In today’s episode, Mike talks with Tyler Young, CEO of VersiTech, about building a strong company culture and staying focused as a leader.
Tyler explains how leading with vulnerability enables transparent communication and support for employees. He shares insights on maintaining motivation after achieving goals, pursuing new opportunities, and balancing work with family.
Listeners will learn Tyler’s approach to getting unstuck, supporting people, shaping culture from the top down, and keys to consistent growth.
Tyler Young’s Bio
Tyler Young is the CEO of VersiTech, whose businesses include Tonic POS and Bold Integrated Payments. He has been recognized on the Electronic Transactions Association and Retail Solutions Providers Association’s 40 under 40 lists.
Tyler has over 15 years of experience in the payments and point-of-sale industry. He founded his first company, Secure Payments, in 2009 and has since led multiple acquisitions and mergers to create VersiTech’s current suite of payment and POS solutions.
Driven by his passion for positively impacting people’s lives, Tyler aims to create an environment where employees feel supported personally and professionally. He leads with transparency, motivates his team, and balances work with dedicating time for family.
In This Episode…
- Leading with vulnerability enables stronger connections and a “people first” culture
- Sharing challenges openly allows employees to also be vulnerable and supported
- Motivation comes from pursuing new opportunities after achieving goals
- Balance intense focus with taking breaks to avoid complacency
- Shape culture by carefully selecting leaders that match values
- Success comes from helping your team and customers thrive
Links & Resources Mentioned
Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to Get Unstuck and On Target. I'm Mike O'Neill. Whether we at Bench Builders are working with supervisors to improve their people skills, or it's me coaching a CEO one on one, getting leaders in companies unstuck is at the heart of everything we do. And that's exactly what this podcast is all about.
Each week we invite incredible guests who share their hard won experiences of getting themselves or others unstuck back on target and moving forward. And I hope it gets you unstuck and on target as well. Joining me is Tyler Young. Tyler is the CEO of VersiTech, whose businesses include Tonic POS and Bold Integrated Payments.
Over the last year, I've worked closely with Tyler and his leadership team, and I've been impressed. And I'm not alone for both the Electronic Transactions Association and the Retail Solutions Providers Association have recognized Tyler as a rising star, both recognizing him on their respective 40 under 40.
So you can see why I'm excited to have Tyler on the podcast. Welcome, Tyler.
Tyler Young: Thank you, Mike. Thank you for inviting me on the podcast.
Mike O'Neill: Tyler, you are in a business that seems as if it's gone through a lot of change, um, and it could start with software and it gets down, but the niche that your company typically focuses on is what?
Tyler Young: Today we focus on payments. Historically, we have been teaching ISVs and VARs how to monetize payments and embed it into their software or into the product that they are reselling for. We also have a product that we provide through our distribution channel of resellers, which we call tonic partners on the hospitality side.
Specifically today, we're strong with 260 partners on the I. S. V. VAR side, and we launched Tonic POS two months ago, and we already have 56 people waiting in line to be, uh, to become a reseller of our product.
Mike O'Neill: But those who don't know what ISV or VAR is, can you explain
Tyler Young: that please? I'm going to simplify it to the core.
An ISV creates and develop software. A VAR is a value added reseller. They sell someone else's software. So there are ISVs who sell strictly through VARs. There are some ISVs who sell through VARs and DIRECT, and there are some software providers who only sell DIRECT. On the VAR side, they'll sell multiple products typically and not just one, and they're a support service sales organization.
Mike O'Neill: Thank you.
We're recording this, uh, mid September. Probably it won't go live until November. If you look back over the last three plus years and how... All the things that we've experienced as a society have taken place. Um, I kind of want to maybe focus a little bit on hospitality. The list of how much hospitality has had to change is incredible, but from your vantage point, you offer a solution to the industry, if you would, um, in what ways is this solution something that hospitality, if they're going to really survive and thrive, they really need to embrace.
Why is technology so important?
Tyler Young: Technology proved in the last three years to be more important than ever. When COVID did impact the hospitality industry, they had to pivot and find new ways to survive. Online ordering became a big deal. Waitlist became a big deal because you can only have so many occupancies inside the building at one time.
Reservations was just as important. Some of the services from online ordering. To the waitlist reservations. Those were really new to a lot of businesses who've just been established, who were pre existing, who were not marketing to get new clients because of those items. But when everyone got locked at home and they weren't going out and they weren't spending.
The revenues dropped significantly. And how did you offset those revenues? You offset them through the technology. The last piece I'll add that has been important to adopt is marketing. Historically, a lot of restaurants don't emphasize enough marketing efforts because location, location, location, and that matters.
And that has been helpful. Generally, you'd go to your local newspaper. They do a free segment on any new restaurant that open what technology through COVID showed. Through the third party delivery services that began really marketing businesses and the creation of ghost kitchens, which were marketed almost exclusively through these third parties.
It showed that consumers are utilizing the internet to find the next experience that they're going to have in the next meal that they're going to have. So adopting marketing to the reservations for. Coming into the restaurant, the online ordering, which is access to the food without actually going to the restaurant.
This was what I think COVID just shot into the industry as an immediate change. And we've seen that effect over the last three years. Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: The changes have been so significant over these last three years, but if you're crystal ball really was working and you were to look three years into the future, and what ways do you see?
Your company and the industry, where do you see it going?
Tyler Young: I think one of the biggest hurdles that the hospitality industry is facing among other industries is labor shortage and the amount of individuals willing to perform the duties. That are needed. And I think over the next three years of the crystal ball is we're going to see technology take on more and more of the tasks within the business, whether that's the self ordering kiosk, the QR codes for the menus, the QR codes for the payments.
We're starting to see these items, the self checkout. I was just at a grocery store where now self checkout isn't just a few items. It's actually a conveyor belt for you to check out for yourself, which is the first time I've seen that anywhere. And I'm not a fan of that. I want someone to be there for that service.
I'm not there to do their job, but I think in three years, it's going to put a lot more of the responsibility on the consumer and less on the business. Through the ease of technology, and it will be easy. It will be a seamless interaction with the software itself. And I think that consumers are open to that.
Now we live in a society where time is everything and we've all come to realize that. And that's because we have access to everything 24 7. And because of that, that's a lot of demand on what we try to achieve in a day. So if I can speed up my time, for example. Going and picking this mic up today to talk to you.
I ordered it online so I could get it delivered to me in my car rather than having to take the time to go inside. And I think in the hospitality space, we're going to see the technology be the tool, less interaction with the individuals. But before anyone gets concerned on that, the individuals will still be there, but they will be able to do other things.
Ideally, they focus on the experience. They focus on the customer that is there. They're more engaged with the customer. They have more eye contact with the customer and they're there to provide. recommendations and service rather than having to do the small tasks. For example, busing a table, you know, there's a robot and I used to question what did that robot and trays actually bring to a restaurant?
But it brings a little bit of time if a server, which I was one, can load up to 80 pounds onto a robot and send it back to the kitchen and then go engage another table and be able to circle back to the dishwasher to clean everything, which is generally every server has a responsibility, or maybe there's a dishwasher there that robot is saving me those steps back and forth, which could allow me to just clean the table, set the table that much quicker.
And I think those tasks will be replaced with technology and will give the consumer an overall better experience.
Mike O'Neill: I was particularly interested in our conversation kind of going down the path of a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey. You're a company founder. You have built on prior experience.
You've got a background by which you're bringing very, very bright people. Together to develop these products for these industries. Um, let's, let's talk a little bit about the company that you now are the CEO of as you step back and kind of look at what is it you're trying to. You mentioned a moment ago that one of the biggest challenges is in the hospitality industry is finding the right people.
What do you find? You're the CEO of a software company. If I could use that term. I hope I'm not misspeaking. But what in your opinion are people looking forward to say? I want to go to work. For Towers Company, what's important to them now?
Tyler Young: Well, I'm going to answer that with what I think makes our company unique.
And I think we live in a time, as I mentioned earlier, where people value their time. But I think it is also they value the experience they're having. Historically, work has been to provide for the family. And there's more emphasis on our feelings today than there's ever been before. I heard it growing up, you know.
Check your feelings at the door, check your ego at the door. I can't tell you how many times I walked into a work environment and I physically would slap the door as a reminder to do so. If I had something going on in my life, it was, leave it here, I'll pick this back up on my way out. Even though I would do that, it didn't always work.
It depended what was going on in my life, whether I can compartmentalize that and be the best employee that I could be. And in the time when there is shortages of people that want to work, or just simply they have a choice of where they could, and the pay is extremely good right now. Therefore, I think what makes VersiTech and our brands Bold and Tonic really unique is the emphasis our company puts on treating each other as individuals first.
One of our core values is we serve with a people first mentality, and it shows in every individual here. We've had some really, uh, hardships that our employees have faced this year from losing family members, uh, to accidents. And what it is that the company does to stand behind those people really matters.
And it's not something we always talk about, and it's not shared company wide. It's the individuals around the person that know, or it is myself or another leader coming in to provide that emotional support or a vehicle in which they can find that support through therapy or other means, and it is about the vulnerability.
I'm a very honest, transparent person and I share my vulnerabilities and I quite frankly see that as a strength and growing up I didn't always see it that way and I certainly have a lot of friends who don't see it that way, who don't talk about what they're struggling with, right? This is about getting unstuck.
Well, what's really got you stuck? It's the thing you won't tell anybody. It's the thing you don't want to talk about. And in our company, we try and draw that out because if we see it, we lead by example by sharing what's going on in our world because we operate under EOS and an EOS, which is entrepreneurial operating system.
And it's got a segue where you talk about the pros in the business. And as a company, we've added in there a, basically a good and a bad, and sometimes there's a bad, you know, I lost a family member, my grandma died, you know, something occurred, or I'm just feeling down lately. We encourage that type of engagement here and support.
So it's creating an environment where people feel supported and that they can be vulnerable. And not everybody's adopted to it. Not everybody's comfortable with it. But when they need it, they find a way to be because they really do need it. And we set the example right now for all of them. And I'm really proud of a lot of people who've come forward to share some of their stories and support one another when there's, when they're having a hardship.
And I think that is something that really attracts people diversity. Matter of fact, I actually asked. One of our newest individuals in marketing. Why did you choose to work here? She's a very, very bright young girl. And I say that cause she just graduated college and she's incredibly bright. I'm sure had a lot of opportunities and just on a recent trip, I asked her, why did you choose to work for her direct supervisor, which is Chris.
And she said, because every interview she had, it was about her skill set and what the job was about. The interview with us was, who are you? What do you do? And here's what we do. And was focused on her as a person. So she elected to come here. And I think that's what we offer that is unique. And what we're doing to combat labor shortage and high wages.
Mike O'Neill: You're building culture. And you're building culture by modeling some of the things we've been talking about. Um, I already know you as being pretty transparent. You're willing to be vulnerable. Um, I'm of the opinion that that actually differentiates you as a leader. Because you're acknowledging you don't have all the answers, um, when you kind of pose the question as your company grows and you're trying to maintain this sense of family and valuing others in a like, what do you anticipate will be some of the biggest challenges to keep that?
Tyler Young: That's a really great question. And actually something that I've been contemplating for a couple of weeks now. So I'm glad you asked.
I think that culture starts from the top down and we set the tone and what's our vibe and that will translate into the leaders we hire and the leaders they hire and the staff eventually that performs all the work duties. I think the biggest challenge is finding talent. That matches the culture. There are a lot of people with the skills that are even with us today, as we brought three companies together, but do they match the culture?
The way that I intend to maintain that is to ensure very carefully that the culture that we create is valued by the person having a support system through work is not valued by everyone because. They got themselves together. They don't need it. They're here to climb a ladder. They're here to make money.
They're here to grow their skill sets. That person isn't the right fit for us. And it's taken a little time to figure that out. The right person for us is I may not need a support system, but I value being a support system or vice versa. And that mentality across my entire leadership team is what I have today.
And I've made some changes. I had to make some hard decisions in this last year, but we have it today. And that trickles down to each manager and each manager will have that mentality. Quite frankly, they just won't be with us. And it's not that they're not great. A lot of them are. And maybe some people listening to this are in a great job today.
But it is the right job for them. Just because you're capable of doing the job doesn't mean it's the right job. And we've really focused on right people then right seat.
Mike O'Neill: Regular listeners know that this is a totally unscript conversation, so you don't know this question is about to come, because I just thought of it. Kind of myself, but I like to connect something here and that is we started this conversation talking about the hospitality industry and we're talking about the ability to let technology change the experience for the good, such that let's use the term server if the server is interacting in a way that they truly are adding value, it's a better experience for the customer.
Is the server kind of who y'all are trying to keep in mind as you're developing these resources? Is that kind of who y'all try to envision? How do we make life for that person better, more effective? Or is it somebody or something different?
Tyler Young: We'd have to hone that question in on which product. And on the bold integrated payment side, we serve a software company who would have that motive.
and we are there to provide them easy access to payments and revenue. And then on the tonic side, the product itself aims to achieve just that, but not the server, the owner, the owner has to have access to the data and the information they need to operate their business. We want to make that as easy to access as possible, but we also know that the owner has to attract staff in order for that staff to enjoy working there if they're using an easy system and the one that they enjoy.
It's easier to retain that staff. So we actually have a lot of masters. I know we all often say is he can't serve. One master, more than one master, but we have different areas in the company that focus in on certain individuals. We have our tonic channel support and they are there to serve our partner, to give our tonic installer, who's out there promoting, selling and installing and servicing the system.
We, that team serves that one team or that one partner, and then we have. Our support system on the Tonic side, which is there for the customers. And if they call into our tier one, we're there to support the customer. And then we have product product is all about the business owner and the customer ease of use, but we have that divided.
Right. Because we have a team large enough where we can focus in on the back of the house versus the front of the house. So we have a front of the house developer, product owner, and we have a back of house product owner. Therefore at each level, we can assure that that person's aim is focused on what's important.
And my role as the CEO, I have to just balance the individuals in those seats. To ensure that their vision is on what they need to be focused in on. And I think we do that a good, a good job in that today. So it was a bit of a complicated answer because there's layers in the organization that has to focus in on different outcomes.
Mike O'Neill: Well, it's a complicated answer, but you're in a complicated business, and as CEO, I would think one of the challenges you have is take complex and make it as simple as possible, uh, so you can act on, on, on things. Reflect on Tyler. You've been doing this for a good while now. You've achieved some pretty remarkable success.
It's been recognized by different entities, but can you reflect on a time where perhaps whether you got stuck or perhaps a client got stuck? And when that happened, what did it take to get unstuck?
Tyler Young: That is the one question I knew you'd ask.
Mike O'Neill: That's the only one I have. That's right. That's right.
Tyler Young: I've seen it as I've watched the show and listened.
The reality is. I've been stuck many times and my customers have been stuck many times. My employees have been stuck many times and to think of just one occasion would be very difficult. I think I have a flood of occasions that come into mind. So let's just start on the business. The business can certainly be stuck when it's facing a challenge.
And there's not an outcome that the business likes. When you come across a situation where all outcome leads to a less desirable path, it is very common to take no action at all. And you find yourself stuck. You know, you have that one customer who contractually owes a lot of money, but you don't want to offend them.
You don't want the impact negatively in your marketing. You don't want to spend the money on the attorney, but you also want to hold true to the contract. And so you're stuck. That's just one example of saying I'm stuck on just a very simple decision because there's a lot of data points to consider.
That's one scenario I've found myself stuck in many times. Ultimately, I made the hard decision that I would, you know, honor the agreement in the scenario that I'm referring to and pursue legal action. And fortunately for me, just pursuing a legal action drove towards conversation, which drove towards a quick resolution because I was willing to act.
Had I waited a year and taken action. That person may not have taken me seriously. And so I think in the business, we can get stuck whenever you find yourself in a situation that you don't like the outcome and how I get unstuck in that scenario is I just make a decision and accept that the outcome will be less than ideal, no matter what decision I make.
And then I just move forward and adjust. that path, like going to lawsuit. Okay, I got to prepare myself to do discovery. I got to pursue, uh, prepare myself to do deposition. I'm going to impact my team, but this is the decision that I've made when that scenario actually played out to solve really quickly.
I was relieved, but I made the decision to move forward. I think I often find that. Individually, we get stuck and it's generally for me just around the word, I would say motivation, the motivation to carry on every day and to push the boundaries of the company and the team to achieve the greatest level of success because every company basically grows.
Stalls out, grows, stalls out. And I found that to be when I'm motivated, we grow. When I'm a little tired and I'm happy and complacent, we don't. But that's because the organization relied on the energy and effort of me. Where I sit today, I don't believe that's where we are, but looking at my history of my organization, which was smaller, smaller company, you know, 10 employees, 16 employees, 20 employees and growing.
Now we have over 65 in total. If I wasn't pushing, no one else was. When you hire the right people who have the ambitions, they can actually step in and fill some gaps for you when you need a little bit of break. But when I find myself not motivated, I have to take a little time to consider what I'm trying to achieve.
And it generally happens when you lose motivation is when you achieve a goal. When you've achieved a milestone that you wanted to achieve, there's the excitement and then there's the what's next. And that's really what it is. It's what is, what's next. And success to me, at least I think my success was my ability to have intense focus for a long period of time.
Two years. Three years. To take a singular goal and to stay focused on that goal every day for two years. You get there. You just do. You want it enough. If you do it for, they say it takes two weeks to build a pattern that may be true, but you won't have the success if you stop in a month or two months or three months.
And so I've been blessed to have the ability to stay focused. Laser focused all in for long periods of time. But then I take breaks and then I feel stuck and I say, what's next? And the answer has always come to me when I find the opportunity that excites me. When I set the new goal and that new opportunity shows up my energy and my fire.
It's a, it's a pattern I don't think will ever end and I don't think we should ever expect to control that because an opportunity excites you and you go achieve it to say, I want to get the same level of fire and energy about that same goal I've already achieved or that same business. I don't think it's true.
You have to find a tweak or a twist. So for me, my journey was starting a payments company in 2009, uh, through the payments company. We had a lot of variations of, you know, sales strategies. And then in 2017 I decided to get into P O Ss and I bought a point of sale company. In 2019, I invested in another point of sale company, or it was 2020.
And then in 2021, I merged with Bold Integrated Payments and then we bought another point of sale company and shortly after we bought another dealership to add them to the team. And therefore, I've been fired up for about five, six years now. But every year I'm adding something new, I'm pursuing something different.
Mike O'Neill: And that's kept that intense focus up. You've enjoyed success from a career standpoint at a relatively early age. Do you have any concern you're going to have difficulty keeping that fire stoked or the balance of the time that you do whatever you're doing?
Tyler Young: Great question. Uh, at this point, no, I think I've already experienced that in my cycle.
I was successful at a young age. I was able to attend 10 years of president's club through the vendor that I worked with in the payment space, was able to meet hundreds of really successful business owners, um, soaked in thousands of thousands of thousands of hours. I feel like of advice, every chance I got, you know, give me some feedback, just simply asking them questions.
What are they doing? What have they faced? Every opportunity I had to meet someone that I felt I could learn from, I was willing to ask. And I think that set me apart from a lot of my friends growing up is the ability to learn from someone else's mistake and not having to make the same mistake myself and actually taking it to heart.
And I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people who gave me the advice that helped me on this journey that I'm on. And I had a moment in, I can't give the exact year, but I'm going to make 20, 000 a month. Okay. I made 20, 000. I want to make 80, 000 a month. Can make 80, 000 a month. Quite frankly, At that point, I lost all fire for financial and I've not set another financial goal that motivated me.
And so because my goals are not financial and they are on the impact in the creation, I don't actually feel that I'll ever have the fire essentially get snuffed out anymore because it was financial to begin with. Well, actually it was to take care of people, my family, and to financially provide for them.
And once I felt I achieved that, cause I'm not a heavy spender, I was able to feel comfortable and safe and it took away that fire because there was enough to provide. And I'm talking to my immediate family, parents, siblings, nephews, kids, significant other. So then I had to find what got me excited. And what got me gets me excited now and wakes me up is changing lives.
My staff's lives, my employees lives, and taking on competition. And doing what they're doing and doing it better and finding different creative ways to achieve. And therefore, I don't think this fire is ever burning out. Every opportunity I get, I was just at two trade shows and I see two opportunities.
Yeah, what I love to do is see opportunities that people have something, but they don't know how all that they could do with it. Whether it's their business or an individual, but I get so excited when we hire somebody and I see who that person can become and I just dive into them with the knowledge and try and fast track them to that person that gets me excited when I see a business that they have not yet tweaked something or the data they have or the price point they're selling at or their sales strategy can be tweaked for a higher level of success that gets me excited.
So therefore, I don't think I'll I hope I'll ever have this fire burn out again. I
Mike O'Neill: hope not. As you reflect on this conversation, Tyler, we've covered a lot of different things. What do you want our viewers, the listeners, to have as their takeaways?
Tyler Young: This is not timed or scripted. No, it's not. With that question, I would remind the viewers or listeners to focus in on what's important to them.
What is their motivator and why are they doing it? I told you the beginning of mine was to financially take care of people I love. And I have two children, they are six and seven now. And the biggest takeaway is to build your company. And balance your time. If your goal is to be special and be a billionaire, and there are a lot of people with that goal, that will take every ounce of your energy to ever achieve.
You will not do that easily. Therefore, my goal is not to become rich. My goal is to impact people's lives and be there for my children. And I won't sacrifice one for the other. I will do both. So when my kids come home, I embrace them. When they interrupt a, uh, Virtual meeting, I speak with them and it's actually been something commented on a lot with people I interview with or employees, or even you, Mike, in the past, you know, I give my kids time, but I've coached them to come up and recognize the situation right there.
Ryler came up, recognize what I'm doing, greeted me, he moved on, if they need something, they'll tug on my shoulder and it's a sign. So rather than overreacting to my children or hiding my family or hiding my personal life. People will respond if you as a leader are willing to share who you are, your story, your experience, your pains, your successes, and you will build people around you who become your cheerleaders who wants you to then succeed.
And aren't they're trying to drag you down and criticizing every decision you make because they know you would support them because you're sharing and you're asking them to share. So I'll sum it up. The biggest takeaway is. Show yourself and become comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling.
Mike O'Neill: I love it.
You have shared, you've shared very generously. Thank you.
Tyler Young: Thank you. I enjoyed it.
Mike O'Neill: I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today. For even more insights about getting unstuck and moving your business forward, I invite you to subscribe to the Bottom Line Newsletter. You can do that by going to bench-builders.com. You know, people ask, Mike, tell me a little bit more about what you do. I have found myself saying that I work with. Clients who usually had one of two problems, either they were frustrated because they were losing the employees they wanted to keep or their leaders found themselves stuck in the weeds of the day to day and they were failing to execute on their long term strategy.
So if high turnover or poor execution, if it's slowing your company's growth, let's talk. Head over to bench-builders.com to schedule a call. So I want to thank you for joining us and I hope you have picked up on some quick wins from Tyler that help you get unstuck and on target.