Storytelling About Leantime With Gloria Folaron
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast! William Tincup interviews the esteemed Gloria Folaron, CEO and co-founder of Leantime. They discuss Gloria’s crazy transition from nursing to becoming a tech entrepreneur, and all the wild experiences in-between. They also dig into challenges and solutions related to project management; particularly the approach Leantime takes to integrate both hard and soft skills. They also touch upon futuristic AI-driven features that LeanTime will be implementing: aiming to enhance work efficiency through task recommendations based on best practices and employee’s preference.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Show length: 29 minutes
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My first toe-tip into product management & startup life was as a Registered Nurse working in the ER. It was there that I discovered I'm really just a problem solver -- at some point, I realized the only way to make a bigger impact was through business and tech.
Several startups in, a product & project management career... I've lived the challenges of getting organized as an adult with, then undiagnosed, ADHD and also seeing my peers struggle to use, absolutely hate, and refuse to use PM tools. I realized the tools claiming to help "bring it all together" were simply databases for company knowledge that had little relevance to individual team members.Follow
Storytelling About Leantime With Gloria Folaron
This is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. We have Gloria on from LeanTime, and we’ll be learning about the business case, so the use case for why customers and prospects pick LeanTime. So let’s go ahead and get right into it. Gloria, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and LeanTime?
Gloria Folaron: Yeah, I’ll start with me. Um, I’m Gloria Fulleron, and I’m the CEO and one of the founders of Lean Time, uh, and I have a background that is a little unconventional for what I’m doing. [00:01:00] Uh, my background and undergraduate degree is in nursing, and I started my career life as an emergency room nurse, having done pediatrics research, uh, tons of different things.
And at some point I realized that I was seeing problems that I couldn’t fix on a 12 hour floor shift as a nurse. Right. But I did realize that business and tech could solve the things that I was, I was seeing. Yes. Uh, and at that time, I didn’t know, I didn’t never connected that when I was in nursing, I was solving problems and I’ve always been a problem solver.
So I ended up at a tech startup weekend. And from that experience started my first health tech company.
William Tincup: Oh my goodness. And what did it, what did it do? What was the problem that it was solving? So,
Gloria Folaron: I was in the pediatric ER at the time, and at that time, I was seeing, um, little [00:02:00] newborn babies in the middle of flu season coming into the ER at 2 a.
m., 3 days, 5 days old, and usually for things that were completely normal. So, uh, one of the ones that stands out to me, you can probably hear that in the background. No, you’re good. Uh, one of the things that I saw, uh, was that, They were coming in for those completely normal things, and babies up until they’re two months old have zero immune system.
So there was a disconnect happening between what is normal and those parents getting that education that they needed and With their providers, and I didn’t know where it was happening, but what I realized was that having a video conference or access to a health care provider from your phone or your computer could then help you get answers that you need without putting your baby at risk.
So I had video my doc for [00:03:00] pediatrics before telemedicine was even, um, thought of or even paid for. Uh, at the time that we were building this, the, uh, laws were that insurance only had to pay for telemedicine if you lived 50 miles away from any facility, very rural.
William Tincup: And so, and then, and then, uh, cause so that played out, however it played out, how did you, how did you get to lean town?
Gloria Folaron: So my experience in that is some of what’s gone into lean time. So two years ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD and at the time I didn’t know. That there were lots of things in my entire life that would go along with that diagnosis, um, that I was I was self treating. So, uh, as part of our health tech startup, we were using the lean canvas lean methodologies to validate our business idea.[00:04:00]
Well, the Lean Startup Principles are print out a big poster board and put sticky notes all over it.
I hope you’re laughing because ADHD plus sticky
William Tincup: notes. I am. I am. I am for all the reasons that you said. Yes. Yes.
Gloria Folaron: Yep. So I never had the ability to easily connect what I was doing with where I wanted to be. And so we, um, Marcel, my technical co founder had already had this code, the original code base in his back pocket.
And so we said, well, let’s just put the Lean Canvas in it. And the very, very first primitive version of LeanTime was born to help us navigate my own challenges. As we’ve grown into it, one of the other struggles that I experienced was going from nursing into the [00:05:00] business world. It hurt my head. And I say that because the business world was explaining concepts that Didn’t necessarily need their own word.
And so I was just all the time people were using business language and I felt foreign and out of place, not understanding that word. And then somebody would explain the concept to me. And I’m like, there’s another word for that.
William Tincup: And the Latin root of that word is, yeah, I could, I could see that. And, and, you know, some of that, even in, once you get into industries and not even just business, but you start getting into these old nuance industries, there’s, there’s this lingo within the industries.
That’s also not made up words, just not understanding that there’s other concepts or other words that. That already that already can cover that. It’s like, it’s like, there’s some type of [00:06:00] need to come up a new way to say the same thing that we’ve been saying for the last 200 years. So I get that.
Gloria Folaron: So, 1 of the things for me in that is that I really see that.
All of these concepts often have elements of the same truth, but sometimes with a spin on it, that really changes everything. And so, there’s a, um, a book called Range, um, Why Generalists. Succeed in a specialist world, I think is the title, and one of the things that that talks about is it’s the variety of experiences that have, that you have that give you the ability to see and apply concepts that you may not have thought were related to make something
William Tincup: better.
100%. I can, I can speak to that without reading the book. I know, if I write it down, I’ll definitely look it up. My background, I have a B. A. in Art History, M. A. in [00:07:00] American Indian Studies, and M. B. A. And most people think that I use my M. B. A. And I don’t. I use my Art History degree. More than I use far. I mean, not even, it’s not even a close race.
I use it far more, uh, because it’s the history of the world that that particular degree is a, it’s the history of the world told through the, the lens of, of art. And so like I can talk to somebody and, and talk to ’em about history and talk to ’em about art, talk to ’em about all kinds of different things.
It’s just, it’s fascinating. It’s like I’m not regurgitating. Porter’s strategy model, like, you know, I need to know, I personally, I don’t mind knowing those things. However, that’s not conversationally. That’s not what, you know, when I’m talking to practitioners, uh, in HR or recruiting, that’s not what they’re, that’s not, uh, that’s not how they talk.
When I talk to vendors, that’s not how they talk. So it’s like. You know, I, [00:08:00] I totally get it. I absolutely makes sense to me. So the technology right now, lean time, uh, as it’s, as it is current form. And I’ll preface this by saying, boy, I hate software categories. I absolutely despise them, and the reason for that is many software plays defy categorization.
But I also know that HR and a lot of budgets are built in Excel or Google Sheets, so there’s a, there’s a row and a column. And so where do people generally, generally put y’all in terms of a category?
Gloria Folaron: You just touched on a very personal struggle.
William Tincup: Thanks, William. I have a scab and you just ripped it right off.
No, I didn’t mean to.
Gloria Folaron: Dig in, digging the, digging the nail in before we even get
William Tincup: started. Well, I, I, I hate categories. [00:09:00] So. You know, you’re, if you don’t, you know, first of all, if you don’t like them as well, you can’t hate them more than I do, you just can’t. I despise them because it’s just like, and people come up with new things, especially now, but, but even before AI, before all this stuff, it would, it’d be a combination of things that people are, is that an ATS?
No. Oh, is it screening? No. Is it, well, is it staffing? Well, it’s like these. Old categories of, of software and services that make up these budgets. It’s like, no, it’s none of those things. Here’s what it does. It does this, this, this, this, this, which is kind of a smattering of five different things on your budget.
Like, okay, so, but we are, but what do you, what is it? It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it solves this problem. So how do you solve this problem currently? And when I talk to vendors about this, I’m all, it’s kind of a bit on competition because all these, it’s a trick question. I’ll say, who’s your competitor? And they’ll usually [00:10:00] point to another software or software players.
And I’m like, yeah, that’s not your, your, your competitors is status quo. It’s them doing it the same way that they did it yesterday. That’s actually your competitor. These software, you don’t, you don’t have to worry about the totality of all the software vendors that might even think to do something that you’re doing or a piece of what you’re doing.
They don’t, they don’t match the status quo. So anyhow, I’ll get back to the original question.
And it can be as rudimentary as it needs to be, but how are they thinking of you? How about we go that direction?
Gloria Folaron: So we’re in a very, we’re in an interesting space, um, and one that if we’re on the topic of categories, I have watched the industry leads go into and create new categories and new concepts as a form of advertising or [00:11:00] even trying to normalize what exactly their product is doing.
Right, right, right. The thing that they, from, from my experience and lots and lots of conversations, um, that I’ve realized in all of that time is that we’re in a space of something that people do naturally. We naturally have a bias towards action. It’s ingrained in terms of history into the roots of our ancestry.
If there was a lion across from me, I am going to move.
The thing I don’t do naturally is coordinate a herd of people to move away from the lion. And that’s, that’s where we’re at. The project management space is our largest definition and where we get most of our users, uh, but I think I, I tend to [00:12:00] call us more akin to a work management tool because it’s the way we work and organize the.
Caveat to the project management tool piece is that project management, going from waterfall to agile and where we’re at now, which is really often a hybrid of the two, what I end up seeing is that the tools are really only covering half of project management. And so to have a successful project, you need to have both soft and hard skills.
The tools that exist right now really only focus on the elements of a hard skill, but it’s that soft skill and that human skill that actually decides whether or not a project is successful.
William Tincup: So is the buyer more of HR or has it become more of a line manager or a [00:13:00] department, you know, a manager Like who’s, who’s the buyer for you right now?
Or buyers plural
Gloria Folaron: being in the project management space on a team side, we tend to either see project managers who are looking to find a tool that will help their non project managers get in the tool.
William Tincup: Oh, interesting.
Gloria Folaron: Okay. So, um, many, a lot of the other tools I’ve heard over and over again are overwhelming.
Yeah, they are. A lot of that, though, is related to cognitive load, right? So you go into those tools and you have to really think about where does my work go? How does this flow? How do I need to organize this? And that’s something we’re trying to solve in terms of how do you get into a tool and just know where to go,
William Tincup: right?
It becomes intuitive. Um, but also I think that some of the historical project management tools, there’s [00:14:00] also feature bloat, you know, just, just, you know, years and years and years and years of just adding more and more and more features. It’s overwhelming. To a new user, even if they’re skilled now, that’s not even, that’s not even dealing with people that maybe don’t come from that world, but even people that, that are come from that world, it’s still a bit intimidating because there’s just, again, there’s so much that you can do with it.
I think that it’s not just a UI thing or, or, you know, like, uh, how do, how do we get people to adopt technology? It’s just. Maybe there’s just features that you just don’t need. Like they’re there, they’re there because historically maybe you needed them, but you don’t need them now. Like it’s, there’s a better, better way to do that.
So, um, I like that. Okay. Okay. I get it. I love that, especially the way you framed it up and saying project managers like this for people that are not project managers or didn’t come up that way, didn’t, you know, didn’t, weren’t trained that way, et [00:15:00] cetera. And so they’ve got to be able to get into it and get to their work as fast as possible and understand how to do that.
Gloria Folaron: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s something we see on all the time is that there’s this moment of overwhelm. And so when that happens, you freeze and you just don’t go back into the tool until you absolutely have to. And then what ends up happening is your project manager is Spending all of their time chasing folks for updates and having to update all of the things themselves.
William Tincup: Right. And it becomes kind of a, again, an admin tool where they’re getting all of that data. It’s very inefficient. And so, and I’m sure there’s mistakes that get made or data that gets pulled in incorrectly, et cetera. So it’s much better to have the people that are doing it use an intuitive system that they can just put it in themselves.
Gloria Folaron: Particularly in a remote slash hybrid [00:16:00] world, that’s probably not going to go away. Oh, I would
William Tincup: hope not. I hope not. I hope we, we’ve, uh, again, I think flexibility, I’ve, I’ve. I’m one of those people that I want people to just have the flexibility. If you want to work in an office, go, you know, if that’s, if you want that, that’s fine.
But if you don’t, if you don’t thrive in an office, there’s a bunch of people just don’t thrive in an office environment or you work in a different country or whatever. Like, you know, as long as the job gets done, why do we care? I want that to be up to the individual, not the company. That’s my personal bias, by the way.
Gloria Folaron: No, I think you’re completely right, but that, that touches back to, um, and I think you said we could be honest, that touches back to the point of project management or work management not containing the soft skills that we need for projects to be successful. Right. So when you don’t have your people in the [00:17:00] office, You have to rely on soft skills as a manager, as a leader, to be able to motivate and get those things moving.
If you don’t have them to begin with, then it’s a, it’s a bigger failure point if you, if you are remote.
William Tincup: So All right, let’s do some by side stuff real quick. One is your favorite part. When you get to show people Lean Time for the first time, what’s your favorite part to show them? Like when you know you can kind of get a prospect or just someone that you want to show Lean Time to, you know, once you get to this one place, they’re going to fall in love with what you built.
Gloria Folaron: I’m trying to, I’m trying to think of how to phrase this.
William Tincup: You know, multiple, usually what people say is, well, there’s five things. It doesn’t have to be one thing. Just, there’s an aha moment in every software demo. [00:18:00] So, and sometimes that’s, uh, they can be different, like the, the person that’s giving it can find, like, this is my favorite report, or this is my favorite analytics, this is my favorite this, that, and the other, and the practitioner, this is what they’ll like.
So sometimes they’re, they can be different, but for yourself, what’s your favorite part to show people?
Gloria Folaron: So our long term goal is really that lean time is more of an experience than an individual feature. Uh, so when we’re looking at feature development, we’re also reading up on all of the most recent studies around dopamine and ADHD and how dopamine relates to motivation.
And how can we extrapolate that information and turn it into a feature that guides the user to that dopamine and intrinsic motivation. And so we’re building collections of features that when they’re used in [00:19:00] tandem start to promote that. So an example is that dopamine is not secreted when you get to a goal, it’s secreted on the path to the goal.
Oh, interesting. So the more, the more we showcase, hey, look, here’s your progress, and this is what you’re contributing to, and this is the purpose and the value you bring, the more the dopamine goes in your brain and starts spinning circles, and you’re like, no, this feels good. I like what I’m doing, and I want to do more of it.
William Tincup: Oh, I love that. It also kind of explains the letdown once you reach the goal.
Gloria Folaron: Exactly. So there’s a huge drop and for someone with ADHD, that often means that’s the moment when you start seeking another spot, another, um, kick. Right.
William Tincup: That makes a lot of sense. I love that. Okay. Well, see that, that was easy. So if People are buying LeanTime, you know, for the first time and, and again, because it’s unique, they’ve, [00:20:00] they don’t have the arsenal of questions.
They don’t have the literacy of, of questions to then be able to ask you, should they be asking you in terms of like buy questions? Um, you know, how do they buy LeanTime and how do they ask the right questions or, or just better questions so that they make better decisions?
Gloria Folaron: I think the question is probably more their own reflection of what are their goals in looking for a new tool. And so, I, I would be happy to walk somebody through that and that reflection point because it’s, it’s hard to figure out what that pain point is. Right. But the majority of project failures, no matter what title you put on it, can be tied to The fact that we’re humans and those soft skills of somebody that wasn’t communicating clearly, we didn’t [00:21:00] establish our goals and that wasn’t, um, that wasn’t done and implemented well, the leadership or the teams not being motivated, they’re all tied to a human skill or a human element.
And so for lean time. That’s the direction that we’re going, so if that’s what you’re prioritizing, if the people that you have in your company are who you value and you want to build them up, then LeanTime is a great fit for you.
William Tincup: Yeah, it’s, and again, it’s that reflection. I love the way you, you frame that up.
They have, they have to know that they have a problem. And if not, or at least they might not be able to articulate it perfectly, but even just having an understanding of, Hey, something doesn’t feel right. I need, I need it. I need something that will help my team, will actually help my team reach their goals.
And WorkTech, what are we doing in [00:22:00] terms of actually solving these things? You see a lot of indexing on skills development. Right now, a lot of skills based hiring, a lot of things internal mobility that are skills based and soft skills and hard skills development stuff, which is great, but you don’t really have someone that’s doing what y’all are doing in terms of, okay, that, but there’s, again, you can do all that, which you should, but you still got to get work done and people, especially with ADHD, they’ve got to, they’ve got to be able to interact with.
Work and be able to get things done and, and, and again, then do it in an efficient way so that they, they feel, again, they feel like they’ve actually added value to the company, to the project, et cetera, but also so that the project gets done, you know, on time, on budget, you know, all the things that are important in project management.
So I love it. I love it. That’s, I mean, [00:23:00] first of all, it makes sense to me. Um, now what’s, uh, what’s the rest of the year look like for y’all? Are you doing more kind of, uh, features and functionality and development and doing that stuff? Are you doing more kind of getting out there and doing awareness and branding and going to conferences?
Like what, what’s just the rest of the year look like for you?
Gloria Folaron: I have a feeling you’ve been in the business space long enough to know that you have to do all of those things at the same time. Yeah. There is no escaping that. I’m really excited about what we’re working on right now. Because it’s not something that I’ve ever seen in the space.
And I’m really excited to see how it flashes out. So one of our AI features that we’re building right now is Starting the foundation phase one is AI driven task recommendations based on best practices. [00:24:00] So we take three different models and the AI will take your top 10 tasks due that week and put them in an order that’s based on those best practices.
William Tincup: I like that. And that can be personalized for the person. I mean, best practices, obviously, but then also for that person and it learns based on that person. What works well and what doesn’t work well for that person.
Gloria Folaron: Absolutely, but so, I, I think it’s not enough. Yeah, yeah. So, the next level of that is that we give users the ability to rate tasks privately.
So, the employer doesn’t see this, but they can, from a scale of red angry face emoji to unicorn. We are allowing people to rate those tasks and then compiling that information based on the description of that task and the title and the nature of the task so we can get a good idea of what that user loves to do and what they don’t like to [00:25:00] do and so our next phase from there would be is to Get to know the user.
Be able to recommend to the users who are assigning tasks. Right. This is the best person to recommend this to.
William Tincup: Yeah, because they love those
Gloria Folaron: tasks. Yeah. And they’re going to get more done and they’re going to get it more done. They’re going to get it done more quickly. Well, it’s
William Tincup: not arbitrary. Like the way that we assign tasks right now, it’s like we have a blindfold on and we just throw tasks out to people and some of them are successful and some of them are not successful.
And so if data can give us an idea of who likes those tasks and maybe who’s more accomplished or, or, or again. There’s just a better outcome with the, with people using those tests. I also think that there’s a component, if not now, later around timing. of tasks because like the same task, I might like it if I’m doing it at eight o’clock in the morning versus hate it if I’m doing it at four o’clock in the afternoon.
[00:26:00] Same task, timing’s different. So again, if something could, would inform me, cause you know, that’s, that’s. I don’t know that about myself, so how can the organization know that about me? So I think if technology can give me some guidance as to not just what do I like, not like, but also the timing, uh, of those things, I think, uh, I mean, first of all, that’s, that’s what we want technology to do is to inform us and connect dots that we can’t see.
So I love that. I love where you’re all taking it. That’s, that’s beautiful. Absolutely. I appreciate
Gloria Folaron: that. Um, and you touched on something that we’ve really talked about. There’s a, um, a mobile app called Rise and that, that app, what it does is it pays attention to when you wake up and then it uses traditional circadian rhythm patterns to tell you when you should be taking meetings versus when you need to go take a walk.
And so those are things [00:27:00] that, to your point, like, um, we’re looking for the, in the future to be able to integrate with. So that we can do the same thing and know when someone is waking up versus starting their work and be able to recommend based on that. Well, it’s all,
William Tincup: I mean, you’re, you’re driving towards the, the ultimate goal is where people thrive.
How they thrive, where they thrive, et cetera. And it’s just been this arcane model of like, we’re going to throw Susie and Dan on this project and they’re going to do these things. And cause they were successful in the last project that has nothing to do with this new project. And it’s all happenstance.
It’s like, we wonder how some projects. We’re super successful and some projects just fail, abject failures. It’s like, well, because we’re not doing it based on data, we’re doing it based on randomness, uh, or even worse. So, uh, I love that y’all are bringing a sophistication [00:28:00] to, you know, if I see, I see just a real lovely sophistication to being able to making sure that people, they get a better sense of where they thrive.
And the company gets a better sense of where they thrive. So they don’t put them in positions where they’re just not going to thrive. So satisfaction goes up, morale goes up, engagement goes up, retention, retention goes up. Like people are happier because again, they’re not being put in situations where they’re just were never going to thrive.
Gloria Folaron: And then the leaders aren’t even more pinched trying to implement those things themselves.
William Tincup: Right, right, right. I can see that. Well, Gloria, I could talk to you all day, but I know you got like work to do and stuff. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I love it. I absolutely love what y’all are building.
Gloria Folaron: I appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed the conversation and even the nails.
William Tincup: Well, and thanks for everyone, uh, for listening to the show until [00:29:00] next time. Thank you.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.