1884 – Unveiling the Limits of Grit with Dean Guida of Infragistics

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO of Infragistics, Dean Guida.

Guida Wide

Dean Guida discussed the limitations and challenges of perseverance, leadership nuances, and the elements essential for a successful entrepreneurial career. Dean Guida, who is also the author of the book “When Grit is Not Enough,” proposes a critical view on the traditional concept of grit as the sole key to success, suggesting significant limitations to this belief. He highlights the importance of recognizing the fine line where perseverance may turn into stubbornness.

As a company leader at the forefront of design and development tools, Dean brings extensive experience in navigating the dynamic tech landscape. He recounted how Infragistics has maintained its relevance and innovative edge by emphasizing adaptability and the readiness to make strategic shifts when necessary.

The conversation further delved into the importance of strategic thinking, understanding market dynamics, and leveraging a team's collective intelligence. Dean discussed the vital role of emotional intelligence in leadership, stressing the need for leaders to inspire and motivate, complementing personal determination with the capacity to engage and energize others.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Challenging the Grit Myth
  • Infragistics as an Innovation Model
  • Identifying True Success Drivers
  • Practical Lessons for Entrepreneurs:
  • “When Grit is Not Enough” book by Dean Guida

About Dean Guida:

Dean Guida, an internationally recognized entrepreneur, stands out as a testament to the power of innovative thinking and strategic leadership in the tech industry. Before the internet became ubiquitous, Dean embarked on a journey that led to the creation of Infragistics, a global technology company. His transition from a coder on Wall Street to a pioneer in the software industry was marked by a significant early victory against Microsoft in 1992, securing a $300k deal for his then-small startup. This pivotal moment underscored the potential of his proprietary software and set the stage for the company's future successes.

Under Dean's stewardship, Infragistics evolved from a modest operation into a multinational corporation with a significant footprint in the tech landscape. The company's resilience through various economic downturns, including the dot-com bubble and the 2008 recession, is a testament to Dean’s leadership and the robust culture he fostered. Today, Infragistics serves a global client base, including the entirety of the S&P 500, without ever seeking external investment. Dean's journey from an early internet coder to a business visionary illustrates the importance of adapting to challenges and leveraging critical insights into a philosophy that guides leadership, innovation, and growth.

About Infragistics:

Infragistics stands at the forefront of the tech industry, revolutionizing how applications are designed and developed globally. Catering to over two million developers, the company offers advanced UX and UI toolkits that facilitate the rapid prototyping and crafting of visually appealing applications—the introduction of Indigo. Design App Builder marks a significant leap forward, merging design and development workflows onto a unified platform to enhance collaboration and streamline creation.

Expanding its portfolio, Infragistics has introduced Reveal and Slingshot, pioneering solutions that empower business users with cutting-edge self-service business intelligence and digital workplace tools. These innovations reflect Infragistics' dedication to excellence and its commitment to simplifying complex processes, enabling teams to achieve high productivity and performance. The company's approach, honed over three decades, prioritizes craftsmanship and attention to detail, ensuring that each product not only meets but exceeds the expectations of digital product teams and contributes to the success of organizations worldwide.

Tweetable Moments:

04:09 – “Grit has to be a fundamental DNA of every entrepreneur because you have to persevere for long periods of time with ups and downs to realize your vision and build a company.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Infragistics’ website at

Check out Infragistics on LinkedIn at

Check out Infragistics on Facebook at 

Check out Dean Guida on LinkedIn at

Check out Dean Guida’s book “When Grit Is Not Enough” at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence. Com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now. Dean Guida. Dean, you are the CEO of Infernal Mystics, and you are the author of the book When Grit Is Not Enough. Also, we're going to be talking about the slingshot app, and the website for that is slingshot app. IO. Finally, Dean, your personal website, particularly that has some great information about the book and your thought leadership, and that's Dean Guida.

Josh (00:01:24) - Com goo I dia com. Dean, thank you so much for joining us.

Dean (00:01:29) - Yes. Thank you, thank you. Appreciate it.

Josh (00:01:31) - Just down, the I-4 corridor in Clearwater. Well, Dean, give us an overview of your work. You obviously, you do a lot of good things.

Dean (00:01:41) - I found it in for mystics 35 years ago. And we're in the tech space, and we build tools for designers and developers to build simple and beautiful user experiences. And we sell it to all the largest ISV software companies out there. Many commercial apps built with us, some fidelity, E-Trade, Charles Schwab into it's TurboTax, quicken, all the 911 systems. And so our core audience is software developers and designers. but we have branched out into a B2B product with slingshot and, and a lot of the thesis of is what I wrote about in my book, When Grit Is Not Enough. And all the lessons I've learned over the last 35 years, never taking money, having a global, successful tech company and going through all the different cycles of recessions and particularly technology changes.

Dean (00:02:35) - So slingshots really about helping you and even the book to create a data driven agile learning organization. And so I'm really passionate about that.

Josh (00:02:45) - Yeah. When you say agile, can you maybe define that just a bit.

Dean (00:02:50) - Yeah. I mean agility is I would define it in a couple of ways. One, I'm a firm believer in, you know, having a strategy and really staying focused over the long term to achieve that strategy. But so many things change in the market, both with technology, with customers buying habits. And so you need the agility to be able to learn, listen and adjust. still staying strong, true to your long term vision, but having that and then agility comes right down all to your the way you work with your teams. And so it's when you have, when you really push down this whole, growth mindset of, of learning, using data to make decisions, collaborating on, hypothesis of what's happening in your business, in the market, and then having the agility to change and do things in more, you know, chunkier ways instead of long, long time.

Dean (00:03:42) - From market feedback to reaction by teams and products in your company.

Josh (00:03:48) - Yeah. So I'm tempted. Let's talk about the book first because I'm interested in this whole topic of, you know, someone or a leader who might be saying, well, listen, I can outwork anybody, right? And our team cannot work anywhere. We're just going to outwork the competition, and that's going to get us where we need to get. Give us your little mini TEDx talk on this if you'd like.

Dean (00:04:09) - Yeah, well, for sure, grit has to be a fundamental DNA of every entrepreneur because you just have to persevere for long periods of time with ups and downs and to realize your vision and to to build a company. So the title is when grit stand up because it's not enough. You really need to put in place different philosophies, values, processes to create an organization that is really a learning organization. And so I wrote the book and probably everyone says this, but it starts with the people are the most important and the culture.

Dean (00:04:41) - But you can be very thoughtful in your processes and the way you do that. So in the book, it goes through everything from, goals and the scientific philosophy of how you can drive business outcomes to creating a learning organization, having tough conversations, rhythm of the business strategic and go to market planning. All of these things are kind of like interwoven into creating an organization that is agile uses data to make decisions. But also you're creating this environment of a learning organization. And it starts with how you hire people so that you hire people that really have that growth mindset, that enjoy learning and want to keep learning and are very curious and are always asking why something is happening. And then it comes down to like, you know, from a long term vision of your strategic plan to, to execution, where people really understand, prioritization of your goals and, and then working together collaboratively and the ability to adjust, you know, the agility part of it. And I'm very touching on at a very high level.

Dean (00:05:46) - There's a lot of detail in there. And I wrote the book to be very playbook oriented, so that it talks about these things in a very actionable way.

Josh (00:05:56) - Yeah. So why is growth and development and, and, you know, helping our team members, you know, become more why is that so critical?

Dean (00:06:07) - I used to think it was just the tech space, but certainly the tech space is hyper, really hypersensitive to just a lot of change. And you have to constantly build products where the technology is changing to. And the market need is changing, too. And so you really, as an individual or as an entrepreneur or as a CEO, of course you need that, but you need your whole organization thinking like that. So when you when you have a team, instead of things always getting pushed up to manager or director or CEO to solve the problems you're actually teaching teams to, okay, look at data. Data is like a signal of what's happening in the market. But then you need to collaborate and create a hypothesis like what is happening, and then be intentional about experimenting and testing that.

Dean (00:06:57) - So like you get data signals, you collaborate with the team to create some hypothesis, what you think, is why that's occurring. And then you go and create an experiment of how you can improve a business outcome that that you're seeing and test it, intentionally measure it. And then you have this like really fast loop, which creates agility, creates people, pushes the thinking and down to the teams. And when you can create an organization like this, you can really react and withstand, you know, a lot of change over time.

Josh (00:07:30) - Yeah. Dean, let's talk about slingshot for a moment. where does this fit in? Within an organization. Is this a replacement for. I mean, is this a project management and maybe a replacement for slack? Or kind of where does it fit within the kind of the internal operations stack?

Dean (00:07:49) - Well, we've, like, we believe the whole organization, you should, should use it. But of course, that's, you know, the larger the organization, the harder change is.

Dean (00:07:57) - So, we're really successful selling it to mentally to marketing teams. We're also very successful selling it to the mid-market, you know, companies between 30 and 1000 employees. And and there we are getting the the organization to adopt it. But what slingshot is doing, like functionally, what it's doing is I can tell you functionally, but then purposely, I'd like to tell you what it's doing, but functionally it's data analytics. So we're connecting to all your different SAS systems, all your systems of record and we're bringing all that data together. And a lot of metrics span multiple systems like your financial your CRM, maybe your account based marketing system. We bring all that data together. And so we put data at the center of workflow management. So there's project management, there's communication. And the whole idea is that you're collaborating. You're all your data is in one place from all your different systems. And you're driving fact based decisions on what's happening in your market. And you're driving collaboration to talk about that. And then you go and have a work back plan.

Dean (00:09:05) - So so everyone's aligned on priority and accountability. And so it's this whole flow of data work back plans, collaboration all within, you know, one simple and beautiful experience, which is we really focus on from our heritage of, building UX and UI tooling.

Josh (00:09:23) - Yeah. And why is that so critical? Our humans, you know, in terms of, like, maybe in teams or individuals, you know, I know we've got our biases. We've got, you know, kind of our fallacies that, you know, that that kind of creep in. why is it so critical to stay focused on having data and making the data easy to visualize and access?

Dean (00:09:45) - I do believe in intuition. I do believe in. And that the feeling part of things, for sure, but that by itself is not a good thing. I mean, so when you have data and there's so much data out there, it's really helping you understand really in a fact based way of what's happening in your business. It doesn't always tell you why, but it'll tell you whether your customer acquisition cost is too high.

Dean (00:10:08) - It'll tell you whether you're, you know, how long it takes you to close business. It'll tell you the quality of your lead. It'll tell you the lifetime value of your customer. It'll it'll tell you many things. It'll tell you how you segment and market, to different audiences. And is your messaging landing? It'll tell you all these things of actually what's happening now, how to improve. That takes collaboration and and hyper. But when you inject and drive data driven culture, you will grow your business. You will make better decisions, you'll have more confidence in execution. You'll get people to align better. Because it's just not that Josh or Dean thinks this is what we should do. It's like, no, based on this, we're making this and it empowers other people. So like, no longer the, the highest ranking person or the loudest person in the room, doesn't get the floor to to set our priorities and where we're going. data also democratizes anybody to make a very strong point of what direction or how you should go about doing things in the organization.

Josh (00:11:13) - The website for slingshot, a slingshot app. I o and as it's described here, it's the all in one digital workplace boosting team. Results. Slingshot. It aggregates data analytics, project information management, chat goals based strategy, benchmarking in one app and again that website slingshot API. Oh, and finally, Dena, I'd love to just ask you about what infra genetics is. and, who kind of your ideal client is for that? You work with some big names Morgan Stanley, Exxon, Ikea, fidelity, many more. A lot of enterprise level clients.

Dean (00:11:54) - Yeah. So we have over 2 billion software developers using our toolkits, and they're a set of UI components on all the different platforms. So on web it's react, it's angular, it's web component. So all these JavaScript based. But we also, came from, you know, the desktop world and in the mobile world. So we have we have these toolkits on these different UI platforms. And and we, we maybe like 15, 20 years ago, we really went into the UX user experience part of it.

Dean (00:12:24) - So we've got a really good way of going from design systems to code. And so our app builder integrates with Figma and to big teams or software teams working with designers are designing this design language. And all of that gets pulled right into our app builder. And we'll generate production code, commercial applications for it. So, with our UI components, which are all these different grids and data visualizations to our app builder and our design to code methodology, like, we're really driving productivity, in these commercial teams, these large enterprises.

Josh (00:13:01) - Yeah, the website for infra genetics is just like it sounds in fraud, just X-Com. Finally, I just want to ask you about your book, When Grit Is Not Enough, who should be reading this book? Obviously it's available on Amazon everywhere else, but who needs to pick up and study this book?

Dean (00:13:20) - Yeah, I mean, you know, at this point, I really want to help entrepreneurs to have better chances at success. And so I wrote it for entrepreneurs. Everything I've kind of learned over the last 35 years.

Dean (00:13:31) - So really from a company of ten and up and even managers and execs in the enterprise, it'll help them as well. But I wrote it for entrepreneurs to help them get to the next level of growth and success.

Josh (00:13:45) - Yeah. And again, the title that you can search this on Amazon right now or Dean, they can just go to your website. But it's when grit is not enough and Entrepreneur's Playbook for taking your business to the next level. It is on paperback, Kindle, hardcover, and again the website and it looks like audiobook as well.

Dean (00:14:02) - Yeah, and soon to be audio. It's, we just actually approved the audio. I just was told actually, today it takes 4 to 8 weeks for it to get to audible, but it's on its way.

Josh (00:14:12) - on your website, Dean, you have not only information about the book, but you actually have this pretty cool click on just encourage someone is listening. Click on the button that says Audiobook resources. You have a it's a 34 page guide that has all the, kind of the illustrations and, and some really great resource, a lot of really effective charts.

Josh (00:14:37) - And you can go look at this right now so you can see exactly what you're going to be learning in the book. But again, Dean, congratulations on publishing that, again, your personal website, Dean, we talked about slingshot Apoio and finally infra genetics. Com. Dean anything we missed that you would encourage someone to do if they're like well I've been enjoying this conversation, but I feel like I'm only scratching the, you know, the tip of the iceberg here to mix my metaphors.

Dean (00:15:05) - Yeah, I think actually starting with the book is a great way. And then if you're a software or a designer or developer, we got some great tools for you. And then, of course, we, you know, if you want to create a data driven agile learning organization, with the book and then slingshot as a way to digitally execute that in your organization is a is a really good route to success.

Josh (00:15:27) - Awesome. Dean Guida, thank you so much for joining us.

Dean (00:15:29) - Thank you. Thank you Josh.

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