The Importance of Training Your Managers With James Eberhard

Jan 11, 2023

If you want to grow your business, start with your team management and culture. Join the Founder of Fluid Truck, James Eberhard as he talks about the importance of management training.




If you want to grow your business, start with your team management and culture. Trying to steer a ship that is poorly aligned in those aspects can lead to the downfall of your company. Join Kendra Prospero as she talks to the Founder of Fluid Truck, James Eberhard, about the importance of management training. Discover why you need to start hiring and training the right people so that you can develop the right company culture.

When I started my business, I quickly figured out that the number one reason that people hate a job is because of their manager. It’s not that a manager is a bad thing. If a leader promotes someone into management but hasn’t taught them how to be a manager, it’s not going to work out. Management is a skill and it can be taught to most people. It’s very common though for growing businesses to ignore this critical detail.

Our guest in this episode sees this as one of his most important differentiators to scale culture. We have Jimmy Eberhard, the Founder of Fluid Truck. He has been named one of the most intriguing entrepreneurs in the US by Goldman Sachs. Under his leadership, Fluid Truck has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the US by Inc. Magazine and one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Colorado by The Denver Business Journal. Jimmy Eberhard, welcome to the show.

Kendra, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

You are a serial entrepreneur so this is not the first business that you’ve started. Tell us a little bit about the journey of what it’s been like with your company and some of the decisions that you’ve made differently with this company compared to your very first startup.

There’s been a lot of learning lessons across the years on how to grow people, challenge them and put good talented people in certain spots. Sometimes set them up for failure to help them grow. Sometimes put them in a spot where it’s not necessarily the right spot for them but to help them round out their overall skills.

One of the key things about scaling a business is you need dynamic people and understand what people are good at and what they love to do, try to find their core sets and what they are passionate about. Try to match up their responsibilities and ownership to help them, overall, accomplish the mission you’re trying to achieve.

When did training become so important? I read a few articles where you mentioned this. When did it become part of your culture because it is unusual?

A lot of our training is through trial and error saying, “Take risks. Try things out. Understand what metrics you’re trying to achieve.” Throughout the course of my career, I’ve stepped into a lot of industries that I know nothing about. I don’t have any season there and looking at the end user and saying, “This is the right thing. This is where it’s going to go. How do we take those incremental steps here to help evolve and make it easier, simpler and better for the end user?”

If you always build for that person and look at what their pain points are, sometimes they’re not even aware of what their pain points are and how things could be done. How do you save them time and money? How do you make things easier so they can be more effective in what they do? Staying true to those core concepts is important. Trying to teach those theoretical things. I’d rather take someone that loves something, even if they have no formal training on it but deeply have a passion for it. They’re going to be more successful than someone that’s spent 10 or 20 years or has gone to school for that type of skillset.

That’s how I got into my industry. I didn’t know anything about it but I have always been curious about the work people do. Even though I didn’t take this on as an education or an initial career path, I’ve always been extremely passionate about it. I found my calling, for sure.

Natural curiosity is that core thing. If you’re curious about it and then you dig deeper, the amount of curiosity is how you grow more than anything else.

What have been some of your biggest challenges as a leader? I call it head trash. What’s been some of your head trash you’ve overcome in the last few years?

We’ve seen changing overall landscape. I look at what we’ve seen through COVID, even pre-COVID, watching one of the biggest shifts in consumer consumption and how people behave. Pre-pandemic, the whole art of going and buying basic commodities, toothbrushes and toilet paper. Usually, you take time out of your day to drive to a store to do that and you don’t get a lot of margin utility from it.

It’s a way with a lot of those core things that you buy all the time. Having those delivered to your door is such a much easier thing for you to focus on what you have to do in life. We’ve watched this. COVID helped shift eCommerce in having goods and services delivered to you. Whether it be food, groceries or durable goods. You started watching all those where you order it on your phone and have it delivered to you.

That’s been a shift that happened before COVID but COVID made it dangerous to go out and buy toilet paper. You start watching people that probably have never bought toilet paper online be forced into that. You start recognizing, “This isn’t important for me to go out and buy this. I can have it delivered on a reoccurring basis and I always have what I need. I don’t have to worry about it.” You can dedicate more of your time to what’s important to you.

When you think about yourself as a leader, what has shifted for you in 2021?

From a leadership and an internal standpoint, in 2018 we were 5 people. In 2022, we’re about 500. We’ve grown a ton here over the last few years. Trying to find smart and passionate people and give them the ability to grow. Laying down goals and mechanisms of where we want to get to, how we’re going to get there and empowering them to go out there to create and build.

It’s taken a giant group of hardworking, smart, passionate people to go out there and do it and try to guide them in the right steps. Sometimes is difficult. A lot of times, it’s their first time. New people are stepping into this role. I’m watching people years ago that now are leading teams of over 100 people. Some of these people have no management experience before. Trying to give them the fundamentals and the tools to be out there and empower, scale and grow individuals is one of the biggest challenges we’ve had to face.

That’s very hard. Once you get past that initial leadership level where you’ve got your C-Suite and other cofounders or other people that have been with you for a while, you’ve got managers of managers. That can be where culture starts to fall apart if you’re not aware of it. Has that been your experience? Have you noticed that?

If you’re not attentive to it, it will. You can have divergence with an organization where you have cultural goals that aren’t aligned. When you do that, you drive factions. When you have factions, you try to go out and say, “Here’s a big problem that we need to solve to get to our mission.” Trying to steer a ship that has cultural misalignment can be the whole downfall of a company.

Trying to steer a ship that has cultural misalignment can be the whole downfall of a company. Click To Tweet

Trying to ensure that everybody is looking, hiring and driving people at the same cultural value lines, mission, goals and thought process of where we’re trying to get to. Hiring those cultural sets and doing it in a mechanism that’s reinforced continuously is a very difficult thing. It’s even more problematic if you have divergence that sits inside your company, where you have dividing goals and culture of the guidelines that you want to head to.

It’s something where we hire and grow with our culture and our values in mind. Company-wide means, it’s the first thing we lead with and we’re continually trying to reinforce that all the way through. We try to ensure that we don’t have a divergence of different values and cultural goals that get disseminated or get believed or get taught.

How do you do that? What’s the how? Let me reiterate this. You went from 5 employees to 500 in a 4-year period. That’s a huge explosive growth. How did you keep the culture maintained? Did you have specific things you did?

Yeah. It starts with hiring. In the hiring process, you have the values that you look for inside of the individual that’s coming on. You try to grade and score against that. Making sure that their values are going to be aligned for driving the core basis that we see has been successful for us that we have inside. Looking for individuals that are going to help bring not only different ways of thinking but will be valued along the same lines that are going to push and drive other people to grow with the side of the organization.

Continue to work on it. Every company who are out there, that’s the lead of it. This is why we’re here. These are the values that are important to us. This is what we’ve been hired for. This is why you are all here. Try to continue to reinforce it. The day you forget about it or the day you put it on the back burner is the day you start drawing different value lines, which then starts leading to a very dark spot.

I have experienced that. I’ve only had one bad hire. I try to do this well. This is the work I do.

Congratulations. One bad hire is amazing.

I’ve had people that didn’t work out but they didn’t work out after many months. It ultimately became values misalignment and it made sense. It was going to be one of those things that were hard to discover during an interview process. I’ve had one where I made that spur-of-the-moment decision, didn’t follow the process, didn’t adhere to it at all and it was a disaster. Full on, I was like, “No longer am I ever going to do that again.”

The effect it can have on the rest of the team is a massive multiplier of destruction and distress. It can be such a leading factor in the downfall of a company.

A bad hire can infect the rest of your team. They can be a massive multiplier of destruction. Click To Tweet

I have this amazing ego-free team that we never have in-fighting. We have great solid conflict but it’s not ever mean. All of a sudden, this beautiful, amazing team I had was fighting and crying. I was like, “What has happened?” It was because of this hire I had made that wasn’t a fit. We all have to learn those tough lessons.

Sometimes when you’re in those where you have it, you’re like, “What’s going on here?” You work to correct it. You start spending more time trying to correct those internal issues and trying to build the company and go. When you identify where the problem’s at, you eliminate it. In our early days, we have a similar situation where we had a person that was driving with a lot of distractions like, “Let’s fight amongst each other instead of fighting for how do we build for our customers.” As soon as we eliminated that, we got on the right path and we scaled dramatically quickly.

Tell me a little bit more about what have been some of the tougher decisions you had to make about employees.

When you say tougher decisions, there are tough decisions for employees all the time. What do you mean specifically?

Have you had an instance where you had someone on the team that you were on the fence about and you had a hard time deciding to let them go or keep them on? What was the outcome finally?

You have that but what you want to do is do it as a team together. It takes a village to grow. You want to have discussions, get by and make sure that everybody’s aligned when you need to remove somebody. You’re building a team where everybody’s got ownership of what’s going on. It’s important to have those overall. Ultimately, when you see those, you got to be quick to say, “We need to eliminate this.” You’re not going to be right all the time but you got to be quick to resolve the issues as they come out because they can be detrimental.

Management Training: When you want to remove somebody, you have to discuss it as a team because it takes a village to grow. Make sure that everybody is aligned when you need to remove somebody from your team.


I’ve never heard someone say that they regretted letting someone go.

No. It’s always tough. As soon as you do it, it’s better for that person and it’s also better for the organization but it can be so painful getting to that final decision like, “Let’s do it.” No one wants to make that call. Most of the time, people know that they’re in the wrong fit. Making that change is difficult. As soon as you do, that person’s going to go out and spend their most precious commodity on time in another spot that’s going to be hopefully a better spot for them. It’s going to be a better spot for the team. You also try to reinforce, “This isn’t a value that we share. This is causing issues and we’ve got to go forward.”

What’s up for 2023? I saw on your website you have 40 job openings. Tell me what’s spurring that growth?

We’ve been growing quickly. We’re ranked the number nine fastest-growing company in North America, which is awesome to see. Off that, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. We started with this mission of how we transform how goods and assets are used. Find a spot inside commercial vehicles for businesses. Helping them be more successful, helping them be able to scale up and down and look at fundamentally what we’re chasing. In 2002, if you were starting a software business, you would have servers. You’d buy servers and keep them in your office or a cold facility. In 2022, you’d never think twice if you’re starting a software company to go to AWS or Google Cloud.

We’re effectively doing the same thing for trucks. Businesses out there that need trucks to go out and deliver goods and services to people. Instead of going out and buying a fleet of trucks, they can say, “We need 20 for this weekend, 50 for next weekend.” We need 100 trucks Monday through Friday.” For 2023, they can hop on our app and scale up and scale down. If someone’s got an idea for a new business that needs vehicles, you don’t have to go out and do a dealership and go buy anymore. You just hop on our app and way you go.

Do you have the drivers as well?

No, we just provide the vehicles.

Who are you looking for in 2023?

A lot of the things that we’re doing here is we’ve scaled up dramatically. We’ve built a national footprint. It’s helping big businesses, medium-sized businesses and small businesses, to be more effective in terms of how they have a fleet of vehicles. Not make it the pain of buying, selling, managing, maintaining and ensuring them. All of those complexities were taking that all away. Everybody from engineering to business development to account managers that are helping businesses do that across the US.

What are some of your values? Who are people that are a great fit for you in terms of their personality and values?

I’m thinking of the values side. We’ve got five core values that we look at. The core basis of it is that we’re looking for people that are going out there driving initiative, people that are growing and challenging the system. Innovation. Looking at what should be done, taking chances, going out there and building it. Doing the right thing is always a core function of what we look at.

Management Training: Look for people that are willing to go out and drive initiative, people who are going to innovate and challenge the system of what could and should be done.


Empowering our teams to go out there and make calls for the customers, their employees and anybody that works alongside us saying, “This isn’t the right way to do it. We need to change and fix this.” Empowering them to go out and do the right thing. It is the self-starter, hardworking, focused, smart person that’s going to be in a system where you may have never done it before but we’re going to give you the opportunity. We’re going to push it and challenge it. We’re going to help build great leaders for the future.

Hopefully, some of our readers are going to stumble upon this and say, “That’s me. I could work there.”

We’re looking for badass people who want to help us go out there and transform how assets are used and how businesses work in the world. Especially, real-life vehicles, being able to make that so easy and seamless so anybody has access to what they need when they need it to get the job done.

That’s wonderful, Jimmy. On that note, that’s a great way to end this. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us. We’ll check in with you soon and see how things are going.

Awesome. Thanks, Kendra. It’s great to meet you.

You as well, Jimmy. Thanks.


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About James Eberhard

James “Jimmy” Eberhard is the Co-Founder and CEO of Fluid Truck, an on-demand commercial vehicle rental platform to help businesses and individuals move better at the tap of a button, free from the hassles of ownership.

As a serial tech entrepreneur and a recognized visionary in the mobile industry, James has transformed commercial truck mobility. Fluid Truck has raised over $64 million and made zero-emission last-mile delivery possible for some of the nation’s most recognized brands.

James has been named one of the most intriguing entrepreneurs in the U.S. by Goldman Sachs and Colorado’s Top Entrepreneur by ColoradoBiz Magazine, and under his leadership, Fluid Truck has been recognized as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S. by Inc Magazine and one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Colorado by the Denver Business Journal.

Prior to Fluid Truck, James founded Mobile Accord, Inc. which pioneered mobile donations to nonprofits – notably launching the text donation program that raised +$40 million in collaboration with The Red Cross and U.S. Department of State following the devastating 2018 earthquake in Haiti. Before Mobile Accord, Inc., James created and launched GeoPoll and 9 Squared, Inc., the leading mobile survey platform in emerging markets with a database of over 240 million users. In 2004, 9 Squared was acquired by Monstermob Group, PLC.

James attended Colorado State University, and is based in Denver, Colorado where he lives with his wife and four children.