Episode 131 — Alex Repas — The Operator: Every Successful CEO’s Right Hand
Many of you have heard the story of how Crisp came to be. Founder & CEO Michael Mogill started it with only $500 to his name, and today it’s recognized as the #1 law firm growth company in America.
But Michael obviously didn’t build this company completely on his own, so what’s his secret?
Meet Alex Repas, Chief Operating Officer of Crisp and the person who keeps the company running smoothly day in and day out. While Michael is out delivering keynotes at conferences, connecting with clients, and expanding the vision for the organization, Alex is all-in at the office making sure every department is on track with their personal goal as well as Crisp’s.
On this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, find out what makes Alex a worthy COO, as well as:
- What attracted her to Crisp in the first place
- Why productivity from all departments is vital to the success of the company
- How to find your own COO
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Growing up too fast. “I grew up an army brat, and at one point in my life, my father was stationed in Iraq during the war. While he was there, my mom was battling depression and got addicted to pills. At that time, I had to take the reins of my little sister who was just about a year old around that time. When all of this went down, it was just me, my little sister, and my older sister — and we each had to step up and help out in our own ways. Everyone’s healthy and doing well now which is great, but from age 15 all the way through to college, my life focused on getting up, getting my little sister ready, getting her to school on time, watching her after school when she got home, and so on. It was difficult. I think, fortunately, that those experiences are what made me who I am today. I don’t regret anything that happened, and I believe that it’s helped me to grit through and follow these dreams and ambitions I have.”
Practice what you preach. “What really attracted me to Crisp was the fact that everyone has enormous goals and ambition. Crisp doesn’t settle for anything less than, and you can see that from the moment you walk through the door. Other companies put their core values on the wall, and we do it too, but the difference is that it’s spoken into existence with the people around Crisp. You can see that from how much collaboration happens every day.”
The truth and nothing but the truth. “In the beginning, I told you that you needed to be comfortable with me giving you the good, the bad, and the ugly, because it’s not all going to be rainbows and sunshine all of the time — but I vow to never sugarcoat things for you when everything is about to hit the fan.”
How to attract the right people. “Having a really clear vision of what you want when you’re about to make an important hire is vital to the organization and the future of that role. On the operational side, you have to treat recruiting the same way you’d treat sales. It’s not about how many people you can get through the door, but it’s really about how many impressions you can make on the outside world to make people want to work here. You want to do everything you can so that you aren’t the one constantly outsourcing and reaching out to people, but instead they actively want to come to you. I believe many companies go wrong in this department, because having a nice, shiny building and a great website isn’t enough to bring people in. It’s a lot more than that.”
Productivity also means cutting back. “Being more productive doesn’t necessarily mean working more hours; It could mean cutting back on something else that wasn’t necessary. Sometimes when people build out processes or when something negative occurs within the organization, and then you, Michael, have to send out a message to the company saying so, most peoples’ natural reactions are to put another process in place — and that’s actually the wrong thing to do. Instead, you need to figure out why it happened and most likely cut something out that is redundant or relevant.”
Loyal to a fault. “Loyalty is a huge part of being at an organization, and I think it’s very important for leaders to look at that too. You can have an extremely loyal team member that doesn’t perform well at all, and those are the hardest people to part ways with. They want to be here, they’re Crispy, they love it all, but they just can’t do it. You can provide them with options to help them decide where they want to go, but building out career paths helps your team stay driven.”
How to find an Alex. “First, as the owner of the company, you’ve got to figure out what you’re looking for. That being said, I don’t think it’s necessarily finding an Alex, but rather finding out what you bring to the table where an Alex wants to find you. Really great and talented people are looking for organizations that they align with and can see themselves there for a long time.”’
Defining success. “I believe success is different for every person. For me, I’d define it as waking up every day with a drive and ambition to keep doing what I’m doing. That comes with the money you make, the benefits you get, and all of the other great things, but if I’m happy and healthy, my family is happy and healthy, and if my life is filled overall, then I can be happy at work. I determine my own happiness, and I believe that that’s what success is.
What does being a game changer mean to you? “I think being a game changer is not being defeated by what happens to you in life. We all have something that happens to us, and it’s really about not letting it define who you are. You’ve got to push forward and achieve what you’re destined to achieve and what you want to achieve.”