Leading by example

David Graham, CEO and co-founder of Code Ninjas, has worn many hats since first embarking on his career in digital technology over 20 years ago.

Leading by example

David Graham, CEO and co-founder of Code Ninjas, has
worn many hats since first embarking on his career in digital technology over 20
years ago. As a former programmer, franchisee, entrepreneur and now franchisor,
he’s well-rehearsed in recognising talent – those people who show great promise
and go on to achieve incredible things. Here, he explains how to attract this
calibre of talent into your business.  

“Do as I say, not as I do” covers all manner of sins, doesn’t it? We all know those managers or leaders who are guilty of this – the ones that enforce unpaid overtime but leave early for a round of golf or take a two-week holiday during peak times of the year. Whether you’re a franchisor or a franchisee, your position places you at the forefront of your business and, therefore, bestows upon you the responsibility of always leading by example – which isn’t as simple as showing up and clocking in, wearing a nice suit and smiling for the camera.

Setting a quality standard is much more about embodying your brand culture in everything you do – from the way you communicate with your peers, to the way you navigate your social media presence. In essence, you’re the brand ambassador and a constant source of passion, drive and inspiration for those around you.

At Code Ninjas, our aim is simple; to become known as the most fun, educational and engaging kids’ coding provider in the world. By implementing our overarching culture right off the bat, we’re well on our way to achieving this aim. We put fun at the centre of everything we do, which has a positive impact on franchisees, Senseis and Ninjas alike – if you’re having fun, work doesn’t feel like work, and learning doesn’t feel like learning.

In order to attract the right type of entrepreneur to support us in reaching this aim, we – myself included – ensure we’re embodying this culture at all times. Whether we’re liaising with suppliers, meeting with prospects or being interviewed by the media, we use informal, engaging and personable language. Where possible, we avoid using business jargon and prioritise face-to-face contact – albeit virtually these days – over sending stuffy, long-form emails. We’ve created an environment of shared enthusiasm at our headquarters, where our team of support staff have formed close, professional relationships through their shared commitment to our brand. Our social media platforms are managed in-house, with consistent messaging used across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – placing us as a fun and informed provider of kid’s coding education, which is also present in all of our media content.

This sense of pride in our brand starts at the very top and is driven down, through every franchisee, to every Sensei and Ninja and is evident in our Code Ninjas locations around the world. Our Senseis, who are generally tech-savvy young adults studying STEM subjects whilst working for us part-time, are equally as passionate about our curriculum as the marketing team at our headquarters in Pearland, Texas.

Essentially, our brand culture is woven through every single aspect of our franchise. So, it stands to reason that, when prospects contact us enquiring about our franchising opportunity, they will have already done their due diligence – researching our brand presence and ascertaining whether or not we’re the right fit for them. If they’re passionate about educating the next generation of digital thinkers, then they’ll recognise that commitment in our messaging, culture – and anything else affiliated with our brand – and feel compelled to join us in our voyage.

At the end of the day, when you launch a business, you instantly sign yourself up for a lifetime in the spotlight. It’s imperative that you bear this in mind – and not just when actively representing your brand, but 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Setting the standard of talent that you want to attract is simple; be someone worth emulating.

David Graham
David Graham