Brad’s new drop zone is the corner office
Brad Moore served in the Canadian Special Forces and has used this experience every day in his corporate career, especially as a CEO. His military training taught him to move toward activity and face challenges head on, letting specialists do what they do best to accomplish the mission.
In this episode, we talk about how he teaches parts of his military training, breaking things down into a series of tasks and instilling the idea of being accountable to each other. Taking a little time to show them the fundamentals gives the team confidence to overcome any obstacle together. In his words, “anyone can be developed if the right mechanisms are in place.”
Bradley Moore is the CEO of Fundamental Applications Corp., which designs, develops, markets and acquires innovative mobile applications for college students. Prior to that, he was sales management with Eastman Kodak Company and a few internet companies.
He holds an MBA from Royal Roads University.
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John: Welcome to Episode 58 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion, making them stand out like a green apple in a red apple world. And why apples? Well, because I looked up the characteristics of apples and they’re very similar to those of professionals — they’re durable, they have a long shelf life, and they grow around over time. At least I know I am since it’s the holidays and I seriously can’t stop eating cookies.
And really quickly, I’d like to just let you know that I’m doing a little research for a book I’m writing about corporate culture so it would be really cool if you could just take 60 seconds and do my anonymous survey by going to greenapplepodcast.com. You click that big green button there, it’s only a few questions because I know you’re really, really busy, but the more data points I have the more legit the research so I really appreciate it.
Okay, now it’s time for this week’s guest, Brad Moore, the CEO of Fundamental Applications Corp., which designs, develops, and markets innovative mobile apps mostly for college students. He’s got a wide range of work experience from being an early adapter to internet web pages, to working in sales for Eastman Kodak Company. He’s doing some really, really great things and now he’s here with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
So, Brad, obviously being the CEO takes up a lot of time but what sort of hobbies do you like doing when you have some free time?
Brad: I live in a beautiful city right now, I live in a city that’s surrounded by mountains and it’s got the ocean and like a lot of candidates. You’re only about an hour’s drive at best from a lot of country and open fields so actually a lot of people know it, like there’s three skills that are located within a 20-minute drive or actually a bus ride at downtown Vancouver. So you literally can just drive up there and if you’re so inclined, put your rucksack on in the summertime and walk off the back side of the mountain and never be seen again. It’s wilderness.
I like to enjoy to make sure I have a healthy lifestyle. I grew up in the mountains just north of Idaho, on the Canadian side and Rockies, so it’s always been a big part of my life. I was up there this weekend and a buddy of mine just bought a used Range Rover Defender so we’re going to drive up, see if we can get up higher and not roll the thing off the hill, we’ll just go have some fun and just calm the mind.
John: Right, absolutely. That’s so great, I imagine it’s a good detox to refresh.
Brad: It is. And you know the other thing I like to do and I love doing it because I don’t say it’s a non-thinking thing but it’s more of just follow the instructions, because I like to cook, believe it or not, just because I don’t have to figure it out. Like every day, as you know, in business I got to think about things, I have to analyze, I have to look at the report and my girlfriend likes it too, she gets the end result of my cooking. So I pop open my laptop and get a recipe going and just follow the instructions, you create…
So limited times in business you move from one thing to another so like a tide, it comes in and out. With cooking, it’s a beautiful thing, you make something, you do something and there’s a certain end to it. So that’s cathartic.
John: Yeah, that’s an excellent point and I never really thought of. Yeah, you don’t have to really think too much, you just follow the directions, someone’s already got the recipe for you. That’s really good. Because I know that there’s people that say that I guess baking is a little more that way where cooking is a little more of an art and you can get all wily nilly with it.
Brad: Yeah, man. It says half-a-teaspoon of pepper, that’s what I’m putting in.
John: Right, I’m the same way. My wife’s like “No, no, you can get creative”, I’m like “Nope. Somebody better than me…”
Brad: Yeah, man. I go “There are hundreds of years of professionals cooking; I’m going to work with and follow their advice.”
John: Yeah, until they prove me otherwise. It’s just a lot easier this way. Yeah, I think that’s great. Also, something that you alluded to as well is I guess your military service. I imagine that that come into play especially with some of that mountain stuff.
Brad: Yeah, I was very fortunate. In Canada, a lot of people go, probably the same I believe too in like a lot of different countries, if you have family history of military service, you tend to pick it up because it’s… I’ve got ancestors fought in World War I, my grandfather landed on D-Day with the Canadians in Normandy. In farm country, we’re exposed and firearms are something we’re comfortable with but it’s just part of rural lifestyle.
So when I got out of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I remember I went down to the recruiting station, there is an old artillery sergeant in there and he was yelling at me and I was like “Why is he yelling at me?” And then I realized down the road, because he was deaf, from the big gun.
Brad: Yeah, yeah. I watched the video on the infantry and the paratroopers, I said that’s what I want to do. I enlisted in the program, it was kind of interesting, I was only supposed to be in for a year but I loved it so much so I signed up for two three-year tours. And so I was in from ’85 to ’92 and I was fortunate enough to… In Canada, we use kind of a British model regimental system so what you go into the guys you go in with at the start you stay with your whole career which is pretty cool. I got two overseas deployments, the last one I ended up was kind of particularly challenging was in the war in Yugoslavia, in Sarajevo, the beginning.
As we’re all learning now, peacekeeping is not what people thought it was and definitely the way we, as Canadians, as we conducted it is we didn’t hand out flowers. We snuck in stalls and we sorted the situation out. And during that time, I got to some Special Operations training, I was a paratrooper, went with the Canadian Airborne Regiment, and did two years there. And then I released in ’92, went to university, and then I actually got reenlisted in the Army Reserves from 2007-2010 and took a commission as an officer and helped train our young guys going over to Afghanistan.
John: Wow, that’s great, man. My dad was career Air Force and a lot of other family as well are military. No, I definitely appreciate your service and your time for that because I know that that takes a lot to do all of that. That’s very impressive, man.
Brad: It’s definitely a lifestyle choice, right?
John: Absolutely. I grew up and moving every two or three years and my dad was in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, came back from that and retired shortly after that. But yeah, it certainly is. And when you grow up in it and it’s a family thing, like you said, then it’s not as foreign to you or weird, but to regular civilians certainly they’re like “What? I don’t understand.” But the work that’s being done is very important, that’s for sure.
Brad: You know what’s interesting, you make lifetime friendships, you know just whether it’s interesting because of social media. A whole bunch of guys from my generation, we all got back online and we’ve been able to keep up and keep in touch with each other. Unfortunately, things to do with the effects of long-term PTSD and especially with what happened in the war in Yugoslavia. It’s coming back to affect a lot of guys. A friend of mine actually just released a book called Ghostkeepers that’s been sold on Amazon. It was about his particular tour in Yugoslavia and the nastiness of it all. Not that I’m trying to put a plug in but it’s a good read and it actually really articulates the nightmare of like what a whole generation of soldiers my age went though. Because when I got out, like literally, when I flew back from overseas and I got released to go to university, two months later I was sitting in a study hall after coming back from the war zone with not a lot of support. I did the next natural thing is I joined a fraternity.
John: Which that’s the tipping point, way the other way.
Brad: Well, it’s a brotherhood, they had conversations with me about toning it down a bit but…
John: We don’t have to do push-ups every morning, Brad. I mean, calm down.
Brad: Yeah, yeah. No armed combat training. No, the pledges don’t need to learn that, Brad. It’s okay.
John: Right, right. That’s so funny, man, that’s so funny. But no, things are going really well, and yeah, you’re rocking and I think that’s so great. What you say I’m sure it’s pretty easy especially as CEO, the skills that you learned from the military or like you even said from cooking and what have you, those have to translate over to work pretty clearly for you.
Brad: Yeah, for sure. Well, the first thing you learn how to do as you know is the military teaches you how to work and it teaches you one of the things especially for myself trained as an infantry soldier is it teaches you to move towards the sound of gunfire by making it muscle, memory and instinct. What I mean by that is like you have to face the challenges. Giving up, the proverbial sitting on your desk, sucking your thumb, is not going to resolve anything. If your feet are still moving, it’s a good day.
We used to actually have as we call them Master Corporal in Canada, it’s like a Junior Sergeant, he used to say “If your feet are moving, it’s a good day.” And as you know, in business, things don’t flip overnight. They come from a lot of work, a lot of background, a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of head down and like on a force march, you just keep one foot in front of the other and a lot of things work itself out. And if you’re smart, you’ll learn from what you did so you don’t have to redo that and you practice, rehearse, practice, rehearse. I’ve just carried that work ethic from the Army into my life. I pay for university, believe it or not — this is how old I am. I paid for university like selling encyclopedias door-to-door.
John: There you go.
Brad: I had a lot saved up coming out of the Army, it doesn’t work that way in Canada, there’s no GI Bill up here. I used to realize that if I just kept moving in the right direction and I didn’t quit, things would work out. And then the key thing is put it this way, somebody was teaching me let’s say I had this sergeant, he used to teach us bayonet fighting, like a rifle and a bayonet and I never told him what he was doing was wrong. If I get an expert in their field in business, I listen to them. I listen and I look at the big picture around the whole thing and I let the smart people do what they’re good at.
My job literally is to keep all moving on target and as CEO, that’s just what I do. You got to listen to you people, you got to take that input, you’ve got to measure it against what the targets are. I was very fortunate in 2006 – 2008 I went back, got my MBA. It totally elevates just your thinking process, not how you necessarily execute but just how you and your scope of the bigger picture. And so you apply that same energy with that and it’s amazing, like you’re always thinking about okay, I’ve got to measure the gap because I know what the endgame is. As we all know in business, the road there changes, right?
John: Absolutely, all the time, yeah.
Brad: Yeah. You get Brexit, you know, public trade. I was watching Brexit, I was like, oh, my God. How do we turn this to our advantage? And that’s what I’ve applied and it seems to be working.
John: Of course, it’s definitely working. Do you talk about I guess some of your military service at work or is it just that inner mentality that you bring or is it something that comes up?
Brad: Yeah. I like to think I speak through my actions. I want to be measured by what I do not by what I say. Most people know that I work with that I served, they can tell in my demeanor.
John: Right, when it you make everyone do double time around the office.
Brad: Yeah, yeah. No, let’s put it this way. I mean for some people it freaks them out and you know one thing where I really try to impart on it and it’s interesting with this generation because in Canada and in the United States and a lot of Western countries, we had a generation of young people that are coming back from war. Then on the other side of it is also a whole other part of that society that hasn’t had that experience and I was like saying to them, I’m going to work with you to help you develop because I know that by working with a team and us all focusing on a greater goal, what you’ll get out of that will make you feel better than you’ve ever felt. And if you know that somebody’s got your back and the guy to the left and the right of you at that desk actually cares about what you’re doing and who you are, even in a work situation you’re going to excel.
I’m very big on accountability but accountability about what they get out of feeling accountable. You understand what I mean?
John: Yeah, yeah.
Brad: We got a whole generation that talks about the feelings which is awesome but what I want them to do is I want them to focus that towards what it means to the person besides them, not just themselves. And as we’ve seen in a lot of studies, people struggle when they come out of the military because we’re in a society a lot of times where you’re on your own now and it’s tough. In a lot of warrior cultures, they don’t have the same struggles we have in Western cultures because they embrace the people that come back and do these things.
I think it’s really important, we get so much out and there’s something of great… you know they call it corporate team building, corporate culture, and I just call it good old sensible military training and as you know, it’s just more of a mindset. Let’s do this together, let’s seed together, let’s achieve together, let’s feel the rewards of our failures and getting over those failures and moving towards success together because at the end of the day, not one person can do anything on their own.
John: Right, yeah. Plus, it’s a lot easier especially in the down times when you’re all pulling the same sleigh together in the same direction instead of everyone doing their own thing and worried about themselves.
Brad: One hundred percent, man.
John: That’s an excellent point that everyone could take away right away from listening. One thing that I like to think about is just when it comes to creating that culture, how much is it on the organization or how much is it on the individual to be willing to open up and share and be connected to others?
Brad: It’s a great question. I think a lot of it boils down to the fact of it’s the type of people that you’re hiring. It’s funny, I look at these pictures, somebody on Facebook posted these pictures of my graduating class from the first like in Canada you go through basic training which is 12 weeks and then you go to Infantry school. And I look at the pictures of at the end of the 12 weeks, I was like 18, 19 years old, and then I look four years down the road, I just was like this skinny little farm kid and then at the end there’s a picture of us sitting with our flak jackets on, our helmets on, we’re in a war zone and our T-shirts, with our M-16s. It’s like that’s not the same guy.
I’m a real big proponent that anybody can be developed if the right mechanism and tools around that are in place and the right culture embraced. What I look for when I hire people, obviously they have to have a skill set because if there’s a program they got to be able to program. But a lot of times what I do is I’m looking underneath the layers, the talking. And so when I interview people I’ll have a conversation with them just to kind of probe at the end of day would you rather own it or have somebody else own it? That’s kind of what it gets down to. And if I see a belly in their fire then I can work with that and that’s what the culture’s all about for me.
John: Right, right, that’s great. I think sometimes people they have these hobbies, these passions that they’re doing outside of work but maybe they’re afraid to share it or people won’t think I’m as dedicated to my job if I let it out that I like to go to the mountains or go hunting or knit sweaters, pick a thing. And I think that sometimes people are scared especially when you come right out of school because you really don’t know what you’re doing despite having a degree and so you’re just trying to be super whatever your job is — super programmer, super accountant, super engineer, whatever, and so I think people are scared to open up and let people see that other side of them. And so even with that culture sometimes people are still shy or hesitant to do that.
So are there things that you do specifically to maybe help encourage that or is it more just a culture thing? I mean you’re an excellent example from the top, to share you’re a three-dimensional person. It’s not all about the job, there are other stuff that are important as well, gets you knocked down and do well but just serious.
Brad: Yeah, for sure. One of the things I do is spend a lot of time one-on-one talking and coaching and working with them. And I don’t mean the rah-rah stuff, I don’t get them in a room chanting “Kill, kill”, that’s not what they’re there for, program, program, program. I coach in terms of okay, so let’s look at a specific thing and I remember we’re working on some content writing stuff and that can be tough.
And so I said, let’s break it down to the basics. It’s kind of like the very first thing they teach in the army is how to shine your shoes, brush your teeth, shave, and make your bed, like that’s where you start. And there’s a reason what they do around that is to break that down so you can kind of get the fundamentals because when you’re trying to look at everything it gets overwhelming. So when I’ll take a task I’ll say okay, let’s do this, let’s break it down into a series of tasks, put it, stack, rank it and go through it. And then what happens is when you go through this small stuff and you do 3, or 4, or 5 small things with them then the confidence comes and when the confidence comes they get more daring and then they are like, “Okay, let me try this.” And then what happens, they go down, they make it fail, that’s cool. Okay, so why did that happen, and you measure the gap, do the gap analysis and they move ahead.
Then what happens is a lot of times they hit a wall, it’s like a wall in an obstacle course, well how do I get over. Well, take a look around, who can help you with that wall, who on your team here can come over and give you a boost up over that wall. And then conversely you turn around and you reach out and pull them up over the wall.
So we look at scenarios like that and we look at problem solving things and then what comes out of that is they realize that they’re empowered, they realize that they can think through things and they also then realize too that they’re just better working together. And one of the cool things about this, what I believe, is that this generation is that they’re so interconnected already. A lot of people say well, you’re going to be on social during the work day but I think in myself, I go, “But how do I know that they’re not talking to 80 people right now, getting input about their task? Just because I can’t see it. How do I know?”
At the end of the day they’ve got to win the fire fight. I have to trust in my ability to get the right people in place to take a look at that and say let’s learn from how they did it. If you look at conventional warfare versus Special Operations now there’s a big tendency to go in the other direction because of the effectiveness of it, right? You wind that clock back 30, 40 years ago, nobody was thinking about that and so it’s been a real evolution. You’ve got to trust in the troop, you’ve got to trust that their intentions are good and that just comes from having the right bums in the seeds and providing the right culture. And it’s a culture of trusting and interconnectivity.
John: Right, yeah, absolutely. And trust and interconnectivity is built up by getting to actually know the people around you as opposed to what their job is and I know what your job is, I also do that. I remember when I used to start a new job or go into a client’s if I was an auditor or whatever and I would just ask, so what do you do, and they’re like “Well, I take this spreadsheet…” I go, “No, I already know that. Who are you, what makes you tick? I don’t care about your job, I really don’t. I care about who you are…”
And I think it’s so awesome what great example you said, it takes a little bit of one-on-one time from you but then the dividends are reaped later on and maybe that is something where maybe some leaders don’t trust themselves or what have you so then they don’t trust their staff either. So you take a little bit of that one-on-one time, you build those fundamentals up, and then who cares what they’re doing on their personal time because it’s probably for the good of the company.
Brad: One hundred percent, man. It’s interesting from a perspective… I’ve got a nine-year old son and 12-year old daughter and we have a rule that when an adult is talking to you, you look them in the eye and you say “Please” and “Thank you.” And a lot of people go “That’s so old-school, so old-fashioned” and I said “Actually it’s not. The thing is when you give respect, it’s like a button that you get it back” and if somebody doesn’t give it back to you, that’s their problem. And I said, one of the things that comes out of that is that it’s how you feel inside that you earn somebody’s respect. Not what you got if you get rewarded but it’s like how you feel as a person that you’re like, I’m a nine-year old little boy and that adult is treating me like a person, a respectful person, I’m not demanding and I’m earning it because we all know we feel better when we earn things when we do the work. You know what I mean?
It’s incredible because they see the benefit because there’s a lot of kids and they won’t say or whatever, so many adults especially when we’re out at dinner and we go, “Yes, Ma’am, please, thank you”, and the people look and they go, “What a nice little boy,” but they actually engage them like they’re a meaningful person. I said, guys when you do that in life what’s going to come out of it is people are going to engage you and they’re going to listen to you, they’re going to build a relationship with you and that’s the whole fundamental being a human being is having interconnected relationships and then life actually gets real interesting and fun. And I think back when I was Chief Revenue Officer of this company and there’s this was kid who worked for me, super smart, and I really liked him. But he had this bad habit of walking through doors cutting in front of people and he would do it with women too.
And I remember one time, I’m like 5′ 9-1/2″, 5’10”, I’m stocky, and this kid, he was an ex-football player, about 6’2″. I remember one time he started doing it and I reached up, I grabbed him by the jacket and I yanked him back. And he looked at me and I was all like “There’s a lady there, why don’t you let her go through” and the lady was like a 24-year old, his age. I said, “If you give it, you’ll get it back. It’s amazing when you do that to somebody, it’s how it makes them feel inside and that’s your reward, you just did something nice. Making somebody feel good about something makes you feel good about it. When you feel good about it your head’s clear and you’re moving forward with confidence and affirmation. That’s the reason why you do these things. It’s for you, brother.”
And it was interesting, I think I had to do it one more time because it was just habit for him, but now, like I would see him now and he does it all the time and you can just see it, it just makes him feel better about himself. At the end of the day, you’ve got to live with yourself, you’ve got to be square with yourself and that makes you better on the team.
John: Right. That’s awesome, man, that’s awesome. Now, this has been so good, Brad, I really appreciate it, this has been so good. But I do have a rule that I’ve gotten to know you a little bit but until I come up there to Vancouver and we go up into the mountains, well, first of all I’d have to do some stretching, I think. But before we do that, I’d like to run you through my 17 rapid fire questions, just let’s get to know Brad so let me fire this thing up here. Here we go, 17 rapid fire questions. Do you prefer Sudoku or crossword puzzles?
John: Do you have a favorite color?
John: All right, that’s very Army of you.
Brad: I was going to say camouflage but that’s really Army.
John: Right, they’re all kinds of green. Do you have a least favorite color?
Brad: Not really, no.
John: All right. Do you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek?
Brad: I had Star Wars wallpaper growing up.
John: Right, there we go, that’s it. Either that or Battlestar Galactica?
Brad: Oh, Battlestar Galactica all day long.
John: When it comes to computers are you a PC or a Mac?
Brad: Was PC, now I’m fully Mac.
John: Oh, wow, you’re one of the cool kids now. So when it comes to a mouse, are you more right click or left click?
Brad: Oh, good question. Left click because that gets me to the next base.
John: That gets stuff done, that’s making decisions, right?
John: Do you have a favorite TV show of all time?
Brad: Of all time… Oh, boy, you’re killing me here. I’m a scared Canadian show like Trailer Park Boys, there you go.
John: Oh, Trailer Park Boys, yeah, absolutely. Do you have a movie that makes you cry?
Brad: I was on a flight back to Montreal once and I was watching it and I started like sobbing, I was biting my lip because I looked like a big baby. I think it was like The Notebook or something. Yeah, it was The Notebook.
John: Okay. We’ll change gears. When it comes to financials, do you prefer the balance sheet or the income statement?
Brad: Well, if the CFO was beside me, I’d say the balance sheet but since he’s not, I’d say the income statement.
John: Exactly. What’s a typical breakfast when you normally have breakfast?
Brad: First thing I do in the morning I’ll have a glass of water with lemon juice. I wait half-an-hour then I have a double espresso and I have granola with fruit on it.
John: Wow, all right. When it comes to reading do you prefer Kindle or real books?
Brad: I actually prefer real books.
John: Do you have a favorite number?
Brad: Yeah, eight.
John: Why is that?
Brad: I don’t know.
John: How about a favorite band or singer?
Brad: I love The Cure.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s a solid answer. Four more. Do you have a favorite Disney character?
Brad: It’s Donald Duck, there you go.
John: Yup, he’s a funny one so that works definitely. Do you have a favorite comedian?
Brad: Jim Jefferies.
John: Oh, yeah. Now he’s hilarious, though. Two more. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Brad: I used to be an early bird, now I tend to be a bit of a night owl right now.
John: Oh, wow, yeah, so you’re happy. Last one, favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Brad: The favorite thing I have and this is going to sound just… it’s my rucksack, believe it or not. Like I love my rucksack, I just love how it feels, the weight on my shoulders and stuff and knowing that it just makes me feel good when I’m trekking along with 60, 70 pounds in my back. I just feel good with it, yeah.
John: Yeah, that’s great, man. Well, thank you so much, Brad, for being with me today on the Green Apple Podcast. This is really, really fantastic.
Brad: Thanks, John, I appreciate your time.
John: That was absolutely fantastic. I loved how Brad said that you have to give others respect if you want to get respect. It’s all about being genuine and how you make the other person feel, and once you have this engaged relationship, life gets interesting.
If you’d like to see some pictures of Brad in his military days, go to greenapplepodcast.com. And while you’re there, please click the big green button and do my research survey. Thank you so much for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we are trying to spread, which is to go out and be a green apple.