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Why I Believe the Key to Success Is Serving Your Employees First with Benjie Craig | Benjie Craig

Today’s Guest Benjie Craig

Meet Benjie Craig - he loves helping people discover their purpose in life, whether at work or in the neighborhood. Running his own contracting business, he’s the go-to guy when it comes to electrical needs. At home, he's a dedicated husband and the proud dad of two adventurous boys.

In this episode of the Push To Be More podcast, Matt enjoys a captivating conversation with Benjie Craig, a Silicon Valley business leader who shares his unique perspective on the power of servant leadership. Benjie discusses his journey from growing up in Pakistan to running a successful contracting business in the Bay Area, and how his experiences have shaped his leadership philosophy.


  1. Why Benji believes that prioritizing employee development is crucial for business success
  2. How a CEO's willingness to perform any task, no matter how small, can transform company culture
  3. The importance of creating an ecosystem where employees coach and mentor each other
  4. Strategies for navigating the ups and downs of the construction industry while keeping your team engaged and motivated
  5. How Benjie's multicultural background has influenced his approach to leadership and fostered a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives

Throughout the episode, Benjie emphasizes the significance of empowering your team and serving their needs to unlock their full potential. He shares practical examples of how he has implemented this philosophy within his own company, Jemby, and the positive impact it has had on employee morale, productivity, and overall business success.

Benjie also delves into his personal practices for staying sharp and focused as a leader, including the power of starting each day with a walk, working with his hands to process thoughts, and intentionally creating space for recharging.

Whether you're a seasoned business leader or an aspiring entrepreneur, this episode is packed with valuable insights on servant leadership, employee empowerment, and building a thriving company culture.

Don't miss this engaging conversation with Benjie Craig, and discover why he firmly believes that the key to success lies in serving your employees first.

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Matt Edmundson: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Push To Be More podcast with me, your host, Matt Edmundson. We're going to do it. We're going to dive into another deep exploration of what fuels this journey called life. Oh yes, we are. And joining me today. I'll I've got an exciting guest, Benjie Craig, from Jemby, all the way over in sunny California.

Now we're going to be diving into his unique life experiences, the hurdles he has had to push through, the way he recharges his spirit, and what steps he's taken to be more. Yes, now don't forget you can find the detailed show notes and a complete transcript of our conversation over on the website at pushtobemore.

com, and hey, if whilst you're there, why not sign up for our newsletter, and each week we will zip all of the show's insights, links, and goodies directly to your inbox, absolutely for free. So how cool is that, right? Just sign up, it's easy as, and it all comes straight to your inbox. Now this episode is proudly powered by [00:01:00] the incredible PodJunction, the company that helps you build your business with podcasting.

It's the magic behind the scenes that lets entrepreneurs and business leaders like you and me. Amplify our voices by hosting our own podcast. But you might be thinking, why on earth would I want to do that? Why would I want to start a podcast? Let me tell you, my own podcast journey has been nothing short of transformational.

It's not just about marketing, although that is a pretty big deal. It's about the community. It's about the connection. It's given me a platform to champion. My customers, my team, my suppliers, and it's created a ripple of impact far beyond what I could have imagined. But I get it, the technical stuff can feel daunting.

Set up, distribution, getting the tech right, understanding the strategy, seems like there's a whole lot going on. And honestly, who wants to get tangled up in production, because let me tell you. I don't. Done that, been there, never doing it [00:02:00] again. That's where Podjunction step in. They are the backstage crew that make sure your show goes on flawlessly.

You get to do what you love, which is engaging with incredible people, and Podjunction takes care of everything else. So if you're wondering whether Perhaps podcasting is a missing piece to your marketing strategy. It's time to have a chat with Podjunction. You can check them out. Find out more information at podjunction.

com. Now, that's the show sponsor podjunction. com. But let's talk about Benjie loves helping people discover their purpose in life, whether at work or in the local neighborhood, running his own contracting business. He is the go to guy when it comes to electrical needs. Oh, yes. At home, he is a dedicated husband and the proud dad of two adventurous boys, which sounds very ominous, doesn't it?

Welcome to the show, man. Great to have you on. How are you doing?


so good. Thank you for having me. Oh, it's great to have

Benjie Craige: you here. Two adventurous boys. Yeah, two [00:03:00] adventurous boys. We actually just took them to Thailand and Singapore last month and we got to explore there a little bit and they also love to adventure on Minecraft and Roblox and other games online as well.

Matt Edmundson: So they like the real world and the virtual world, right? Yes,

Benjie Craige: they do. Excellent.

Matt Edmundson: How old are your kids?

Benjie Craige: I've got a 16 year old and a 13 year old.

Matt Edmundson: Oh, good ages, man. Yeah, really good ages. Yeah, love that. My boys are a little bit older. My eldest is 22. My youngest boy, who's my middle child, is 20. So just a few years further on.

Yeah. Good ages. They sort of transition from just being kids to being people you just love to hang around with mates, that kind of thing. So that's pretty cool. Do you have shared interest in sports or are you like cricket and they like, I don't know, American football?

Benjie Craige: I love most sports. I do love cricket. And we can watch it online here. So it's good, but usually really not good times of the day to watch it, [00:04:00] unfortunately. And I actually went to a rugby game last weekend. Some friends of mine, their son was playing in a game, so it was a lot of fun.

But my boys really aren't that into sports. So we went to watch a soccer game or football game last weekend. They enjoyed it, but, they weren't like crazy about it. They'd rather be home doing other things. So yeah sports isn't the common thing, but I think traveling is a big common thing for us.


Matt Edmundson: so have you always been a traveling guy?

Benjie Craige: So I grew up I was born in Switzerland and I grew up in Pakistan. My parents worked with a relief and development organization over there. Then when I graduated high school, I moved here to the States and one of my goals was before I had kids was just to leave the U.

S. once a year and just get out and reset, refocus, make sure, my priorities are in the right places. And now that my boys are growing up. We're not living overseas. We're living here. We're living in a very diverse place, which is [00:05:00] amazing. But I also want them to see different parts of the world as they're growing up just to have a little bit of a different perspective.

That's great, man. What was it like growing up in Pakistan? For me, it was normal. I didn't know anything else. I only grew up in Pakistan. But it was really good people, very hospitable there. And I think what it did was give me they call it a third culture kids.

So you're not in your home culture and you're not part of their culture. You're in this like third culture thing. And so I think it helped me just understand different perspectives and things and especially being here in the Bay Area, it's a very diverse area as I'm interacting and working with people, I can put myself in their shoes in a lot of ways and see things from a different point of view which I think has really helped me in my business.

Yeah. Yeah. No doubt. I'm just curious, so you grew up in Pakistan, so third culture kid and you were there your whole life until you were graduated high school, which is what, 18? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. [00:06:00] That. Do you go back to Pakistan or have you they're all sort of fond memories.

The last time I was back was.

2003. So it was a while ago. I've been to India and Afghanistan more recently. We were actually planning to go, we were thinking about going to Pakistan this year, but plans changed and we ended up going to Thailand and Singapore instead. So I do want to go back. I really want to show my boys Pakistan.

It's just finding the right time to do it. Yeah. It's interesting. Cause I spent, when I finished college here in the UK when I was 18, so sixth form as we like to call it, because, we like to have different names of things, don't we? So when I finished sixth form, I actually went and lived in North Carolina.

Matt Edmundson: So I went to your country and one of the great things in life for me was in 2018 so Josh, my eldest, would have been 17 at that point and Zach was 15. I got to take them to North Carolina and I got them to, they finally got over there. They got to see all these places that Dad talked [00:07:00] about.

They finally got to meet most of the people that Dad talked about, the ones who hadn't passed away. And then a few years later so was it two years ago now, I took my daughter over to North Carolina as well. So she got the same tool, the same, this is, I did some voluntary work in a children's home out there for a year and took them around the children's home and all that sort of stuff.

But I think it was really, obviously I love going back because lots of memories and stuff and connections there, but I think it was just really good for the kids to see all these sort of magical places, all these places that dad talks about maybe in a magical way. Because I lived there in a time when everything was magical, if that makes sense.

Benjie Craige: Yep. No, that makes sense. I think traveling and seeing places just put so much more together. I've taken my kids to Turkey and to we went to Boston. My sister lived in Maine and just seeing some of the historical sites and different places, and then, when you read about it, you now have a picture in your [00:08:00] mind oh, I know what it looks like, and hearing stories, I've told my kids stories about growing up in Pakistan, and they have pictures in their minds, but it's not the real picture, and then, once you really see it, I think that just adds so much more to it.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah,

Benjie Craige: that's awesome.

Matt Edmundson: I can. I think my kids would say that it was great. I don't think it's a place they would have chosen to go on holiday if that makes sense. And North Carolina, barbecue probably though. Yeah, very good barbecue. Absolutely very good barbecue. And there's a drink you can get in North Carolina and you can only get in North Carolina called Cheerwine.

It tastes a bit like Dr. Pepper. It's a soft drink. And it's made in Salisbury, North Carolina. And so every now and again, we would get it back at home. People would ship it over to me from the States. And so when that we, I took him around the Cheerwine Factory and all these kinds of things that they do.

They finally got to see and put places, do you know what I mean, to all the stories, because, if you're like me, Benjie, you like to tell the story, probably the same story four or five times, because they've heard this before, but then [00:09:00] when they see it, it's a different thing, isn't it? Yeah, it definitely is.

So the travel thing where if one of the things that intrigued me about when I lived in the States, North Carolina, was obviously growing up in Europe is a very different experience in many ways, because you're even more so now, Europe is on your doorstep, I would regularly fly over to France or we would go to Spain or so on and so forth.

We went to the States a few times when I was growing up. One of the things that intrigued me about North Carolina was actually the amount of people at the time, now bearing in mind this is in the early 90s, we're going back a few years. One of the things that intrigued me was how many people who hadn't travelled outside of the continental United States.

In fact, how many people actually hadn't travelled out of their own state was quite significant. I think that's obviously changed a lot with the world. But, if anyone's listening to this, And listening to you talk about travel and growing up in different cultures, where is the one place on earth everybody should go and [00:10:00] visit, do you think, that they should make it a point to travel to?

Benjie Craige: Boy, that is really tough. I really like the San Francisco Bay Area. Come check it out. It's diverse, all kinds of foods. It's really good. I think of the places I've been, I really enjoy Turkey. I think great food, great culture. Went to Antalya. My parents lived there for a little bit and Istanbul was pretty cool.

Then I think Thailand is a really good place too. I really enjoyed Thailand. Again, great people, great food. I think you can say that about most places, but so far for my family, Thailand and Turkey have been the top two places that we've really enjoyed going. Very good. Both beginning with T.

That's right. Yeah.

Matt Edmundson: Now I've been to San Francisco a few times. In fact, on the trip with my daughter, we went to San Francisco. We did we flew into LA, hung out with some friends in LA for a few days, got over the old jet lag, [00:11:00] rented a car and drove from LA up to San Francisco up the Pacific Coast Highway.

That took us a week to do. And we had the best time. It was such a memorable time. And this was a sort of dad daughter trip. It was just me and my daughter, my wife, my boys, they were at home. It was just great time, just one on one time. And when we got to San Francisco and bearing in mind, I'd been there before, there is a place that I never knew existed and we stumbled across it somewhere on one of the piers.

Pier, you've got all the different piers, haven't you, down in San Francisco? And there is this retro arcade place where they've got all arcade games and pinball games and stuff like that. And I saw it and I said, so we have got to go in there. Maybe they've got some of the games when I was a kid, none of this sort of newfangled stuff that I can't play, like FIFA I just can't do it.

And so I said, let's go have a look inside. And they had all like pinball machines from the 40s and the 50s. And I heard the Star Wars theme playing. And I was like, this is magical. And I said, so I said please tell me they've [00:12:00] got that game. They've got, they, oh, and I was, I got so excited and I went around the corner and the thing that was playing the Star Wars thing was not the game I had in my mind.

It was like a Star Wars pinball machine. And I was like, oh, I was a little bit disappointed. I'm not going to lie. We carried on walking around and then I turned around the corner, but there it was, the machine that I had in my head in the first place. It's the old Star Wars Atari game. It's like a vector graphics game where you get to fly around the death star and try and blow it up.

Anybody who grew up in the eighties will know what I mean. I spent many an hour down at the local arcade playing this game. And let me tell you, muscle memory is a real thing. I played that game and smashed it first game and I was loving it. So I said, I took my daughter, I said to my daughter, here's some cash.

We're here for the next few hours. I'm playing on this game and she's got some video of me getting very excited playing this game. And it's the only video game that I've actually beat my daughter at. So you should go check that out. I think it was Pier 49. I can't remember, but if I [00:13:00] ever go back to San Francisco, I am going there again.

In fact, it got so serious Benjie, that I went online to see if I could buy that game, that machine and have it installed at our warehouse, but I've yet to find one. If anybody out there knows of the old, original sort of Star Wars Atari game that's for sale, or even a sort of a mock up of it, a sort of a fake one.

I'm interested. Reach out and let me know. So how did you how did you end up back in San Francisco from Pakistan? Is that where your parents originally were from or is it just happenstance that you were there?

Benjie Craige: We live in a town called Fremont, California. It's like the fourth largest fourth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We're actually the largest, or we've got the largest, most manufacturing jobs in the state of California. So we, the only reason why we're really not on the map is because we don't have a sports team or an airport. If they had one of those, our claim to fame is Tesla's headquarters is here. Not headquarters, but their main factory.

But [00:14:00] my dad grew up in the Bay Area. And so when we came back from Pakistan, we moved to this area. And just reconnected into life here and I worked as an apprentice electrician and went to college and university after that while I was working as well and just jumped in.

I think there were a couple different things including a faith community here that we joined that we wanted to be a part of. Fantastic,

Matt Edmundson: so the family's settled there now. So let me ask you a question, I mean we call the show Push To Be More and obviously one of the questions that we like to ask people is, in terms of areas that you have had to push through, what is maybe one or two of the biggest challenges that you've faced in life?

I mean it sounds like you've got lots of opportunity for challenges with all the, living in different nations, but maybe I'm being presumptuous there.

Benjie Craige: Yeah, I think I think one of the big things just starting your own business is just the stress that comes with how much or how little work you have.

When I started the business, [00:15:00] there was, I could see it on a weekly cycle. One week I'm stressing out about, I don't have enough work for the guys. And then the next week goes, we're stressing about, I've got too much. How am I going to get everything done? And then there's just this constant battle and then there was there's this point that I just realized you know what I am going to have to let that go because otherwise, it's not going to be good for my health or the people around me because I'm just pushing it on everybody else.

And it's amazing how work comes in. There's construction, they call it feast or famine, right? You either have too much or not enough. And it's learning how to balance that and manage through the company. But just watching how you do the pieces that you can do and you can't really do more.

And then as you go forward and you've built relationships watching the work come in and fill the schedule. Sometimes just at the last minute of the day, you find work for the next day, things like that. Not holding that too tight [00:16:00] like that I was just reading a quote the other day that said, when you worry you're actually worshiping the problem.

Matt Edmundson: Oh,

Benjie Craige: I

Matt Edmundson: Like that I do like that when you worry you're gonna worship the problem. Okay. Sorry, I interrupted you.

Benjie Craige: Oh, no, you're good So and at Gemby, we say we're a learning company, so everybody who's coming in, we're learning and growing together, teaching each other, and right now in this season, I've got a really amazing team who's picking up, and everybody who's here, we've trained from the beginning.

My estimator started out as apprentices, and they've worked their way up. And then now they're, designing things and estimating and looking for new customers and things like that. And right now in this season, I'm slowly stepping back and letting them take the lead roles to build everything because I just think it's so cool.

It's so important to, as people are growing, to give them the runway to move [00:17:00] forward, right? Yeah. And not be the bottleneck. Not be the bottleneck. The bottleneck. Don't be either. That would be a good thing.

Matt Edmundson: Exactly. There you go. It's interesting you talk about there's a lot . I'm curious in the sense that you, worry is worshipping the problem, it's a great quote, is worry something that you've had to deal with and is it something you still have to deal with?

Is it because you come across people with different anxiety levels, I think, especially when running your own business, there is that natural anxiety of where's the money going to come from and all that sort of stuff, which you do get occasionally. But I think entrepreneurs are a breed of people that can either just ignore that or just pretend it doesn't exist, which is probably not that healthy in a lot of ways.

But then you get the other type one, something I'm noticing more and more, especially in the modern age is actually anxiety is quite crippling for a lot of people. And I'm curious as to where you are on that scale.

Benjie Craige: Yeah. Think it's important to know how to [00:18:00] like kind of work through your anxiety and process those things, right?

Like a lot of, the fear is not going to go away. It's how are you going to work through or push through that fear? And how can you have peace going through these hard times and being nervous about things? We had a job a couple of years ago. It was really complex and we had this massive shutdown that had to happen in 36 hours.

We were basically taking the main switchgear of an electrical of this building out and replacing it and it basically everything had to go for it to happen in that time. And I think like there was a lot of nights leading up to that, just waking up, worrying and just going do we have everything right?

And things like that. But it made me have to work through okay how do I keep myself calm? How do I be a peaceful presence? Because the strongest heartbeat kind of sets, sets the pace in the room. And so what I've seen with my guys is when things aren't really going well on a [00:19:00] job, and they're like, hey, we need you to come help.

Can you please help? I'll come to the job site, and I won't jump into the hardest, most difficult thing. The first thing I do, first check in on all the guys, say hi, and then I'll start cleaning the job site. And if they need me to go get parts, I'll go get parts, all of that stuff. But then by making the job site clean and organizing all of the parts, all of a sudden the anxiety level of the space starts coming down.

Yeah. Because things are organized, it's safer. And then the guys are doing most of the work themselves and they get it done. Now, I'll jump in wherever I need to, but I'm going to take the lowest task and just clean the space and create the environment where we can bring the anxiety level down and move forward.

And that brings a calming presence to everybody. That's really powerful, too, because I, what I love about this story, Benjie, is actually, you're the CEO, and quite often out [00:20:00] of hubris sometimes, just out of happenstance, just without thinking about it, quite often as the CEO, we don't come in and do the lowest task.

Matt Edmundson: If that task needs doing, we usually question why it's not been done, if that makes sense. Especially if we've got people working for us like why is your desk a mess? Why is this a mess? Why is that not sorted out? And it's interesting in the times of stress, what you're, just by coming in and cleaning up the site, I can see how that would reduce anxiety and you can, I can see the benefits of it.

But what intrigues me is the fact that actually you're willing to do that. That you're willing to just, no, I'm just going to go clean. I know I'm the owner and I know a whole bunch of reasons why I shouldn't have to do this, but this is what I'm going to do.

Is that something that is intentional in you? Is that something that you set aside, or does that just happen to be the way it was one day?

Benjie Craige: No, it's intentional. I want the guys to see that I'm not above anything in the company. Because if I'm going to ask somebody to [00:21:00] do something, it's something that I'm willing to do myself.

And it's not what you say, it's what you do. If I remember one of my guys tells this story. I came on in the job site and it was like a second day working for us. I came on in the job site, started talking to the guys. I hadn't met him yet. And so he's just Hey, can you jump in and help me do this?

And we worked together. I did a couple of things and then I moved on to something else. And then somebody else came up to him. It was like, Hey, that was the owner. And so he tells that story a lot of that made a big impression on him where I was willing to just jump in and help where asked instead of going, Oh, no, here, let me get somebody else to do that for you or something.

Yeah. But I think it's so important to model it and because then you're creating that culture of, no, nobody's above any task, right? Because if we're all on it, if we're all a team together, we're all willing to pull our own weight, just help to get things done.

And it's not a silo or a [00:22:00] hierarchy or anything like that. Because typically in the trades, you've got the journeymen who, they'll do all of the fun stuff, and then the apprentices end up sweeping up and stuff like that. But really not a big fan of that hierarchy model I want it to be a little bit more flatter where we're all willing to learn from each other and work together and help each other move forward and grow.

Yeah, that's

Matt Edmundson: really powerful. And like you say, I imagine that tells a story a lot to your guys that work with you. And it's something that I'm conscious of myself, like one of the warehouses we have, the warehouse that we have here in Liverpool, we just had some racking installed. And so I said to my wife on the, it was getting done on last Friday, And I said to my wife, I said, Oh, I'm just going to go to the warehouse.

Just make sure everyone's okay. Ordinarily I wouldn't be in on a Friday, but I'm just going to go and make sure everyone's okay. And I'm just going to sit quietly in the corner and it will all be quiet and it'll all be fine. And I was getting some, I'm going to get all this done. And I reeled off a list of things, [00:23:00] my little to do list to my beautiful wife.

Came back, my wife said to me, she said, how did you get on? I said I didn't get any maths do list done. And she's like, why not? I said, because I picked up a brush and I was picking up boxes and I was moving stuff around with the guys in the warehouse. Because it, like you, I just think you can't be above these things, right?

When it's crazy like that, you just got to get in, you've got to muck in and go, come on, let's do this. And sometimes you have to lead by example, don't you? And it seems to work out better when you do.

Benjie Craige: Yeah. And I think part of it. My dad says I do Umbwa, which is managing by walking around.

And one of the things, one of the things I love doing is just going up to people's desks or, out in the field what are you working on and how can I help? What are the roadblocks that you need help with to keep moving on your stuff? So my number one customer is my employees, right?

They're the ones serving the customers, but I'm the one serving [00:24:00] them. So how do I help them get roadblocks out of their ways so they can continue moving forward? Because if I create a company that everything has to go through me or I'm the, the bottleneck, as I said before, then it's going to break at some point but if I can be the one supporting them and empowering them and helping them move things forward, Then it's scalable.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. No, I love that. Love that. And it's so true, actually. And I, do you find then by doing that, Benjie, that you end up working later? Because all the stuff that you maybe should have been doing when you're helping out the guys doesn't get done. And so do you find you work more longer hours to try and get all of that sort of stuff done?

Benjie Craige: I don't see that. For what I see, what's on my plate, what I need to be doing is supporting them. If there's things that are on my plate, maybe they need to be on somebody else's [00:25:00] plate, right? What's on my plate and what are the things that only I can do, right?

As the owner empower, as the owner coming around and empowering the people. That's the only thing that the owner can do, right? Whereas, doing paperwork or different things like that. A lot of that can be done by a lot of people. Now, there's certain things that only I can do. Let me prioritize those things.

I've got a notepad here that I use and it's basically got four quadrants on it, right? It's got Important, not important, urgent, not urgent, right? And one of the quadrants is if it's not urgent and not important I wrote like the thing on my notepad says empower others. So that means let me train somebody else to do it.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah.

Benjie Craige: So that I'm not doing it. So there's a whole bunch of things. Or sorry, they're urgent, but not important. So like they need to get done, but they don't need to get done by me. And so how do I continually not put things on my plate that [00:26:00] maybe they're easy for me or I want to do, but they take my time, but it isn't the best use of my time.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. That takes a lot of discipline though, right? The, with the old, I think they call it the Eisenhower matrix, don't they? The one that you're talking to. Yeah, that is what it is. Yeah. And so I, it's, that takes a lot of discipline because sometimes I find I don't know if you're like me at all, but sometimes I just think to myself, It's probably just easier if I just do it.

But then I looking back, you go you said the same thing over the last three years. You've said the same thing 30 times. You should have, if you going back, if you had trained someone right at the start, you'd have been a lot better off these days. But I can find myself in a situation where I'm just like, I'm just going to do it.

Benjie Craige: Yeah. That's the easiest thing. And sometimes our tasks You really enjoy doing, but if you start looking at your ROI on your time, then the amount of time to develop somebody now and the amount of time that they can do [00:27:00] it. I think things just go really well for the last few weeks, I've actually been doing a remodel on my house, and there's a couple pieces that I've been working on, and I actually have not been in the office much the last few weeks, and so I'm letting the whole team run with everything, and I'm able to focus on getting my house done.

It's where I want it to be because the company is able to run by itself but that's intentionally taking those things and developing them for the people around them versus me holding them. Yeah,

Matt Edmundson: no, I love it. I love it. I there are times when I go away and actually quite often these days now, which I think is a beautiful thing.

I can go away, and the company when I come back is in a better place than when I left. And you go, that's really interesting. That's very helpful. Thank you for that guys. But Michelle, who runs our operations and also to some extent Sadaf as well, who is a mutual friend of us will say to me, listen, I know on your notepad, you've got 40, 000 good ideas [00:28:00] that you thought about when you were away.

Because when I get space, I'm really, I can get very creative in my thinking. I'm like we could do this, or we could do that. And if we change this to this, it's going to work so much better. They're like, can you please just for the next two weeks, don't tell us anything. Let's just carry on. And if it's still there in two weeks, let's have a conversation about it.

Because I found that, or they found actually, when I came back from these sort of times away, that I would just bombard them with so much it was very hard to keep up with it and to take it all on the chin. I don't know if you suffer from that same thing but that's one of the big things I now have to watch out for, having a company that I can step away from, is that when I come back, I don't get too excited.

Benjie Craige: Yeah coming up with new ideas is always fun. And and then, there, there's the my wife went to a conference where they talked about the wow and the how, right? She's a big how person, I'm a big wow person, right? And so the wow is imagine if we did this, and then the next question is how?

And I think there's times to go okay, [00:29:00] this is a wow meeting. We're not implementing it. Let's just what if and finding places to have that, and then kinda keeping them there and letting people know okay, this isn't happening. This is just a time to talk about ideas.

And I think over time as a company develops it's fun when the wow ideas start coming from the staff. And they're the ones going, Hey, what if? Yeah I've got a lady in my office and she messaged me at the beginning of last week, and she said, Hey can I do something for all the moms who work here, and to do a little Mother's Day thing?

Yes, yesterday was Mother's Day here in the States. And I'm like, Yeah, go for it. And so then she messaged back going what's my budget? And so I responded back what do you think your budget should be? And then she gave me a number. I said, okay, go for it. And then and then she went and did it, took care of it, had like everybody in the company sign the card and had a little gift basket or something for him and did it all.

[00:30:00] And that was so beautiful, right? Like, how do we let them do it all, right? We don't always have to have the best ideas and when they start coming up with ideas, then you really know people are bought into it and they're owning it, right?

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, absolutely.

No, I'm loving this. It reminded me of something we did years ago called Smocks. This was something we did in one of our warehouses. There was a lady that worked for me at the time called Nicola, who affectionately as a family, we call Lala, because our kids, when they were younger, couldn't say Nicola.

So they just called her Lala. So the name stuck as it would. And beautiful lady. We're still very good friends to this day. But when she was working with me, she would just have an idea after idea about how to make their experience for the customers better, and we were shipping out hundreds of boxes every week.

And so we, we came up between us with this idea of SMOCS which was an acronym for sexy moments of customer service. And we basically said to Nicola, listen, you've got to, this is your budget. I can't remember what it was, but this is your [00:31:00] budget. It was a nominal budget. And during the month, you can spend that budget however you want to spend that to create a smock, right?

You do what you want to do, here's your budget, here's, you don't, you know the company, you know the values, you don't need to clear everything through me, because we understood at heart, we knew what, the kind of stuff she'd come up with before was great. And so that's what she did. She just would go out and spend money every month and buy things to put in these boxes that she was just sending out from the warehouse, doing the picking and packing.

And it transformed what would be quite a mundane job in something quite extraordinary because she started to get to recognize customer names and she would put in the boxes, handwritten notes, put in gifts, put in Starbucks, gift cards, all kinds of stuff that she thought, tried over the years and I loved it because I never knew what she was up to from one day to the next but I could tell you the reviews on the website, they certainly told you although one time, I'll never forget it, we got an [00:32:00] email from somebody saying I opened up my box and we were selling beauty products at the time and she was like, I opened up my box and I think I found part of somebody's lunch here, because Nicola had put chocolate in the box and not really explained why the chocolate was in the box, which I thought was hysterical.

But yeah I love that when it comes from the from the staff that's awesome, man. That's awesome. So where's the, what does more look like for you? Where's the business going over the next few years? That's

Benjie Craige: a good question. So I'm continuing to build and develop the staff and really they're doing a lot of it themselves.

They're coaching and developing each other. I love building ecosystems, right? And like one of my guys on Sunday, no, Saturday, just took his journeyman test and passed. And so that was really exciting. Because one of my other guys was the one coaching and mentoring him, right? I wasn't doing it.

It was somebody else, right? And now we've got levels of [00:33:00] people coaching and developing other people versus me coaching and developing. Yeah, right? It's building a system. Think, Are we going to be at 50 people or, are we going to hit some revenue number or something like that?

I think we have to see how the economy goes, but like I can continue building my ecosystem, whatever size it is. And I'm not trying to create a massive company that's going to take over the world, but I'm trying to create a company that builds and empowers my people, right?

Our vision is cities and people are empowered. And then our mission is how we build lasting relationships. So lasting relationships with our customers, lasting relationships with our employees and with our vendors, right? And like right now things are really slow in construction in the Bay Area and we're, we've got about half the guys in the field as we normally do.

So we're in a smaller spot, but what we're focusing on right now is How do we develop and [00:34:00] build our team so that when the next wave comes, we're ready for it and we can scale and take that work. Now that said I am a builder, not a maintainer. So I'm also working on another product, which is a, that's where my new ideas go into a new product where once, once I've got a team fully built, I'm developing a piece of software to help contracting businesses run their business.

If you think of the economy most people in America work for a small business, 500 or smaller. Yeah. Now, if you look at the news, it seems like everybody works for, some massive company, but that's not true. And so how do we help the small businesses thrive? How do we help small businesses thrive?

Contractors thrive. And I think through a set of tools that we're building that helps you run your business, I think we can help small contracting businesses be a lot more healthy. And then alongside that, I want to working on doing some coaching and [00:35:00] developing as well. Bringing those pieces of helping people find their purpose and help them really thrive.

That sounds awesome. That's a picture forward.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, absolutely. And you're getting into software development and that's a whole different world of pain right there, right? But fun.

Benjie Craige: Yeah, it's, it, what I'm realizing is that there's so much that I don't know,

Matt Edmundson: right?

Benjie Craige: I'm like, I started one business.

How hard is it gonna be to start another one? And I'm finding all kinds of new things and I find okay, I am strong here and here. I'm not strong here and here. I need bringing other people in. And so we've been developing the software for about six years now. And we've got a couple of customers and over the next couple of years, it's now to take it from the idea of something that we're run, our company fully runs on, and then help other companies be able to use it and implement it as well.

Matt Edmundson: It's interesting how that works. At PodJunction, we developed some software for the podcasts that we run and it was all in, in house really. And [00:36:00] I'm a big fan of podcast podcasting as everyone knows, but I do five or six different podcasts and we and there were things that were common things that we thought if we could just have a piece of software that did this, it would be really helpful.

And so we had it developed. And so it's it's interesting, isn't it, when you develop something out of your own needs and now we just need to make it, I think function and look better because for us, I was never really that bothered about what it looked like. It was more the function side of it.

But now we're do we take this to market? Cause it's quite interesting what we've done. So we'll just have to trade notes. On taking software to market and figure that out. What do you do to fill your tank? How do you recharge your batteries?

Because, you've got two companies, two adventurous boys, do a fair bit of traveling obviously married, they're in the Bay community, you got, the ups and downs of the construction industry. So how do you stay sharp? How do you stay on top of you go?

Benjie Craige: I love to start my day out with a walk.

I do about a half hour walk every morning. It's one and a half miles. Just walking around the neighborhood, seeing what's going on, seeing some of the [00:37:00] neighbors, things like that. And that kind of starts my day. I start with I've walked a little bit, I've moved around and got some fresh air and kind of been able to meditate on a few things and process through what's on my mind and then step into things.

Like I said, I love traveling. That's my passion. That's one way I love filling my tank. But then actually working on the house is something I love doing. I mentioned I'm in the middle of a remodel. The I think with my, I've got a little ADD, a little dyslexia, just enough for the to have it.

And I find when I'm doing things with my hands. It helps me think and process things.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah.

Benjie Craige: And so as I'm working on something, I'm able to focus. I love the idea of being able to sit down with a notepad and do some serious thinking and stuff like that, but that doesn't work for me. I just sit there and go I'm wasting my time.

But if I'm building something with my hands, it doesn't take a lot of mental energy, [00:38:00] but I'm doing something physical. And then I'm really able to focus and process and think through things. So sometimes, if I've had a frustrating day at the office, I'll just go clean the warehouse, and I'll be able to process through what I need to think, because I'm doing something physical, and that actually distracts my brain enough to be able to focus.

So those are some of the ways that I just engage and process through things I need to, or if things are really tough, just, take your breather. Go on a walk, you had a hard meeting or something? Just go take a walk. For a couple of my people when it's the first time that they've been involved in letting somebody go, I say, Hey, alright, just go take a half hour.

Get a breather. Yeah. And then let's come back to it. Because, let's get back to a good healthy space and then be able to move on. Because when you've got 10 tense moments, you need to be able to recharge. And I think we're all going to get hit, we're all going to go down, right?

But it's You know, how fast can we come back up, right? Like [00:39:00] when something hard happens, is it going to take you three days to bounce back? Or is it going to take you a couple hours or something like that? And how can you find the right ways to recharge to be the best for your team?

Because if you're mad, that's coming out at somebody, right? And that's not going to be that's not helpful for the team. So how can you get to a space where you can process what's going through and then be able to move on with what's going on. Very good.

Matt Edmundson: Very good. I liked one of the things that one of the good things that came out of COVID wasn't it?

I don't know for you, but for me was just because you were cooped up so much more that actually going for the walk was a really good idea, and it was a habit that we all got into. And just literally a sort of three or four minute walk from my is quite a nice park. And it's got a sort of a I guess it's about a 1K track, so just short of a mile, all around when you walk around the park, which is not bad for in the city of Liverpool, but quite often during COVID, [00:40:00] you would see people walking around the park, doing all the Zoom calls, walking around with their iPhones in front of them or whatever, just doing the calls. And I used to be one of them. And the other thing that I did was I have an app on my phone called Day One.

Which is like a journaling app and you can do the thing now, can't you, with the iPhone where there's that little microphone on the keyboard and you push it and you dictate an effect and it transcribes as you're going along. And I would just open up day one and I would just start talking and the iPhone would transcribe whatever I was saying straight into my journaling app and I found for me it was a brilliant way to journal.

Trotting around the park, talking into my phone, no one cares because they just thought I was on a Zoom call, got headphones in so no one really thought any different of it. It's all brilliant. Accepted behavior that you're going to talk to yourself if you've got headphones in now. One of the things I have noticed though is and it's not just the people that I see, it's me included, is there are less and less people in the park doing less and less walks.

It's like that behavior, that habit has slowly started to disappear [00:41:00] again. A few years after COVID and I keep, I said it to my wife the other day, I keep thinking to myself, I must start doing that thing again, where I walk around the park, I do calls walking around the park, I don't need to be in a computer, in front of a computer all the time, Zoom records every call now.

You can just have the whole thing transcribed, I don't need to take notes and so on and so forth. And I like the fact that you're doing that. You still got that habit. Was that something you discovered in COVID or is that something you've always done?

Benjie Craige: I started a little bit before that but COVID was a real help and, I took a lot more calls walking during COVID because I was bored of being in my house.

And my front porch actually ended up being my office because with two kids on online school and my wife working as well, our house filled up pretty fast.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah.

Benjie Craige: But I think creating rhythms is really important, I think. And for me, waking up, I read a little bit, meditate, and then walk, right?

And just spend some time just resetting. And there's days that I don't do [00:42:00] it, I miss it those days. And I want to, I get back to it. And we can't get more time and so we end up our time gets sucked up in all kinds of things.

And so how are we going to use our time intentionally and create some space for us to recharge. And then we actually have something to do. Give others, right? Yeah. If we start at zero, then we may not be best for the people around us.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah.

Benjie Craige: It's that whole

Matt Edmundson: sharpening the so thing, isn't it?

And I totally agree with you and it's what I've noticed for me, those habits are easy to let go of when life gets busy. And actually probably when life gets busy there, the some of the key habits I should keep doing. And it's easier to sit here and say that, and it's another thing to do something about it, isn't it?

I'm aware of time, man, and I feel like we're just getting started in many ways, but if people wanted to reach out to you, if they wanted to connect with you, maybe they're in the Bay Area, maybe they just need some electrical work doing and they're in the Bay Area but whatever it is, how do, what's the best way to do that?

Benjie Craige: I'm on all those socials, [00:43:00] B E N J I E. Craig CRAIG You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, any of those places. Just message me and we can chat.

Matt Edmundson: Fantastic. We will of course link to Benjie. With an ie. In the show notes, which you can, you'll get on the podcast app, whatever way, whatever you are listening to they'll be in there as well.

Follow the links go connect with Benjie and say, how's it Benjie, listen man, it's been an absolute joy to connect with you and chat with you. Love to hearing your thoughts. Love to hear what's going on with the company as well. And one day maybe we'll get to connect in person.

Sad thinks you're a really cool person. By the way, Sadaf's the producer of this show, if you're listening to you, again, who's Sadaf, she produces this show. As you will hear me say in the end credits, but she's Oh yeah, Benjie's coming on. He's a really cool guy. So she's a big fan. Thank you so much for having me.

It's been great. No, it's been fantastic. Brilliant. Wow. Thank you again, Benjie, for coming on. That wraps up another invigorating conversation. A massive round of applause. Oh, I can do this. Hang on. Let me do this. [00:44:00] Yes, there we go. Big, massive round of applause for joining us. And Shedding Light on his inspiring journey has been great.

Huge thanks also to today's champion sponsor Podjunction for all you change makers out there contemplating podcasting as your new vehicle of expression and connection. Do check with them. Do seriously check with them. Podjunction. com and check out actually Sadaf has just started her own little podcast called Podjunction, which is brilliant.

Actually do check that out. Now, remember, keep pushing to be more. Don't forget to follow this show wherever you get your podcasts from, because we've got some more great conversations coming up and I don't want you to miss any of them. And in case no one has told you yet today, let me be the first. You are awesome.

Yes, you are created. Awesome. It's just a burden you have got to bear. Benjie's got to bear it. I've gotta bear it. You've gotta bear it as well. Now push to be more is brought to you, like I say by PodJunction for [00:45:00] transcripts and show notes. Swing on by our website. Push to be and a big kudos to the team that makes this show possible, which is the legendary Sadaf Beynon on who we were talking about and also Tanya Hutsuliak and also shout out to Josh Edmundson for the fantastic theme music. So from Benjie and from me thank you so much for joining us. Have a fantastic week wherever you are in the world. I'll see you next time. Bye for now.