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Podcast Pit Stop: Joe Musselman on The TLC Trinity:  Teams, Leadership, and Culture

TLC Trinity:  Teams, Leadership, and Culture

In episode 80 of Pit Stops to Podium, we sit down with Joe Musselman, the Founder and Managing Partner of Broom Ventures. With nearly two decades of experience in building exceptional teams and cultivating thriving cultures, Joe has a proven track record as the CEO and Founder of, a pioneering career transition institute for Navy SEALs and the U.S. Special Operations community.

During this episode, Joe will share his expertise on the TLC Trinity: Teams, Leadership, and Culture. We will explore the art of building and leading high-performing teams, including strategies to identify and recruit top talent. Joe will also delve into effective communication during times of uncertainty and provide insights on adapting to new challenges. Furthermore, we will gain valuable insights into creating and maintaining a great organizational culture and how it directly impacts a company's overall success.

If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!


Pitstop Highlights

The Foundation of Team, Leadership, and Culture

You should never have to sell anything, but rather, you should be asking people to join you.  You can only ask people to join you if you are very clear on what you believe.  The way to be clear on what you believe is to have a VMV (vision, mission, values set).

Vision=Where are we going?

Mission=What do we need to do every single day?

Values=What is the deep purpose or worthy cause behind what we're doing?

From Vision to Achievement

The most successful founders are crystal clear about where they're going, their vision is very articulate.  They are also willing to adopt and adapt to get to that end state.  

Leading with Vision, Mission, and Values

The best leaders are some of the most predictable people.  This is because their vision, mission, and values are woven into everything they do.

The best companies, like the best sports teams, do the fundamentals flawlessly.  Companies need to be able to explain how their OKRs or KPIs are connected to their vision, mission, and values.  Alignment, clarity, and consistency are very important. 

Reinforcing a Culture of Purpose & Values Alignment

Founders need to identify what is making their company weaker, or what is taking place that is not in alignment with the values of the company.

Connect with Joe



Full Transcript

Brendan:  Hey everyone. Welcome to Pit stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast where we talk to execs who have competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners. I'm delighted to have me today Joe Musselman for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome Joe.

Joe:  Hello BT, how are you?

Brendan:  I appreciate you calling me by my nickname. I also, you know, your last name is very fitting because you have some muscles. It's hard not to notice that you are quite a fit guy.

Joe:  Yeah, you know, they say, prepare for the job that you have. And so I invest in very risky early stage startups. So it's just more or less me trying to protect myself.

Brendan:  I love that. Well, Joe, I appreciate you coming on. For those that may not know who you are, Joe serves as the founder and managing partner at Broom Ventures. This will be a great opportunity, Joe, for those that may not know who Broom Ventures is or even your background, just to share a little bit about your origin story, how you came up with the idea of Broom, who you serve. We'd love to give the audience a little bit of a backdrop on you.

Joe:  Sure, yeah. Well, first off, thank you for the opportunity to share a story and some time with you today. That's the first thing I'd like to say is I have tremendous amount of gratitude for folks out there trying to pull stories from people out there who are somewhat in the trenches doing work. That knowledge should never be owned. It should be given away as much as possible. So I have a great appreciation for what you're doing, Brendan. And for all of your listeners, I hope that you can pull some value. from some of the work that I've accomplished in the last couple of years or more or less the last 15 years of my professional life. So the origin story for Broom is quite special to my heart. So first off, why Broom? That seems like an unusual name to name a venture capital fund. So first of all, when I explain the context, I don't think you will feel that it's unusual. So when you look at a broom, number one, it's the universal sign for hard work. Anywhere you go in the world, there's a broom somewhere, and people go and get that broom when there's a very specific job to do, and that job typically entails hard work. And that's the way that we wanted this fund to be perceived, specifically by our audience, which are founders. We want to invest in founders who are exhausted from lip service, from an investor community, and really want to work with folks. who believe what they believe that there is no task too small to do in the early stages of any fund for any founder anytime, anywhere. So that's the reason why we described it as Broom Ventures. That stems from my naval roots. I can also attest to that, that part of that founding story of Broom is in fact rooted in my service in the military and my family background. My father was a construction union laborer here in the city of Chicago for 41 years. I grew up with lots of tasks and chores. He also was an Army veteran himself, and I was the 20th man in my family going all the way back to the Revolutionary War to serve in the United States military. So longstanding tradition of service, and I felt that Broom had a sense of humility to it, meaning no task too small, pick up a broom and sweep. And that's what we like to do for founders. And then moving into the founding story coming out of the Navy, some of my lesser magical tasks and experience in the United States Navy had to do with the broom. So there's a strong root inside of the term broom and that serves directly into our thesis, which is teams, leadership and culture. The reason why I say that's our thesis without going too deep is because I know we're going to talk more about that. But for me, I created something called the Honor Foundation, which transitions members of the Navy SEAL community. and special operations community abroad at large into their next great adventure in life. What I learned is whether you are a Navy SEAL, a Marine Raider, an Army Operator in Special Forces or a Collegiate Athlete, a Pro Athlete or Olympic Athlete, all of these extraordinary teams talk about the same kind of equation of elements that go into being an extraordinary elite team and it has to do with teams, leadership and culture. And that's why we call it TLC. Now there's an equation that comes before that that I'll talk about later on, especially for the folks that are out there trying to drive revenue in their organization. The first place you need to look is in fact your alignment around five major themes, which is vision, mission, values, principles, and ethos. That is the TLC equation, meaning we talk about culture all the time, but we don't know what comes before it or how to align into a healthy culture. And so that's what I'm going to talk about today and all the things in my background are like this giant Tarantino story feeding into my present role at Broom and for what I hope to do next in regards to my next fund. 

Brendan:  Yeah, I like the humility of the broom, but ultimately the symbol of what it represents. So I appreciate you sharing that and thank you for your service. And it's pretty powerful to hear that your family is all the way back to the Revolutionary Wars. That's a pretty good streak. And we'll see if that continues to the next generation. And as you mentioned, I was a collegiate athlete. My co-founder went to West Point, so you ought to forgive him. He's a more of an army guy than a Navy guy.

Joe:  Not everyone can make the best decisions in life.

Brendan:  I'll be sure to let him know. But yeah, I remember him talking about the transition for anybody in active military into the workforce is challenging for a variety of reasons, which I'm sure you're well versed in. But I had no idea. And so it's really neat to hear you have that honor foundation to really help those veterans as they transition to whatever that may be for them. Well, Joe, we do have a tradition here at Pit Stops to Podium, and that's to get to know our guests outside of work. I know you kind of already probably alluded a few of the things that you've... that are unique to you in your background, but in the spare time that you do have, what are those things that make you come alive? I mean, it could be your passions, hobbies, families, interests, et cetera. We'd love to hear a little bit more about you.

Joe:  Yeah, sure. So there's, I'd say there's, you know, one, I'm a Christian, so I pray a lot and talk to God a lot. That's a pretty big hobby in my life. The second thing is most, of course, most importantly, my country. And next is my family. And after that, I have little time. So if we just, if we just stop there from God, country and family, I really don't have a ton of spare time. But if there were a fourth in there, which kind of converges to the first three that I talk about, it's to work with people who are battling with the question. And it's a two word question, and everyone's faced it, whether in your personal life, in your professional life, and it's only two words, and it's what's next. So I feel like when people enter into that question phase of their life, whether it's their personal life or their professional life, I do like to be there. Hence the Honor Foundation. If you listen to the subtle hint of what's next, the mission statement of that organization is to serve others with honor for life, so their next mission is clear and continues to impact the world. They are in a state of transition. They are asking themselves what's next. This is a constant question of founders. What's next? This is also a constant question for my wife with the children. God, what's next? Lord, help me. We don't know what's next. So that question that gives people great pause, I do like to be found in those moments when people are battling with that question and help them navigate appropriately. That's a big passion and a big hobby and outside of that, I literally have no time other than to sleep, eat, and try to work out so I can keep up with everything.

Brendan:  Oh yeah, I look you're in, as we kind of in the pre show with kids being you know, all very, very young, at your point, growing a business and having little children, there's very little time or margin. And so, you know, it's very respectable to see what you do with the margin you do have. So I appreciate you sharing. We talk a lot about we're human beings that human doers and so it's really valuable to understand kind of what, you know, to your point, your faith kind of forms your perspective. And so it's always helpful to to get to know our guests outside of that. So I appreciate you being involved in sharing.  Well, Joe, one of the things that you mentioned in the, when we talked a little about kind of your background was, you know, ironic to say the Trinity and the faith perspective. There's also this Trinity where we talk about team leadership and culture and how you've seen how that's a common narrative or thread through whether it's in the military or with athletes, but also in business and so I'd love to start just kind of what, what when you say that's kind of the bedrock, and I know you talked a little bit about the equation includes principles, and there was the ethos, was that the fifth one?

Joe:  That was the fifth one. There are five driving forces that will result in extraordinary teams, leaders, and cultures. Yes.

Brendan:  So what, I think let's start here in terms of like, as you, I mean, I don't think these are like a novel approach, but you have had a unique perspective given your background as to why is the idea of the team leadership culture, why is that the foundation? And why should our founders or revenue leaders be aware of, I mean, those are oftentimes buzzwords, but why does it truly?

Joe:  Oh my gosh, yeah, so why does it truly matter? So I was just talking to you before, Brendan, about working with CROs currently who are either going through a raise or they're trying to increase sales and one way or the other, but it all comes down to try to connect with their customer in a very human way. You shouldn't have to sell anything. You should be asking people to join you. And the only way you can ask people to join you is if you are crystal clear on what you believe. And the way to get crystal clear on what you believe is to have a crystal clear VMV or a vision, mission, and a value set. Let me walk you through this journey. So a founder has a vision, okay? They stand on top of a mountain, they begin to profess this vision over and over and over and over again. That soon attracts missionaries, right? So you go from vision and then you attract missionaries if you're good at articulating the end state, that vision. Now when you have a collection of missionaries, they always come with a collection of values. Now this is when the organization has to take a pause. Usually this is a sub-25 headcount conversation. The first 25 people of any emerging high growth startup set the culture for the next 150. So the 25 people really need to sit down with each other and get to know one another and understand where are we going? The vision. Understand what we need to do every single day, the mission or the KPIs of the company. And then we have to understand what is the deep purpose, the worthy cause behind everything that we're doing and those are our values. Values cannot just be words on walls. They have to be actions that are measured up, down and all around the institution to ensure that the organization is aligned. Now when that alignment happens, you start to notice certain principles arise within each value category. Um, my, one of my values is practice artistry. All right. That is a sliding scale. Some days I'm at a three, some days I'm at a 9.9, right? The whole point is you want to up your average in regards to artistry, whatever trade craft that you are practicing. The point of that is inside of that value. There are principles. And for instance, uh, one of the principles that I have that is universal, meaning it's universally true in work and life is that no organization will have, will, will only be as clear as its leader. All right, that is universally true in business and in life. The less my wife and I are clear about parenting or co-parenting, the less clear our children will be. All right, that's no different with a founder and that's no different than a founding team. And for all of the CRO leaders and for the chief executives who are listening to this call, you should just ask yourself these three simple questions. What is the vision of this organization? What is the mission of this organization? And what are our values? And then you have to ask yourself, if I were to walk throughout my institution, if I were to walk up and down the ranks of my organization, and if I were to ask people that same question, would they all tell me the same thing? And now that's why the equation starts off with VMV raised to the 10th power, because you have to repeat these things over and over and over again. You have to become a profit for the VMV. If you ever hope to sell anything to anyone. If you hope anyone will join you ever in life, in any movement, you have to be crystal clear on the vision, mission and value set. So let's just start with there and I'd love to just hear your reaction to that.

Brendan:  I love it. Yeah, it's a few things kind of mine. You know, there's a saying if there's, if there's mist in the pulpit, there'll be fog in the pews.  And so when you're talking about like the leader isn't clear then how can you expect those that they're supposed to lead truly understand. And so that makes a lot of sense. And yeah, and I think one of the things we I was talking to somebody at Chick-fil-A Atlanta based organization. who's very clear on a lot of their mission vision values. And I remember talking to him like, is it, do I really need to keep saying it? Like I've said it, I feel like a hundred times. And they're like, if you feel like you've said enough, say it again.  

Joe:  One of the most successful investors in Silicon Valley, literally by the numbers, Forbes midas touch investor, times five over his whole career, his tenure is 40 years of investing in some of the greatest companies. And he jokes to me often that he knew that this stuff was important early in his career, but he only realized that it was necessary later in his career, because the founders that he invested in who were the most successful, so this is coming from a very quantitative, you know, person who invests, it's more value investing at a VC level than it is anything else. He told me that if you go back and you look at all of the most successful founders, they were crystal clear about where they were going. Their vision was so articulate. And I define vision as the world we imagine and hope to achieve alongside others. Nothing great was ever achieved alone. So, you know, I always joke, but you know, I'm absolutely serious. It was called an I have a dream speech. But what the speech really was, and you know exactly what I'm talking about, why? Because it was epic. Why? Because it changed the world. But it was only six minutes. How is it that six minutes can change the world and be with us together? Well, he wasn't saying I have a dream. He was saying I have a vision. And then he talked about that vision with absolute clarity. So people knew how to follow. So founders need to take that into consideration that raising money, raising dollars, it's Going out there and trying to get people to join you join. That's one of the things I measure with founders is followership How is this person going to attract top talent great great teams leadership and culture? Will this person attract and get those folks to follow him or her into what will be the most challenging thing in life? Which is building a company which has a 99% failure rate. So I if you're not clear out the gate You can hear it in founders and I'm not talking about absolute certainty. All right, you should always be aware of the certain person, a person who's always certain. You should understand that someone sees something so clearly and he or she is willing to adopt and adapt to get to that end state. And that's what I look for, someone who sees the future with clarity. But how to get there? We're gonna find that out together.

Brendan:  Well, let's dive in a little bit further in terms of we'll find out together. One of the things you talked about is like that first 25 are those missionaries that you're recruiting in that inform the culture for that next thing, you said 150 or so.  Look, this is our dynamic. And that vision of where we're going can oftentimes have a lot of peaks and valleys. Let's just put it that way. And especially if you look at it, you can just see a comment right now. There's a lot to, there are a lot of storms. They're kind of that, I think it was Eugene Patterson that talked about either. entering a storm, you're in a storm, or you're coming out of a storm. And so there's this idea of like constant change. And so how does that having that, I mean, let's assume you kind of, you're aligned on the vision mission values. How does that allow you to navigate those changes or how do you weather those storms that are inevitable to come as you, as you scale business?

Joe:  The best leaders in the world are actually some of the most predictable people in the world. And they're the most predictable people because they follow a scripted meaning it's scripture on the soul of vision, mission, and values. So I would hope that if no matter what, no matter what turbulent time came at me, my wife would know exactly how I would respond. My team would know exactly how I would respond. My number one value is love hard. My number two value is practice artistry. My number three value is laser focus. Let's just take those three values right there. You know that I'm gonna come at you with love even in a difficult time, right? Love hard is different than tough love. In tough love, tough comes first. Love hard, love comes first. The second thing is practice artistry, meaning I'm going to literally try to become an artist in solving this problem. I'm going to work very hard to figure it out. And then laser focus mean I'm very good at deleting distraction. during times of chaos to focus on what we need to do in regards to a solution. And no solution should ever be thought of by yourself, otherwise it's not a solution, it's just a solo, it's one idea. You need a team to come up with the best solutions. So therefore I'm going to work with teammates very closely to ensure that we have solutions together. These are fundamentals. When you think about any nationally ranked anything, any national champion, any world champion, everyone always says the same thing. They do the fundamentals flawlessly. So if a company can't tell you where they're headed, if a company cannot walk me through how their KPIs or their OKRs are connected directly to their values, connected to their mission, connected to the vision of the organization, if I can't sit with the founding team and have open conversation and dialogues about how where they're going is connected all the way down to what Brendan is doing on Monday morning at 8 AM, that is not alignment. So we have to work very hard to get there. That's what I mean. Let's get there together. They have a best guess based on extreme high quality expertise inside of a given space or sector. And they make the best guess about product, product fit, product plans, product mapping, all of these things. And they utilize the expertise that I have to help walk them through that journey to ensure that it's in alignment with what's going to attract the top teams, leaders, and cultures in the world.

Brendan:  I like that. Yeah. There's clarity and consistency here or to the big things I heard you just alluded to.  And it reminds me, I mean, to use Chick-fil-A again. I don't know why it's top of mind for me on this podcast, but with Mike Leach, who was a former guest of ours, he was responsible for helping the Chick-fil-A team roll out the mobile app. And you have a weekly, you know, or a bi-weekly stand up with Dan Cathy, who is the CEO now, the chairman of the company. Whenever Mike would get right into the meeting of like the to-do items, Dan Cathy would be in the back holding up his hand and say, Hey Mike, why are we here? And so he did, I'm sorry, we're here because this is connected to this and that's why it's important.  And it's just like, it's a great reminder to me of, Hey, the alignment piece is so, so, so important.  And then to your point, the consistency allows for, Hey, how do we, when those storms do come, like that there is some way that we can rely on. as it relates to how we're going to respond and react.

Joe:  I love that story. That's also validating to me that I'm not just this crazy person talking about consistency and why are we here and let's go over the vision, mission, values before we start the call.  I'm happy to hear that story, thank you.

Brendan:  Yeah, you're very welcome. Well, I mean, it's, it's, it's, again, going back to what we said earlier, it always feels like are we, it almost feels nagging, but it, but it's not. And it's just a reinforce and reiterate and remind ourselves what are we really doing? And so I think it's, there's a lot of power in that.  And I think, you know, one thing is you talked a little bit about too, as we kind of wrap up is, you know, mission. or vision mission values and within the values, you had your three that you alluded to, but there's also like the principles are associated with that. So when we, I remember reading Ray Dalio's principles and he has like hundreds of principles. And one of the things that we started doing in our organization is, hey, what are the actions and behaviors that are nested inside that value? And how do we reward and reinforce those? Because ultimately that's what we care about. Like the value becomes just white noise or words on the wall to your point. if we don't understand what actions we expect from our people. We'd love for you to make sure a little bit more as you think through, hey, I think about love hard as just one example of a value. Like how have you helped, or even for you or for the portfolio companies or the CROs you serve, like how do you enforce those values with their team?

Joe:  Yeah, sure. So great, great question. So I'll start with love hard on the personal side. Remember, these are my personal values. They don't belong to any institution that I'm a part of. But every individual walking around is a bundle of stories. All of us have this bundle of stories inside of us and those stories outline things that we're emotionally shaping in our lives. The circumstances that we're emotionally shaping in our lives. Stick with us forever whether they're above the equator meaning they were positive or they're below or beneath the equator Which means they were negative regardless. They're all informing our value set and our value system This is why I care so much about the zero to twelve years of founders life Right because who was the first team that they were a part of who was the first leaders they followed and who what was the first? Culture that they were raised within their family, right? So I want to know about the zero to twelve years of their life And so for me when it comes to love hard and the fact of the just in general being one of the two leaders of my household, it's my fault. So extreme ownership is a big thing in my home. And so love hard means I'm going to love you first and foremost and I'm going to tell you that I am on your side all the time. And then comes the hard truth of extreme ownership. Even if my son makes a mistake, it's probably my fault. It is my fault. All right, he's three and a half. Okay. So if he's screaming or if he says a word that I, you know, I always joke with my wife, who taught him that, right? It's we did, right? Who taught him that? I did, my wife did. It doesn't matter what it is, right? Yes, they're going to act a fool, they're three and a half years old, they're gonna play, they're gonna do things. But I want my son to know that when I sit him down on the stairs, for a little time out, I'm gonna love him first. I'm gonna hold his hands, I'm gonna look him in the eyes, let's say Jack, look me in the eyes, right? and I'll say, I'm gonna love you first, I'm on your side. And what did you just do that you know was a bad choice? And then he'll say, I talked back to my mom, I was disrespectful, I hit Sophia, his little sister. He knows, right? Now every person on this call, you actually know when you're out of alignment or if you're in alignment. You know, you're doing something, everyone on this call that's listening is doing something in their lives right now that is making them weaker, not stronger. The sooner that you figure out what that One thing is, and you focus on it 1% of the time for the rest of the year, you will fix it exponentially. Nearly 30 to 40% improvement by the numbers if you just focus on that one thing. So founders, it's the same thing. Chief executive officers, it's the same thing. You know exactly what is making your company weaker right now. So it comes to the point where you have to sit with your executive team and you have to break down your values. and then you have to understand what you are doing that is not in alignment with your values, that's making you weaker, not stronger. What is making my company weaker, not stronger? What is making my family weaker, not stronger? I don't like when folks try to say that, Joe, you can't be the same at work and life. And yes, I can be exactly the same in work and life because I felt my values at home don't change when I walk into the office. Your values are enscripted on your soul. You can't not bring your values into work. The... When people are out of alignment, it's when they're working for a company that doesn't align with their personal values, right? So that's what I hope to do. This is why I like to work with people who are asking themselves what's next, because first we gotta figure out what's out of alignment before we can even figure out what a next step is. So hopefully that was a good way to describe how I try to keep in alignment with companies, how I keep in alignment with myself, and how folks on the call can start to pinpoint in very practical ways what's making them stronger versus what's making them weaker

Brendan:  Yeah, it was great. I think there are a lot I could unpack there. I mean, I think it's a principle of what's a reward is repeated, as we think about from a work perspective.  And so when you think about how people lead, do you want those principles that are actions, behaviors associated with a value, then you need to reward it.  In contrast, you may be rewarding the opposite behavior by tolerating it or by, yeah, I think by just saying nothing. And so I think it even goes into what you're describing with your children. And from a discipline perspective, their love heart is that balance of grace and truth. And so like, how do you approach both? Because as you mentioned, you didn't say, but you said, and when you said, I love you. And then you talked, it was not binary. It was actually a combination of the two. So and I think that's really applicable into the workforce of, hey, you have to have those uncomfortable conversations. You have to be able to drive that accountability. And you're calling people, we talk about, you're calling people up, not calling them out. And so how do you say, hey, I want, I'm partnering alongside you to say, I believe in you. I can see that there's opportunity here for growth.  And that's where there's a lot of power.

Joe:  Yes, absolutely. And you're calling people up. That's right. And one last thing too for the leaders on this call, and hopefully everyone here considers themselves to be a leader, but remember how little encouragement people need. They just, they don't need much. And so if you're a leader and you haven't encouraged your people, or you would raise your hand if I were to say have you Have you not paid any encouragement to your closest people in the last 24 to 36 hours and you would raise your hand saying, no, I have not done that. Make sure you do that tomorrow. Make sure you go into the office and you encourage people and be the person that they can look to for that encouragement.

Brendan:  Yeah, I heard that's a good next step for our audience. So, you know, and a good way to conclude it, it reminds me of, I think it was Annie Stanley who said this and it's, unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude. And so to your point, if you don't say it, then it's gonna be received as ingratitude. So if you're thinking about it, or even force yourself to do it as a forcing function, because maybe not all of us are prone to wanna give words of affirmation or encouragement, but it does to your point have a very big impact on those that are receiving it.  So, Joe, I really appreciate the time, the insights, and the encouragement on the next step of encouraging others. But if our audience wants to learn more about Broom Ventures or to get to know you further, or even learn more about the foundation, what's the best place for them to go?

Joe:  So I would say, one, please visit, learn about our founders, and then two, visit And to learn more about the mission of the Honor Foundation, and I'm very accessible, so you can reach out to me. I have wonderful people standing by to make sure that I connect with folks who reach out, and you can email me at

Brendan:  Well great Joe, I really enjoyed learning from you. I'm sure our audience has as well. Have a great day, let's stay in touch.

Joe:  You too. Thank you so much.

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