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Podcast Episode 57: Barr Moses | Co-Founder & CEO, Monte Carlo

How can a leader prioritize speed in their organization without losing focus on quality and the customer experience? Barr Moses, Co-Founder and CEO at Monte Carlo, has grown and scaled the organization by putting structures in place to help her team move at focused and intentional speed, while allocating time to reflect each quarter and assess and learn. An integral part of being a leader is to understand and be your authentic self, says Barr.

Here are some of the top takeaways from the episode:

  1. Every single minute that you're spending at work on something should be towards either making customers very happy or getting more customers.

  2. You can never make everyone happy, so you have to be centered in your core and understand what you believe in.  

  3. Your company values must be infused into every step of the journey, from who you hire and how you recruit to how you onboard, retain, motivate, promote and part ways with your team members.

I absolutely loved talking to Barr and I know you’ll love all the insightful ideas she brings to this episode!


What was your biggest takeaway from this episode?


Amp It Up by Frank Slootman

No Rules: Netflix and the Culture of reinvention, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer




Leave us a review


[00:00:00] Aaron Levy: Today, we're lucky to have Barr Moses on the podcast. Barr is the co-founder and CEO of Monte Carlo, a data reliability company and the creator of the industry's first data observability platform. Today, Barr and I discuss the importance of speed, but not just speed for the sake of moving fast, rather focused, intentional speed. We talk about how it's helped her grow and scale Monte Carlo and how she's put structures in place to help her team move at speed.

And take the time to reflect, reevaluate, and move forward even faster. Lastly, Barr leaves us with probably the most important nugget of all about authenticity. You'll have to listen to the end to hear more about that one. 

Welcome Barr. It is a pleasure to have you on here. I've been looking forward to this conversation for quite a while. 

[00:00:54] Barr Moses: Thanks Aaron. I'm looking forward to it. 

[00:00:56] Aaron Levy: So, I had a chance to do a little bit of, research on your background and you've gone [00:01:00] from management consultant to the startup world to startup founder.

How'd you get here? 

[00:01:05] Barr Moses: Great question. I actually studied math and stats and always loved working with data. Earlier in my career, I had the great sort of opportunity to work with companies. And helping them use data. It was in various forms.

So, whether it was a consultant or at a startup where I was a person using the data myself, the goal was always to help teams, organizations and people actually use data to make decisions. And that was a really hard thing to do, which is ironic because you can, you would think that, we have a lot of data, we should be able to use it.

But, how do you actually make sure that the data is clean and trusted and reliable? And how do you make sure that people actually know what to make of the data?

And also, by the way, for any piece of data, you could tell a totally different story. And so how do you actually understand the story and the narrative and, finally, how do you communicate that in a way that actually allows [00:02:00] you to drive change in an organization?

Every part of that process is incredibly hard. I was part of that in various forums in the last sort of, decade and a half or so earlier on as a consultant, helping organizations use data later on and to start up using data myself, helping my customers use data and actually, founding Monte Carlo, which is sort of our mission. Our mission is to accelerate the use of data or the adoption of data by reducing what we call data downtime. And data downtime is basically periods of time when data is wrong. And that is because in all of my experiences working with organizations, the number 1 reason why they couldn't get data driven was because the data was wrong.

And actually, being able to use data that's accurate is foundational to everything and, it's generative AI and. All these sort of like waves that are happening in data. We want to make sure that we're making decisions, sound decisions based on accurate data. And so that's what I'm focused on today.

[00:02:57] Aaron Levy: Zoom in a little bit more? Like, how'd you get from that [00:03:00] idea to I don't want to start a company. And that's a different life career journey than it is being a consultant and advising others or working in a business and helping fix systems. 

[00:03:14] Barr Moses: Totally. As a consultant, what primary work.

It was quite varied. So, work with very different industries. It could be like a semiconductor company. It could be a burger chain. It could be a fintech company and each of these organizations. My role was to take data and to help the people making decisions about product strategy, about marketing campaigns, about how to build customer success operations and whatever sort of format they were help them make the right decision.

So, take the right data, analyze it. And make recommendations for it, but I wasn't actually part of implementing those recommendations. And so, after a couple of years of doing that, I decided to join a startup to help, actually build, from the ground up an organization in a category. So, I joined a company called [00:04:00] GainSight, which created the customer success category.

That was really cool because customer success didn't exist before that. And by that, people would basically buy from an organization and maybe they use the product or maybe not. It didn't really matter. But then, subscription to the whole subscription economy came in and it was important to earn your customer's business every single day because returning customers were key.

And so, you needed to earn your customer's business. And when we created the category at gain side, a lot of it was bringing data. To category creation. So, what does it mean to actually measure the health of a happy customer? What does that look like? What are the early signs of a happy customer?

What are the early signs of a not happy customer? So, there's actually really cool applications of data in sort of customer success as a category. And in my role at Gainsight, I was using data to inform my work to inform the board to inform our customer on their customer health. So, imagine our customers trying to understand the health of their business.

They're relying on data that we're providing them [00:05:00] and we're telling them, this customer had. 30 support tickets in the last 10 days. Something must be wrong or this customer's adoption of a particular feature just spiked significantly. You might want to check in. See, maybe they need help or this particular customer haven't been using the product at all for the last 30 days.

You probably want to check in to see if something's happening. And all of those instances, I was responsible for that data and I would get so many angry emails from my CEO and many others saying, WTF, why is the data wrong? And I was freaked out. It was like, I had one job, make sure the data's right.

And then it was wrong a lot. And it was wrong for various reasons. It was wrong because we were relying on some third-party data that just never arrived and no one bothers to tell us. Or it was wrong because someone upstream made a change to our website and that just like, messed up the tracking downstream and everything else.

Like, there were various reasons for why that would happen, but at the end of the day I was like, I was not delivering accurate data. [00:06:00] And when I was looking at my engineering counterparts, they had off the shelf solutions for this. They had solutions that you're probably familiar with companies like AppDynamics, New Relic, Datadog that help engineering teams make sure their applications are reliable.

Data teams have nothing. They're just like, I hope the data is right, but I'm actually not sure. And by the way, exactly. Fingers crossed. Oh, but we can maybe manually let's just look at reports for a really long time and make sure that the data is right, or let's create a lot of different reports and look at them together and have 6 different eyes on the data.

That is how people made sure the data is accurate and reliable, which is really 

[00:06:40] Aaron Levy: unreasonable. Been there. Been there. It's awful. 

[00:06:45] Barr Moses: I'm so sorry. 

[00:06:47] Aaron Levy: I'm in there too. I don't want to talk about that time. I ran data analysis for a startup and had to clean up a messy database. And I'm not a data person.

Excel spreadsheets I can do, but they're not my strength. So, as you're talking about this, I'm [00:07:00] getting a little bit of anxiety of that time where I had to go through that project and say, why is this information coming in? And it's coming in the wrong way. And with the, oh God, let's keep going. Sorry.

That's too much. 

[00:07:10] Barr Moses: No, that's exactly right. And. It, this problem elicits horror stories from people, right? I remember that time that I woke up sweating because I wasn't sure if the data is accurate or not. So, you're totally right. That's exactly, I love that story. And that's exactly what our customers feel like.

And so, at the time I was responsible for that and for the data, I was a person waking up at night, sweating and I was really frustrated that there wasn't a solution for this. After a couple of years at Gainsight and really learning a lot about category creation and about company building, I decided to start my own company with the idea of solving this problem.

And actually. Before I did that, I had a little bit of self-exploration. So, I spent, 6 months or so took time off. I went on a silent meditation retreat for 7 days. I watched Netflix for a whole week [00:08:00] before it was socially acceptable to watch Netflix for a whole week.

Took time to make sure that I understand what I want to do and what gives me energy in my day to day, what kind of impact I want to have on the world and decided to start a company actually started 3 companies in parallel. So worked on 3 ideas.

Which was a lot of fun, some of the other ideas that I worked on were so bad. Nobody gave a shit about what I was doing, and I was like, there's not going to be a company from that idea. It's just not going to happen. And when I compare that to this idea of data reliability and data downtime, there was so much more pull.

And I was like, this is definitely a real problem with a concrete person who's in pain and that I can help. There's definitely a higher likelihood of building a business from that area. And as an entrepreneur, you're in the business of doing things that are highly unlikely.

Creating a new category adds an entire new sort of level of complexity because you don't, it's not just building a company. It's also building a category. So, you can [00:09:00] have to like hit two home runs, if that makes sense. I actually heard Ali from Databricks describe that as a way their journey to creating sort of an open, successful open-source solution, and then also a company.

And so, as an entrepreneur, you're choosing to do the impossible every day. You're waking up and you're like, there's 99. 9 percent chance that this is going to fail and I'm still waking up and doing this. It's a really fun journey. 

[00:09:22] Aaron Levy: Fast forward several years you've been able to to hit some success because you now have several hundred employees several years later.

And what I'm curious about is how have you been able to scale the team, the culture as you've grown from a handful of people to a few hundred. 

[00:09:40] Barr Moses: I Think about this a lot and actually spend a good amount of my time thinking about building the culture and I've come to a couple of realizations.

One is I think everybody talks about values, but actually living, breathing and writing your values is really important. And we did that when we were about four people. And those values stick with us. [00:10:00] And I'll just give a couple examples. One of our values is beat the odds.

Which actually speaks to what I mentioned before, which is as an entrepreneur, you're waking up every day and trying to do the impossible. And by definition, you are trying to beat the odds. And I think that's really powerful as a startup, because you're trying to create something from nothing.

And when you get a group of 150, 200 people are all around you trying to create magic every single day, that creates for really unique culture when everyone is inside in the arena with you and like literally trying to create magic. So, every single day we break new records, right?

Like we close the most customers or we ship faster features, or we make the customers incredibly happy. Or, we've made more customers happy than we've had, in the last year or anything like that. Like, all of those are like first milestones. And so, you keep on creating this magic around doing things that you didn't think you could do, or that you thought would be really hard to do.

And there's something really special about that. So, we tried to ingrain those in our [00:11:00] values. The other value that we have is called measure in minutes and measure in minutes. Basically, talks about speed as a core pillar of a company. And the idea is, for everything that you can do, you can or another way to think about this is the measure of success for us is not like years or months or weeks.

It's actually minutes. So, every single minute that you're spending on something should be towards either making customers very happy or getting more customers and being really critical with the time that you're spending. Cause most of us work on things that, open a drawer, put it in and close it and you never see it again.

Can you build a company or an organization where every single person is working only on high impact things? And when high impact, customer impact. 

[00:11:44] Aaron Levy: So, one of the things I'm curious about, I love that you did it at four people. That says something in and of itself that you said, hey, we're going to take time now to do that.

I'm curious how you've been able to translate it from, four people around a room or even 20 people around the [00:12:00] world, you can get on connects, it's much easier to steer the ship when there's 20 people versus when there's 150 or 200, how have you maintained those values or held on to those values or kept those alive when you have a much bigger ship?

[00:12:15] Barr Moses: Yeah, I think you have to think about it as a system and a system that starts all the way from who you hire and how you recruit. To how you onboard people, to how you retain, motivate, to how you promote, to how you fire, if needed, to how you grow to how you support people in their career in the long run.

And if you think about that sort of holistically about the entire kind of journey that people have, we try to infuse our values in every single step. So, I'll give you an example. In the first week of onboarding, we have something called a week one ship, which means that when you join Monte Carlo in the first week, you have to ship something to [00:13:00] production for engineers.

It would be code in production. You have to actually make a real impact on our customers for salesperson. It might be to get on a real call with a customer. And the idea is that at Monte Carlo, you're adding value from day one. So, one of our values is called ship and iterate, which means. We learn and improve by iteration, and so we don't believe in sitting the solution for a very long time, but rather shipping something, getting customer feedback on it, and then iterating on that.

And that sort of as a process to get to a very high bar, high standard of excellence. And so, every single person that joins Monte Carlo first week, they ship something to production; for marketing, it could be a blog post, for example. Whatever it is, you have to put yourself out there. And so that reminds everyone when they're joining, on the first day, they have to do that.

I'll give you another example from a little bit later in the journey. We actually next week are doing sort of an offsite for hiring managers. So basically, anyone who's a leader or a people leader at Monte Carlo. And we're calling that offsite [00:14:00] speed and focus as a way to remember what's important, which is like being highly focused, highly driven into one specific direction and being very fast in that direction.

And we're actually spending a lot of the offsite on our culture and our values and what's important to us and spending time sort of strengthening these aspects of our culture that we think are unique. As you can see, throughout the company journey or the employee journey. At different strategic points.

We make a point as a company to talk about our values to think about them to use them. Now, these are all they can feel artificial if that makes sense, or they feel like forced at the end of the day. I think it has to do with. Are the people that are at the company with you on the bus, if you will, do they believe and live and breathe the values?

You know what I mean? Like, when we're talking about a couple of hundreds, it's not so much about me anymore when you were 4 people, maybe, but when it's hundreds of people, it's really about every single person, how they show up in a meeting or in a forum Are they the fastest person in the [00:15:00] room? Or are they wasting everyone's time with something that doesn't matter?

Are they thinking about the customer? Or are they worried about other stuff that doesn't matter? Are they remembering to ship and iterate? Like it's about every single person showing up as their best self, so in a sense, I feel like a lot of the strength of our culture has to do with those unique individuals and every single person living these values every day.

[00:15:22] Aaron Levy: I love that. I love how you're in a position, which is unique as a CEO and co-founder, you're not even just on the people side, but you're thinking about the full employee experience, which is actually pretty unique in the work that we do. It's usually the people team that thinks about that.

And the CEO is just Hey, let's just focus on. New customers. And let's just focus on keeping our customers happy. And it sounds like I'm hearing between the lines is in order to do that, we need to make sure these are infused in all the different elements. And I love the different examples of like ship and iterate day one, week one, sorry, not day one, but week one.

[00:15:54] Barr Moses: It should be day one, what I'm going to propose. 

[00:15:56] Aaron Levy: that. So, I'm very curious. Cause you said something at the start [00:16:00] about your journey and how you've gone on a silent retreat. You took some self-time it seems you, and I may be making a leap here, understand the value of that reflection and that reflective period of time, whether it's you meditating or doing retreats or whatever that is.

And then as you're talking about the values of the business, I'm hearing speed. How do you either personally, or as you think about your people in the business, you can answer it anyway. Balance the slowing down and the need for speed at the pace in which your business needs to succeed.

[00:16:32] Barr Moses: That is a great question. I would say my natural mode would be speed. I also enjoy it. I very much believe in startups in general if it's not a fuck, yes, it's a fuck. No, if you're not Really in it and super excited about it. Don't waste your time on it, right?

Like life is short. Go do other things. There's no point in doing something that you don't enjoy, right? I literally just had 

[00:16:57] Aaron Levy: that conversation with somebody today before this, I was like, [00:17:00] there's no point in this. Just stop it. And I don't mean to be rude, but like, it's not a fuck yes. So, it's a fuck no.


[00:17:07] Barr Moses: I love that. Yeah, exactly. And so, for me I enjoy speed because you learn more, you ship more, you get to interact with customers more. Basically, it's not just an advantage for the business. But I think it's also a more sort of fun and exhilarating way to live, and so, I, I love that. I get great pleasure from like meeting with a customer and our team shipping a feature for them, literally that afternoon or that week. And, them telling us, wow, this is like the fastest team I've ever worked with. It's amazing. And we learn from that interaction and then we can ship that feature to a bunch of other customers.

And it's just this flywheel of like magic and awesomeness, which I just get high off of, honestly. It is really why I wake up in the morning, if that makes sense. And so, slowing down is very not natural to me. But I've learned, throughout my career, throughout my life that it is important to stop and reflect every once in a while, to make sure that the direction that you're still [00:18:00] heading in is the right direction and to make sure that you're celebrating the happy moments and that you recharge yourself to be resilient for the longer run. And so, I can tell you that, meditation or sort of time to really reflect to something that I've had to also introduce into our business. 

Some of the examples for how we do that is we actually have this sort of operational calendar for every quarter, which allows for those breaks or reflection flexions, if you will. And so, at the beginning of the quarter. Actually, each function introduces a reflection of how they've done in the last quarter, what their performance was, and more importantly, what were the learnings that they had and they present that to their peers.

So, all the functional leaders get together and review that. And then we take the learnings from that and apply those for next quarter. Similarly, we reflect at a company level on our performance and our learnings, and we do that with our board. At the beginning of the end of the quarter, we use that timeline to introduce that reflection.

The other kind of [00:19:00] reflection that we do quite often is we conduct retros after, a major sort of learning moment. Let's say, for example we had some incident. Or we lost a customer or any kind of like major event where we can really learn and improve from.

We take the time to conduct a blameless retro to understand what happened and reflect on that. I think those those are periods of time where actually slowing down allows you to move a lot faster and more importantly, in the right direction. So that's why I always say it's not just speed, it's speed and focus.

And sometimes it helps like stop and take a step back and think about things. I would say that also reading books helps me slow down actually. A couple of books that have helped me do that. Amp It Up by Frank Slootman. It's actually a book about speed. If you think about what amp it up means.


[00:19:49] Aaron Levy: I was going to say, of course, I'm thinking about these intentionality books like I think there's stillness is the key is one of them. I listened to it cause it's super [00:20:00] calm. Like I need that to slow me down and you're like at three X speed. Listen to it while I'm on the treadmill.

All right, I'm ready to slow down. 

[00:20:08] Barr Moses: Fair enough. Fair enough, Aaron. But I think, I guess I mean it helps slow down in a sense that it helps provide perspective, right? Or like, okay, let me zoom out for a second and see what does this person mean about speed? And what do I mean about speed? And how is that different from what I think?

And how is it similar? Another book 

[00:20:25] Aaron Levy: that I'm actually doing as well in that I'm making fun of you, but you're not actually doing you're being, you're listening, which is a very different, we talk about this and in leadership all the time. And in coaching, it's there's everything being on the, doing part of the spectrum and the being, and sometimes you got to shift over to the being, and sometimes you got to be on the doing.

And so, I'm making fun of you, but you're in the, you're in the being state.

[00:20:44] Barr Moses: No, it's by the way, being in the being state is really difficult for me. It's one of the things that I've tried to do the most and reading helps, but I just going to say the other book that I loved is No Rules: Netflix and the Culture of reinvention.

Yeah, it's a great book. Yeah. And I think what [00:21:00] I loved about that is there's something about the entrepreneur journey that. Forces you to be really authentic, and I'll explain why. Basically, you get shit for whatever you do.

Whatever you if you choose left, you're gonna get shit from someone.

If you choose right, you're gonna get, for every, any decision that you make, it's very hard to make everyone happy. And so, by definition, by the way, for any kind of advice question that you have, you'll get like 50 percent people telling you something and 50 percent telling you the exact opposite.

And you can't make everyone happy. And so, by definition, because of that, you actually have to be really centered in your core and really understand what you believe in. And that actually takes a lot of listening and being in the present to understand and enforce it because it's it forces you to be incredibly authentic and specific in your core and what you believe in, because that's the only way to move forward.

 That journey has been really meaningful for me. And, the last couple of years of being able to tune in and say, what do I believe in at this moment? [00:22:00] And how do I move forward with authenticity? And the no rules book by Netflix actually talks a lot about doing things in a nontraditional way.

 Actually, they had no rules and created a huge, very successful company in a very nontraditional way. And I think part of that sort of gives me permission to be myself. I don't need to sort of adhere to some methodology or rule or playbook. I need to find my authentic voice. And that is where sort of my leadership comes from and where I think, where I also get the most joy in, in leadership.

[00:22:32] Aaron Levy: God, there is so much in this that I'm bubbling up with a lot of good emotions and feels; we have a value at Raise The Bar called standing your commitment. And I have this conversation when we interview people, I have this conversation when we onboard people and it's, what you say, your core, we call your commitment could be your, why your purpose, name it, whatever you want.

And we say like, everyone has their own, but when you stand in yours. And make a decision from there versus making it out of fear versus making out of worrying about screwing up or looking good or [00:23:00] building the right business. You're going to make the best decision. And I just, I love that you're sharing this and it's a, it's just beautiful.

 It's a really important way. There's so many things I heard from this, just this last little segment of the importance of being authentic to yourself, the importance of knowing about yourself. And so, what I want listeners is you're listening to this and you're listening to Barr speak fast, but also very intelligently and talk about the importance of speed. What she's also highlighting, what you're also highlighting is like knowing yourself. And so, you can't speed through that, right? That is something that, might takes other people. It takes time. And it's not something that just happens.

 We work with a lot of first-time managers at growing companies. And the hardest thing that they have is like, why I need you to do when you do, and we're like, actually, you're going to hate us. Cause we're telling you to slow down so that you could speed up. And what you're talking about is like speed with focus, intentional speed, which is different than chicken with your head cut off speed.

Just go and do things. I need to. Fill up my tasks and do it. And so, I think that's an incredible difference, the intentional speed and the [00:24:00] structured reflection that you built in every quarter and after big events, there's so many gold nuggets in this like I'm parsing through them all right now.

I had a lot of notes on my page, but this is really good. I want to dive into so many other realms, but I want people to be able to take away these big gold nuggets, the importance of intentional speed, the importance of knowing yourself and doing some self-work, the importance of structural reflection.

You can move fast. What I'm hearing is you can move fast. If you build in time to stop and say, how are we doing? Where are we towards our goals? As opposed to just moving fast and not checking in. These are some really important insights, I'm ready to stop and say, hey, everybody absorbs this because we could add 15 more insights in the next 15 minutes.

And I, I think this is perfect where it is. Yeah. Awesome. 

[00:24:45] Barr Moses: Thank you. For sure. Yeah. Happy to, so much. Really appreciate it. 



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