really focused on like the, the stuff that actually matters are, are those 50 people are going to walk out when you walk in. Right.

Nicolas Contag: That’s one of the biggest fears. Yeah, totally. Is everyone just going to quit or like, are the books all fudged, right. Like everything is everything just made up in this business.

All that stuff you want to, you know, are the customers real? Are they fake? Like what, why are they buying from this company? Right? Like, is it, are, are there, you know, I think when you’re doing diligence, oftentimes it’s easy to think of the more nefarious. Situations, but, you know, are there hives going on?

Is that kind of thing or are these like legitimately, Hey, you know, we’ve established these customers over a long time and they really love our service and, you know, things that you feel are more transferable to you as the new owner. Yeah. You have to be really practical about all that. And then how you’re gonna date that.

Right? Like how are you actually going to get data to the best of your ability to glean that? Right. That’s, that’s, that’s really true.

Ken Kanara: No. That’s awesome. They okay, so then, okay. Walk me through day one. You walk in as CEO. What the heck is

Nicolas Contag: that? Like, you want to get the most luxurious car that you can get right through the front door parking

Ken Kanara: spots, right?

Nicolas Contag: Obviously. Yeah. And if they’re not already there for you, you make. And so once you’ve done, once you throw your keys at someone and say, please take this, you know, you definitely don’t do that. I think it’s a, it’s a weird experience. I think for everyone involved, it’s weird for you. It’s, it’s weird for the owner of self their business and definitely for all of the people working at the company who are receiving this news more often than not.

I think they have no idea. Maybe they have some suspicions that the company was being sold. But but they don’t, they didn’t know for sure. So you’re walking into the company to announce, you know, big news for the first time, because the change in ownership, you know, it, it potentially comes with a lot of changes and people are generally really understandably worried about change.

So, so I, you know, I, I was really excited to just get in there. I remember I got there about 15 minutes early and right. I was parked outside of the office, like across the street, like a psycho. And then I thought it doesn’t matter if it’s 15 minutes early, I’m just going to go. And I walked in, I went into the, the, you know, the, the previous owner’s office and said, Hey, you know, if you’re ready to do this, let’s do this.

So yeah, he just called his home office team into his office. There were about, you know, I think about 15 people in that. And how I just introduced myself, you know this, the, the previous seller spoke first and he conveyed that, you know, he’d sold the business and, you know sort of gave some, some rationale for why and what it prompted it.

So on and so forth. Then I just introduced myself as briefly as I could, because I just figured this is their chance to ask questions. Everyone’s going to have a million things potentially that they want to ask. So I want to give them the time to them. And they did, you know, and, and you get all kinds of questions, right?

I mean, you get questions ranging from like, are you going to move the office tomorrow? Right. Which, why would you write the answer? Probably know where it is. You know to, you know, really specific questions about certain customers and things that you have no idea about, and you just hear people out, in my opinion, you just hear them out.

And you’re just trying to convey that. For the foreseeable future, you don’t want to make any huge changes. You just trying to learn the business. And you’re not an expert in the business. They’re the experts in the business. You’re really just trying to learn about them and learn about the company

Ken Kanara: that that kind of brings up something, which is true.

I know about both of you because I’ve known you, but. I think that like, you both have this unique ability to be very relatable. Right? So it’s like, yes. Yes. You went to fancy business schools. Yes. You worked at McKinsey. Yes. You’re successful entrepreneurs, but at the same time, you know, I mean, you, you joked about the fact that you’re going to take up two spots and that’s, I think that’s like a commentary because like, You know, I don’t think everyone would have taken that approach.

Right. And and I think your ability to build connections with people is, is truly a big ingredient in kind of your success. If you think about, okay, the three or four things as it relates to the investment thesis for Hanlon, and then kind of like, okay, then, then where does Kat come into to the picture?

Could you kind of like talk me through, I guess, like the story of of your ownership and, you know, eventually.

Nicolas Contag: Yeah. I mean, the, the, the, the idea was, I think really similar. It wasn’t, it wasn’t anything I think, earth shattering. When you think about it in the context of, of many, most search funds potentially out there today.

So like the landscape with search funds has changed a lot in the last, you know, 10, 20 years. With regard to the kinds of industries that people look for that searchers look for. So, you know, maybe 10, 20 years ago, there was it wasn’t you saw many more searchers that were exclusively, you know, partnering with the same group of sort of search fund investors.

And looking at various select industries, one of them being for instance, software as a service for very good reasons. And companies that had very kind of specific profiles. So, you know, recurring revenue, which obviously you, you tend to get with a software business that had growing revenues that were rapidly growing at double digits for the last maybe two or three years that had.

You know, sustainable EBITDA margin, all these things that kind of made for like a perfect business, if you will. And very hard to find, especially to find in the, by, at a, at a, at a reasonable price. Now I think you see a lot of searches that are selfless. And they are buying businesses that are, you know, they’re, they’re much more service-based they’re they can be in construction, they can be in related services, like, you know there’s the, the Rick and Royce buying a small business book that was published a few years back.

The example they give is like the porting porta-potty business. And they say you can be the party, a port-a-potty. So that 10 times fast porta-potty king or queen of whatever city, right? Like we’re talking about businesses. These kinds of businesses are not super high tech. They’ve been around for a long time, but they can be as they put it in the book, like endearingly profitable.

Right. And so so with these kinds of businesses, that thesis is generally, Hey, you know, it’s locally run business. I think that as the, as the potential owner operator of the business, I can come in and I can put. Processes in place so that we can just service a bigger, a broader area and potentially we can transform the business so that we go from just sort of, you know, say cleaning porta-potties or putting up acoustical ceilings or whatever the case is to providing a completely, you know, unrelated service that we discovered just by virtue of being in.

In that business, but you know, that’s, that’s, I think a lot of times far fetch, it’s hard to make an investment thesis out of that without having a really specific view upfront of, you know, what exactly that’s going to be. Because if you would knew you were going to make some revolutionary ground or industry changing, you know, a product or service.

Presumably you would, you would start start a business, right? Do like a startup route and do that with a search fund. You’re really just trying to expand existing operations and formalized things so that you can do that. So that was a story with Hamlin. I mean, you know, the business had done really, really well in the years, leading up to the, to the you know, to our purchase of it.

But it, you know, as you mentioned earlier, it was missing a lot of things that it needed to get to that next level. So like the books and records. Were were maintained by a single person. It was overwhelming for that person. That was literally just an overwhelming amount of paper and paper records going through.

And those were being used to actually make payments. So money was coming in and out of the company of the. On the basis of these paper records that were not kept in the most organized way possible. There was no clear path for advancement for people. We operated in an industry in a part of the country that frankly was, you know, there was endemic racism and sexism and bigotry of other sorts that made it difficult for.

You know black people, Latinos, women you know, gay minorities, others to advance within the company because not only did they not have a clear process for advancement, but their own, you know, those, those sort of characteristics about them were also were viewed as a hindrance. It was sort of this mentality of, of less than, and so coming into the business, I think.

You know, one of the biggest challenges was how do we change the culture so that we, you know, not, we make it transparent. So people know what it takes to move up within the company. In other words, I do, you know, X tasks. I, I know how to perform certain kinds of projects. I get promoted. I earn more, but also to create an environment where people from just different backgrounds could, could move up as well.

And. You know, they weren’t being ganged up on or held back in any way by, by others in the company. And so that was, you know, the biggest challenge, right? When it comes to transforming the business and setting it up for, for growth. But that’s what we did over those five years that we ran it. And Kat, as she’s mentioned, was involved in you know, about the last, like 200.

Years ish of the five years that I was with Hamlin. And and so we did a lot to you know, put in place things like performance evaluations for our field team, show them a career path, put in place training programs for them so that they could get formal on the job training instead of. You know, showing up to a project site like a job site, which is kind of scary the first time you get to one, you know, you’re wearing a hard hat and there’s all sorts of things that you can trip on or fall into.

And teaching them formally, right? Like how do you do this job right. In a safe environment so that when you get out there to the field, you feel like you kind of know what you’re doing. You know, offering things that the company didn’t offer before, like benefits, right? So things like health insurance and 401k plans that, that didn’t exist.

We’d put all of that stuff in place. Cause we felt like it was the right thing to do. And then sort of on the other side of that also building like a sales sales machinery, right? Like we, we, when we bought the business, the only way you could figure out what was you know, sort of what the pipeline looked like for backlog was you’d have to go talk to the person, doing the estimating and just ask them, Hey, what do you think’s out there?

And they would look at a big stack of paper on their desk. That was two do not, it was like three feet high and well, it’s all on here. So, so what if I want to know what we’ve bid out there, what we could potentially win and like what the rest of the year could look like revenue wise, I’ve got to look through this stack of paper.

You got it, you got it. Like, that’s what, that’s what you got to do. So we have to transform that way to put it at like a CRM in place. Right. Um, and that’s one of the major things that cat was involved in. Um, we had to do. Put in place, these like this technology, they would allow us to, um, to forecast our business and to, and to plan ahead, uh, and then use that to figure out, Hey, where are we going to, you know, when do we need to hire, where are we going to hire from so on and so forth.

So it was, it was a lot about, you know, kind of taking the business from a much more mom and pop C operation that operate locally to turning it into something that was capable of taking on. You know, throughout the entire state, uh, and doing it reliably and, and, you know, uh, without, you know, the goal is always without too many local fires going on because things were just happening consistently throughout.

Ken Kanara: What was the most interesting thing you learned about yourself and about each other during this whole.

Nicolas Contag: I love that question. I think, I think that we learned, oh, I can say I can speak for myself. I definitely learned that I’m very mission and driven. And I think, I mean the same as the same is true for cat.

And so in any business that we, that we go into, we want to, we want to do it because it’s fun. And because we believe it’s, it’s sort of the, the right thing to do, right. The service of the proc we’re offering. Does some good for, uh, first humanity, right? And so you might say, well, outsource CFO services, right?

What does that do? But, but, you know, at first blush, right, it sounds like something almost out of the Dilbert comic book, but you know, the truth is that a lot of small businesses out there, and this became very evident to us during the pandemic. They just need this help. Right? How on earth are you going to grow your company?

If, you know, if you can’t, if you don’t know what revenue is going to be in, and if you don’t have like an idea of what’s going to be in the next year or how much cash you think is going to be in the bank by the end of the year and how much you could pay yourself, pay your employees and bonuses. It’s very, very difficult to do that.

And so we rally around, at least with Clara, we rally around this idea that we’re, we’re serving, you know, uh, early entrepreneurs and small and medium business owners. Uh, and we just get really jazzed up about that. Um, with, with, uh, with handling, it was a very similar kind of a thing where we were like, construction is a tough industry, super litigious industry.

Um, it’s it, you know, it’s very risky and the margins tend to be very thin. There’s a lot of cash. You’ve got to outlay a lot of risks that you incur because you just, you might not get paid. All that kind of stuff happens. And so to get through all of that on a daily basis, I think, you know, for us, it was about the mission.

It was about, Hey, we’re creating opportunities for all of these, you know, people that can come join the company at various levels. They can come, you know, on their first day they’re sweeping floors on construction sites, but they’re there, they’re hungry. They’re looking to move up. Um, and we want to create an opportunity for them.

We want them to know that they can come to Hanlin and we don’t care. You know, we don’t care. Who you, you know, who your mom, your dad is, where he went to school. If you went to school, you can, you can advance if you work really hard. Um, and we’ll be transparent on our side about what that is. I definitely learned that.

And, and that’s, that’s, I think the biggest reason why I love working with cat because. You know, I, I, she’s not, and as I say this, but I know she feels the same way. And so that’s what just makes it, that makes it fun. And we can then laugh about the hard times when they come by, because, you know, uh, in the end we just think, well, we’re still, we’re still, you know, moving toward that.

That we find fulfilling. And so anything that happens sort of in the in-between is not that big of a deal. Yeah,

Katharine Contag: it, yeah, I would echo what Nick said. I think that, that, um, that agreement on the mission and what, what drives us, whether it, you know, no matter what business we’re working in, I think that has to be a real, um, common piece for us in order to work successfully together.

And we’ve had that in both this business and the

Ken Kanara: last. That’s awesome. No, I mean, at the end of the day I call it, like, you got to give a shit, right? Like it’s like, it’s, I mean, like people ask like, uh, specifically as it relates to sales, like, oh, w like, you know, w what would you recommend for a salesperson?

I’m like, eh, you gotta, you gotta care. Like, like, there’s a lot of like, tactical things I could tell you, but like, that’s kinda, yeah. I mean,

Nicolas Contag: it comes down to that. It’s not, it’s not like, you know, it’s not a means to an end, right.

Ken Kanara: Well, that’s awesome. Just kind of wrap it up here to two things. One, we ask all the, all guests this.

So, um, what, and, and, and cat, I’m interested to get your take on this too. I know you didn’t do consulting in, in like the, you know, kind of traditional consulting firm route, but I know you did kind of, uh, strategy and finance and that sort of thing. So I’m interested to hear your advice, but kind of what advice do you have for consultants that are considering.

Let’s call it the entrepreneurial slash search fund slash Jack of all trades slash CFO startup path. Like, I mean, what advice do you have it just in general?

Katharine Contag: I think. Um, so I think my overarching advice would be like, Dabble before you jump. So, um, if there’s a way even, you know, um, through consulting projects, if you’re still at a McKinsey or a similar place, like, can you, um, you know, I know there’s not a whole lot of free time, but are there ways that you, you know, maybe you can, um, You know, I don’t know if it’s going for coffee with someone at that’s on the client side.

Right. And learning about what, what they’re working on or what their, um, what their needs might be. I know, like from when I was at Walmart in that like internal consulting role, I would meet with, um, with buyers all the time. I would try to like, learn about what they did just to see like, Is this an interest to me, you know, is this something that I want to do?

Um, and then if you can’t, you know, I know everyone’s strapped for time these days. Like I, and I know you’re going to ask us for book suggestions, but I love biographies. Cause I feel like that’s a really great way to. Um, learn what someone else’s life has kind of been like, and, you know, the, the adversities that they’ve faced and how they’ve they’ve, um, worked through those.

But, but then also, you know, like what they’ve been working, I, I like business buyer creeks, right? So a lot of times they’re, you know, running businesses are doing this and that. You can kind of learn from that. Um, what life is like a little bit, um, on that other side. And so I feel like that’s a way to like live vicariously through other people.

Um, and, and lately I’ve really been enjoying podcasts for the same reason. Right. So I listened to, um, to a lot like how I built this right. For entrepreneurs that you can kind of hear the story. Live vicariously or beyond consultant.

Ken Kanara: Oh, I love that. We’re self plugging. This is great. Um, cool. What about you, Nick?

Nicolas Contag: General advice? I agree with what cat’s saying about trying different things out.

Ken Kanara: That’s how you stay married by the way.

Nicolas Contag: I think that you’re, you’re definitely like to your point earlier about not making things perfect. Right. And be willing to just try things, even if, you know, like you’re trying to make a cake and it comes out totally busted. Right. It’s like, You have to do well and try it you’re by that same kind of line of reasoning, you should, don’t wait too long to take the plunge, right?

Like if you think you might want to be an entrepreneur, you know, you know, right. If you’re not, you know, a lot of people, I think justify staying in jobs that they don’t necessarily. And I say that understanding full well, that many people that are consultants love it. Great. All the more power to you.

There are many people that do it that really, really hated it. And they’re getting up every day wondering, Hey, how long, how much longer do I need to do this for? Right. Is that when I pay off those loans, is it when I have X amount saved in the bank? Is it like, when was it when I get to promote it to a certain role?

What is it? Uh, if you’re asking yourself those questions, you don’t want to be doing that, but that’s the answer. So don’t wait too long to take that, to try it right. Bet on yourself. Uh, and I think you’d be surprised by what you can buy, what you can do. Uh, but you have to try, you have to, you know, have the discipline to say, Hey, all right, like this is my last day.

I’m out. I’m going to give myself X amount of time. And be, be generous. Right. We mentioned when we started, we, uh, we had six months, I guess that was a function, what we had to live on

Ken Kanara: a backed into that number,

Nicolas Contag: but it was the most we could do, you know, be generous, right. Be generous with that and give yourself that space.

And as you’re trying it out right as you’re, you know, on entrepreneur and you’re not, you know, working with all the resources of a big firm behind. And stuff goes wrong and you really mess things up and you feel like an idiot from time to time or all the time that’s okay. Right. Like give yourself the grace to just say don’t affect it and just say, you know what, at least I can learn from whatever this experience was.

Um, and tomorrow will be a new day and tomorrow I can hopefully do a little bit better that that would be.

Katharine Contag: I would add on to like, cause I always had that hanging up of like, when should I start? When should I make the plunge? The sooner you can make it the better because your cost of living is probably just going to keep increasing.

Right? Cause you get accustomed to like either have kids or you get accustomed to the bigger house or, you know, like if you can take the plunge and do it before that stuff starts adding. Um, it’s going to be

Ken Kanara: just easier. That’s yeah, no, that’s true. I mean, the golden handcuffs become increasingly more, more of a complex lock to, uh, to pick it as, as you get older.

Right. So, um, all right. Cool. Well, Uh, last question. We’re we’re, we’re always kinda like trying to expand our, our beyond consulting library. Um, so always interested in people’s book recommendations. So, um, hit, hit me, hit me with some, I know you mentioned like you like biographies. Um, what are you.

Katharine Contag: Yeah. So the one that, um, comes to mind, which I know that next, read this too.

It’s actually not a business biography, but it’s by Martin short and it’s called, I must say. Um, and it is hilarious because this is Martin short. Um, but I love it because it talks about his career and. Yeah, you think of Martin short and he’s awesome. And he’s hilarious and he’s got a super successful career, but it hasn’t always been that way for him.

And so I just love the story because it talks about his, um, you know, his adversities, like on SNL and how it didn’t come easily to have, and all these things that I didn’t really know about him. And I just, I, I, I have such a greater appreciation for him, but it also, you know, um, helps me kind of look at.

Things that I am dealing with and trying to work through. Um, so I just, I love it cause it’s, I also read a lot of business books. That’s nice, but it’s not a business book.

Ken Kanara: Oh no, that’s awesome. I, I struggle with imposter syndrome myself, so I I’m definitely gonna read that cause like, I always feel like I’m totally faking.

Nicolas Contag: Yeah. Yeah. That’s also, I think really, really normal, especially when you’re trying different things all the time, because to some degree you are facing, right. You’re trying to build legitimacy. I think on the book front, I definitely, this is, this is another part of the interview where I, because blatantly clear, like who the brains is here, cat reads a lot more than I do.

I’m not sure I can read. Now. I have many books by my night table that are unfinished. Um, there’s like, I think of my book recommendations this way. There’s the ones that you really want to read. And then the ones that you pick up when you really need to fall asleep and stop looking at your phone. So, uh, but those could still be edifying.

I’m making my way through thinking fast and slow. Daniel treneman behavioral economics. Really interesting book will put me to sleep in about 10 minutes. So I’ve got just a handful of pages to get through that at any given time. Um, but still, still, really good and just broadly, right to the whole, just understanding how your brain works.

And as an entrepreneur, just this notion that, you know, a lot of the things that most people would be hyper analytical about, you may have to. Get comfortable, not being super analytical about just for the purposes of moving your business forward. Right. And making a decision and testing it and then course correcting as needed.

Um, that’s one application there. Uh, and then otherwise I I’m really into like, uh, into prose in Spanish. So I’ll spare you all the, all of those guys. Those are, those are when I, those are when I don’t want to go straight to, I do

Ken Kanara: like thinking fast and slow, but I am reading it really slow. I only started it two years ago and I’m think I’m 80 pages in, but I’ll get it done.

Exactly. Um, thinking it should be called thinking fast and reading slow. Yeah. Awesome. Well guys, thanks so much for joining us today. Um, so, um, tell us, so if we want to learn more about Clara, uh, or get into contact with you guys, no pun intended. How would we do that? I think

Katharine Contag: the best ways to go to our website, which again is Clara CFO with a K

And, um, actually on our website, we have, um, our LinkedIns, um, and our email addresses. So, um, we love when people reach out to us. So.

Ken Kanara: Awesome. All right. Well, good stuff. Um, well, thanks so much for joining us, Nick and cat today. Um, for those of you listening for the first time, be sure to subscribe so that you’re notified of new podcasts, uh, when, when they are released, we, we do an interview each week.

Um, so stay tuned, uh, until next week. Um, and if you want to catch past episodes, Www beyond And if you want to get in touch with us directly, it’s, but until next week, thank you so much. And thanks for listening.


Published On: April 29th, 2022|Categories: Beyond Consulting, Podcast|

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