Expanders – people who need to expand or they explode. (Episode 83)

Expanders – people who need to expand or they explode. (Episode 83)

Interview with Paulo Zambardino Sanchez, Expansion Director at Raia Drogasil.

Today I learned about having an Expander Mindset.

The person who taught me was Paulo Zambardino Sanchez. He is, fittingly enough, Expansion Director at Raia Drogasil. Raia Drogasil is the largest drugstore company in Latin America by revenue and market capitalization and they are still expanding. As a matter of fact, they are opening 260 (!) new stores this year. That is more than one per working day.

Raia is not just expanding the number of stores, they are also expanding the offering of the drugstores and expanding the experience of visiting them.

To work on Paulo’s team, you have to have a very special type of personality. You have to have an “Expander Mindset.”

You have to be a person who is always looking for new opportunities, who is determined to drastically change how things are being done and who is looking for totally new ways of expanding a company’s presence.

Paulo: “I hire people who are always dissatisfied with where we are.”

Paulo told me that hiring people with Expander Mindset comes with its own set of challenges: “They are always ‘hungry’ so you have to make sure you are constantly feeding them new challenges. If you do not, they get bored, annoyed, or disengaged.”

Think of them as human herding dogs. Some dogs just like to rest or play, but herding dogs need to be busy working, or they get destructive.

We usually talked about being careful not to give someone too much workload, with people with an Expanding Mindset it’s about making sure they do not get a workload that is too small or too limited. (but of course, also not too big).

If you are lucky to get people with an Expander mindset, you need to make sure you keep them. Paolo’s suggestions for keeping them are:

1) Have a challenging strategy

– Make sure they know how their work is connected to the strategy.

(That is important for all employees, but more so for Expanders.)

2) Trust people

– Give responsibility and autonomy, so Expanders can decide for themselves what to do and how.

3) Offer them individual growth perspectives

– Expanders also want to expand themselves so they, more than most, require a thought-out plan for keeping them learning new things.

According to Paulo, the things you should look for when identifying an “Expander” are:

1) “The glow in their eye.”

Expanders have a fire in their eyes. They are eager to make things happen, and they want it.

2) “They have acute listening skills.”

They do not listen just for the sake of listening, they listen to learn and apply.

3) “They challenge things.”

Expanders will look at what is done and ask “Why this way?”

Growth is doing the same thing bigger. Expansion is using the current platform to develop other areas of business, which, in turn, grows the current platform

Growth is different from expansion. You must grow to expand, but you do not necessarily expand just because you grow. Expansion is to go beyond. It’s about rewriting yourself.

Paulo himself is using all kinds of techniques to make sure he stays an Expander. He will book meetings with artists, philosophers and people in very different industries to get challenged in unexpected ways. He even put his children in a school where the parents have a very different background than himself to feed him inspiration to expand.

When you grow you know more, but when you expand you enter new frontiers and experience the world you did not know existed, and that makes you grow much more.

Want to expand your business? Then recruit people with an Expander Mindset.

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